Biblical Reflections on Modern Medicine

Vol. 10, No. 4 (58)


Achieving Mental Health: The Role of Psychotherapy, Drugs, and Religion
The Bible vs. DSM-IV

Ed’s Note: The following is a portion of the presentation that I gave at the Annual Meeting of the Christian Pharmacist Fellowship International Meeting, Furman University, July 22, 1999. It is not exactly the same. That talk was given from an outline. Content presented from an outline is never the same when given the second time. In addition, I have chosen to leave out certain portions for length and emphasis.

All that I say about psychiatry applies to psychology, sociology, and all other disciplines that base (at least part of) their legitimacy and understanding of personal and social issues on psychiatry.

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edi-tion (DSM-IV), is published by the American Psychiatric Association. DSM-I grew out of the International Classification of Diseases (ICD), Sixth Edition, published by the World Health Organization in 1952. Over time, it has been revised and expanded to form what is now DSM-IV. Its history can be found in the Introduction to the book.

DSM-IV is the “Bible” of the whole area of modern mental illness. The production of DSM-IV included a liaison with “more than 60 organizations and associations,” including the American Psychological Association, American Psychoanalytic Association, American Psychological Society, Coalition for the Family, National Association of Social Workers, World Health Organization, etc. It stands alone as the source book for mental disorders around the world.

As such, DSM-IV stands against the Bible of Christianity. It does so, not so much because some classification of mental disorders is not needed, but because its developers have ignored and often purposely spurned the Bible as a source book of understanding both mental health and mental disorders.

Definitions: Old and New

Some readers might object to my reference to the Bible as a source book for “mental health and disorders.” Is that not borrowing from medical, secular language to apply to spiritual issues? But, the association of the Bible and the DSM-IV is closer than one might think at first glance.

I have a copy of the American Dictionary of the English Language, written by Noah Webster and published in 1828. I find it a great help in understanding what English-American words originally meant, before the distortion of more than 150 years of usage and the modern corruption of political correctness.

“Psychiatry” does not appear in that dictionary, as that profession has barely existed more than 100 years. (That historical brevity is itself a commentary on its legitimacy, but one that I will ignore here.) However, “psychology” is “a discourse or treatise on the human soul; the doctrine of the nature and properties of the soul.” Wow! Mr. Webster has placed psychology squarely within the parameters of the Bible. Indeed, his definition limits understanding of psychology to the Bible, because God’s understanding of man is infinitely more revealing than man’s finite observations and conclusions.

Of “mental,” Mr. Webster says, “pertaining to the mind; intellectual.” Of “mind,” the intellectual or intelligent power in man; the understanding; the power that conceives, judges, or reasons; active: powers of understanding; passive: denotes capacity, as comprehending a subject.”

“Health” is “1) that state of animal or living body, in which the parts are sound, well organized and disposed, and in which they all perform freely their natural functions, 2) sound state of mind; natural vigor of the faculties (of the mind), 3) sound state of the mind, in a moral sense; purity; goodness, 4) salvation or divine favor, or grace which cheers God’s people.”

(The connection of health with morality, purity, goodness, salvation, divine favor, and grace shows both Mr. Webster’s identity as a Christian and the culture to which and from which he wrote. I will not explore that here, but that identity gives further reason that discussions of mental health goes far beyond the observations, studies, and conclusions of the a-morality of the DSM-IV.)

A modern dictionary (Webster’s New Collegiate Dictionary, 1977) suffices to link “health” with Mr. Webster and our task at hand: “the condition of being sound in body, mind, and spirit.”

I know that I am making giant leaps over nuances, deeper meanings and usage, of these words from Biblical and secular meanings relative to the problem of mental health and disorders, but I am staying within the boundaries of these concepts. This contrast should become clearer, as I proceed. The terms “mental health” and “mental illness” carry heavy, perhaps irreconcilable secular baggage. However, I would like hearers and readers to understand that the Bible is THE BOOK on these issues. I will take whatever risks are associated with that baggage to make that point. Indeed, the Bible itself often speaks of sin and righteousness in the language of health and illness (e.g., Luke 4:18).

