Within the past few years there has been a growing realization of the interlocking relationship existing between religion and health. There has come into the medical world an increasing appreciation of the large influence of the emotions upon the functioning of the physical organism. This enlarging concept has led to the wider acceptance of man as an integrated whole, with his physical, mental, and spiritual natures constituting an intimate, inseparable relationship. This approach opens the avenue for the united efforts of both minister and physician in behalf of the sick, particularly in those functional cases in which there is some emotional disturbance, or where the healthy action of the nervous system may be disturbed.
The counsels of the Spirit of prophecy clearly indicate that the minister should play an active role in promoting and teaching the basic principles that make for health. The following is one of many references pertinent to this subject:
"Our ministers should become intelligent on health reform. They need to become acquainted with physiology and hygiene; they should understand the laws that govern physical life, and their bearing upon the health of mind and soul. . . .
"The ministers have a work to do here. When they take a right position on this subject, much will be gained. In their own lives and homes they should obey the laws of life, practicing right principles and living healthfully. Then they will be able to speak correctly on this subject, leading the people higher and still higher in the work of reform. . . .
"There are precious blessings and a rich experience to be gained if ministers will combine the presentation of the health question with all their labors in the churches."—Testimonies, Vol. VI, p. 376.
A careful study of this and similar references indicates that the health message to be fostered and taught in "every family and every church" is one of health preservation. This teaching embraces the presentation of the rules of applied hygiene that have to do with right habits of daily living. But owhere in all the counsels relative to the health message is it even suggested that the minister enter the field of diagnosing and prescribing for disease conditions.
On the contrary, counsel is straightly given against those unskilled entering even the field of health teaching. After reviewing a tragic experience in which a novice undertook to prescribe for another, resulting in an unnecessary death, Mrs. E. G. White gave counsel as follows : "It is time that something was done to prevent novices from taking the field and advocating health reform. Their works and words can be spared ; for they do more injury than the wisest and most intelligent men, with the best influence they can exert, can counteract."—Id., Vol. II, p. 386.
In consideration of the wide background of education and technical training which is generally recognized and legally required as necessary to practice medicine, it would seem that anyone not duly qualified would hesitate to assume that qualification and accept the responsibility of prescribing for the sick—thus doing so illegally! But such is not the case. In no field is there such exploitation as in the field of health. There are many faddists abroad in the land. Let no one in our ranks be deceived by loud claims or strong assertions and be led to join forces with them. Many unqualified persons boldly alsume ability to diagnose and advise treatment for some of the most serious organic maladies. In such the sense of moral responsibility in taking a human life in hand is regrettably lacking. "It is a great responsibility to take the life of a human being in hand. And to have that precious life sacrificed through mismanagement, is dreadful."—/bid.
We heartily endorse the plan whereby the minister and Bible instructor become qualified through the study of physiology and hygiene, and after a thorough comprehensive study of the health platform adopted by this denomination engage in actively teaching and promoting the balanced principles of healthful living. There are, however, ample reasons, legal and otherwise, for strongly counseling all our ministers, Bible instructors, and laymen to confine their independent activities in health lines to those principles concerned with health preservation.