A friend recently ‘liked’ a post on Facebook dealing with a critique against those who promote anti-vaccination, that is those who are opposed to the general use of vaccinations for various diseases, often claiming that they cause other diseases such as autism. This got me thinking about my own views not only dealing with vaccinations, but also proscription drugs and overall general medical care. I believe this is relevant as there are some segments of Christianity that believe any medical care by doctors/hospitals should be avoided because it shows a lack of faith in God to heal. On the other hand, I have a strong distrust anytime government or anyone in society believes that something should be forced on everyone. So, knowing that I know people on both sides of the issues, here we go.
First let me talk about vaccinations, as this is what got this topic started. There is no, I repeat NO, reputable scientific study that has ever indicated that any vaccines have caused disorders/diseases like Autism. Given how there are a new scientific studies released every year that claim, then refute and then claim again that things like coffee is good/bad for you, it is notable that no peer reviewed medical study has ever substantiated these claims regarding the negative results from vaccinations. Now some say that the scientific community is conspiratorially keeping such studies from seeing the light of day. Now such an argument might hold water, but it does not in light of other topics. I believe there is an attempt to silence global warming skeptics in the scientific community, but such studies DO exist. I believe there is an attempt to silence creationist and Intelligent Design supporters within the scientific community, but such studies DO exist. There are NO such studies supporting anti-vaccinationists claims. So that means either the conspiracy to prevent them are abnormally effective, or they just don’t exist to begin with.
When we look at vaccinations we have to recognize the immeasurable good that they have done. Polio has all but been eliminated in western society and the end of it in the world as a whole will likely happen within my lifetime. Vaccines for Mumps and Measles have also been effective in western society. The reduction of these diseases due to the vaccines is noticeable and significant, that is simply undeniable.
My concerns with vaccinations has less to do with them “causing” other disorders, but rather the over medication of society. Let me try to explain. Every year doctors recommend that most people, especially the young, old and those with weak immune systems get the flu vaccine. However, this vaccine is different every year. That is because what we call the “flu virus” is actually new and different every year. Every year new strains of this virus are detected. The vaccine is usually based off of previous strains, and while generally effective, sometimes it is not simply because the new strain(s) are just too different for those vaccines to be effective. While other virus’ such as the Mumps, Measles, Polio, ect do on occasion mutate into new strains, they do so at only a fraction of the instances that the “flu” does. Now with the flu, thankfully, it is not a big deal, but in the area of bacteria and antibiotics, it is a very very VERY big deal.
So called “super bugs” are becoming resistant to any and all anti-bacterial medications available. Doctors, scientists, and pharmaceutical companies are having a hard time catching up. Many scientists believe that the reason that these “super bugs” are rising is because many doctors are proscribing anti-bacterial medicines for any situation regardless of whether they are truly needed or not. Indeed, may of these “Super Bug” outbreaks are actually happening in hospitals, not out in the general population. These bacteria are adapting over time to these drugs and I wonder if with virus such as the “flu” if this is not also a strong possibility.
Thus my issue with vaccinations (along with anti-bacterial medicines) is if the over proscription of them in an effort to stamp out the diseases are, at times, only mutating them into something even more deadly. I also am distrustful of anytime a government, or anyone in general, tries to “force” medical treatment on anyone. I believe vaccines are far more beneficial than not, but I do not believe that anyone should be forced to take those vaccinations. And I especially DON’T like the idea of parents being targeted by Family Services for not giving their children vaccinations. Choosing not to give your child a vaccination is NOT the same as violent physical abuse. And I will react strongly against anyone who claims that it is, or should be.
This leads me into an issue I have with the medical field in general, and that is the over prescription and excessive use of diagnostics above and beyond what is needed. One of the reasons that medical costs are so high in terms of cost to the individual, is that doctors are pressured into proscribing medication and ordering tests not necessarily for concern for their patient (indeed they do care), but more so to protect against malpractice suits. It is better to order “every” test just incase, rather than not order a test, be wrong, and get sued. By and large, as a whole, doctors are not incompetent mistake makers. Yes, mistakes do happen, and in some of those cases they patient is owed some type of reimbursement for the mistake. But doctors should not be issueing tests and proscribing drugs out of an over abundance of caution. If the doctor thinks that the diagnosis is X, they should only order tests and treatments for X, and ONLY start looking at A, B, C, ect IF the diagnosis for X was wrong.
