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The Family's Role in Health Care

By Andrea G. Schwartz
September 04, 2012
11. Thou shalt therefore keep the commandments, and the statutes, and the judgments, which I command thee this day, to do them.
12. Wherefore it shall come to pass, if ye hearken to these judgments, and keep, and do them, that the Lord thy God shall keep unto thee the covenant and the mercy which he sware unto thy fathers:
13. And he will love thee, and bless thee, and multiply thee: he will also bless the fruit of thy womb, and the fruit of thy land, thy corn, and thy wine, and thine oil, the increase of thy kine, and the flocks of thy sheep, in the land which he sware unto thy fathers to give thee.
14. Thou shalt be blessed above all people: there shall not be male or female barren among you, or among your cattle.
15. And the Lord will take away from thee all sickness, and will put none of the evil diseases of Egypt, which thou knowest, upon thee; but will lay them upon all them that hate thee. (Deuteronomy 7:11-15) [Emphasis added.]

The Bible is clear that the family and the church (Levites) comprise the God-ordained jurisdiction for all matters encompassed by the term health. The modern concept of socialized medicine is anathema to Scripture. Because pastors refuse to teach the whole counsel of God, and families do not exercise their God-given roles, God's people are suffering from diseases and disabilities that might possibly be prevented if God's teachings on diet and health were obeyed. These very important areas have been outsourced from God's ordained spheres of authority and handed over to (at worst) the ungodly or (at least) a paradigm created by the ungodly. As Rushdoony notes, the results are not good.

Because the family is the womb of life, it is also the locale of basic government. It is man's first church and state, his first school and vocation, the first economic realm, and more. The further away from the family that man's basic government is placed, the more dangerous it becomes. Sometimes the church, and certainly the modern state, seeks to arrogate to itself powers which properly belong to the family. The result is the impoverishment of society.1

Just as the Christian family has made great strides in home education, so, too, the family must regain its proper role in matters relating to health and wellness. As this occurs, the wife/mother, under the auspices of her husband, will serve as the watchman on the wall, being the gateway by which information, practice and habits are examined, taught, and put into practice within the framework of a Biblical worldview.

The Health Manager of the Family

Proverbs 31:27 states that the worthy woman looks well to the ways of her household. Much has been written about a woman's preparation for marriage regarding sexual purity and marital submission. But little time is devoted to the preparation needed to assume the responsibilities of looking well to the ways of her household, especially in matters of health. 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 states:

19. Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own,
20. for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.

The woman of the house is in the best position to teach her children how to glorify God in their bodies by providing the theological and practical framework of this mandate. Books and good counsel from reliable practitioners on the subject of health and nutrition are a must. So too is regular contact and communication with other wives and mothers utilizing the Titus 2 mentoring model.2 Unless we reclaim this area, we will enshrine the state as the determiner of what is best for our children nutritionally and medically and lay the foundation for even more statist tyranny in our families.3

The goal of the state is control and the restriction of change to the state. Instead of the individual or family as the source of innovation, change, and entrepreneurship, we then have the state in control of all these things. The state, however, when it becomes this powerful, becomes a vast bureaucracy, and it gives us a frozen, pre-arranged world, not a future.
The family is the true well-spring of the future, not the state, and woman is the key to it.4

Dietary Laws of the Bible

As the family seeks to honor God by applying His law-word over every area of life and thought, we need to reexamine the Biblical dietary laws. We also need to look at the rationale given by believers who no longer observe the dietary laws as outlined in the first five books of the Bible. Rushdoony, well aware that the account in Acts 10 has been used to negate these laws, says:

