Friday, June 20, 2008
Teen from faith-healing family dies in Oregon
Ever so often we see a report on people who believe in “faith healing” and refuse standard medical care or support. In some cases these people are cured by “miraculous” means…and I’m afraid in most cases, they don’t get better and die. I think this is a mystery for both believer and non-believer alike.
I come from family roots that believe in “faith healing”. I myself have observed or been witness to miraculous recoveries. I have an uncle with cancer who is a “walking miracle”. Meanwhile, his daughter, my cousin, died in her early 30s from a very rare and fatal disease leaving behind a loving Christian husband, family and two very young children. There were many small “miracles” during her ordeal that we observed or heard about and her personal faith and courage during that time was exemplary to all…but she died…and we still miss her.
Life and death is still a mystery to us all in one way or another. It leads to many big questions and mystery in life that I’m not sure there are answers to. Religion and faith can sustain us to a point of giving comfort and support based on what we “believe” regarding the purpose of life and promise of an after-life, but still many times we have to admit it doesn’t take the total “bite” out of our sense of loss and injustice. Life can be very perplexing…and some of us, well, at least me, don’t find it that easy to just dismiss it as simply “Gods will” or “that’s the way it goes”. We hurt, we question, and we continue searching for answers.
Therefore, stories like the one above in the video and article stir up some thoughts. Fortunately, my family has balance in believing in miracles, but also believing God works through and with doctors, nurses, scientists, et al. The best cures are a combination of faith, positive attitude and…sound judgment as to cures and actions that can be realistically taken to “help God help us”.
The main problem this story brings up is…what is the role of parents for young children versus the community at large and government observing the treatment, or lack thereof, for a child’s illness. Can we in good conscience just stand back and let parents make irrational and mystical decisions related to the survival of their children who don’t know any better or have any power to make their own decisions about what’s best for them? What morals or principles are most important here? Protection of people’s religions/beliefs, or protection of their very lives? Who should intervene? Other family members? Neighbors? Local officials like the police? State government? Federal government? At this point it seems EVERYONE is confused on who is responsible for these situations. I’m sure the parents or even extended church members involved believed they were doing the right thing. But, to what level do we now hold them responsible for the death of their child? Have THEY learned anything by this? Is their faith elevated or diminished by these results? Or…have they become so anesthetized by their beliefs that they already have moved on and don’t understand what all the fuss is about?
There are no easy answers to much of this in my mind. I do believe that ADULTS should be able to make their own decisions about seeking medical care or health improvements…as long as it doesn’t cost ME or their NEIGHBORS for their lack of reasonable care. But for minors/children, I think community and government has a role, preferably BEFORE the death of a child, to intervene where extreme irrationality is threatening sustainable life of that child. Unfortunately, we usually wait until it’s too late, and then just point fingers and castigate people.
What do you think?