With the Flu, people with “weaker” immune systems, should by all means get the vaccination to help protect themselves. But, I do have to question why a completely healthy person should have to jump and get a vaccination. I question whether that is wise, or if over vaccination can actually do more harm than good.
This now leads me into Christian use of medical care in general. For that I’d like to tell a old story from the Great Flood of 1993. There was a man who lived in a home in a flood plain protected by a strong levee. He had lived there all his life, his grandparents built the home, and had seen floods come and go. So when the Mississippi was rising, he was unconcerned. Well as you all well know the flood of 1993 was no ordinary flood, and emergency officials saw evidence that the levee protecting this mans home was in danger of imminent failure. An emergency official drove by in a truck and saw the man sitting on his porch. “Sir, the levee is going to fail at any time! You need to come with me, this is a mandatory evacuation!” But the man shook his head and said, “I am staying right here, the Lord will protect me, I trust in the Lord!” The official tried repeatedly to get the man to come with him, but finally had to give up and move on check if there were any others staying behind. Well not long after that the levee did fail and water poured into the valley quickly reaching the man’s house and slowly rising up the side of the house. Another emergency official now arrived in the boat only to see the man sitting on his roof as the water began to flood his home. Again they pleaded, “Sir you need to come with us!” But the man’s response was the same, “I am staying here, the Lord will protect me, I will trust in the Lord!” Well the current became to strong for the small boat and they had to get back to safety. Well the waters continued to rise, and not long after a helicopter hearing from the boat about this man made its way to the house. There they saw that the waters had risen covering the roof and the man was holding on to the top of the chimney with the waves lapping at his back. They threw down a ladder and over the loud speaker pleaded, “SIR GRAB ON!” The man just shook his head and started to say, “I am staying here, the Lord will protect me, I will…..” And just then the waters finally overtook him and he was washed away and died. Well as a believer, he did join the Lord in heaven. It was more beautiful and miraculous than he could ever comprehend. The Lord welcomed him with open arms but noticed the man was a little troubled. “My child what is wrong?” The man responded, “My Lord, I am greatful to be here, but I am confused. I believed you would protect me from the flood waters and yet I died, I don’t understand.” The Lord responded, “Well my child, I sent a truck, a boat, and a helicopter. What more did you want?”
Now of course this is a bit of humor, but I do think it tells a important lesson. There are some people who profess the name of Christ Jesus as their savior, who believe that going to the hospital, or the doctor, or taking any time of medication/vaccination shows a lack of trust in God to protect them. Do not misunderstand me, I do fully believe that God can miraculously keep people healthy, to cure diseases, and so forth. But I also believe fully that He also protects people, and gets/keeps them healthy through earthly medical professionals, regardless of such a person is a believer or not. If God can use a donkey to accomplish His will, surely He can use a non-believer who is a doctor to keep a believer healthy.
Rejecting medicines, vaccines, or medical help because you “trust in God” is a very problematic and dangerous position. Yes, in certain situations, God may call a person to avoid certain treatments/medications/ect, but I would put forward that this would be an exception, not the rule. And I most certainly don’t believe this should be a foundational block of a ministry or teaching. I still remember and am sickened by the “ministry” of the demonic Todd Bentley. This is a man who kicked (not lightly) a man in the stomach who was suffering from stage 4 cancer (of the stomach), claiming that THAT was how God was going to heal this man. There is still video of that incident online. That man died only a few months later. I truly hope that man did not die believing in the satanic teachings/actions of Todd Bentley, and rather trusted in the Lord as His savior, knowing that though his body may fail, his eternal spirit will go on to be with the Lord if he just believes.
So where does this leave us? Ultimately, whether it is vaccinations, medication, or general whether or not to use them fall upon the person themselves, whether for them or their family. No one, ever, should be FORCED to have medical procedures pressed upon them, even if such medical procedures are in reality beneficial to them. Vaccinations do not cause other disorders, but if a person does not want to have a vaccination for themselves or their children, THEY SHOULD NOT BE FORCED TO DO SO. Similarly if a person themselves requests every test in the book, that is fine, but that should be their choice and doctors should (normally) only test and medicate for what the person actually has, and not for everything in the book. Ultimately this comes down to a personal decision regarding their health (and parents of their children).