To what extent are the Mosaic dietary laws still valid for us? Acts 10 is commonly cited as abolishing the old dietary restrictions. There is no reason for this opinion. Peter's vision did not instruct him to eat pork, dogs, cats, or the like: it prepared him for the coming of Cornelius' servants. The Gentiles were to be received into the kingdom: "What God hath cleansed, that call not thou common" (Acts 10:15). Peter did not see the meaning of the vision as a permission to eat forbidden foods. Rather, he said, "Ye know how that it is an unlawful thing for a man that is a Jew to keep company or come unto one of another nation; but God hath shewed me that I should not call any man common or unclean" (Acts10:28). There is no evidence in the chapter that the vision had anything to do with diet; it did have everything to do with the Great Commission and the admission of Gentiles into the kingdom ...
[T]he dietary laws are not legally binding on us, but they do provide us with a principle of operation. The apostles, as they moved into a Gentile world, did not allow diet to be a barrier between them and the Gentiles. If they were served pork or shrimp, they ate it. On their own, they maintained the kosher rules as God's rules for health and life ... With reference to our salvation, the laws of diet have no significance, although Phariseeism gave it such a significance (Gal. 2:16). With reference to our health, the rules of diet are still valid rules ...
Our observance of these dietary rules should never be to place a barrier between ourselves and other men but for our health and prosperity in Christ.5

Food for Thought

As the Apostles' Creed states, God is the maker of Heaven and earth. He knows what is best for His creation. Exodus, Leviticus, and Deuteronomy outline a diet sanctioned by God and beneficial to us. These laws are the laws of life, and include, among other things, the prohibition of eating unclean foods, blood, and fat.6

The health benefits from following the dietary laws are well-documented. As in all areas of obedience, there is a greater principle at stake:

The dietary laws are reminders that we are creatures, if we need reminding. They tell us that the totality of our lives is to be governed by God and His Word. It is the tempter who tells man, "Ye shall be as God" (Gen. 3:5), and it is the essence of sin to revolt against creatureliness. Those whose spirituality lifts them above the dietary laws are too spiritual for the God of the Bible.
God gives us guidelines to make life simpler and better for us, but we like to complicate everything and then whine about it. If you don't like the dietary laws, perhaps you don't like the God who gave them.7

Jordan Rubin, in his book The Maker's Diet, acknowledges the reality that God's laws are always for the benefit of his people.

God gave His moral law and His dietary guidelines to the Jews at the same time. The moral guidelines preserved spiritual purity, social order, family stability, and community prosperity. These proven "laws" were used by America's founders, who established the Constitution on proven principles from the commandments God gave the Israelites thousands of years ago.
Just as the moral guidelines preserved the culture of Israel, so the dietary guidelines preserved their physical health. God's dietary guidelines are not some narrow-minded religious exercise meant to set apart certain people from their neighbors. They were given by a loving God to save His people from physical devastation long before scientific principles of hygiene, viral transmission, bacterial infection, or molecular cell physiology were understood!8

The Scriptures speak to more than diet when it comes to health. Leviticus 15:1-33 gives specific instructions regarding hygiene and quarantine for illness. Today most would consider these private concerns. Yet in God's economy, these are matters for obedience and covenantal living. Applying these laws provided near-immunity to the Jews from plagues and epidemics over the centuries.9 Obedience not only serves the health of man, but acknowledges God's preeminence in all things.

If modern man wants to eradicate illness and disease, he would do well to consult his Creator. Reconstructing nutrition and lifestyle choices is a precursor to health.

Sickness and death exist because this is a fallen world. They are in origin the results of sin; as we contract ailments; these may or may not be the results of sin. A disease contracted can be a consequence of sin, as are the majority of cases of sexually transmitted diseases. A cold or the flu may be a result of carelessness, and it may not be; we live in a world which, being fallen, exposes us to some hazards. Thus, particular instances of sickness cannot be per se defined as immoral; to do so is immoral. What must be stressed is that holiness requires the wholeness of person which sets forth the total health of man.
The quarantined persons are not, if godly, separated from God; they are separated from the covenant community in order to preserve the general health and the working ability of society.10

We must restore the original jurisdictions over medicine and health. Modern medicine does not bear much resemblance to the Biblical models for caring for the poor and the sick. We've lost much because we've abandoned the truth that God's law is operative over every area of life and thought. By failing to learn and apply God's law, we have forfeited dominion in the area of health.