The Illegitimacy of DSM-IV and Psychiatry

The DSM-IV is less than what its authors claim it to be and, therefore, limits their authority and “expertise,” both morally and scientifically. 1) Psychiatry, and thus the DSM-IV, is rooted in secular humanism. Sigmund Freud, Carl Jung, and other “fathers” were often avowed atheists. Their modern counterparts have continued this separation of religion, specifically Biblical Christianity, from psychiatry. A Christian with any understanding of spiritual issues should ask, “How can an understanding of the thinking and behavior of man omit the record and explanations of Him who created, cursed, and saved mankind?”

Any basic understanding of Christianity and philosophy reveals the incompatibility of concepts that grow out of secular humanism and Biblical truth. The war of these worldviews is seen in every area of society: sexual norms, alcoholism, addiction, marriage, child-rearing, abortion, euthanasia, in vitro fertilization, gun control, etc.

2) Man is no more than the biochemicals that make him up. He is an animal. Evolution is the dogma of almost every medical school and medical text. Thus, drugs are the answer because every problem is biochemical. If man is believed to be an animal, he will behave like one. There can be no morality, no right and wrong, in this worldview.

All previous editions had nothing about religious or spiritual problems. DSM-IV has this listing. “Religious or Spiritual Problem. This category can be used when the focus of clinical attention is a religious or spiritual problem. Examples include distressing experiences that involve loss or questioning of faith, problems associated with conversion to a new faith, or questioning of spiritual values that may not necessarily be related to an organized or religious institution.” That is all that the official book of modern psychiatry has to say about religion!

3) Throughout psychiatry, there is no definition of “mental health.” That is, there is no norm for thinking or behavior. The obvious question is, “How can a disorder be known if there is no normal by which to compare it?” The basic course in psychology in college is almost always “abnormal psychology.” Why? Because our “experts” have no clue what normal is. Studies of the beliefs of psychiatrists and psychologists have found only a small percentage of them to be religious or conservative. That should really be no surprise. They are consistent with their professional field of study which is abnormal, a-moral, and godless.

4) Because of this lack of normals, psychiatry oversteps its bounds. Where does a psychiatrist get his authority to counsel on marriage? Childrearing? Grief? Job conflicts? Interpersonal relationships? Whether to get an abortion? These areas are not listed in the DSM-IV, but people with these problems can be found every day in the offices of psychiatrists all over the country.Their own book of disorders and scientific literature does not validate their authority to handle these areas.

5) Psychiatry is in a state of flux. DSM… IV! There was DSM, DSM-II, DSM-III, and DSM-III-R (Revised). Homosexuality was a disorder in earlier versions, but it is not now. What other “diagnoses” have come and gone? The very sequential numbering of the manuals destroys any claim of truth by psychiatry and other “professionals” whose practices depend upon its classifications.

6) There is no one agreed upon therapy. One recent estimate was that there were several hundred “therapies.” Now, please tell me how Joe Public can ever choose the right therapist for himself? Tell me how a physician can refer a patient to the right therapy? Tell me how a therapist himself can validate his approach over all others? Tell me how this mish-mash of therapies can claim anything?

7) Just where is the dividing line between “science” and prejudice? The historical record is clear that homosexuality was removed from as a “disorder” in 1973 only because of intense, often physically intimidating, pressure from homosexual lobbyists to the APA. Is that science? Not at all.

But, the claims and practices of psychiatrists are rampant with non-science, as named in the worldview conflicts above. Psychiatrists have no more right than any other citizen or professional to take stands on moral, religious, social, or legal issues. They have made a quasi-science to be legitimate and extended it into an illegitimate authority on virtually all social and legal issues. And, our “officials” and public have allowed them to do so virtually without challenge.

8) There is still no objective test for mental disorders. As a physician, I can order tests for hyperthyroidism, diabetes, heart attacks, rheumatoid arthritis, etc., etc. But for all the extensive research that has been done for decades and the vigorous claims that psychiatry is a medical speciality like all others, there are no objective tests for the large majority of “mental disorders,” such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, depression, alcoholism, kleptomania, etc., etc.

Where psychiatry overlaps neurology, of course, there are objective tests, for example, mental retardation, delirium, dementia, and intoxication (alcohol and drugs). However, diagnoses are primarily made by simple observation of speech and behavior. Thus, anyone can “fool” a psychiatrist, as 12 people did in the early 1970s who claimed to hear voices and were diagnosed with schizophrenia.

