Saturday, August 01, 2009

Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God

Then the devil taketh him up into the holy city, and setteth him on a pinnacle of the temple, And saith unto him, If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down: for it is written, He shall give his angels charge concerning thee: and in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone. Jesus said unto him, It is written again, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God.- Matt.4:5-7

The following lines are from a story in today's news from the Associated Press. This tragic story highlights the danger of false religious beliefs.

WAUSAU, Wis. – A central Wisconsin man accused of killing his 11-year-old daughter by praying instead of seeking medical care was found guilty Saturday of second-degree reckless homicide...Prosecutors contended he should have rushed the girl to a hospital because she couldn't walk, talk, eat or drink. Instead, Madeline died on the floor of the family's rural Weston home as people surrounded her and prayed.

"If I go to the doctor, I am putting the doctor before God," Neumann testified. "I am not believing what he said he would do." [Note: It is this bizarre scruple stated bluntly by Neumann, even after the death of his own child, that constitutes a false religious belief.] Assistant District Attorney LaMont Jacobson told jurors in closing arguments Friday that Neumann was..."overwhelmed by pride" in his interpretation of the Bible and selfishly let Madeline die as a test of faith...Neumann knew he should have taken his daughter to a doctor and minimized her illness when speaking with investigators, Jacobson said, calling Neumann no different than a drunken driver who remarks he only had a couple of beers...Doctors testified that Madeline would have had a good chance of survival if she had received medical care, including insulin and fluids, before she stopped breathing.

The report may be found at this link.

1 comment:

poetreader said...

During my years as a Pentecostal preacher, I often confronted just this kind of error, in effect a heartless outbreak of the worst kind of legalism and judgmentalism. I myself was told, while enduring the worst crisis of my life, the care of my wife during the last stages of her cancer, that, if she had not been healed, I was obviously no man of God. What demon-god could command such cruelty as that?

I watched many others do themselves and their loved ones great and unnecessary harm through such beliefs. In fact, at the immediate moment, years after leaving that environment, an elderly friend, who was one of my parishioners, is refusing to be treated for glaucoma, and will, unless she can change her mind, spend the end of her life blind.

The father's intent was golden, but his commitment to a false doctrine had predictable ugly effects. And what was the false doctrine? No less than the worship of a false God. a God that will punish one for doing the wrong thing to help another, a God who inspires not love but terror. "God'll get you!"

The man is not evil. He intended no murder. But his false belief had the same result as if he had intended the worst. It wasn't murder, but it was most certainly some form of manslaughter. An honest belief does not excuse this kind of action any more than it excuses others, such as abortion.

Heresy is not only dangerous to the soul, but it has solid and predictable effects upon secular life as well.