Thou Shalt Not Take Medicine: The 11th Commandment?
Answering the question whether Christians should take prescription medicine doesn’t seem like it should be complicated. Yet Christians have found themselves in four separate schools of thought:
- Taking medicine is a sin because it shows a lack of faith in God.
- Taking medicine is misguided because disease is in the mind.
- Taking medicine is fine for physical problems, but mental and emotional should be handled as a spiritual problem.
- Medicine is a gift from God to help the process of healing when taken correctly.
Christians Opposed to All Medicine
There is the pietistic Christian who believe that if you take medicine, you lack faith. Christians depend on God only for healing, and if you aren’t healed, you don’t have faith or have sin in your life. These believers usually form around a particular charismatic leader.
It’s All In Your Head
Christian Science members believe that sickness is simply mistaken belief and that disease is actually in the mind. The key to healing is Christian Science prayer. The practice is considered an art and one must earn a special license to be a Christian Science Prayer practitioner. However, Christian Science members accept setting broken bones and using glasses, canes and having dental work. Also, they officially discourage members from breaking any laws for their beliefs. However, the state tries parents for manslaughter when they refuse treatment for a child who afterwards dies from an easily treatable illness. So is taking medicine a sin? Christian Science members derive their beliefs from the accounts in the Bible of Jesus and his disciples performing miraculous healings. They reason it must follow that miracles are part of the normative Christian life. However, the greater part of worldwide Christianity doesn’t share their position.
Miracles Authenticated the Apostles Teaching
The Bible indicates, and the early Church Fathers believed, that signs and wonders were given to the Apostles to authenticate God’s message. Throughout the Bible, the only periods where miraculous signs were regularly performed were during periods of Biblical revelation of that which is now in the Bible. Prophets had a message and these signs authenticated their message. In 2 Corinthians 12:12, Paul wrote “I persevered in demonstrating among you the marks of a true apostle, including signs, wonders and miracles.” And Jesus once addressed the crowd saying, “A wicked and adulterous generation looks for a sign.” (Matthew 16:4)
Miracles Are Not Normative
Multiple parts of the Bible record periods where miracles were absent. In fact, miracles seemed to already be dying down before the end of the book of Acts. And Paul told Timothy to take wine for his stomach rather than offering prayer. However, most Christians believe that God still performs miracles, but that they should not be expected. Miracles were not expected during the time of Jesus, and shouldn’t be so now.
Medicine to Treat the Body But Not the Soul
The most common Christian stance is that taking medication for physical maladies is fine, but anything that has to do with emotions or the brain really ought to be dealt with spiritually. However, the “spiritual” treatment offered is often a Christianized version of pop psychology, and people often shift their stance when they find themselves in the middle of a bout of panic attacks or the prison of chronic depression.
Am I Doing Something Wrong If I Suffer?
This brings us to the heart of the issue. American Christians commonly believe if someone is “doing” Christianity correctly, they should not encounter pain and suffering. However, the Bible promises that we will encounter suffering, trials and tribulations. The epistles are full of encouragement regarding how to face trials and suffering. We are promised that “our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.” (2 Corinthians 4:17) So it seems suffering is inevitable in the Christian religion, but people are still questioning whether or not it is okay to see a doctor for that pain.
“Faith Healings” Can Come From Evil Sources
One last aspect of this subject should be covered. Healing can be demonic in origin. Missionaries have testified to seeing witch doctors “curing” sickness that was brought on by evil spirits in the first place. Some reason that this makes sense, from the Christian point of view. Demons would want to build a witch doctor’s following to keep them from true belief. This should inspire caution. When a teacher prescribes a certain prayer or series of bible verses to repeat often, guaranteed to bring healing, this is simply a spell. This isn’t faith in God but faith in a ritual. If you aren’t sure about something, you can use God’s word to discern whether or not miracles are counterfeit. “For false messiah’s and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect.” (Matthew 24:24)
Medicine: A Gift From God
Then there are Christians who believe medicine is a gift from God. God heals but normally provides healing through ordinary, everyday means, like skill given to doctors and wisdom to chemists who create the medicine. Concerns these Christians have about medication are the same as non-Christians have, that we are over-medicated and we should perhaps take a more holistic approach to health. Also, when finding a drug that actually helps where all else has failed, it often isn’t available in generic and costs a small fortune. Some people get around this by ordering from a licensed Canadian pharmacy because the prices are often much cheaper. But be sure the pharmacy you order from is truly located in Canada and that your medicine comes from Canada and not from an overseas partner. Before choosing, take some time to read online pharmacy reviews. We’ve given you the views and reasoning of many different schools of thought. Now it is up to you to decide: Is taking medicine a sin?