Consider this court scene:

Judge: Why does the defendant hear voices?

Psychiatrist: Because he has schizophrenia.

Judge: How do you know that he has schizophrenia?

Psychiatrist: Because he hears voices.

Now, that scenario sounds silly, but it is exactly the reasoning behind many of the diagnoses of psychiatry. This is circular reasoning at its best.

These fallacies of psychiatry and the DSM-IV are not difficult to understand. They shred any claim to legitimacy of this profession. It masquerades as science to proclaim its thoroughgoing secular humanism. In the end, there are only two philosophies or worldviews: those of God (Biblical Christianity) or those of man (secular humanism). Nowhere is the contrast more apparent than the area of mental health.

The Biblical Understanding of the Soul

1) Man has not been the same from the “beginning.” Adam and Eve existed in a perfect state of harmony; that is, they were “mentally healthy.” However, their Fall plunged mankind into a distortion of that original state, cursed by God. But, God provided salvation in His Son, to provide a correction to this fallen state. Even, so the fallen nature continues to plague born-again Christians (Romans 7). Eventually, the saved will be rewarded with another perfect state of health, and the unsaved with eternal damnation.

These states of mankind are basics of Christianity. Yet, they contrast with the claims of psychiatry which see man in only one natural condition.

2) The non-material (spiritual) world is the greater reality in the universe. “All things are upheld by the Word of His Power” (Hebrews 1:3). “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” (John 1:1). God is spirit. From Him, all that is material was made.

In man, it is his spirit that will live forever. He will have a resurrected body, but his spirit will never cease to exist. Man was inanimate until God provided him with a spirit (Genesis 2:7). The dominance of the spiritual contrasts with the materialistic understanding of psychiatry.

3) Man is a body-spirit unity. Again, the spirit is dominant. It does not die or decay. Body is inert without soul. The spirit is acted upon by God at conversion and during sanctification.

But, the spirit is limited by the body. The body gives location to the spirit. The spirit can only interact with others and the world through a functional brain and body. A head injury or stroke will certainly limit the communication of the spirit.

4) There is a depth of understanding of the mind that only God can know. “The heart is deceitful above all things, And desperately wicked; Who can know it? I, the Lord, search the heart, I test the mind… ” (Jeremiah 17:9). God is making the claims here that only He can understand the mind.

It is interesting that the science of psychiatry (variable as it is) is consistent with God’s claim. Memory under hypnosis (a “deeper” state of mind) has been shown to be no more reliable than “conscious” memory. Lie detectors are known to be unreliable to “prove” that one is telling the truth or lying. Childhood memories that have been “uncovered” in “depth psychotherapy” have often been shown to exist only in the mind of the “therapist.”

But, curiously, God tells us a simpler way to understand others. “From the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks.” “As a man thinks in his heart, so is he.” We know the depths of a person’s mind from his words and his behavior. How simple. How revealing.

Now, we cannot know the thoughts of another person unless they are revealed by his speech and behavior. But, how much of these can really be hidden? Probably, very little. I may have random, even frequent thoughts and possible actions that I never act upon. But, those that are truly part of my character will be revealed in my speech and behavior.

You think not? Then, I would like to tie a tape recorder around your neck and have someone follow you around with a camera every day, all day. All I ask is that you talk and behave as though the camera is not there. Any takers? I did not think so! We live what we are!

A new thought crosses my mind as I write about this section. I wonder if the ability of a person to control his speech and behavior has some correspondence to mental disorders. The one who can control himself is “normal.” “Socially functional” might be a better label. The one who cannot control himself is “mentally disordered” or better, “socially disordered.” Then, neurotic and psychotic would be degrees of the same disorder.

Are we not all “mentally disordered” to some extent? We are fallen, and we are strongly sinful. It is the account of many (most, all) medical students that as they are exposed to the range of mental disorders, they see the same or similar characteristics in themselves. I experienced this self-diagnosis. I wonder if there is not a degree of many (most, all) such disorders in all of us. Only God’s special and common grace prevents this heinous world from fully manifesting itself. It does partially manifest itself in those whom we eventually diagnose as “mentally disordered.”

5) An individual may change over time, especially if he is a Christian. The unsaved are enemies of God (Romans 5:10). What does this passage say about secular psychiatrists? About the behavior of the unsaved who carry the label of mental disorders?