[W]hen the state is maximized, Biblical law is minimized. God's law provides us with government and with means of government in all spheres of life: personal, financial, educational, ecclesiastical, vocational, societal, and also in the civil realm. Because government in these areas is preempted by the modern state, God's law is minimized, and in large part declared to be obsolete.11
The fact that recent studies have shown that obedience to God's dietary laws strengthens our immunities should not blind us to the fact that though this may be a new "discovery," it is also an affirmation of God's law, namely, that obedience gives health, prosperity, and fertility.12

Dr. Mom

Modern medicine has lost much hard-won knowledge by dismissing as old wives' tales what women knew and shared with each other. With women now seeking careers outside the home, this transmission of information and apprenticeship training were all but lost.13 The people of God need to return to a family-centered model in the governance of life in society. A more Biblically-informed model would be for pre-married women to serve as a volunteer army assisting fellow believers in childbirth, helping mothers who are ill care for their children, and learning the use of herbs, essential oils, and specific nutritional paradigms. Exposure to such opportunities prepares young women to soon bless their own future families.

For many years, my role as a wife included caring for my husband's elderly mother as I saw her through two cataract surgeries, two mastectomies, two hip replacements, and congestive heart failure. Helping my mother-in-law enjoy her remaining days (she was 76 when we met and 89 when she died) involved understanding her ailments and conditions and helping her avoid hospital stays and unnecessary procedures. For this I made ample use of my father's old-time doctor wisdom.

She was once experiencing shortness of breath because of congestive heart failure. I was advised to call an ambulance to take her to the ER. Neither my mother-in-law nor I welcomed this option, so I called my father. He told me to get her out of her bed and into a rocking chair. He said that position would relieve her symptoms. And it did! I have shared that advice with many over the years. How many more pearls of wisdom remain unknown because we think ourselves insufficiently competent to apply such strategies at home?

Finding a Balance

Dr. Jo Loomis14, who holds a doctorate in nursing practice, believes that basic training in first aid, along with a good working knowledge of disease prevention practices (e.g. regular hand washing, getting sufficient sleep, and utilizing the practice of quarantine for contagion) are fundamental to running a household well. She advises mothers to study current accepted practices of medicine (traditional and alternative), reading from proponents and detractors alike to build a foundation for determining what advice to follow or when to seek out other opinions (Prov. 11:4). Raw knowledge is easily acquired, but understanding and discernment to evaluate perspectives and protocols come with experience. A huge component is finding health care practitioners who can be used as sounding boards and counselors.

Loomis recommends resources that provide a balanced, common sense approach for parents in their interactions with pediatricians,15 thereby avoiding the two extremes of adoring doctors as gods or distrusting them as subversives.

Select a practitioner who is a good listener, willing to allocate ample time for consultations, offering alternatives to treatment, discussing pros and cons of each treatment, and acknowledging the role and responsibility of individuals and parents in making decisions. Loomis warns against putting too much credence in information acquired "through the internet" without good discernment to temper it. e.g., just because something is "natural" does not necessarily mean it cannot have detrimental effects or adversely interact with other medications or supplements.

By teaching herself and her family good habits of health and wellbeing as well as diet, the mother can identify situations requiring further intervention, making her interactions with carefully selected physicians more fruitful.

My family had a pediatrician who approached our relationship as partners when it came to my children's healthcare. He would always encourage me to call him, even at two in the morning: "Call me. I can most likely give you a course of action or settle your concerns. Then we can both go back to sleep."  He once said that we could put my son on antibiotics. I asked him how long before we'd see improvement. "About two weeks."  And without antibiotics?  "About 14 days."  He was informing me that taking an antibiotic wouldn't necessarily change the course of the illness, providing me with enough information to make the best decision for my child.

