Obeying God Equals Obeying Nature
What does it mean to obey God regarding health? Is an ethic for living a balanced life detailed in the holy book of each religious tradition? Or does following “God’s law” require a reinterpretation to guide modern-day adherents to be faithful servants of soil and spirit to empower human health?
Although the answers to these questions apply equally to those following or rejecting a faith tradition—simply because natural law affects all life—I will focus on those of a Western religious background, where I see the greatest disconnect in clinical practice.
Creation, by God’s design, implies a natural law of rhythms and observances. Just as the sun sets and the moon rises, the wise wind down and prepare for a long night of rest and recovery. Subsisting on a few hours of sleep breaks natural law. You can’t burn the candle at both ends night after night without expecting something to go awry in human physiology.
Now take something less extreme, such as getting seven hours of sleep when your body does best with eight. We can feel righteous about our effort to sleep better, but that one-hour deficit will still accrue a breakdown of resilience over time. If you need coffee to get going every morning, the deficit has already set in.
God’s law also dictates that all creation be nourished from the earth, not a factory. You can’t eat heavily processed, highly toxic, nutrient-devoid food day after day without expecting a breakdown in optimal health. Nor is there anything written in a holy book about water tainted with pesticide runoff or small-particulate air pollution as being the breath of God. These are artificial ecological challenges that defy natural and thus God’s law. Free will is a double-edged sword, and with it comes the ability to accept or reject natural law.
The principles of natural law are theoretically supposed to be codified within the discipline of medicine, but the modern allopathic application of medicine has a decidedly pharmacological preference that more often suppresses symptoms than fosters good health. Think of it this way: If drugs made people healthy, those taking multiple prescriptions should be superhuman.
Instead, polypharmacy is championed as the solution to many diseases that are, in actuality, imbalances in natural rhythm. The most commonly prescribed drugs treat insomnia; depression; anxiety; and elevated blood pressure, cholesterol, or blood sugar. The corresponding disease states are all—without exception—disorders of lifestyle brought on from breaking natural law.
During my many years of clinical practice, I have observed the beautiful soul of a devout believer shrouded by the shadow of illness wrought from breaking God’s law by not appreciating and following natural law. I’ve cared for hungover evangelical Christians and provided nutritional counsel to anemic Buddhists who refuse to consume animal foods. As an example of how institutionalized the disregard of natural law has become, I’ve witnessed an obese Catholic monk smuggling candy to an altar boy during Mass.
This blog is not written to criticize any religious group. Though Christians make up most of my patient base, I have found a similar trend of neglecting natural law in followers of nature-based pagan religions. This is surprising, considering Western paganism is rooted in natural rhythms that are ritually honored through seasonal rites and a strong emphasis on environmentalism. Wiccan and druid faiths worship both god and goddess energies (and revere the Earth as the divine mother) but something gets lost in translation between being ecologically focused and biologically wise.
Whether you identify with being an atheist primate or a cherished creation of God, it is imperative to own the role as steward of this planet and caretaker of your health by following natural law. Rally that prefrontal cortex or prayerful heart and ask yourself this: How can I live in better balance with natural rhythms?
Atheists and agnostics must wrestle with how scientism distorts living in accordance with natural rhythms. Faith communities must also engage in thoughtful discussion on what constitutes natural law as ordained by God. All life reflects the health and integrity of the environment. Whatever your beliefs, an empowered, unpolluted body is best suited for the highest expression of human potential.