I contend that the unsaved cannot be mentally healthy! How can a mind that is rebellious toward God be healthy? Further, how can mental health be present without the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23). The unsaved cannot hope of Heaven. You may have heard, like I have, that a certain person is so loving and kind that he would make a “good Christian.” Ummm. What?

The saved are not the same today, as they were yesterday. There is the process of sanctification that progresses Christians toward Christ-likeness. Eventually, there will be perfection in heaven (II Corinthians 4:7-18).

6) There are no excuses for wrong behavior in the Bible. Children are held accountable (corporal punishment). Certain (for example, murder and rape) crimes are punishable by death. Property offenders must restore what they have damaged or stolen. Unbelief is punished by eternal damnation.

But, the Bible is also about forgiveness. The ultimate example is forgiveness in Christ, but possible only because He was punished instead of us. We are to forgive other believers “seventy times seven.”

Even though sinful behavior is no excuse, tolerance is admonished. “Longsuffering” is a fruit of the Spirit. Fathers are not to provoke their children to anger.

You see, the Bible IS about psychology, properly understood. Psychology is simply an understanding of the mind (soul). The Bible has quite a different view of man’s mind than does psychiatry.

The Biblical View of Mental Health

So, what can we conclude about a Biblical view of mental health? 1) Only a degree of mental health is possible under the curse. Perfection lies ahead in Heaven. So, we are to progress toward an increasingly “sound mind,” but the perfection of that will not occur in this life. 2) Mental health is individualistic. Christians have different spiritual gifts (I Corinthians 12, Ephesians 4:11-12, etc.). Similarly, they have different personalities and sins. Allowing individual differences within churches is one of the major difficulties of the modern church. Somehow, the meek and mild person is more spiritual that the one who is openly critical. The person with the gift of helps often does not understand why he works alone. The person with the gift of teaching does not understand why everyone else is so ignorant and studies so little. Thus, the Church fails to mature as God has prescribed for it to do.

3) Mental health is others-oriented. Primarily, the Christian is oriented to God in obedience, worship, study of His Word, and service. Then, he is oriented toward others. First, to one’s spouse, and then, to one’s children. A Christian should exercise his spiritual gifts in the church and exercise his rights and duties as a citizen.

I have often wondered how much “mental illness” would be cured by the “client’s” re-orientation outward, rather than inward. The big emotions of fear, anger, and sadness are self-oriented. What will happen to ME? What did happen to ME? How can I get even? What if persons whelmed with these emotions became actively involved helping others: in soup kitchens, on skid row, in orphanages, in the hospital, or with Mother Theresa–helping people with real problems?

4) Mental illness sometimes requires medication. I have no doubt that some mental illness is due to some occult brain disease. For example, carefully diagnosed schizophrenia likely is a brain disease. Some forms of depression may require anti-depressants. If I have a headache, why not take aspirin or acetaminophen?

But, there are two caveats. a) Too many people who are on drugs for “mental illness” should not be. Drugs are the easy way out for patients and physicians. But, drugs are only a part. The person must become Biblically responsible in all the ways that he is deficient along with any medication. Often, he does not.

b) The drugs should WORK. It amazes me how many patients take drugs regardless of their effect. I often ask them, “Does the Drug X help?” They answer, “Well, I don’t really know. The doctor prescribed it for me, so I guess it does.” Baloney! Shame! Get with the program. If a drug is prescribed of any condition, especially for a mental illness, the patient must determine (along with his physician) whether it works. Drugs costs money. They have side effects, some of which can be life-threatening. They are all poisons of some type. Why take a foreign substance if it does not work? What is this passive idiocy of modern patients?

5) A person is more, much more, than his diagnosis. A person is not just a schizophrenic, an alcoholic, a drug addict, or a nervous disorder. He is first a child of God (saved) or a potential child of God (unsaved). He (or she) may be a husband or a wife. He may be parent. He is usually an employee. He has hobbies. He is a citizen with civic responsibilities. I wonder how much “mental illness” is reinforced simply because the sole focus of the psychiatric visit is the patient’s diagnosis. Being responsible in all the roles that every person has minimizes whatever besetting problem that the person has.

