Because of the use of priesthood power, the Word of Wisdom and fasting and prayer, many people wonder if Mormons believe in the use of modern medicine. Well, the answer is yes, they do. Mormons believe we should use all the tools we have to help ourselves and each other heal.
A recent news article told the story of a couple in Oregon who was prosecuted for and eventually pled guilty to second-degree murder of their newborn child. Due to their religious beliefs, this couple had chosen to have their child born in a bedroom, with no medical assistance. To everyone’s surprise, twins were born. The parents didn’t have any sonograms, nor did they visit a doctor during the pregnancy. Neither of them could have known the mother was carrying twins. Even still, at the time of the birth, and with the life of their little girl on the line, they chose not to forego their religious beliefs by seeking medical help. Because of that, the child died, just hours after her birth, leaving her twin in critical condition.
This couple was fifth generational members of the Church of Christ. They believe that God is the master healer. Many others share this belief as well. However, the difference between common belief and the Church of Christ is that they believe He is the master healer 100% from every angle. Meaning that if it’s God’s will, He will heal the person—no additional medical assistance necessary.
In 1998, Oregon stated that the number of children’s deaths, in the Church of Christ, between then and 1955, was 78. They concluded that 21 of those deaths could have been avoided by seeking medical assistance.
As Mormons we, too, understand that God is the master healer. However, we believe that He would expect us to seek medical help as part of that healing process. God is the master healer because He is the master of everything. He heals us but He has also provided us with tools to seek the best learning.
Modern Medicine and Prophets
Many of the prophets and apostles in the Mormon church have been successful in the medical field. Current prophet, Russell M. Nelson, is a world renowned heart surgeon and medical researcher. In April 1972 he was called to perform a very risky heart surgery on President Spencer W. Kimball. Kimball was then a member of the twelve apostles and at the age of 77. Nelson had never performed this specific surgery on a man of his age group. It was decided he would go through with the surgery, anyway, as President Harold B. Lee, then the president of the quorum of the 12 apostles, insisted that President Kimball was to be prophet someday.
On the day of the surgery, there were many that were fasting and praying for it to go well. President Nelson received a blessing from the first presidency that he would be able to efficiently perform the operation. All of those, combined with a lifelong study of medicine and surgery, helped President Nelson to operate on President Kimball’s heart perfectly. He then went on to live another phenomenal thirteen years.
This can all be found in President Nelson’s biography, Father, Surgeon, Apostle.
Priesthood blessings can be a vital part of healing for people in the Church. Christ came to Earth and, as part of His earthly ministry, healed the sick. His priesthood remains on the earth today and is exercised through righteous men who have received it through the laying on of hands.
Faith and sacred Priesthood power can help us heal. But God also expects us to seek help and take action by getting the best medical help available. He takes care of us and meets our needs through many different avenues.