Healthcare needs more than Jesus

In the last month, a Canadian family who let their son die of diabetes because they believed Jesus was enough to cure him were condemned in court for murder. Children's death by believers in the christian tradition of faith healing happen every year in the United States and Canada. It is obvious to those outside of their sects that they have read the Bible too literally.Yes, in the gospels Jesus does heal many people of illnesses. In the Acts of the Apostles, his disciples heal some people as well. There are indeed promises that some afflictions just need more prayer and that anything good asked of God will be granted. But experience has proven to be a regulator on how literally some promises should be taken. (Evidence photo found here.) Jesus is not always enough to keep people alive. Sometimes insulin is needed as well.

Most devout christians do not follow Paul's advice to Timothy when they have an upset stomach and drink a little wine to treat it. We understand Paul's advice was appropriate to the time he wrote and level of medical understanding in his time. We do not believe his instructions are for all generations of Christians. In fact, some teetotaling Christians in the early 20th century United States deliberately ignored such holy instructions.

If we are honest, Jesus and the Bible are not enough to treat our medical conditions. Medicine, surgery, and long term treatment are often required. The times have changes. Humanity has progressed. We have a better understanding of the cause of ulcers and their treatment. Smallpox has been exterminated. Polio is almost gone. Leprosy is now treatable. Heart disease does not kill so many so early as it used to; the same is true of cancer. People with diabetes can live long lives. A stronger faith in Jesus, or a deeper prayer life, or a more intense devotional life did not cure or prevent these diseases. None of that discredits the miracles that do happen in people's lives who are cured from these things by prayer and devotion. But they would not be miracles if they were routine. By definition, a miracle is an exception. Certainly Jesus can do it, but usually he doesn't.

Jesus tells his disciple what you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven. We get to adjust as the occasion calls for it. As medicine improves we let it's proven track record step in where prayer has failed.

The early Jewish dominated church wanted to impose 4 rules on the Gentile churches that were springing up all over the Mediterranean because of the efforts of people like Paul. They were don't eat blood, or meat from strangled animals, or meat sacrificed to idols, and don't screw around. Paul was like "cool, cool. i'll tell everyone." He kept forgetting to ever again mention the blood or strangled animal issue. Those were very Jewish concerns and the church neglected those commands soon after. Paul goes back and forth about the meat sacrificed to idols issue. He seems to settle on, don't do it if it's going to freak a Jewish person out; basically, "keep it on the down low." However, his expansive definition of sexual immorality might be shrinking. Even the Catholic church under Pope Francis is recognizing the great harm it has caused by denying community to remarried divorcees.  It used to be a big deal in some Protestant churches as well. Didn't Jesus say remarriage is adultery unless the divorce was for an affair? But now people have allowed their compassion to even overrule Jesus and support divorces from abusive spouses, and abusive has a wide definition. But before this loosening, people remained trapped in terrible marriages for fear of the church's condemnation. Many protestant churches even allow divorced and remarried people to pastor churches, even though they do not meet Paul's requirement to be a person of one spouse.

The church has loosened in response to the terrible experiences of places where the church convinced societies to outlaw divorce. The church has loosened in compassion by choosing to not add extra pain of community rejection to the wreckage of a divorce. The church has loosened in compassion for the innocent children who were cast out of church because their parent's divorced.

The church matures when it lets charity guide what it loosens and what it binds. When love is it's guide, and God is love, and it acknowledges the advancement in understanding that comes from study, both of it's own scriptures and the world we inhabit, the church grows. When it denies medical science, people die too early. When it denies emotional care, people die spiritually.

The church is learning on medicine. The church is learning on minority experiences. The church is learning on science, from astronomical to genetic to evolution to psychological. The church does not need to have all the answers, but it can always be a sanctuary for those in need of love and a sanctuary for the vulnerable. Broken people want to be part of church but are often barred from it because they are not good enough. But all that's required is that Jesus loves them. The sexual minority community has been rejected by the church for centuries. It's time for the church to be the sanctuary of love and recognize that most gay people are not "healed" by Jesus. The church may not understand the LGBTQ experience, but their testimonies are remarkably similar. Like most of us, they seek love in companionship. Their lifestyle is a life like any other, in search of love. They are not sexually immoral when they marry someone of the same gender, or when they transition to their true gender. They are not the norm, which is why they are minorities. Jesus is not enough, unless Jesus includes his church embracing them and loving them as they are.

Some blogs worth reading.
Registered Runaway - Some thoughts on Orlando.
Samantha Field - yes, you hate me...
Eliel Cruz - My Pride Is Bulletproof: A Queer Puerto Rican on Life After Orlando
Kevin Garcia - Why “Welcoming, but Not Affirming” is Not Welcoming at All
Broderick Greer - Gay nightclubs and black churches are sanctuaries. Here's how to make them safer

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