6) Ask “What” questions, not “Why” questions.” We know “Why”–the Fall and personal sin. The focus of much “psychotherapy” is inward and seeking origins of problems. Everyone has had parents who were not perfect. Everyone has been “abused” in some way. Everyone has had something “unfair” happen to him. Much like 4) and 5) above, “Get on with your life” (in all its responsibilities). The Bible assumes the “Why,” but it focuses of the “What” (to do about problems).

Jay Adams has a little book, Four Weeks with God and Your Neighbor. It is a daily devotional book with an action plan. Your “quiet time” is not isolated from your life. You study the Bible about God and your responsibilities, make written plans, and act on them that day! How unique! No, how Biblical. “Get on with your life!”

Christians Who Are Psychologists and Psychiatrists

There are a plethora of Christians writing about “emotional” and psychological problems. What I want to do now is give you some criteria by which to evaluate their Biblical orientation. These are not deep, theological issues, but basic issues for every Christian.

1) There are two classes of people with problems: the saved and unsaved. While basic and simple, it is amazing the number of Christians who make no distinction about mental health problems as to the saved and unsaved. I have already reviewed the major differences between these two groups of people.

A corollary of this division is that unbelievers cannot be mentally healthy. Period. End of statement!

2) The Bible IS a book on (true) psychology and mental health. Early in my medical school days, one psychiatrist gave us a pearl when he said that all emotions can be listed under three labels: fear (afraid, anxiety, panic, etc.), anger (frustration, resentment, rage, etc.) and sadness (depression, grief, sorrow, etc.). To remember them, I call them, “frad, mad, and sad” (since one does not naturally rhyme).

Worry. “Therefore, do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble” (Matthew 6:34 and verses 25-33 preceding).

Anger. “Be angry, and do not sin. Do not let the sun go down on your wrath…” (Ephesians 4:26).

Sadness. “Therefore, do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day” (II Corinthians 4:16 and verses 7-15, 17-18). And, hundreds of other verses that apply to these emotions.

3) The states of mankind should be acknowledged. There was the perfect state of the Garden, the Fall and God’s curse, salvation, sanctification, and glorification (heaven). These are the “Whys” and the Bible tells the “Whats” (to do about them).

4) The battle with sin rages. Paul was a believer in Romans 7, contrary to the opinion of many theologians (and psychiatrists). Someone has said that the height of God’s salvation cannot be experienced without knowing the depth of one’s own depravity. (See Romans 3:10-18.) This statement does not mean that a Christian (or pagan-to-become Christian) must live the depths of his own depravity. No. It means that the more Christlike a person becomes, the more he hates the sin within himself, as Paul does in Romans 7.

I recall this comment by a Godly man of the past. It is not a quote, as I do not remember it exactly, but the following expresses the thought. “There lies within the greatest saint a spark to ignite the worst Hell were it not for the grace of God.” That, my brothers and sisters, is a proper understanding of human depravity and God’s grace to restrain it.

5) Jay Adams is the watershed of psychiatric and psychological issues. No man that I have ever read has a more Biblically thorough understanding of these issues. Thus, what a Christian in one of these fields says about Jay Adams reveals the person’s own depth and breadth of understanding. Jay Adams is right about sin issues. He is right about church issues. He is eminently practical (so much so that one often has to face one’s unwillingness, rather than not knowing what one’s responsible actions are). He is right about forgiveness. He is right on many subjects relative to mental health.

Dr. Adams is often misquoted, so any readers or hearers of adverse comments about him should check what he actually said, rather than what they heard. Over the centuries, an orthodox and Reformed theology has formed the bedrock for Biblical understanding for Christians. Most Christians in mental health ignore or have little understanding of this bedrock. Jay Adams brings all of that theology to his counseling theory and practice.


What are the roles of psychotherapy, drugs, and religion in mental health? There is no role for secular psychotherapy. Mental health does not exist for the unbeliever. He can only exchange one problem for another. The secular psychotherapist cannot advise or understand a Christian and his responsibilities. The only counsel that a Christian counselor can give to a an unbeliever is the same as what Jesus said to Nicodemus, “You must be born again.”

There is an occasional role for drugs. However, most people do not need them, and the drugs must have a clearly defined endpoint. I have not gone into the vagaries or gray areas of truly organic disturbances, because they really comprise only a small corner of this huge area loosely described as mental illness. We will never understand the proper role of drugs until they can be used with sufficient Biblical controls to validate their efficacy. That day is in the far distant future, if it ever exists at all.

