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Does Believing In God Stop One From Taking Medicine Or Blood Transfusion?

07 March 2015   |   11:00 pm
Due to religious beliefs, when some people, especially Christians fall ill, they refuse to take drugs preferring to go to their prayer houses, instead of heading for the hospital. While no one has the right to query the stand of another in such matters, it nevertheless elicits curiosity when someone at the point of death,…


Due to religious beliefs, when some people, especially Christians fall ill, they refuse to take drugs preferring to go to their prayer houses, instead of heading for the hospital. While no one has the right to query the stand of another in such matters, it nevertheless elicits curiosity when someone at the point of death, and who probably could have been saved by medical treatment refuses to avail himself/herself of such. Does medicine in any way reduce one’s faith in the Creator? Recently, for instance, a pregnant woman reportedly shun the idea of blood transfusion, which was meant to aid in her safe delivery, as she was experiencing prolonged and difficult labour. She did this on the ground that her faith does not permit such. So, one cannot but ask: should believing in God stop the individual from taking medicine, going to the hospital or receiving blood transfusion? Is availing oneself the benefits of medicine tantamount to less faith in the Lord? How far can faith carry the believer? Some Clerics ventilate on the issue, as reported by CHRIS IREKAMBA. 

• Where Does Faith End And Medicine Begin?

‘I Deem It Unfortunate That The Woman Refused Blood Transfusion’

(Rt. Rev. Monsignor John Aniagwu, Vicar-General of the Catholic Archdiocese of Lagos/Parish Priest, St. Leo’s Catholic Church, Ikeja, Lagos)

THERE is a saying that ‘heaven helps those who help themselves.’ So, if you are sick and you want God to help you, you have to do something. You don’t just sit down doing nothing about it and believing that God will just come and work miracle in your life. It is also a fact that God is the Author of medical science. He gave the medical know-how to human beings. So, when we have recourse to medical science, we do so in the consciousness that God Himself created it. It does not in any way contradict or detract from our faith, if we use something that God Himself has made available for us. Opting for medication or going to the hospital does not contradict our religious stance.   

  Indeed, we encourage members to also use whatever resources are available and compatible with Christianity alongside prayers. So, for instance, we will never encourage anyone to go to a shrine or consult a medium and such things. But if you go to the hospital for medical care or even take traditional medicine that is not tied to fetishism, it’s in order. We are not against such in the Catholic Church. 

  To the woman that refused blood transfusion even after she was told ‘look, you need blood to survive’ and she refused, I would say it’s unfortunate, though I can’t judge members of other faith. I can only say that in my own Church, I would not advise anyone to do that. We run hospitals. In fact, there are a lot of Catholic hospitals around the world and there is even one right here inside this church compound. When people come to us, we give them whatever medical help that is available. And if blood transfusion is required, we give it. 

‘Many Leaders Have Misled Their Members On Blood Transfusion’

(Brother Godwin Ifeacho, Chairman, Executive Board, God’s Kingdom Society, GKS, Warri, Delta State) 

SOME people hold the religious view that it is wrong for a Christian to take medicine in any form. This is wrong. The Bible makes it clear that God has provided medicines for the use of man. “He causeth the grass to grow for the cattle, and herb for the service of man…” (Psalm 104:14). In Proverbs 17:22, it is written: “A merry heart doeth good LIKE A MEDICINE: but a broken spirit drieth the bones.” That faith and prayer are of great importance in the life of a Christian cannot be argued. But to depend on them without discretion and understanding of the law of God is tantamount to over-righteousness or fanaticism, which can even lead to untimely death. It was King Solomon that said: “Be not righteous over much; neither make thyself over wise: why shouldest thou destroy thyself?” – Ecclesiastes 7:16.

