Sunday, February 6, 2011

COMMENTARY: Fundamentalists Must Allow Medical Care for Illness

Last week, a Philadelphia judge sentenced a Pennsylvania couple to 10 years of probation, because they were convicted of involuntary manslaughter and child endangerment in the pneumonia death of their two-year-old son.

As fundamentalist Protestant Christians, the parents were relying on prayer -- without medical care -- to cure their dying son. The judge also ordered the parents to take their remaining children for medical check-ups in sentencing them, despite his awareness that the parents were opposed to medical care due to their religion.

Some fundamentalist Protestant denominations -- most notably Christian Scientists -- refuse to have medical treatment, because they believe that sickness is the result of fear, ignorance, or sin, and that when that erroneous belief is corrected, the sickness will disappear.

Moreover, they believe that the way to eliminate the false beliefs is to replace them with true understanding of God's goodness. God, then, is the only way that sickness can be eliminated, according to fundamentalist Christians.

To be sure, this religious view shows an unlimited love and respect for God, and His power to heal anyone. Unfortunately -- as indicated in the judge's sentence in the above court case -- healing usually requires human medical care, in addition to praying to God.

The fact is that it would be nice if human beings only had to pray to God to eliminate illness -- there would be no need for doctors -- but that is not the way that illness is healed. Medical care is also needed to allow healing to occur.

True Christians love God and have the greatest respect for Him and His ability to heal anyone of anything. But despite God's omnipotence, they must accept the fact that God does not cause their illness, nor does He cure it. Medical attention may be needed to cure illness -- especially in severe cases of illness.

Indeed, fundamentalists who deny themselves or their children the medical attention they really need in order for healing to occur, are only exacerbating their medical problems -- and this denial may well lead to a mortal ending.

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