We need to know that there is a connection between worship and health. What God tells us to do in worship is not for God’s benefit but ours. God doesn’t need our money, so that is not why we give. He doesn’t tell us to sing because He likes good music. Likewise, prayer is not because God needs us to tell Him what is going on or what we need. Jesus makes it clear that God knows what we need before we ask. (See Matthew 6:8.)
Worship and health are connected because all acts of worship are for our well-being. Christianity Today published a report of studies showing reduced health risks for people who attend worship services regularly compared with those who never attend. Consider these comparisons:
Those who attend have an 84% lower risk of suicide than non-attenders. Those who attend have an 82.9% lower risk of depression than non-attenders. Those who attend have a 50% lower risk of divorce than non-attenders. Those who attend have a 33% lower risk of illegal drug use than non-attenders.
The report also quoted Gallup polls showing that confidence in organized religion has dropped from 68% in 1975 to 36% in 2019. In addition, a Barna Poll showed that in 1911 43% of Americans said they went to church every week, and in 2020 that number was 29%. Harvard University researchers Tyler Vanderweele and Brendan Case collected the data, so it is an academic investigation by recognized scholars.
The connection between worship and health is another example of the correlation between rejecting God and having problems with suicide, depression, drug use, and instability in relationships. Jesus said, “I come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly” (John 10:10). That is not just true of life after death, but in living every day through all we experience on Earth.
A Finnish study has found that singing is good for your health. In addition, it showed better verbal fluency in elderly singers compared to non-singers. The study says that these findings make sense because singing requires regulation of attention, versatile information processing, linguistic output, learning, and memorization.
Several New Testament passages talk about singing, including Ephesians 5:19, Colossians 3:16, Romans 15:9, and 1 Corinthians 14:15. The New Testament presents singing as part of worship, and everyone should participate in worship. Merely being entertained by someone who is blessed with great musical talent is not participating in worship.
In our day of four-part harmony, it is easy for everyone to learn to sing in their comfort range. In the Old Testament, the Psalms were songs. Music for worship in Jesus’ day mainly consisted of chants that everyone could join.
A person can be tone-deaf and still participate in singing in Christian worship. Although many religions use singing as a part of their worship activities, group participation is unique to the worship system of Christians.
Singing is not what takes place in the meetings of atheists. When I was an atheist, the only songs I remember were songs that carried a pornographic or comedic message. Music was not something we all participated in, but it was a vehicle of entertainment.
“Making melody in your heart” (Ephesians 5:19) is a proven way to improve your mental health. Furthermore, like everything God tells us to do, it has a purpose and benefits our well-being. Therefore, singing is good for your health, both physical and spiritual health.
Recently a critic suggested that if God were so great, He wouldn’t allow dementia and Alzheimer’s to be a part of the human experience. There is no question that Alzheimer’s and dementia are a growing problem in today’s world. Those of us who have had family members develop these disabilities can testify how hard it is for family and loved ones. Is the inability of a mother to recognize her children or husband a failure in human brain design?
The Alzheimer’s Association has released data showing that one in three seniors dies with Alzheimer’s or other dementia. Since 2000, the number of deaths due to Alzheimer’s has more than doubled. It kills more people than breast cancer and prostate cancer combined. Almost two-thirds of Americans living with Alzheimer’s are women, and more than six million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s. We don’t know all of the causes and contributors to Alzheimer’s. Still, we know enough to tell us that Alzheimer’s and dementia are related to our environment, our growing life expectancy, and our lifestyles.
In the past, people just didn’t live long enough to develop Alzheimer’s. Life expectancy brings many age-related health issues. For that reason, Alzheimer’s and dementia are a growing problem. Diet and physical activity are related to Alzheimer’s. In modern life, we do a lot of sitting and consume many foods that are not good for our brains. The same conditions that have caused heart disease and diabetes also produce Alzheimer’s and dementia. God did not design humans to sit behind a desk with no exercise and eat foods that negatively affect our brains. The Alzheimer’s Association has shown that multiple vaccinations for flu and pneumonia reduce the risk for Alzheimer’s.
Our brains are incredible devices that allow us to survive and do amazing things. We clearly see God’s design in how our brains work, but human activity and choices have contributed to a decline in brain health. Alzheimer’s and dementia are a growing problem but not an indication that God failed in His design. It shows that the neglect of our brains and our choices in life have caused problems that prevent our incredible biological computers from handling all the data we want them to retain. We must take care of the good things God has given us, and our brains are among the most important.
