Author: Hilda Scheffler Rainda, MD
Summary: Dr. Rainda gives good advice on balanced living.
The word “Reasonable” can mean sensible, moderate, or balanced. God expects us to use our knowledge to act wisely and not to be moved by fanaticism, haste, emotions, or fear.
I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service (Romans 12:1).
This applies not only to our spiritual life, but also to our diet, exercise program, medicine choices, and home remedies. God, in His mercy and wisdom, has given us specific instructions in His Word, and now in these last days in the writings of Ellen White.
First of all, let us look at the modern trend of extremes in diet. Our Creator chose the ideal diet for us: fruits, nuts, grains, legumes, and vegetables. We can’t improve on God’s method. We do not need to resort to animal products, except in some extreme cases, or extreme climates, or extreme situations.
There have been many extreme diets in our day. Take fasting for example. Jesus fasted 40 days and so did Moses, but a number of individuals have died when trying to do the same. We should fast a day or two, or a meal or two, but not more than five days. This is the instruction of E. G. White (Counsel on Diet and Foods 185-191).
Another fad of our day is to go on a juice diet. Again, this is fine for a day or two, but the body needs fibre, and God gave us teeth to thoroughly chew our food. This juice diet can be devastating to diabetics as well as some individuals with other illnesses.
The “raw foods only” diet is another dangerous fad. We should probably eat more raw foods. Going on a raw food diet for a few days is certainly fine. But this not God’s design outside the Garden of Eden (Exodus 16:23, 1 Kings 19:6-9, Ezekiel 4:9). There is a whole section in Counsels on Diet and Foods on the blessings of bread. Grains are to be thoroughly baked or cooked, and they constitute a staple in a healthy diet (Counsel on Diet and Foods, 315-321).
It is true that eating raw fruits and vegetables in a meal helps digestion, but some vegetables are better cooked because they contain harmful toxins. For example, when eaten raw in large amounts, sweet potatoes and yams can cause severe indigestion and in some cases even death. Some members of the bean family also contain enzymes that if ingested raw can cause digestion problems. In both cases, cooking deactivates the toxic enzymes.
The big issue is balance—following the examples and instruction God has given us.
When it comes to medical practices, so many people go to extremes. Yes, it is wise to use natural remedies where appropriate. We have a great deal of instruction in the Spirit of Prophecy regarding natural remedies. But Mrs. White also instructed our church leaders to develop medical schools that were to be of the “highest order” to train highly qualified health professionals. Just because a remedy is natural does not mean it’s good. Tobacco, marijuana, cocaine, betel nut, magnetism, and hypnosis are all quite natural by most standards, but they are certainly not of divine origin.
Some folks are against all drugs. Some say E. G. White was against all drugs. However, Dr. Mervyn Harding has written a very comprehensive book regarding Ellen White’s counsel on the use of drugs entitled Drugs, Herbs and Natural Remedies. In fact, Mrs. White used tea and coffee as medicine. She had radiation therapy for facial cancer. She had her staff vaccinated against smallpox, advised the use of Quinine for malaria, and showed many more examples of balance in medicine.
About 70% of all medicines are of plant origin. However, once the medicinal compound is chemically analyzed, it is often cheaper to synthesize it rather than pay the labor costs of gathering the plant material.
In nature, one plant of the same species can be chemically different from another. Also many so-called medicines may not be pure, proven by scientific methods, or contain the amount of the medicine as the next batch of pills. For these reasons, synthetic medicines can be safer. I’m not against natural medicines. I endorse hydrotherapy, some herbs, and E. G. White’s eight natural remedies in Ministry of Healing. But just because some pills can and have caused disastrous results, one should not throw out all the modern medicine. Herbal remedies have also caused deaths.
So my advice is this: pray for guidance. Be like the Bereans, and search out every principle and practice in the Word of God and the Spirit of Prophecy. God has promised to instruct and teach us (Psalm 32:8).