The role of “religion,” as Biblical Christianity, is essential and primary. The large majority of “mental disorders,” as managed by practicing psychiatrists and psychologists today, could be solved with Biblical conversion and obedience. But, I speak of a more comprehensive application than is usually given. A person must learn Biblical obedience to every relationship and area of his life. He must become more than his problem label. He must become a fully functioning child of God.

Ed Welch has summarized this areas with these conclusions (pp. 106-114 of Blame It on the Brain, below). 1) Psychiatric problems are always spiritual and sometimes physical problems. 2) Psychiatric problems sometimes respond to medication. (He has a section, also, “Does Medication Really Help.”) 3) Psychiatric labels are descriptions, not explanations.

In addition, Dr. Welch has a chapter on a teenager whose brain is damaged in an automobile accident. That section offers an excellent insight into what is, without question, an organic brain problem. It does not carry the baggage of schizophrenia or depression. (Dr. Welch discusses those problems in other areas of the book.)

Psychology and psychiatry have been described as the Trojan Horse of the modern Church. It has entered by stealth and is destroying the City. Whether true organic mental illnesses exist and how to treat them is only a minor issue. The major issue is a Biblical understanding of the person, his relationships, salvation, and obedience.

I have tried to present the simple basic issues that every Christian can understand and apply to mental illness. That even these basic issues are blurred in this area is a condemnation of the Church and modern Christians. In reality, this modern error (and sometimes heresy) is only the symptom of the very problem: human depravity. Some minds may not be truly regenerated. Even those that are often blinded by the Sirens of secular approval and weak, even contrived, science masquerading as truth. We will seek almost every other course than that laid out by the Author of Truth. We are too often the Blind leading the Blind. We love living in the ditch!


Jay E. Adams. 1) Competent to Counsel. 2) Christian Counselor’s Manual. 3) Theology of Counseling. 4) All of his other books. Order from Timeless Texts 1 (800) 814-1045

Martin and Diedre Bobgan. 1) Prophets of PsychoHeresy – I (critique of Gary Collins, Larry Crabb, Paul Meier and Frank Minirth. 2) Prophets of PsychoHeresy – II (critique of James Dobson). EastGate Publishers 1 (800) 216-4696. They have several other books and a free newsletter.

Elyse Fitzpatrick. 1) Love to Eat, Hate to Eat (weight control, anorexia and bulimia). 2) Women Helping Women. Harvest House.

Edward T. Welch. 1) Counselor’s Guide to the Brain and Its Disorders. 2) Blame It on the Brain. Zondervan.


Christian Counseling and Educational Foundation, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (215) 884-7676. Provide pastoral instruction for Westminster Seminary, training programs, a journal, and various other programs.

Institute for Biblical Counseling and Discipleship, San Diego, California. (619) 462-9775. They provide conferences, training programs, and various publications.

National Association of Nouthetic Counselors, Lafayette, Indiana. (765) 448-9100. They have a list of trained counselors across the United States, conferences, and training programs.

Corporal Punishment and Hugging:

The Untold Story

The American Academy of Pediatrics has taken a formal stand against corporal punishment of children. Parents have been dragged into court for such discipline of their children, especially in public. Others have been investigated by the Department of Family and Children Services for similar acts. Thus, I welcome some positive information that “conservatively religious” parents “have surpassed other Americans in their expressiveness in parenting, particularly given the secular parenting literature’s long-standing emphasis on expressive parenting” (p. 807 inAmerican Sociological Review, December 1998, pp. 796-809).

“This study suggests that the portrait that has recently emerged of a strict parenting style among conservative Protestants should be modified. While it is true that conservative Protestant parents are more likely to rely on corporal punishment, it is also true that they are more likely than other parents to practice warm and expressive emotion work* with their children. In fact, as this study indicates, the most expressive parents are those who hold the most conservative views” (p. 807).

*”Emotion work” is “hugging and praising.” (So much for scientific, sociological jargon!–Ed)

There are two aspects of this study that I find interesting. First, this study is counterbalance to the ideological juggernaut that has been leveled against corporal punishment, a practice that is most vigorously defended by “conservative Protestants.”