Conclusion

Man was created by God and given a mandate or command to subdue the earth and to exercise dominion over it. This meant ruling, trampling down or possessing and mastering every aspect of this world, religiously, scientifically, agriculturally, and in every other way. Man was created in God's image to develop God's creation, the earth, by perfecting or completing it under God.16

Health matters because we have been placed on earth to serve the Lord God and further His Kingdom. While we acknowledge that illnesses, aches, and pains are realities of a not-fully sanctified life, we should do all within our power to remain healthy and in the game, so that we may provide and care for our families while ministering in Christian charity to those around us.

1. R. J. Rushdoony, Volume 3, Institutes of Biblical Law: The Intent of the Law, (Vallecito, CA: Ross House Books, 1999), 110.

2. For more information, see  http://www.titus2mentoring.com...

3. Regardless of one's view on the propriety of vaccinations, to cede to the state the decision of what is appropriate in the way of medicine and disease prevention from parents for their children is a direct assault on God's order and the institution of the family.

4. R. J. Rushdoony, Roots of Reconstruction (Vallecito, CA:Ross House Books, 1991), 218)

5. R. J. Rushdoony, The Institutes of Biblical Law (Phillipsburg, PA: The Craig Press, 1973), 301-2.

6. For a more complete discussion on the topics of diet, hygiene and quarantine, see Rushdoony's commentaries on the Pentateuch.

7. R. J. Rushdoony, Institutes of Biblical Law: The Intent of the Law, Vol. 3, (Vallecito, CA: Ross House Books, 1999), 85-6.

8. Jordan S. Rubin, The Maker's Diet (Lake Mary, FL: Siloam, 2004), 35.

9. R. J. Rushdoony, Institutes of Biblical Law: The Intent of the Law, Vol. 3, (Vallecito, CA: Ross House Books, 1999), 117.

10. R. J. Rushdoony, Leviticus (Vallecito, CA: Ross House Books, 2005), 151.

11. Ibid., 152.

12. Ibid., 142.

13. Blogs and websites have been useful ways for women to share their acquired knowledge. Among such are: The Common Scents Mom at http://yoursacredcalling.com/commonscentsmom/; Rene DeGroots' www.culinaryreformation.com; www.foodrenegade.com; and www.thenourishinggourmet.com.

14. Dr. Jo Loomis is a long-time friend and colleague. Along with her doctorate in nursing practice, she is a registered nurse and a certified nurse practitioner. She is an associate professor and the coordinator of the Family Nurse Practitioner Program at the University of San Francisco.

15. An example of such is Robert W. Mendelsohn, MD, How to Raise a Healthy Child ... In Spite of Your Doctor (Chicago: Contemporary Books, Inc, 1987). Speaking  from years of experience as a pediatrician, he warns parents about viewing their pediatrician as a god, but also notes that they are not, usually, without compassion or a desire to truly help their patients.

16. R. J. Rushdoony, Salvation and Godly Rule (Vallecito, CA: Ross House Books, [1983] 2004), 45.


Topics: Biblical Law, Christian Reconstruction, Church, The, Culture , Dominion, Education, Media / Arts, Medicine / Healthcare, R. J. Rushdoony, Reformed Thought, Theology

Andrea G. Schwartz

Andrea Schwartz is Chalcedon’s family and Christian education advocate, and the author of eight books including: A House for God: Building a Kingdom-Driven FamilyThe Biblical Trustee Family: Understanding God’s Purpose for Your HouseholdEmpowered: Developing Strong Women for Kingdom ServiceWoman of the House: A Mother’s Role in Building a Christian Culture, and The Homeschool Life: Discovering God’s Way to Family-Based Education. She’s also the co-host of the Out of the Question podcast, and Homeschooling Helps (weekly live Facebook event). She can be reached at [email protected]

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