, Corbin, KY

May 6, 2013

Conflicting advice in medicine and religion

The Times-Tribune

CORBIN — In our quest for truth, sometimes we have to be open to correct our convictions and sometimes live in ambivalence.

 In the field of Medicine:

Women should take estrogen and progestin after menopause.  No they should not. It will increase the risk of breast cancer.

Men over 50 should get regular blood test for prostate cancer. No, they should not. This blood test detects many non-cancerous growths, and can lead to risky interventions. Besides that, many prostate tumors are so slow growing (even if cancerous) they never need removal.

Annually, women over 40 need screening for breast cancer. No, they don’t. Many such screenings are false, leading to additional tests and procedures that may bring complications.

Women who are post-menopausal should take vitamin D and calcium to strengthen bones. No, they should not. The recommended doses are not high enough to adequately strengthen bones. Also, taking calcium may increase the risk of heart disease.

In the field of Religion:

Baptize at infancy. No, wait until the child makes his/her own decision.

Marriage is until death; No, marriage is until irreconcilable differences.

Communion should be every Sunday; No, periodically or perhaps only annually.

The Communion bread becomes the real presence of Jesus. No, it is a memorial. The bread is still just bread.

Fornication is a sin. No, fornication if monogamous not promiscuous, is not a sin.

Adultery is always wrong. No, there can be justifying circumstances.

Homosexuality is a sin. No, God made some people different.

Cautious and moderate drinking of alcoholic beverage is okay. No, all alcoholic drinking is sinful.

 We all need to observe the Sabbath by worshipping in a church. No, reflecting on God at home is just as good.

Loving our enemies is necessary to be a Christian. No, allowing our enemies to walk all over us violates natural intelligence and the right of self-defense.

Such is our world of polarization and contradictions. There is little wonder that many of us might be throwing up our hands in frustration. We are surrounded by challenges, sometimes a lack of certainty and the ever-present need for finding the truth.

There is truth. We are so blessed, more today than ever, to know truth in the fields of medicine and theology as well as in most fields of study.  However we are all far from knowing it all.

Following the clearest truth of Jesus Christ, that we must have love for one another, may we all be united in mutual respect, collaborating in the pursuit of truth.

  “We ought to show hospitality to others so that we may work together for the truth.” [3 John: 8]

  And for those things of which we are convinced (such as Jesus standing in our midst resurrected), may we hear the words of Jesus to Phillip, “Stop doubting and believe.” [John 20:27]

The Rev. John Burkhart  Ph.D, is a retired Episcopal priest and professor of  psychology blog at inspirationsandideas