But, second is the perception by the author, W. Bradford Wilcox (Ph.D. candidate at Princeton University) and design in his study of differing beliefs and practices among Protestants. He distinguishes between “conservative” and “mainline” Protestants and Roman Catholics (p. 800).

“Theological conservatism … I define by … attitudes to the Bible … the best measure of identification with conservative Protestant religious ideology because this ideology is centered on the Bible” (p. 800).

“The vast majority of Baptist churches are conservative and Presbyterian churches are mainline” (p. 801).

Mr. Bradford also found that membership and belief differ. “Membership in a conservative church is not as important as is personally identifying with the core religious ideology of those churches” (p. 805-806).

You did not hear this study blasted forth in the national media as were other studies that demean conservative Christians or their beliefs. I found it in the NAE Washington Insight (June 1999, Church Edition). As a “secular” study published in a “secular, scientific” publication, it counters a great deal that has been leveled against corporal punishment and the stern, overbearing demeanor of those who practice it. On that level, I bring it to your attention for reference and use.

But, I remind you that the battle is not won or lost at this level. The Bible, as Truth, does not have to prove itself. In fact, judgment of truth is the province of the Church, that is, in its exercise of discipline (a forgotten and abandoned criterion that defines true churches). Again, as I have said often on these pages, science does not determine truth. It determines findings that are determined and limited by its own parameters.

Corporal punishment is also an issue of freedom under the United States Constitution to practice Christianity according to the dictates of one’s conscience consistent with the Bible.

These greater issues of truth and freedom are glossed over and forgotten in the jargon of science because science has become primarily the tool of anti-Christian thought. But, even science, if properly understood and applied, can only point the best of its findings toward God and the Bible.

Mr. Wilcox has provided some delaying and attacking ammunition with which to fight on the scientific level. Indeed, he has taken the issues deeper than most. Use his study when appropriate to show the ideological bias that has become mainstream. But, remember, that the fight is on a deeper, long-term level: the issue of how truth is determined, and it is not determined by science but by faith.

And, similarly, I follow with this observation.

AIDS: Issues and Answers

Vol. 13, No. 4 (83) July 1999

HIV Vaccine Update

AIDSVAX is looking for male volunteers “who have sex with men and high-risk heterosexuals” (American Medical News, June 14, 1999, pp. 1, 38). AIDSVAX is a Phase III trial of a vaccine for HIV, the stage at which testing occurs in humans prior to its release for general use (if successful).

“AIDSVAX is not the first experimental HIV vaccine to be tested in humans. About 40 preventive vaccines are being studied in clinical trials worldwide.

“There is no consensus about which one is most likely to prevent HIV infection, and experts believe different approaches must be tested in both developed and developing countries….”

“AIDSVAX is furthest along in the research and development pipeline.”

However, the trial is stalled because of a lack of volunteers. There has been false information circulating among both physicians and potential test subjects that enrollees may actually become HIV-infected. (A false rumor because AIDSVAX is a genetically engineered vaccine, not produced from killed HIV.) The success of present anti-viral drugs could be another factor, as people are not seeing their friends die as frequently as before. Also, the HIV/AIDS researchers are not sure what is the best vaccine to support.

This intended three-year trial is likely to be longer. Enrollment has slowed to a snail’s pace.

Commentary: It is still immoral to develop a vaccine to prevent the harmful effects of sexual immorality, but our government has chosen an HIV vaccine as one of its highest priorities.

You are experiencing this priority with hepatitis B vaccine. Some of you have children being vaccinated. Others have grandchildren. The only reason to vaccinate against hepatitis B is to assume that all children will be sexually promiscuous, inject IV drugs, or become a health-care worker. And thus go the priorities of our government!

However, this vaccine and some others are now causing unacceptable illness and injury. I will report on these problems in the next issue of Reflections.

On Consistencies of Worldviews: Helen Keller

A secretary down the hall has several items over her desk and on her door. I found it interesting that one item was an inspiring quote from Helen Keller and the other a signed picture of Bill Clinton. It is unlikely that she will ever grasp the incongruity of the two.

First, Bill Clinton is the foremost abortionist in this country and has the most power to limit or expand the number and range of abortions. If Helen Keller were conceived today, she would have a one in three chance of being aborted.

