Should Christians Trust Doctors and Medical Practices: Biblical Wisdom for Healthcare Today
Even in a day and age when we supposedly have the best medical care available to us that the world has yet known, we still sometimes find ourselves or those we love in the same position as “the women with an issue of blood,” who had suffered much under many physicians, and had spent all that she had, and was no better but rather grew worse. (Mark 5:25-26)
Does God give us any clues about where to stand on the issues of healthcare today? Will we ever really know how to help ourselves or loved ones?
It is the hope of this writer that the gems of Biblical truth that this article contains will provide renewed hope for the weary seeker.
Before you begin, you should know that the Bible does not paint a clear picture of what our earthly healthcare system is meant to look like. Nevertheless, the Bible does paint a clear picture of all we need. Each of the Bible’s sixty-six books work together to point to Jesus. Keep that in mind as you explore the following principles regarding healthcare, and healthcare professionals and practitioners of all fields.
*Note: Many of the following principles are promises and directives for Christians. Believe and receive Jesus as your Savior today!
1) Healthcare is a Neutral Issue
Medical practices ebb and flow throughout time and culture, but the Word of God remains the same today, yesterday and forever. (Hebrews 13:8) The unchanging words of Scripture present their statues to us with an understanding that readers are confined to their time and location in history.
In other words, the Bible seems to assume that humans will be receiving whatever healthcare treatments are available to them from the physicians and practices in their day, just as the ancient Hebrews did. Jesus even refers to Himself as a physician in an allegorical statement because it was a concept which people were familiar. Physicians existed in Bible times, and they exist today, even though they look different. There will always be those with a desire to seek and discover cures, to care for the ailing and afflicted, to try to make them well again. (Thank God for them!)
Therefore, with the exception of God forbidding His people to participate in the occult practices of the pagans (of which some medical practices were often a part then and still are today), and the instruction to turn to Him as Healer, healthcare is a neutral issue in the Bible. The Bible does not tell us which medical professionals to trust. It does not tell us whether to vaccinate our children. The Bible does not tell us that conventional medicine is better than alternative medicine or vice versa. (It does mention that it’s better to refrain from useless arguments!) Only where issues of ethics are concerned does the Bible shed light on medical matters. Otherwise, the Bible simply tells us not to rely on our own understanding, but to trust Jesus and submit our ways to Him, and He will make our paths straight (Proverbs 3:5-6).
Therefore, submitting to the care of the medical professionals of your choice, not begrudging others’ choices, and deciding how far you will go regarding medicines and operations, etc., are individual choices. If a medical practice does not fall into the realm of the occult or contradict Biblical ethics, and if the child of God has the understanding that healing comes from the Lord, the Bible is otherwise silent about healthcare, making it a neutral issue.
2) Dr. Luke and the Whole Person Approach
The Apostle Paul identifies the Gospel writer Luke as “the beloved physician.” (Colossians 4:14 ESV) Since Luke represents a medical practitioner in whom Paul did not find fault, let’s take a look at Luke’s model for healthcare.
Not much is revealed about Luke’s practices in Scripture, but there is some evidence that Luke ministered to the whole person. Human beings are made in the image of the Triune God. We are a three-part being with a body, soul and spirit. The Bible tells us that Luke took care of Paul’s physical needs when he was imprisoned in Rome (body). He ministered to Paul’s loneliness when others had abandoned him (soul). And he actively assisted in Paul’s ministry while he also wrote one of the Gospels and the book of Acts, which continue to bless us all (spirit). As Luke submitted and yielded himself to Christ, the Holy Spirit possibly gifted him with spiritual gifts that were helpful in the medical realm, enhancing the Greek medical skills he already possessed.
Find out what the Bibles says about the connection between spiritual wellness and physical health here.
It should be noted that if Luke was a beloved doctor, God is not against doctors or medicine, as some contend. In Scripture, we see God’s people using medicines, visiting physicians and taking action as they can. Consider the good Samaritan, a character in a story Jesus told, who did not hesitate to bandage a beaten man’s wounds and pour on oil and wine as medicine. (Luke 10:25-37)
3) The First Step Toward Good Health: Go to Jesus
God does not have much to say about how, when and why we should visit the health professionals available to us in our time and culture, but since we are dependent upon Him, one key instruction for God’s people is clear throughout Scripture: Go to Him first.
Jesus wants us to fully trust Him, turning to Him before we turn anywhere, as He says in Matthew 6:33, “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness…” He promises, “…all these things (what you need) will be added to you.”
Consider King Asa, who was afflicted with a disease in his feet. Even though the condition was severe, he did not seek help from the Lord, but “only from the physicians.” Asa died within two years. (2 Chronicles 16:12-13)
On the other hand, when King Hezekiah was ill and at the point of death, he turned his face to the wall and prayed to the Lord. The prophet Isaiah came to Hezekiah and told him that the Lord had heard his prayer, saw his tears and would heal him. The Lord promised Hezekiah fifteen more years of life. (2 Kings 20:1-6b)
It was not Asa’s reliance on physicians that ensured his disease would take his life. The Bible is clear that Asa refused to turn to God, choosing to rely on physicians instead, and this was a sin against God.
Do you find yourself making doctor appointments, picking up your medications and scheduling your surgeries, and only then praying that the Lord will give the doctors wisdom, let the medicine work, and protect you in surgery?
God desires that we pray and believe first, and then (if applicable) visit the doctor, take the medicine, or follow through with the surgery trusting that our lives are in God’s hands. Who knows but that God might lead you to a different doctor, not to take that particular medicine, or to get a second opinion about that surgery!
Thank You for Reading!
The principles of this article are intended to be a concise but informative overview of health and healing topics as found in God's Word, but these are not comprehensive studies. They certainly do not cover all possible healthcare topics. I encourage you to be like the Bereans (Acts 17:11) and go to the Scriptures yourself to find out if what I wrote is true, and check out the biblical principles about healing here, and sickness here.
Peace and health to you.
Meg Grimm writes biblical studies and research articles that help set women free from impractical standards of the world. She strives to unveil true beauty and sensible body care principles from a godly perspective.