Health care provider and faith diversity essay


Healthcare provider and faith diversity




June12, 2016

Healthcare provider and faith diversity


Religionplays a major role in all the societies. It influences approaches tolife and the attitudes towards modern medicine. Therefore, it isessential for medical workers to have a clear understanding of thereligious values and practices that have an influence on religion.Several Christian teachings directly impact on health care. Theyinclude the role of divine power in health wellbeing, causes ofphysical and mental health problems, faith healing, and their viewsabout modern medicine. Buddhism also has a strong influence on healthand medicine. In Buddhism, illnesses and health is a reflection ofthe overall status of an individual. This is the origin of theconcept of wholeness in health. Other ideas include the role of kammaand meditation in physical and mental health and Buddhism views onmodern medicine.

Religionhas a huge influence on individual perception about health andmedicine. The religious beliefs and teaching determine howindividuals are likely to relate to medical workers and theirunderstanding of medical treatment. In the increasingly diversesociety, it has become important for medical workers to have anunderstanding and tolerance of divergent religious perceptions onhealth and healing. Failure to recognize or respect the religiousviews and values of the patient can have a negative impact on thehealth outcomes as well as the relationship between the patient andthe medical practitioner (Ferngren, 2014). However, the religiousbeliefs and values related to medicine should not for the basis ofreligious discrimination and stereotypes in health care. This paperlooks at the Christian perspective and Buddhism perspective of healthand healing.

Christianperspective on health and healing

Thereis a very strong relationship between Christianity and health care.According to the Christian teachings, good health is a gift from Godand therefore must not be taken for granted. Christians believe thatGod created a human body as a finely tuned instrument that isresilient to live on earth. However, humans have the power over theirbodies and thus can influence the state of their health throughhabits and diet. Christian philosophers have interpreted the Bible asa manual which gives Christians the instructions and basic principlesfor spiritual as well as physical health. For example, in the MosaicLaw, there are numerous laws that related to public health. Theyinclude health education, contamination of food and water, anddiseases outbreaks. However, modern medical professionals andChristians have doubted the effectiveness of the biblicalinstructions in dealing with the modern health challenges. Theseteachings have formed the foundation of the Christian perspective ofmedicine and health care in the modern society (Ferngren, 2014).

Christiansbelieve that physical and mental health is influence by therelationship between the individual and God. The Bible teaches that“My son, do not forget my teaching, but keep my commands in yourheart, for they will prolong your life many years and bring youprosperity… this will bring health to your body and nourishment toyour bones” (Proverbs 3, 1-8). There are many incidences in theBible where Christians are promised good health and long life if theyobey the commandments and laws of God. Consequently, some Christiandoctrines have maintained that suffering and sickness is a punishmentfrom God. Obeying the commandments of God means that the individualis living according to God’s instructions. In the Old Testament,the Bible teaches that while the Egyptians were suffering fromdifferent kinds of diseases and epidemics, God protected theIsraelites because they were His chosen tribe. However, they werethreatened with diseases and sufferings if they disobeyed god (Brown,2013). For example, in Exodus 15:12 the Bible say “If you payattention to his commands and keep all his decrees, I will not bringon you any of the diseases I brought on the Egyptians, for I am theLORD, who heals you.”

Anotherimportant Christian teaching on health relates to the role of faithhealing and the relationship between spiritual health and physicalhealth. Christian faith puts more emphasis on spiritual health. Inthis regard, healing symbolizes redemption from sins. The majority ofcontemporary Christians believe that while medical practitionerstreat diseases, God heals. Thus, Christians always play for God’smercy and healing while taking modern medicine. Faith healing playsan integral role in the Christian traditions. Faith healing is asituation where a person is healed through the power of prayers.Christians believe that the Holy Spirit has the power to heal sickpeople which mainly involve prayers and laying on of hands (Brown,2013).

Thereare several Biblical accounts where people were healed throughsupernatural power. Prophet Elijah, Jesus Christ, and apostles suchas Paul performed several healing miracles which are recorded in theBible. However, Christian denominations in the modern world havedifferent views and interpretation of faith healing (Brown, 2013).Although Jesus healed some physical illnesses which were beyond thecapability of the medical technologies in his time, Christianteachings have held that he endorsed the medical profession and itsrole in promoting physical health. For example, Jesus taught aboutthe use of wine and oil as medicine. Majority of Christiandenomination recognizes healing by humans as well as healing bydivine powers, while a few denominations have rejected contemporarymedicine in favor of faith healing. Consequently, the Christianchurch has had a huge contribution in the development of medicalscience and accessibility to healthcare through missionary work.Christian denominations such as Christian Science believe thatdiseases are illusions that can be defeated through prayer. They viewmodern medicine as a threat to the spiritual perfection of God whocreated life. The teachings of these denominations have a hugeimplication on health wellbeing of its followers (Brown, 2013).