Second, Bill Clinton is the foremost liberal of the day for the same reason of his power. Liberals believe that corporal punishment is parental abuse and such children should be given to other “parents.” Helen Keller suffered what was probably a viral illness shortly after birth that left her blind and deaf. Her family could do nothing with her because of their inability to communicate with her. She lived virtually as an animal, foraging from anyone’s plate at the table and carrying on like a barn animal.

Anne Sullivan was brought in to care for her. Believing that even a deaf-mute was a child of God, she (corporally) disciplined Helen quite forcefully (and shockingly to her parents). However, this discipline gave order to Helen’s world to the extent that she was able to eventually learn the association of words and images that she could feel, and then to read and write in Braille.

These simple items on a wall are a microcosm of the United States today. Although post-Christian (or post-modern, if you choose), whatever good that is still present in America is from the past and present influence of Christians and God’s common grace. Liberals are blind to the difference. They like to glow in the successes that are in reality caused by God and His people, while condemning the same. The same choice that God gave to Israel in Deuteronomy 30 continues to confront all nations today. Choose God and life and health or choose man and death and disease. Helen Keller is the product of Christian discipline. Bill Clinton and his ilk are the anathema of that life-giving approach.

A Lighthearted Look at Coding

These days, as I flip through the pages, I find digitized (to decimals) our life stories. Like the Dewey Decimal System, it archives our lumps and bumps by size and location, our anxieties and exuberance by degree. Who but a health care professional would care?

From the time that we are born with our thumbs in our mouths (307.9) or are cursed forever by our palmer creases (757.2), we are coded down to our most secret attributes. Stuck with the sins of our parents (V19.7) or blessed with a good old growth spurt (V21.0), we are the targets of the numerically obsessed.

But, there are some things I don’t understand. Why, for example, do rat bites (E906.1) get their own code while cat bites are lumped with the bites of moray eels and sharks (E906.3)? Why is being pecked by a bird equivalent to being stuck with porcupine quills or being gored by a boar?

And, even in maturity, we may still get value from tantrums (312.1) no matter if they are for problems with academics (V62.3) or aging in-laws (V61.3). Adventurous fools could get coded for voluntary descent in a parachute but the less fortunate will receive an 842 or 3 for involuntary descent. A worst case scenario would rate an 844.

(Catherine DeVries, M.D., Vital Signs II (The Official Newsletter of the Medical College of Georgia Physicians Practice Group Foundation), June 1999 p. 3)

“Middle Road” on Stem Cell Research?

The 17-member National Bioethics Advisory Commission, appointed by Bill Clinton, has taken a “middle road” on stem cell research (American Medical News, August 2, 1999, pp. 8, 12). This middle road means that federal funds may be used for research “on leftover embryos donated by couples who were finished with their infertility treatments.” Another source of stem cells may be those from elective abortions. The commission did stand against “the creation of embryos for research purposes.”

Commentary: While the position of this commission is not as severe as it might be, nevertheless it falls far short of protecting unborn human life. With only a little more effort, a virtually infinite number of stem cells could be obtained from spontaneously aborted (miscarried) or ectopic pregnancies. But, what else could one expect from a Clinton-appointed panel?This article focused on one physician, Dr. Arturo Brito, who says, “Sometimes I can’t sleep at night” (because he voted for the commission position). His arguments are a violation of the most basic ethical principles, regardless of one’s worldview.

First, “We live in a pluralistic society… Who’s to say who’s right?” Suppose his own child were stolen by a childless mother. (The article does not mention whether he has a child or not. I am speculating by example.) Would he then profess the same argument of who’s right? Why not? If he has a child, surely he would want a childless mother to have one. Such ethical reasoning is rarely ever consistently applied to other situations. If it were, its fallacy might be more apparent. But, such reasoning require more effort than most are willing to invest.

Second, “He also knows that the research shows great promise.” Let’s see. If the results are sufficiently beneficial, then any action can be taken to bring about that end? It would be beneficial to kill most of the inhabitants of countries where children are starving so that the survivors could have more food. The reasoning is the same.

Explicit or induced Biblical principles prevent such tragedies of reasoning. But, logic and rational thinking will, also. There is no internal consistency of such a system. But, then, who cares when one can feel good that he will help some nameless, suffering child by stem cell research. Never mind the wake of death produced by that benefit.