November 5, 2021
by Jeffrey Barrows, DO, MA (Bioethics)
I joined CMDA in 1982 in the middle of my OB/Gyn residency. At that time, I had known the Lord for about eight years but had not grown spiritually, because I had failed to find a solid, biblical church. Around that time, I finally found a church that helped me grow and develop in my Christian faith. With that growth, I began thinking about how I could incorporate my faith into the practice of medicine and discovered the Christian Medical & Dental Society (CMDS), which was CMDA’s name at that time.
My need at that time was biblical guidance regarding how to faithfully serve the Lord in medicine and help share with others the gospel that was beginning to make a difference in my life.
Fast forward almost 40 years, and I can testify how CMDA has allowed me to engage in various forms of ministry, providing a unique and valuable perspective on the intersection of faith and medicine. I am deeply thankful for the guidance and resources CMDA provided me. Significantly, I also recognize that if CMDA had not provided those ministry/learning opportunities, there would have been no other source for that unique perspective.
I mention this background because many members of CMDA have written me since the pandemic began expressing their frustration that CMDA has not fulfilled their expectations. Some members feel we should have promoted various forms of early treatment for COVID-19. Other members feel we should be exposing various fallacies regarding the COVID vaccines. Now that the government is promoting vaccine mandates, some members believe CMDA should step in and provide protection for those who refuse to take the vaccine. Protecting the conscience rights of our members is a priority for CMDA, and since protection from vaccine mandates requires legal assistance, we have provided recommendations for legal resources here.
While CMDA could have become more engaged through treatment recommendations or weightier in-depth analysis of the vaccines, this effort would divert us from our God-given mission of educating, encouraging and equipping healthcare professionals to glorify God. That is why CMDA has had a long-standing policy of never making treatment recommendations for any disease. Many excellent medical organizations stay updated on the latest treatment guidelines, making recommendations according to the latest scientific evidence.
CMDA has a different mission.
God has called CMDA to equip Christian healthcare professionals to follow Christ, serve with excellence and compassion, care for all people and advance biblical principles of healthcare within the church and throughout the world. We believe that God’s ultimate vision for CMDA is to bring the hope and healing of Christ to the world through healthcare professionals. CMDA is unique in its size and capacity to fulfill this role, so if we fail to accomplish our God-given mission, who will step up and stand in the gap? Who will give guidance to the students and residents who are desperately seeking how to integrate their faith into healthcare as I was almost 40 years ago?
In addition, our mission requires us to remind our members of the importance of being Jesus to our patients and all we encounter. As we confront various pandemic difficulties, we should first and foremost remember that we are sons and daughters of the living God. We should remember that our primary goal is to share the gospel, and we do that through our words as well as our actions. Therefore, we should be careful that our actions do not turn people away from the gospel but rather communicate grace, mercy and love to others that will inevitably draw people to our Lord and Savior.
We should carefully evaluate our decisions and our actions from an eternal perspective, avoiding knee-jerk reactions that may bring harm to our testimony. An attitude of humility and openness to the advice of others will help accomplish that. Most of all, we should be careful that our actions do not cause division within the body of Christ. We should be able to look back five years from now when, Lord willing, this pandemic is past us and be satisfied that our decisions and actions brought glory and honor to our Lord.
I fear that when this pandemic is over, many Christian healthcare professionals will discover that they have unknowingly participated in the division of the body of Christ. I’m sure that we at CMDA will look back and find that we did not perfectly navigate these pandemic rapids, but I do hope we can be satisfied that our efforts have mitigated the forces seeking to bring division within our membership.
In conclusion, our prayer here at CMDA is that though our members have different and firmly held views regarding treatment, vaccines and mandates, despite these differences, we all remember the priority of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Jesus came into the world to save us as sinners, and by His grace, we are healed. That is the Good News. In 100 years, we will all be in His presence, and we should remember that our ultimate goal is to hear the words we all long to hear from Him, “Well done, good and faithful servant” (Matthew 25:23a, NIV).
Thoughtful & well-written. I keep reminding myself that our chief aim in life is to glorify God & enjoy Him forever (Westminster Shorter Catechism). Matthew 22:36-40 supports our life priorities by reminding us to love God first, then love our neighbors. A life built around these priorities not only grows the Kingdom, but we also grow in our relationships with others & we grow in our relationship with God.
So how, exactly, is CMDA explicitly supporting the many physicians, nurses, and other healthcare workers who have lost their livelihoods because of coercive vaccine mandates? I have yet to see any meaningful public discussion of this reality from CMDA.
The loss of jobs and livelihoods as a result of the vaccine mandates are tragic. I have personally interacted with many of them providing prayer and whatever emotional support I can. It’s important to recognize that fighting the vaccine mandates is a legal issue. That is why CMDA has created a page that provides resources and recommended legal entities to contact. That page can be found here: https://cmda.org/coronavirus/vaccine-mandate-resources/.
Jeff is leading us to come together. From an Eternity perspective how will our struggles look? We’re trying to reconcile healing and science with other Biblical principles. How does respect for life look when the only lifesaving vaccines were safety tested on tissue cultures from cells of the unborn? I’m weighing the over 700,000 lives lost to COVID versus how our no-sparrow-shall-fall God looks at the loss of even a single unborn life to abortion, and we can see that each of us might guess differently what’s on the Mind of our Creator. we do know that we should love our brothers and sisters in Christ, no matter how misguided they may seem to us. Not sure how relevant this is, but Jesus told his followers it was OK to break the sabbath rule to feed themselves or to pull their sheep out of a deep hole. Would that mean He would vouchsafe breaking another “rule” like getting vaccinated [by vaccines that were tested on tissue cultures made from fetuses aborted long ago] to permit health care workers to go back to pulling our sheep from the deep hole of the pandemic? to me, that still, small voice says “save my sheep” but i love and respect my colleagues who hear otherwise. how can we support each other before unbelievers and glorify God by our example??
Thanks for your insights regarding the politización of preventive public health measures recommended, therapeutic agents, and vaccinations. Having practiced outpatient pediatrics while serving our Ohio county of 360,000 as Commissioner of Public Health and Medical Director of the Health Department for over 40 years, I have endured frequent attacks regarding my attempts at educating the public about all aspects of the pandemic. The extent that disinformation, fake news, and conspiracy theories has turned in my estimation a vocal 20% of the population hostile towards scientists, health care workers, and venerable institutions such as the CDC.
Indeed our Triune God reigns and comes first. Family next. Everyone else, stand in line….
So, sticking to simple biblical principles have helped me navigate through the pandemic through daily posts on social media. Here are some…
Know the science. God is the Creator of all, including science.
Speak the truth, for the truth shall set us free.
The body is the temple of the a Holy Spirit. God wants us to guard it.
The virus mutated thanks to the prince of the world -Satan.
Proper protection guards the temple, our bodies.
God led scientists to effective treatments, therapeutic protocols and tools, and amazing vaccines, which some have labeled miraculous.
With hostile people…apply love and be Jesus to them
Listen with empathy warmth and respect.
Speak truth with love.
Love conquers a multitude of sins…including behaviors of a minority of folks who blindly accept anti science, anti medicine, and politicized messages …and worse…propagate lies.
I’m sure we all can think of more…
As you indicate, professional and scientific organizations have clear positions and guidelines on all aspects of the pandemic and it is not our role to advocate.
Our role at CMDA, as you stated is different …keeping God in our hearts, and being Jesus to all we meet.
Thank you for your faithful service, Dr. Lerer.
You are not alone.
The vast majority of committed, Bible-believing Christian physicians stand with you.
I appreciate this as I support a missionary who is anti-vaccine.