An alternative to alcohol consumption that many people are not aware of is alcohol-free beer, wine, and whiskey. This is not going to be acceptable for someone who is drinking for the drug effect of alcohol. However, for those who drink for social or taste reasons, alcohol-free drinks are becoming a big plus. According to market analysis groups, global consumption of no alcohol beverages is growing two to three times faster than alcohol consumption.
Alcohol-free bars have opened around the world. For example, in Austin, Texas, Sans Bar has live music and various alcohol-free drinks. The founder is a former addiction counselor who has been sober for 14 years. New and old businesses are manufacturing alcohol-free beverages. Anheuser-Busch has introduced an alcohol-free Budweiser Zero beer. Small companies like Spiritless and Ritual Zero Proof have opened and are producing no-alcohol whiskey, gin, and tequila.
Drinking may not be an issue for most Christians. But for people struggling with health issues due to alcohol, athletes, and pregnant women, the social pressure to drink may be counteracted by alcohol-free beer, wine, and whiskey. Christians should be reminded of Paul’s admonition in 1 Thessalonians 5:22 to “Abstain from all appearances of evil.” We hope that non-alcoholic drinks could be viewed as a tool to address problems, not as a social lubricant.
The colonies of microbes living on and in our bodies make up what is called our microbiome. The bacteria outnumber our own body cells by a ratio of ten to one. Your body is host to 100 trillion bacteria of at least 10,000 different species. Before you start to worry about that, most of the bacteria will not hurt you. More than that, you couldn’t live without a healthy microbiome.
Some bacteria are essential to make our immune system work to prevent infection. Others make it possible for us to digest the food we eat. Bacteria are on our skin, in our lungs, in our mouths, especially in our gut. Your digestive system needs a good balance of bacteria for proper digestion. Some medical experts think that an imbalance of gut flora (bacteria) leads to irritable bowel syndrome and Crohn’s disease.
There has been a boom in sales of probiotics in pills, liquids, and yogurts in recent years. These contain bacteria that may help your digestive system, but the amounts and types of bacteria may not necessarily be the ones needed for your system. Everyone has a somewhat different microbiome, and, as we recently posted, it all starts in our mother’s womb. Breastfeeding further adds beneficial bacteria to the baby’s flora.
When we take antibiotics, we can kill some beneficial bacteria resulting in digestive and other health problems. Science is trying to determine what is required for a healthy microbiome so that doctors can treat various issues that many times come from our poor choices regarding our health and diet. God designed a system that works, and we are just beginning to recognize that and learn how to take care of it.
The list of human problems is multiplying as more chemicals are used in beauty aids. Toluene is a solvent used in nail polishes and has been linked to miscarriages and some cancers. Foundations and eye shadows contain parabens, which disrupt hormones causing allergies and have been linked to miscarriages, cancer, and ADHD. Lipsticks and other cosmetics contain formaldehyde which causes cancer. Shampoos and conditioners contain per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), which can cause liver damage, thyroid disease, and developmental issues. Many perfumes and deodorants contain phthalates which contribute to asthma, diabetes, and ADHD.
In their winter edition of Solutions magazine, the Environmental Defense Fund published stories of women working in beauty salons who have had miscarriages. The list of diseases they link to beauty products includes many soaps and lotions.
We cannot blame God when we use chemicals in cosmetics that cause serious diseases or organ failure. The real issue here is that most of us don’t know what will harm us and what will not. We urge our readers to look at the product labels to see the chemicals in cosmetics and lotions to ensure that what we use to improve our looks doesn’t cause serious health issues.
More and more data shows that leaving Earth and venturing into outer space away from Earth’s constant gravity and the protection of our atmosphere and magnetosphere is much more destructive than anyone imagined. One of our regular readers sent us a quote from NBC News about the potential health problems of space travel. Here is what it says:
“The number of deaths due to heart disease among the Apollo lunar astronauts is almost five times greater than that in non-flight astronauts, or astronauts who never flew missions in space, researchers from Florida State University found. Compared to astronauts who flew only in low Earth orbit (LEO), the heart risk among Apollo astronauts is four times higher. There were no differences between LEO and non-flight astronauts.”
We recently reported on the astronaut twin study, which showed physical changes even in low Earth orbit. We don’t yet know what potential health problems of space travel may become evident in the long-term.
Micro-gravity and exposure to radiation seem to combine to cause bodily harm. Earth’s magnetic field is more protective than science has understood. Working in the International Space Station is less of an issue because the LEO means that some of Earth’s protections still function.Going to Mars may be impossible with the present spaceship design.
