When choosing a method of health care, whether it is allopathic or naturopathic, Christians must weigh each decision in light of the Scriptures. I believe there are four important questions we can ask ourselves as we determine whether or not to use herbal medicine as a means of health care for our families.
Does it contradict the Word of God, His commandments or statutes?
When I am trying to discern whether or not something is permissible before God, I first look for direct commandments dealing with the subject. In the case of using herbs as medicines, I first found instances in the Bible where the Lord lets us know what is not permissible.
Practices Not Permissible
- practices involving ingesting blood
As touching the Gentiles which believe, we have written and concluded that they observe no such thing, save only that they keep themselves from things offered to idols, and from blood, and from strangled, and from fornication. Acts 21:25
Only be sure that thou eat not the blood: for the blood is the life; and thou mayest not eat the life with the flesh.
There is a practice that is being promoted in the “natural community” of having women ingest the placenta after giving birth. Several benefits are cited as a reason for doing so. I won’t cover this topic in depth here, but I do want to state my position on this practice.
Jeremiah tells us that “the heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?”. As humans with a sin nature, we will always be able to come up with reasons why we should disobey the Word of God. There may be benefits to ingesting the placenta, but we are commanded to abstain from ingesting blood. We must be obedient to the Word of God.
- occult practices
There shall not be found among you any one that maketh his son or his daughter to pass through the fire, or that useth divination, or an observer of times, or an enchanter, or a witch, or a charmer, or a consulter with familiar spirits, or a wizard, or a necromancer. For all that do these things are an abomination unto the LORD: and because of these abominations the LORD thy God doth drive them out from before thee.
Because the use of herbs has been incorporated into many occult practice, we must distinguish between the evil practices accompanying the herbs and the use of the herbs themselves. Remember, the herbs themselves possess no power in themselves to heal, they are merely substances that encourage the body to do what it was designed to do more efficiently. Just as food gives nutrients to promote growth, herbs can both provide nutrients needed or solicit actions within the body.
- practices dishonoring the sanctity of life
Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations.
Even before conception, the Lord knows us and loves us. Every life is precious to the Lord. Every. Single. One. We must strive against the culture of death in this world, to make sure that we are doing everything possible in our being to protect life, even potential life.
As a woman of childbearing age, I must take every precaution to ensure I am not harming a baby in my womb. This means not taking certain herbs, which may have abortifacient properties, even when I am not pregnant. Even natural substances can be harmful to babies in the womb, so we must be very, very careful in this regard.
Does it work with our bodies in a way that compliments how our bodies are created? Is it restorative?
What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.
1 Corinthians 6:19-20
There is a difference between helping to restore our bodies and forcing our bodies to work in ways that they were not designed for. For example, let’s say I am a married lady who has not been able to conceive after several years of marriage. I have discovered that my hormones are imbalanced and have decided to take herbal supplements to help balance my hormones in the hopes of getting pregnant. I am working to help restore my body and it’s functions.
On the other hand, there are several herbs that can be used to avoid pregnancy. These herbs cause the body to not do what it was created to do — procreate.
Are we practicing herbalism in a way that is abusive or detrimental to our bodies?
All things are lawful for me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but all things edify not.
1 Corinthians 10:23
As I read this verse, I looked up the word expedient in the Webster’s 1828 American Dictionary. Expedient is to be suitable for the purpose, proper under the circumstance. And the word edify can mean to literally “build up”. When applied to the question of herbalism, we can ask ourselves, “do the herbs I am using build up my body and are they proper under the circumstances?”
Several years ago I was attending the birth of a friend. After the birth, the midwife gave my friend a tincture made from cannibas sativa (common name marijuana) to ease her afterbirth pains and slow her bleeding. I had just started to learn about herbal medicine and I was shocked that the midwife would use this (it is legal to do so in CA).
I think this is a good application of this verse. It may be lawful to use certain herbs, but may not be proper. As a Christian, I must make sure that I am not being a stumbling block to others. Although cannibas sativa has many medicinal properties, it is often abused and it’s use is illegal in most states. I don’t feel comfortable using it as a medicine for myself or my family.
Does herbalism bring glory to the Creator?
Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.
1 Corinthians 10:31
In all things, and in all types of medicine, we should aim to bring glory to God. Whether we are choosing a type of healthcare, a type of herb to use, or a condition to treat — we must ask ourselves “Does this bring glory to God?”