Thursday, April 23, 2020

What is our number one priority?

It is as old as time.  When folks ask a pregnant woman about her baby, the answer was often "As long as the baby has ten fingers and ten toes and is healthy, nothing else matters."  As we all know how many things can go wrong in pregnancy, labor, and delivery, we certainly do understand this concern and commend the sentiment.  Whether boy or girl, we want a healthy baby and a mother kept safe during childbirth most of all.

At the same time, the way we approach those circumstances in which the baby is not healthy has changed.  The availability of legal abortion and its sanction by medicine and culture as the most appropriate way to deal with a baby's disability, has made it less about health and more about what people have come to decide is a life worth living.  In fact, some nations have made it the ordinary response to abort any baby not deemed healthy -- that is, any baby with any physical or mental handicap.  All of this occurs, curiously, at a time when many physical issues can be treated in utero -- something never possible in generations before.  If there is something wrong, we will try to fix it and if we cannot fix it, we will abort it.

The most important thing is health.  We are obsessed with health.  We have more commercials for drugs than just about anything else.  Our social media is filled with health tips, health advice, health home remedies, and the latest wisdom about diet, cleansing, etc...  We have gyms and health clubs and home exercise equipment in all price ranges and we wear our Fit Bits and keep track of our steps as if this were the real meaning of life.  I should not complain.  In a nation threatened by an epidemic of obesity, hypertension, diabetes, and other often preventable health issues, is it so bad that we idolize health?  It is the most important thing, isn't it?  If you judge by all that we have gone through in the past weeks and months to combat the coronavirus, you can certainly presume the answer is "yes."

My health insurance company spends tons of money sending me emails and snail mail on programs that are available free of charge to help me put my life in order.  I have had phone calls from folks telling me that they will help me manage my meds, reduce my weight, improve my diet, encourage exercise and a host of other helpful things -- all paid for by my insurance premiums.  Funny though, when I have a claim they are not so quick to underwrite the costs of my care as they are to try their ideas of how to have prevented that claim in the first place.

On top of that is the fact that there is no shortage of advice from life coaches and stress managers telling us to quarantine toxic people from our lives and let only supportive, encouraging, and positive folks into our circle of friendships.  We are urged to get out of marriages and relationships that are not what we want or think we need -- because we deserve better.  Talk shows tell us of how wonderful life can be if you give up your spouse, having children, the job you love to hate, or a host of other things.  All of this is in pursuit of a healthy me.

From essential oils to pH balanced drinks to diet supplements and more, we worship the god of health.  It is our number one priority.  Should it be?  Is our health (and happiness) the most important goal of our lives?  What about it Christians?  Have we jumped on the health train and forgotten that there is a higher goal than a healthy me?  What about deny yourself, take up your cross, and follow Me?  What about sacrificial love for spouse, child, parent, neighbor, and even stranger?  What about holiness and righteousness?  What about living this life in view of eternal life?  Are these goals important only in so far as they fit with our goal of a healthy, happy, easy mortal life?  Do we choose between holiness and healthiness?  If so, what do we choose?

Some questions to ponder as we also look at the prospect of returning to some sense of normalcy in our lives.  Maybe we ought to be looking more carefully at what that normal should be and not just finding the old ruts and living for the old gods of contentment we worshiped before everything changed.


No comments: