If you’re wondering what guidance the Bible provides on having surgery or other medical procedures, this comprehensive article examines the biblical principles related to caring for our physical bodies and making healthcare decisions.
The Body As God’s Temple
Honoring God With Our Bodies
The Bible teaches that our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). As such, we have a responsibility to care for our bodies and honor God with them. Here are some key principles:
- We should see our bodies as God’s property that He has entrusted to us for a purpose – to glorify Him (1 Corinthians 10:31). This means using our bodies in a way that is pleasing to God.
- We need to be good stewards of our health by making wise lifestyle choices when it comes to diet, exercise, sleep, etc. God has designed laws for our bodies to function optimally and we should align with those principles (Romans 12:1).
- At times surgery may be necessary and useful for restoring health when the body suffers injury or disease. However, we should see it as a last resort and not take unnecessary risks (Proverbs 22:3).
- Ultimately our bodies are temporary and we look forward to a day when we will receive new, resurrected bodies not prone to suffering and death (1 Corinthians 15:42-44). But until then we honor God by making the most of the bodies we currently inhabit.
Stewardship Principles for Health
The Bible does not give direct commandments about modern health choices, but it provides stewardship principles we can apply. As God’s stewards, we should educate ourselves and make wise lifestyle decisions. Here are some key stewardship considerations:
|Choose whole, unrefined foods over processed options high in sugar, unhealthy fats, etc. (1 Corinthians 10:31). Diets rich in fruits, vegetables and fiber promote health.
|Keep active to strengthen our bodies and manage weight. The Mayo Clinic recommends 150 minutes per week of moderate activity (1).
|Get enough sleep (7-9 hours) for optimal health, memory and mood, as recommended by sleep experts (2).
|Effectively coping with stress promotes both mental and physical wellbeing. Useful strategies include prayer, meditation, exercise, building social connections, etc.
|Get appropriate checkups and screening tests to enable early detection and better outcomes.
By applying Biblical principles of stewardship and honor to healthcare decisions, we take care of the special trust God has given each of us – our physical bodies – before ultimately surrendering them back to Him.
Biblical Examples Related To Healing
Jesus As The Great Physician
Jesus performed many miracles of healing during His earthly ministry, demonstrating His divine power and authority over sickness and disease. As Matthew 4:23 (ESV) states, “And he went throughout all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction among the people.”
Stories of Jesus healing the sick fill the pages of the Gospels, whether it was healing Simon Peter’s mother-in-law of a fever (Mark 1:29-31), restoring a man’s withered hand on the Sabbath (Matthew 12:9-13), giving sight to a man born blind (John 9:1-7), or even raising Lazarus from the dead (John 11:1-44).
Jesus had profound compassion for the sick and broken, and His healings pointed to Him as the long-awaited Messiah who would deliver people from sin and its effects.
As both fully God and fully human, Jesus embodies the ideal physician – all-powerful, all-knowing, and moved by deep compassion. He continues His healing work today through prayers for healing and the advance of modern medicine.
Surgeries and medical treatments can be seen as instruments of God’s healing grace. Even when facing illness or surgery, we can have hope that the Great Physician walks with us.
Gifts of Healing
In 1 Corinthians 12, Paul discusses spiritual gifts given to believers by the Holy Spirit for building up the church. Among them, he mentions “gifts of healing” (v. 9 & 28). In the early church described in Acts, the apostles performed many healings, like when Peter healed a lame beggar at the temple gate (Acts 3:1-10) or Paul healed a crippled man at Lystra (Acts 14:8-10).
The book of James also instructs church elders to anoint the sick with oil and pray over them in faith for their healing (James 5:14-15).
While not all Christians possess a distinct gift of healing power, all can still pray for God to heal and restore the sick. Elders in churches can still follow James’ instructions for anointing with oil and intercessory prayer. And we serve a God who still answers prayer today!
Though healings happen in His timing, miraculous healings still glorify God and increase faith in Him.
Seeking Wise Counsel
Making a decision regarding surgery or medical treatment can be difficult. The Bible encourages seeking wise counsel from godly, faithful believers during big decisions. As Proverbs 15:22 (NCV) states, “Plans fail without good advice, but they succeed with the advice of others.”
Close friends, church leaders and elders, trusted doctors who share your faith, and even pastoral counselors can help give sound perspective during medical decision-making. Their support provides wisdom and clarity from a heavenly perspective.
The Bible also exhorts prayer, asking God for discernment and divine guidance during challenging times. As James 1:5 (NIV) promises, “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.”
Through prayer and godly counsel, Christians can have peace and confidence that God will reveal the wisest path forward.
New Testament Principles on Conscience
Acting in Faith
The New Testament provides important principles regarding making decisions according to one’s conscience. A key teaching is that Christians should act in faith according to their beliefs (Romans 14:23).
Though Christians may have differing opinions on certain matters, they should follow their conscience as long as it does not contradict God’s clear commands in Scripture (Acts 24:16).
When facing a decision about surgery, a Christian should earnestly seek God’s guidance through prayer and Bible study. Factors to consider include potential benefits and risks, alternative options, financial implications, and how it may affect family.
For elective procedures, one should examine motivations and ensure it aligns with Godly values.
Christians believe God is sovereign over life and death. Though medicine can be used to heal, ultimately God’s will prevails. Faith in God’s wisdom and timing regarding length of life brings peace (Psalm 139:16).
Rather than fearing death, Christians trust Christ has victory over death and provides eternal life (1 Corinthians 15:54-57).
Considering How Choices Affect Others
The Bible teaches Christians to consider how their choices affect others. For example, 1 Corinthians 10:23-24 states that just because something is permissible, it may not be beneficial for all. Getting an elective cosmetic surgery could signal vanity, causing a weaker brother to stumble (1 Corinthians 8:9).
Major surgeries also impact family who provide caregiving. Spouses should thoughtfully consider their marriage covenant (Ephesians 5:25). Parents should weigh how it would burden children (2 Corinthians 12:14).
Financial costs of surgeries affect the family budget and giving to church/charity (2 Corinthians 9:7).
In all, Christians seek God’s will with wisdom. They act in faith according to conscience, based on scriptural principles. They consider potential benefits but also how their choices impact others for God’s glory (1 Corinthians 10:31).
Making Godly Healthcare Decisions
Prayerfully Evaluating Options
When facing a health condition that requires intervention, we can seek God’s guidance through prayer as we weigh our options. This may involve researching reputable medical resources like the Mayo Clinic or Johns Hopkins Medicine to understand the risks and benefits of various treatments.
According to a 2019 Pew Research report, over 50% of Christian teenagers pray daily. As we bring our questions before God, we can have confidence that He will help give wisdom and clarity (James 1:5).
Considering Risks and Benefits
When evaluating healthcare options, Christians aim to preserve the sanctity of human life while assessing factors like treatment necessity, effectiveness, side effects, convenience, cost, and personal concerns.
For example, a 2019 study showed that major surgery led to fewer heart attacks long-term but posed short-term risks. By seeking counsel and weighing the tradeoffs prayerfully before God, Christians can make wise, spirit-led decisions.
Trusting God With Outcomes
Despite our best efforts, the results of medical treatments remain outside our control. As Christians, we can find comfort through bible verses like Proverbs 3:5 – “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.”
While following sound medical advice, we ultimately trust that God holds our health and future in His hands. Even when afflicted, we can rest in God’s sovereignty and goodness (2 Corinthians 4:16-18).
In conclusion, while the Bible does not specifically mention surgical procedures, there are many principles we can apply about honoring God with our bodies, seeking wisdom regarding healthcare decisions, and trusting God throughout the process.