Volume 7, Issue 6: Medicus
Medical Blessings and God's Law
Man was created theonomous—subject to the law of God. Grateful obedience to God's
law allows duty and delight to coincide as they did in Jesus (John 4:34; cf.
Ps. 112:1; 119:14, 47-48, 97-113,127-8, 163-7). A multitude of blessings flow
from adherence to God's law. Among them are a great many medical blessings (Ex.
15:26; Prov. 4:20-22). Fallen man hates God's law, both because it is a law and
because it carries with it a multitude of consequences and curses, many of which
are medical (Gal. 3:10; Dt. 11:26-28). Calvin classified God's law as having
a three-fold purpose. First the law gives knowledge of sin (Rom. 3:20; 4:15;
5:13; 7:7-11) and leads us in repentance and faith to Christ (Gal. 3:19-24).
Here the medical blessing is eternal life (Matt. 19:29; Jn. 3:15; Rom. 2:7; 6:23;
1 Jn. 5:11,13). Note the literary device of starting small to build to a mighty
A second purpose, the "civil use" empowers the magistrate. Though this function
does not change the heart, it can, when backed by a civil code that administers
punishment for proven offenses (Dt. 13:6-11; 19:16-21; Rom. 13:3-4), serve to
protect the righteous from the unjust. The medical blessings of safe streets
are increasingly obvious as our culture deteriorates. Homicide is now a leading
cause of death in the age group between fifteen and twenty-five.
The law's third purpose is that of teacher. The law tells God's children what
pleases their Heavenly Father; it could be called their family code. Christ
was speaking of this third use of the law when He said that those who become
His disciples must be taught to do all that He had commanded (Matt. 28:20), and
that obedience to His commands will prove the reality of one's love for Him (Jn.
14:15). In addition, it will serve as a cornucopia of medical blessings.
These blessings proceed from promises and natural consequences. They fall to
the providers of our health care, the system of health care delivery, and to
the recipients of health care both in the form of rewards for the "thou shalts" and
in protection from the consequences of the "thou shalt nots." Providers of health
care would certainly see a decrease in out-patient visits if James 5:14-15 were
taken seriously. The delay in calling the "elders of the church" together would
allow man's self-limited illnesses to resolve and the "prayer of faith" would cover
those who were truly sick. Anxiety and depression which make up a large percentage
of patient visits are expressly covered among God's promises (Is. 61:3; 1 Pet.
5:6-7; Luke 18:1; Ps. 30:5; Is. 41:10; 43:2; Ps. 147:3; Rom. 8:38-39; Jer. 17:7-8;
Our beleagered welfare system is a testimony to the
inherent futility of anthropological solutions. The very notion of addressing
health care problems with statist solutions is wrong-headed and violates the
proper sphere in which solutions should be sought. The Bible places the responsibility
for health care in the domain of the family. George Grant urges policy formulators
to elevate to prominence the three essential values of faith, family, and work
to effect a reformation of welfare. 1
Medical benefits for adherence to God's law begin early. Circumcision, though
still debated in medical circles as beneficial to all, is clearly of benefit
to nomadic people in a warm climate. The admonition requiring it be performed
in the eighth day (Gen. 17:10-12) implies a sophisticated sensitivity to human
physiology (i.e. an enzyme essential for blood clotting is not sufficient until
bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract is present for synthesis of Vitamin K,
a process that takes about eight days).
The distinctions which Moses made between "clean" and "unclean" (Lev. 16:34) were
meant to separate "fit for God's presence" from "unfit for God's presence." The medical
blessings included: protection from the spread of communicable diseases among
a people who did not understand the germ theory, protection from trichinosis
(pig tapeworm), and protection from early spoilage of edible meats. Following
God's law regarding homosexuality (Lev. 18:22; 1 Cor. 6:9) protects against AIDS,
as well as a long list of other sexually-transmitted diseases. All political
correctness aside, medically speaking, homosexuality really is an abomination.
Surfing the decalogue for medical blessings? We begin by saying good-bye to
a whole host of neurotic diseases due to comparisons. Next, we reap the medical
blessing of telling the truth. Unconfessed lies are at the heart of many stress-related
illnesses. 2 Stealing may not be good for you, but off-hand, I can't think of
any diseases it causes. Adultery makes up for it by contributing more than its
share of heartaches in wrecked marriages, sexually-transmitted diseases, broken
homes, and emotional problems passed on to generation after generation. Murder
is a direct block to medical blessings. Consider the impact of a million and
a half abortions a year. With the fifth commandment, the promise comes in the
form of a medical blessing. ". . . . that your days may be long upon the land
which the Lord your God is giving you." A day of rest per week has many medical
blessings. In our fast-paced world, many of the stress-related illnesses and
"burn-out"syndromes could be alleviated by observance of the Sabbath. The Third
Commandment forbids the use of God's name in false worship, for incantations
or divination, as well as attesting to falsehood or speaking blasphemy (Dt. 28:58).
"[T]hen the Lord will bring upon you and your descendants extraordinary plaguesgreat
an d prolonged plaguesand serious and prolonged sicknesses." Honoring the second
commandment allows Christians to avoid the common mistake of worshipping at the
idol of an increasingly sophisticated and, in many cases, successful medical
care system. Finally, and first, "You shall have no other gods before Me," and
those who obey this law reap a harvest of blessings, many of them medical, that
extend to thousands of generations (Dt. 7:9).