Let me begin by saying these lifestyles are not mutually exclusive. A Christian can adopt holistic practices for the sake of health and not be any less a Christian. In fact, we’re told in 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 that we are bought with a price and our bodies now belong to the Lord; therefore, we ought to take care of our bodies.
Also note, I’m using the term “holistic” here to mean the pursuit of improved health through homeopathic, natural, and organic methods. (Some folks use it more broadly, but that’s how will be defined for this discussion.) There isn’t a problem with organic or natural, in and of themselves. However, there are a few points that bother me about the uber-natural movement within Christianity. Trying not to step on too many toes, I’ll list my grievances below and ask that readers keep an open mind.
- Holistic (or natural) living becomes an idol. How many of your daily conversations are about your eating habits/natural remedies? How much of your money is tied up in items that help you achieve this lifestyle? How focused are you on improving the health of yourself/your family? There’s nothing wrong with healthful pursuits. But if you’re consumed by one thing, if that thing isn’t Jesus Christ then it’s an idol.Instead: Abide first and foremost in Jesus Christ. Remember, “…while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come.” (1 Timothy 4:8)
- Just because a thing is natural/organic doesn’t make it good; that’s actually anti-biblical. That sounds peculiar. Genesis 1 repeats the idea “God made…and saw that it was good.” So if a thing is naturally occurring, it’s made by God, and He’s designed it much better than anything man-made.Instead: Let’s take the whole counsel of God into consideration. Fast-forward to Genesis 3. In an instant, Man has sinned and the world isn’t so perfect-the-way-God-made-it anymore. Death enters the scene. We’ve opened the door for sickness, poison, and the aging process… all of which are “natural.
- Truth-seeking and analytical thinking are abandoned in favor of poor sources. There seems to be disdain for mainstream studies–it’s thought the people controlling these publications stand to lose if we find natural remedies to cure our troubles. Rather than analyzing facts from credible sources, we’re likely to listen to a blogger who agrees with our preconceived notions.Instead: Part of holy living is truth-seeking. How to find the truth? We must track down credible sources and analyze the information. Academic sources are often credible because the peer review process provides accountability. Scientists/researchers have a host of other scientists/researchers checking their work. Often competitors, peer reviewers stand to gain if they can improve on or discredit a peer’s research. Studies worth their salt meticulously record the details regarding how the research was conducted and collect data from a large sample size. The studies are subsequently published so other people can test and build on the work that was done. How willing are we to critically analyze our sources?
- There is a rise in extremism (when broad categories of things become inherently good or inherently evil). Suddenly, medicine prescribed by doctors is evil. Homeopathic remedies are good. GMO is definitely and completely and always evil. The oldest, most heirloom version of a plant is good.Instead: Unfortunately, it’s easy to lump things into pre-judged categories and to deal with them accordingly. But we–as Christians and truth-seekers–need to stay off the bandwagon and give matters thorough consideration. We need to remember that God gave us beautiful minds which He expects us to utilize–and there are plenty of scientists using their minds to His glory as well, inventing wonderful and useful things.
- There is a lack of trust in God’s sovereignty. Ultimately, though I may avoid GMOs and gluten and eat only the best organic food, I may die at 25 tripping in front of an oncoming car. Or God may allow me to suffer through cancer for reasons unapparent to anyone, in spite of my best efforts. And God is still a good and perfect God. Truly, are we trying to achieve immortality? There’s almost a 100% mortality rate (barring Enoch and Elijah) among us human types.
Instead: As the Psalmist says, “teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts to wisdom.” (Psalm 90:12) And besides that, “We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord.” (2 Corinthians 5:8)
And as I wrap this up, let me say also that there’s an opposite extreme that expects the god of Science to save us. I assure you, I decry that as well. Therefore, my final thought on the matter is this: our primary concern should be drawing closer to God and exhibiting holy living, not holistic living. Regarding the body, we must “present [our] bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is [our] spiritual worship.” (Romans 12:1)