Thursday, August 31, 2006

Fill the Earth

Christians need to be clear on which side they stand in the battle between Rugged Individualism and Blessing. Our tendency to praise the Bill of Rights / Informed-Consent / Army of One / Choice breaks any possibility of their being real community in the Body of Christ, and any possibility of restoration of the soul.

The—Washington Post article for Thursday:

Medical practices blend health and faith
Doctors, patients shun care they consider immoral

The article focuses on the Tepeyac Family Center, a doctor's office in Fairfax, Virginia [just five hours from MSNBC TV on a good day]. The center news is deemed news-worthy because of their mission statement:

The restoration of the integration of the human person by combining the best of modern medicine with the healing presence of Jesus Christ. All people are welcome here.
"Surprisingly" the staff prays each day before the first appointments, they shun birth-control, and promote natural family planning. Essentially they are a group of doctors and staff that practice medicine and their Roman Catholic beliefs. But you can't do that in America, because in America individual choice and its cohort informed-consent rule. Any alternative is damaging to the economy. The article puts the choice / consent issue this way:

"It's not enough for someone to advertise 'We provide natural family planning' or have a sign up in the waiting room that says 'Only natural family planning available here,' " said Jeffrey L. Ecker, an obstetrician-gynecologist at Harvard Medical School."The assumption shouldn't be that patients understand exactly what that means. The doctor has an obligation to fully explain all options to their patients."

"Welcome to the era of balkanized medicine," said R. Alta Charo, a bioethicist at the University of Wisconsin at Madison. "We've had this for years with religious hospitals. What's happening now is it's drifting down to the level of individual practitioners and small group practices. It essentially creates a parallel world of medicine."
To be fair MSNBC does a fair and I think balanced view of the issues. They do get to the heart of the matter with this one quote:

"I've encountered a lot of resistance to how I practice over the years," said Lorna L. Cvetkovich, an obstetrician-gynecologist in Ann Arbor, Mich. "For one thing, contraception and sterilizations bring in a lot of revenue. But I finally found partners who feel the way I do, and we're scraping by."
The issue is money. The issue is not that people are operating in "a parallel world of medicine." Oriental medical practices, Homeopathic practices, and even Scientology (until recently) have been accepted for years.
The issue is money. The issue is not informed consent or that "the doctor has an obligation to fully explain all options to their patients", or it is not as Elizabeth Dotts, 25, of Birmingham puts it in the article:

"It caught me completely off guard, ...I felt like he was judging me and putting pressure on me... I am the patient. I am the client. It should have been about me‚ What I needed. Not what he needed or believed."
In America judging and pressure are only good when they purchase TV time, radio spots and newspaper ads. The US Government has spent $1.4 billion on its anti-drug advertising campaign over the last 8 years. But this does not appear to have helped reduce drug use and instead might have convinced some youths that taking illegal drugs is normal. (USAToday)Do doctors really believe that every patient, given enough information, will be able to choose the right medicines, understand the correct course of treatment, and make the appropriate lifestyle changes? Have we all become little-experts on ourselves? John Calvin, 55, of Geneva would say, "uh... no." Calvin, on Genesis 1

Since the image of God had been destroyed in us by the fall, we may judge from its restoration what it originally had been. Paul says that we are transformed into the image of God by the gospel. And, according to him, spiritual regeneration is nothing else than the restoration of the same image. (Colossians 3:10, and Ephesians 4:23.) ...But now, although some obscure lineaments of that image are found remaining in us; yet are they so vitiated and maimed, that they may truly be said to be destroyed. For besides the deformity which everywhere appears unsightly, this evil also is added, that no part is free from the infection of sin.
I am not a Credit Card, Social Security Number, or individual in a system. I am maimed and vitiated, yes, but am being transformed into the image of God by the gospel. God blesses humanity in community, "male and female he blessed them." Then God commands the community to take God's image and "be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion over... every living thing that moves on the earth."
This is good news. God sends Abraham's community into the world to be a blessing, "In you all the families of the earth shall be blessed... And Abram took Sarai his wife, and Lot his brother's son, and all their possessions that they had gathered, and the people that they had acquired in Haran, and they set out to go to the land of Canaan." (Genesis 12). This is good news. And the Church is sent into the world to be a blessing,

"The God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,... has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing... and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places,... far above all rule and authority and power and dominion... and he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all." Ephesians 1. I know the Ephesians quote leaves out quite a bit in the middle, but it is one, long, run-on sentence in the Greek. The blessings of God, Ephesians 1:3-6, are linked very closely with the "filling" ministry of the Church, Ephesians 1:22-23.
The practices of the Church, continue the filling, multiplying, dominion-ing activity of created humanity. Breaking the human community in to a loose-leaf binder of individuals shatters any possibility of blessing.

"I want to practice my faith," said John T. Bruchalski, the obstetrician-gynecologist who started Tepeyac. "I'm not interested in pushing it on other people. But this allows me to practice medicine without having to do something that I wouldn't see as positive or healthy... We approach the person from a very holistic perspective—body, soul and spirit. We tell patients you have to take care of your body. You have to be able to communicate and develop a relationship. You have to meditate and pray to God or a higher power. We bring this to people of all backgrounds."
Fill the earth doctor. Fill the earth.

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