Health Lifestyle: Biblical Perspective
Ms. Anne Abraham Stephen
“….and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved sound and complete (and found) blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Messiah.” 1 Thess. 5:23 (AMP)
Today the quest for health has become an end in itself. More than 60% of the people in the United States are overweight and more than 30% are obese. During and since World War 1, great strides have been made in preventative medicine. More than 3000 years ago, God gave a definite and unique system of Public Health. These included laws of hygiene, sanitation and diet. Keeping of which would protect us them from familiar evil diseases.
Bible is not a textbook about health or nutrition, yet in Scripture, God provides fundamental principles to guide our personal choices in ways that promote health and prevent diseases.
Many people don’t see the connection between their spiritual being and their health. It is interesting that God in the Old Testament clearly made the connection between healthy living and your spirit. Who do you think were the main doctors in the Old Testament? The priests-when someone was sick they went to the priest for healing and instruction on living healthy! We are triune- beings that means we are comprised of 3 parts –all 3 equal. Most Christians think their spirit is the most important, the body and soul are secondary. This is simply not true-it is never taught in the Word of God. God is very concerned for your body and your soul as well as your spirit. When you die, and go to heaven, you will be spirit and soul but there will be resurrection of your body and you will live forever with God as body, soul and spirit.
Spirit: is our eternal life that is within us and given to us by God.
Soul/Mind: is our personal identity, personality, our intellect and emotions.
Body: is our flesh.
Paul (in the above verse from Thessalonians) is not praying that just our spirits be conformed to God but he is praying that our whole man be conformed. We can’t compartmentalize our lives. We are integrated-beings, we can’t really separate our souls or our spirits from our bodies.
1. We need to sanctify our bodies. 1 Cor. 6:19-20…..your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit,…….Therefore honor God with your body.” Don’t have the attitude, “This is my body, I can do whatever I want with it.”
2. We need to treat our bodies as though we have it on loan. Realize that we don’t own our bodies. Take care of it!
God revealed fundamental truths which took Medical Science 1000’s of years to confirm. As we examine a number of biblical health principles we will discover how simple yet up-to-date this information is.
Laws were given for PERSONAL hygiene, particularly cleansing after childbirth etc.
Childbirth Laws: At the birth of a male child, a woman was considered unclean for 7 days and in a state of purification for 33 days; at the birth of a female child, she was unclean for 14 days and purification period for 66 days (Lev. 12:2-5). These instructions fit very well with modern scientific discoveries. Biblical health laws required those who touched the new mother (especially the midwife) to wash and to avoid immediate contact with others- a practice designed to prevent the spread of diseases such as childbirth fever. It was not until the mid 1800s that an Austrian physician, Ignaz Semmelweis, recognized that the spread of childbirth fever could be prevented if attendants washed after a delivery- yet biblical laws had promoted this practice almost 3000 years earlier!
During purification period (33-66 days), she remained in semi-isolation, thus avoiding crowds and contact with disease germs that could harm her or her newborn child. She was also not allowed to travel during this time-travel was often arduous, and to also establish a feeding routine for the baby and to build antibodies.
Purification for female babies was longer, not due to male chauvinistic bias. Even today, female babies often have lower birth weights and higher mortality rates, so this longer period was meant to give them a better start in life.
Circumcision: The Bible instructed male child to be circumcised on the 8th day. Modern studies have shown that the blood-clotting and disease fighting abilities are at a better level starting on this day and the threat of hemorrhage is less.
Sanitary Laws and Quarantine
There was no way to fully understand the reasons for the biblical laws of sanitation until the invention of the microscope, the discovery of bacteria and the pioneering work of the pathologists in recent centuries, yet these ancient biblical laws have proven scientifically valid today!
Those with infectious diseases dwelt in isolation outside the camp until pronounced cured by the priest, and contaminated garments, furniture, etc. were burned. The principles of controlling these diseases were- notification (priest), isolation, frequent inspection, quarantine, and disinfection. Part of cleansing included shaving off all hair, items contaminated washed thoroughly and if metal, were passed through fire (sterilization by heat). These important sanitizing principles are still followed today.
Precaution against contamination by dead bodies is also written in the Word of God. Washing for the person who touches a dead body, as well as breaking of the earthen vessels (to avoid contamination by flies which could have settled on the corpse) were required.
Tattoos and Cuttings on the Flesh: were also forbidden (Leviticus 19:28), for reasons that include the risk of contracting disease. Modern physicians warn that tattoos and body-piercing carry a risk for contracting infectious diseases like Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C, Syphilis, and HIV/AIDS (International Journal of Infectious Disease, 2001, 27-34).
Disposal of Waste etc.: From Deuteronomy 23:9-14 we learn of the laws for the burial of excreta and the burning of other waste outside the camp, away from human dwellings. The benefits of this type of sanitary waste disposal, are widely recognized but not always practiced-especially in poverty-stricken areas.
Epidemics of typhus, cholera and dysentery are linked to the careless dumping of human waste into streets and rivers, or feeding human wastes to animals that are eaten. This simple practice of disposal is less expensive than treating disease.
Many of the Moral Laws of the Bible also have definite health implications.
Adultery and Fornication are clearly forbidden, in Scripture (Exodus 20:14; Lev. 18:20;1 Cor. 6:9). They threaten not only the stability of the family and society, but also the health of the individual. Promiscuity spreads diseases- dangerous and deadly diseases which include AIDS. Sexually transmitted diseases bring suffering, disfigurement, infertility, and death.