Animportant intersection between Christianity and medicine relates tothe Christians views on modern medical technologies and practices.Development in medical science and biotechnology has led to theemergence of medical technologies that are controversial. Theincreased role of contemporary medicine in the society has alsoresulted in controversial and ethical issue. Due to the moralauthority of the church and the significance of Christianity in themoral principles of the modern society, Christian teachings have aninfluence on some of these controversial and ethical medical issues.Some of the health care issues in which Christian teachers has had animpact on includes reproductive health, family planning and abortion,assisted suicide and euthanasia, genetic engineering and cloning, andtransplants. Despite the increased acceptance of these medicaltechnologies, conservative Christian denominations and ministers haveargued that some of these medical practices do not respect thesanctity of life (Brown, 2013).

Buddhismperspective on health care and healing

Buddhismand medicine have a very strong relationship. Buddhism teaching onhealth and healing are based on the four noble truths of Buddha whichforms the formula for healing. In the teaching of Buddhism, Buddha isconsidered to be a Great Physician due to his ability to diagnosephysical and spiritual health problems and give spiritualinstructions that resulted in healing. In Buddhism traditions,illnesses and health is a reflection of the overall status of anindividual. It is interwoven with other aspects of life such aseconomics, social, ethics and morality factors. Thus, the Buddhismperspective of health takes into account other aspects of life otherthan the wellbeing of the body. This is what is referred to as thewholeness of health (Barnes, 2006). Therefore, good health isunderstood as an expression of harmony with oneself, the naturalenvironment and others in the society. Buddhism understanding ofhealth is the wellbeing of the whole person, which includes physicaland mental health, moral health, social and familiar health as wellas how the individual relates to the natural environment. When thereis a disturbance in the harmony, diseases and illness are exhibitedas physical symptoms of the disharmony. Consequently, treatment ofdiseases in Buddhism teaching does not only involve treatment of thesymptoms but a combination of the efforts of the body and the mind toovercome the disharmony. Thus, modern medicine does not heal thedisease but facilitates the healing process (Barnes, 2006).

Kamma,an important principle in the Buddhism traditions, plays an importantrole in understanding diseases and health. According to Buddhismteachings, good health is associated with good kamma while bad kammais associated with bad health or diseases. There is a relationshipbetween the morality of an individual and illnesses. An individualcan have an influence on his or her health by opting for good kamma.For example, the health status of an individual is dependent on hisor her lifestyle. Sensual indulgence and other unhealthy lifestylesare classified as bad kamma, which results into diseases. The linkagebetween morality and health in Buddhism teachings emphasizes theimportance of spirituality and religious activities in the promotingphysical health and the healing process. However, Buddhismphilosophers have argued that the role of kamma in an individualhealth is not absolute. Kamma does not bring about a curse nor shouldit promote fatalism. Rather, it implies the individual responsibilityon his or her health (Salguero, 2014).

Meditationand prayers play an important role in the Buddhism perspective ofhealing. However, it is important to note that faith healing is notexplicit in the Buddhism religion as in other religions such asChristianity. The purpose of meditation or bhavana in Buddhismtraditions is to promote both spiritual and mental health. Spiritualand mental health has an impact on physical health, and therefore,meditation facilitates healing. Additionally, the prayer ofbenedictory chanting has a healing power in Buddhism traditions(Salguero, 2014).

Generally,Buddhism has no objection to modern medicine and emerging medicaltechnologies. However, conservative Buddhists are concerned withmedications that will have an impact on their emotional state.Although this does not affect their views about medicine, they mayhave an impact on their acceptance of drugs that that result intointoxication or create a preference for alternative medicine.Buddhism teaching opposes the use organs from dead individuals intransplantation (Salguero, 2014). However, there are no explicitteachings against modern medical technologies such as family planningand abortion, assisted suicide, euthanasia, and genetic engineeringdoes not exist.


BothChristianity and Buddhism have teachings that relate to health andhealing. These teaching have an influence on how individualssubscribing to these religions perceive health care and healing.According to Christianity teachings, good health is a gift from Godwhile sickness is punishment. Buddhism teaches that good healthindicates harmony with oneself, others and nature and is associatedwith good kamma. While Christians believe in faith healing, Buddhismbelieves that meditation plays an important role in the healingprocess. Conservative Christians have issues with some of thecontentious medical procedures and technology while Buddhism does nothave explicit teachings on emerging medical technologies.


Barnes,L. (2006). Teachingreligion and healing.Oxford New York: Oxford University Press.

Brown,C. G. (2013). Thehealing gods: complementary and alternative medicine in ChristianAmerica.New York: Oxford University Press.

Ferngren,G. (2014). Medicineand religion: a historical introduction.Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press.

Salguero,C. (2014). TranslatingBuddhist medicine in medieval China.Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press.