Keeping healthcare choices broad

A Christian Science perspective.

Criticisms of Britain's state-controlled National Health Service (NHS) have punctuated the healthcare debate in the United States. Conversely, political columnists in Britain often harshly condemn the US system as uncaring to the needs of those who are uninsured.

Such polarization of views is unhelpful if it inhibits policymakers and the public from thoughtfully weighing what does and doesn't work among a range of options.

One point that's often overlooked when healthcare debates get polarized is that there are other approaches beyond varied ways of administering conventional medicine. A growing number of people desire more holistic methods of healthcare. To many this means the opportunity to choose complementary or alternative medicine. To others it means the ability to take a purely spiritual approach to their care and cure based on an understanding of the Bible and what Jesus showed healing to be.

For instance, in my case, as a British-born citizen who has also lived in the US, I haven't used the NHS or private medical insurance for three decades. Yet I have experienced effective healthcare.

Here's an example. In my 20s I went to the doctor when a condition that had recurred over several years became more severe. He diagnosed it as sinusitis and prescribed an antibiotic which, in my case, had no obvious benefit but led to uncomfortable side effects.

Before it recurred again, a friend gave me "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," written by this newspaper's founder, Mary Baker Eddy. Mind and Love are two synonyms Mrs. Eddy used for God, and in this book she explained a spiritual approach to healthcare: "Our system of Mind-healing rests on the apprehension of the nature and essence of all being, – on the divine Mind and Love's essential qualities. Its pharmacy is moral, and its medicine is intellectual and spiritual, though used for physical healing" (p. 460).

I decided to see if this approach to healing could work for me. After praying for a little time, I experienced a vivid spiritual awakening. God became very real to me as all-embracing Love, and the pain, in contrast, seemed unreal. The sinusitis symptoms vanished shortly afterward, and haven't returned in 25 years since. I most gratefully look back on the spiritual change that took place in me, and the healing that accompanied it.

Because of such experiences, I practice Christian Science as my first choice of healthcare. Although I am, of course, free to use medicine or other means, since that experience of divine Love's care, this practice of looking to God for healing has proved consistently effective for me.

Consequently, as healthcare debates continue in the US and globally, my prayer is twofold. I pray for broadly acceptable ideas to emerge that can improve society's record of meeting healthcare needs according to each individual's choice. And I pray that more people will recognize the merits of what Mary Baker Eddy referred to as "the medicine of Mind," both for its practical effectiveness and for the "side effect" I experienced: clearer recognition of the reality of an all-loving God.

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