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).