  When Hezekiah, the king of Judah was sick and prayed for recovery, God Almighty instructed Isaiah the prophet to tell him to take a lump of figs and lay it on the boil. “And they took and laid it on the boil, and he recovered.”  (2 Kings 20:1-7) The lump of figs used to cure the boil was medicine, pure and simple.     Indeed, those who should see a physician as our Lord Jesus Christ said in Matthew 9:12 are those who are sick. And will the doctor not prescribe medicine? In the parable of the Good Samaritan, oil and wine were poured on the wounds of the man injured by robbers. These were medicines. See Luke 10:25-37.

  James 5:13-16 where the exhortation is given that one who is sick should meet the elders of the church to pray for him “and the prayer of faith shall save the sick” does not in any way mean that Christians should not take medicine. It only emphasises the power of prayer and the importance of faith such that when a Christian takes medicine, he believes it cannot be effective UNLESS God, by His grace, blesses it with His healing power. 

   A Christian should, however, avoid anything idolatrous for that is sinful.  (2 Kings 1:1-18; see also Deuteronomy 18:10-12 and Isaiah 8:19.) It is only the Lord alone that heals and this belief is perfectly in order.

  On blood transfusion, there is no disputing the fact that the Almighty God commanded his people not to eat blood; but this is not the same as blood transfusion, which involves transferring the blood of one person into the circulatory and not the digestive system of another person. Transfusion is similar to when someone is given drip to sustain him/her when he/she cannot eat.  The drip will not have the needed effect unless transfused. 

  Eating of food merely serves to satisfy hunger and the waste is later passed out, (Matthew 15: 15,17) while transfusion involves injecting blood or blood plasma directly into the blood vessels of a patient.  It is a big sacrifice by one to sustain the life of another person. Jesus Christ said: “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15:13). It is not a sin.

  Many people have died because of ignorance, having been misled by their leaders on the issue of blood transfusion. The Bible says “For the leaders of this people cause them to err and they that are led of them are destroyed.”  (Isaiah 9:16) And God Almighty declared through the prophet Hosea: “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge…” -Hosea 4:6.

If Somebody Refuses Blood Transfusion, It’s More Of Denominational Doctrine’

(Pastor Onyema Duruigbo, General Overseer, The Gospel House, Okota, Lagos)

GOD created all the herbs and gave them to man. When discussing medicine, you are talking about synthesising those herbs and extracting the active ingredients in them, measuring them and being in a position to administer them. If God gave herbs to man and commanded him to eat them, He would not frown at anyone going to the hospital for treatment. He’s given us all wisdom and power and He said ‘subdue,’ which means subduing sicknesses with the wisdom He has given us. 

  So, I think it’s not Biblical for the woman to have said because of her faith she wouldn’t take blood transfusion and all that. It’s more of denominational doctrines and people that do that are mostly Jehovah’s Witnesses. 

  As a Christian, I don’t see anything wrong with it even in the scriptures when King Hezekiah was sick, Isaiah was commanded to take some figs and mix them with leaves and when he administered that Hezekiah recovered. God is not against it and if your faith cannot carry you, it’s advisable you seek treatment elsewhere. The drugs cannot heal on its own. It still requires the Hand of God to rejuvenate the cells within the system. I don’t see anything wrong in taking drugs, going to the hospital for treatment or receiving blood transfusion. 

‘Anyone Who Does That Is Going To The 

Extreme In Exercising His/Her Faith’

(Rev. (Dr.) Musa Asake, National Secretary, Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN)

HAVING faith in God does not mean that one should not take medication when he or she is sick. Anyone who does that is actually going too far in the exercise of his or her faith. Such is also a clear indication that the individual does not know what faith in God is. 

  There is nowhere in the Bible we read that if you have faith in God you cannot take any medication. One’s faith in God should enable him/her believe that the medication will work. Today, there are some Christians who have fine-tuned the Bible to suit their personal and selfish theology and are thus causing serious problems in the household of God.