Apostle Paul advises us to “flee sexual immorality.”
Bible prohibits prostitution, homosexuality (Lev.18:22), and bestiality (Lev. 18:23-30) because of health reasons.
These health-related moral laws-and the consequences of breaking them- are still very much in force today!
God is the author of the Biblical health laws.
The health and moral laws that God gave through Moses, however, did not focus on treating disease, but focused on preventing it and promoting health! This is why medical historian Ralph Major describes Moses as “the greatest sanitary engineer that the world has ever seen.” His doctrines could be summed by the objects of sanitation today - Pure food, Pure Water, Pure Air, Pure Bodies, and Pure dwellings.
JESUS AND BIBLICAL HEALTH LAWS
Those who believe that Jesus abolished all biblical laws concerning human health, usually cite Mark 7 and Acts 10. When you compare Mark 7 and with a similar account
in Matthew 15, you find that Jesus was not even addressing the subject of clean or unclean foods- the issue in question was eating without a ceremonial washing of the hands! Acts 10 account of unclean food has to do with that “one should not call any man common or unclean” (Acts 10:28).
Bible reveals that when Jesus Christ returns to establish the Kingdom of God on this earth, the laws of God will be proclaimed to the world from Jerusalem (Isaiah 35:5-7). As human beings around the globe learn to live by these simple yet fundamentally important laws, their health will improve- and the plague of disease will begin to disappear. This is part of the gospel! We too can play a vital role in this incredible transformation-if we learn the value of applying these biblical health laws in our life today!
Following are few necessary Guidelines and Advice:
1. Get plenty of Fresh Air (Genesis 2:7). Air is vital to all living creatures, for respiration and blood circulation. A healthy adult breathes 16 times a minute and 30 pounds (13.61 kg.) of air every 24 hours.
2. Get Sunlight (Genesis 1:16). It is essential for good health and aids in recovery from diseases. The human body synthesizes Vitamin D- an essential nutrient- from exposure to sunlight.
A word of caution: Excessive exposure to sun, especially if you are light skinned, can cause skin cancer.
3. Pure Water (Genesis 2:10) Drink at least 8 glasses of filtered or boiled and cooled water. The body of an average size man contains 40 liters (42.5 quarts) of water, nearly 60% of his body weight. Of this, 25 liters are inside the cells and 15 liters fill the spaces between the cells.
Water helps to break up and soften food, making it the most critical chemical in the digestive process. In fact, the blood in your body is 90% water and carries nutrients though out the body.
As a cooling agent, water regulates your temperature through perspiration. And without the lubricating properties of water your joints and muscles would be worn out long.
Every function of life is carried out in a water medium- tears in the eyes, lung function, digestive system, skin, muscles etc.
4. Exercise (Genesis 2:15). Following the advice in this verse (to till it) should give us enough exercise. In an agrarian society people were healthier. Inactivity leads to disease. In modern times, walking is preferable. Aerobic fitness (which includes jogging, running, cycling etc.) is good for the lungs and overall health.
5. Proper Diet (Genesis 1:29). A government pamphlet states: people need 40 different nutrients to stay healthy. Eat a wide variety of foods. Stop eating when your stomach is 80% full. For more details: see other articles in this issue of “Revive.”
6. Periodic Rest (Genesis 1:5; 2:2). Ecclesiastes 5:12, “The sleep of a laborer is sweet.” A person who sleeps 8 hours (recommended) changes position 40 times. Body movement is very important physiologically. Don’t use sleeping pills, or other forms of sedation which reduces movement during sleep and increases the chance of venous clotting.
Sleep during the night: God created night time for rest and sleep. Man should work until evening (Ps. 104:23) and “those who sleep, sleep at night….”1 Thess. 5:7. We were created to be diurnal (to work during daytime), not nocturnal (to work at night). Don’t switch our God-created- body clocks around.
Eat early and eat a light meal : This is good for not gaining much weight.
Sabbath Rest : Renewal time of the Sabbath Rest contributes to physical as well as Spiritual well-being.
7. Exercise self-restraint in appetites and behavior (Genesis 2:16-17; 1 Cor. 10:31). Right from the beginning humans were expected to practice self-control in their diet. Moderation is, especially important in use of sugar, and refined carbohydrates. Keep your emotions at check especially anger, moral side and the 5 senses under control..
Abstinence to Alcohol : Alcohol damages liver, brain and other organs. Can use unfermented grape juice, which is good for the heart.
8. Worship, Be thankful and Have Fellowship with other believers: (Gen. 3:8;
1 Thess.5:18; Acts 2:44-46). Studies have shown that those who worship consistently, those who are thankful and those who have fellowship with other believers- enjoy better health- physical, emotional and psychological. God used to walk in the Garden of Eden in the cool of the day- to talk, and have communion with man. We still need that companionship, that trust and confidence.
Fast as much as you can: Not only lets you get closer to God- it is also good for your health. It is one way to detoxify your body.
9. Try not to wear clothes with mixed material: (Lev. 19:19; Deut.22:11). “Do not wear clothing woven of two kinds of material.” “Do not wear clothes of Wool and linen woven together.” Scientific studies have shown that this could cause burns, joint pain, fatigue, and skin diseases.
10. Practice personal Hygiene: Wash hands after meals. Bathe daily. Change clothes daily-especially undergarments (very important in tropical climate).
“Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God---this is your spiritual act of worship.” Rom.12:1
May all of us choose a Healthy Lifestyle and fulfill God’s purpose for our lives!