   My question to anyone that refuses to go to hospital for treatment but goes to a prayer house is: whom is he/she going to meet in that prayer house? The person offering that prayer is praying to whom? Why don’t you pray to that same God yourself? Prayer does not prevent you from taking medication. Some prayer houses have become a source of income while they try to play God. Some tell the sick that someone is responsible for their ailment and ask them to do this or that. I do not encourage any Christian to do that. 

  There are examples from the Bible that encourage people to go to the hospital for treatment. For example, Na’aman the leper in the book of Kings was told by prophet Elisha to go to the river and dip himself seven times so that he could be healed. 

  Refusing to go to the hospital for treatment is wrong. Our faith can carry us even to the hospital and still believe that God will use that medication to heal us and if at the end we do not get healed then that is God’s will for us. We may not understand but we believe Him. 

  Believing in God does not stop us from taking medicine and nobody should deceive us by playing God.

‘Those Who Are In Need Of Blood Transfusion, Surgery Should Not Be Hindered’

(Pastor Ezekiel Joel, Full Salvation Believers’ Assembly Int’l, Nnewi, Anambra State)

LET us be sincere, the issue of faith is very delicate and personal. The issue of whether or not to use medical means to secure our health or to allow blood transfusion is as delicate. Those who believe that it goes against the teaching and practice of their church should not be castigated or condemned for any reason whatsoever. This is the stand of the Bible, especially as there have been people whose personal faith has developed and carried them for over three decades, without taking a single tablet or dose of syrup. 

  Yes, the Bible promised divine healing for the sick, without the use of medicine, upon fulfilling certain scriptural conditions (Exod.15: 26; 23:25; Deut.7: 15; Psalm 103:1-4; Jer.33: 3,6; Isaiah 53:4,5; Mathew 8:16,17; Acts10: 38; I Peter2: 21, 24).

  Interestingly, God is still honouring His word and proving Himself faithful on behalf of, and to those who trust in His unfailing and unchanging promises and power to heal and keep His trusting children healthy. I’m a living witness to miraculous healings. 

  However, those who are in need of medical help such as blood transfusion, surgery and caesarean section among others should not be hindered or condemned also. This is because God, in His word, alluded to the role of medical aid, and not in a derogatory manner (lsaiah1: 6; Jer.8: 22; 30:12,13; Luke10: 33-37; Matt.9: 12). Christians are admonished not to look down on others regarding what their faith can or cannot carry (Matt.7: 1-3; Rom14: 1-5; 15:1-3). I would only advise all and sundry to ensure life is not lost because of ignorance or due to dogmatism and fanaticism. 

  It is God that gave doctors the knowledge of medicine in order to help humanity. And we should be free to take advantage of what God has graciously given for our good, without becoming fetish or going into syncretism.

‘Some People Thought God Should Do Almost Everything For Them’

(Bishop Isaac Ayo Olawuyi, Methodist Church Nigeria, Diocese of Lagos Mainland)

IN creation, God made man in His image Gen. I: 26-27. He created other things such as water, trees in their kinds, grass of the field in their kinds and animals in their kinds but made man to have dominion over all that He created. In fact, God had created all other things before He finally created man. 

  All that the Lord had made are given to man to eat for his subsistence and wellbeing. The food we eat and water we drink are medicine for the body. All roots and herbs that God created are good according to Gen. 1:31, which reads thus “And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.” Everything, which is made by God, has been declared good for us, good for our consumption, use, sustainability, wellbeing and healing. 

  There are cases of healing in the Bible through the power of faith, which has a significant place in the healing of man. Peter’s mother-in-law was healed of fever by our Lord Jesus Christ, Mark 1:29-31. It has been scientifically proven that faith in God does quicken recovery from illnesses. There are several places in the Bible, where faith alone is accounted for the healing of the people. But there is no place in the Bible that forbids the use of drugs, especially for someone who is ill. Jesus said: “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick”—Matthew 9:12.        

   For any one who is sick or a pregnant woman who needs medical attention but refuses a medical treatment is acting in ignorance of the Divine Providence. Medical care is part of God’s provisions for restoration, health, wellbeing and life sustainability. It does not contradict or reduce faith in God. This wrong notion has been in existence for quite a long time. 

  Some people thought that faith should be absolute, that is, God should do almost everything for them. They expect that God should go to the office and do their work for them, that He should construct the road for them, as well as do the work of the PHCN by providing electricity, do the wiring of the house and switch it on for them. They feel that God should go and buy clothes and sew for them. He should also go to the market, buy foodstuff, cook and feed them. This is an absolute ignorance and total absurdity. 

  Divine providence is always there for us, but we have a part to play as well. His divine providence has to be wisely applied for the good of humanity. It is, therefore, advisable for anyone that is sick to go to the hospital for medical treatment and not refuse the goodness of God. If he or she dies as a result of refusal based on faith, he/she may enter heaven but he/she has lost his/her opportunity to live longer on earth for the good of his/her family, Church and nation. 

‘Jesus Acknowledged The Need For A Physician’

(Pastor (Dr.) Jacob E. Umoru, President Lagos Atlantic Conference of Seventh-Day Adventist Church)

THE Apostle Paul defines faith as “being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see” (Hebrews 11:1). John Wesley’s paraphrase of this verse: “(Faith) is the power to see into the world of spirits, into things invisible and eternal. It is the power to understand those things, which are not perceived by worldly senses.” Faith is the act of the soul by which the whole man is given over to the guardianship and control of Jesus Christ…with assurance …Christ is able to keep that which I have committed unto Him against that day. Tozer is right when he says that: “a spiritual kingdom lies all about us, enclosing us, embracing us altogether within reach of our inner selves, waiting for us to recognise it. God Himself is here waiting for our response to His Presence. This eternal world will come alive to us the moment we begin to reckon upon its reality.” 

  Some Christian denominations believe that when one is sick and takes medicine he doesn’t have enough faith in God because the person is depending on medicine and his/her doctor instead of God to make him/her better. To me, however, this actually reveals a self-righteous attitude and shows a lack of common sense. It is true that doctors cannot heal but only care, as it is only God that heals. This claim that seeing a doctor when sick shows a lack of faith is not consistent with the scriptures because Luke was a medical doctor and Jesus acknowledged him. When you read the Gospel of Luke, you can tell that a man that had medical experience wrote it.  Jesus acknowledged the need for a physician when he said in Luke 5:31, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” This is repeated in Matthew 9:12 and in Mark 2:17. 

   The story of the blind man in John 9:6-10 is a clear example of Jesus healing with medicine. As he said this, he spat on the ground and made clay of the spittle and anointed the man’s eyes with the clay, 7 saying to him, “Go, wash in the pool of Siloam” (which means Sent). So, he went and washed and came back seeing.  8 The neighbours and those who had seen him before as a beggar, said, “Is not this the man who used to sit and beg?” 9 Some said, “It is he”; others said, “No, but he is like him.” He said, “I am the man.”  10 They said to him, “Then how were your eyes opened?”  

  Here, we see that Jesus believed in doctors and that he said that it is the sick who needs a doctor.  How much plainer can that statement be? There are no Scriptures and there are no New Testament church verses where we are told not to seek medical attention when necessary. When Paul told Timothy to take a little wine for his stomach illness, would we accuse Timothy of having a lack of faith (1 Tim 5:23)?  Paul prayed three times to the Lord to remove his “thorn in the flesh” and would you say that Paul lacked faith (2 Cor 12:7-1)?  I would hope not.  God is the one that heals and it is He alone that heals and sometimes in His divine providence, He chooses not to because He can be shown strong in our weaknesses and afflictions (2 Cor 12:9). But this does not mean that God would expect us to do nothing.

  It is not a lack of faith for anyone to go to the doctor for treatment, but a demonstration of faith in God to cure them with the medicine. Those that have faith respond to treatment faster than those that do not.