We will be interested in future data on travel to the Moon and prolonged existence in outer space. We know that God’s design of planet Earth makes it suitable for life, but we are not fully aware of the potential health problems of space travel. You can read the full NBC report from HERE.
Many years ago in Alaska, I had a discussion with a biologist who was studying the Alaskan soils. His study revolved around the fact that Alaska has very little soil and what it does have is developing. The lack of soil in Alaska has limited plant growth and made the ecology dependent on migrating salmon. Soils are complex mixtures of organic matter, minerals, water, air, and billions of organisms that form over hundreds of years. Good soils are vital for survival. President Franklin D. Roosevelt once said, “A nation that destroys its soils destroys itself.”
Research has shown that plants are designed to “call” for nutrients from the soil. A plant will release molecules called flavonoids, which cause bacteria in the soil to migrate into the plant and form nitrogen nodules on the roots. The nitrogen nodules generate food for the plant. If ample nitrogen is already available for the plant, it will not release the flavonoids.
This “hunger” by plants is vital to understand because many natural and human-caused processes can deplete the soil. Forest and brush fires, hurricanes, pollution, and climate change can deplete soils’ nitrogen content and kill plants. Studies of the giant sequoias in California have shown that the soil under them has twice as many bacteria as the soil under nearby sugar pines. We all know that bacteria influence human health, but bacteria also affect plant health and growth.
As our population increases and world climates change, it will become increasingly important to understand how soil allows us to feed our growing population. God’s design of the Earth includes providing the soils necessary to produce food. Good soils are vital for survival.
One of the problems we all face is knowing whether the healthcare products we see advertised and on the store shelves actually work. The fact is that many of the advertised items are totally useless. In October of 2019, the Center for Inquiry sued Walmart for putting useless homeopathic products on shelves beside valid medicines. On May 20, 2020, the homeopathy lawsuit was dismissed by the District of Columbia Superior Court.
The Center for Inquiry said their concern is that consumers wouldn’t know what was useful and what was not. A good example is that just about every drug store and department store like Walmart sells products claiming to protect us from memory loss. Research has shown that most of them are useless. The Center for Inquiry will appeal the court’s decision. They have also filed a similar lawsuit against CVS, the country’s largest pharmacy chain.
Many of the products promoted as homeopathic cures have religious claims and are marketed by religious figures. We have had a personal interest in this with a family member using a homeopathic treatment for cancer to the exclusion of established medical treatment. That error ultimately resulted in the death of our loved one.
There is a biblical example of this in Acts 8:9-24 where a man called Simon “used sorcery and bewitched the people of Samaria, giving out that himself was some great one, to whom they all gave heed, from the least to the greatest saying that this man is the great power of God; and to him they had regard, because that for a long time he had bewitched them with sorceries.” (Verses 9-11) There have always been scams and con artists who take people’s money for things that simply don’t work.
So how do we protect ourselves? The fact that the homeopathy lawsuit was dismissed should not prevent us from being skeptical of health claims made by anyone, including religious leaders or celebrities. Ask your doctor about anything you put into or on your body. There is a website called Quackwatch, which has links to health claims and products.
Taking care of our bodies is taking care of the temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 3:16). We need to realize that doing that requires some effort on our part.
The COVID-19 virus has been too lethal to ignore. This pandemic makes us realize that there are many viruses out there, and the current one is just the tip of the iceberg of what is possible. As early as AD 165 to 180, pandemics killed massive numbers of people. Smallpox killed 5 million, and bubonic plague killed 25 million on four different occasions starting in 541. Researchers today are attempting to catalog links between animal viruses and human illness. They estimate that there are probably 1.6 million animal viruses yet to be discovered in mammal and bird populations and that 827,000 of them could cause disease in humans.
Viruses are part of the natural world in which we live. They serve useful purposes in aiding animal digestion, reproduction, and elimination of wastes. The problem is that each animal has its own set of viruses suited for that animal’s diet and living conditions. If an animal’s virus jumps into another species with a different diet and living conditions, the results can be destructive. That is the connection between animal viruses and human illness. Most of the viruses we know about came into the human population from rodents, including rats, bats, birds, chimps, and mosquitos. Some have jumped through several animals such as bats giving the virus to cattle and camels, which gave it to humans.
The Old Testament laws had health restrictions, which made virus transmission less of a problem. People were also not in such proximity to one another or to animals that had destructive viruses. Living in very arid conditions reduced disease transmission, and the dietary laws worked against most virus transmission. When you read through Deuteronomy and Leviticus, you see elaborate precautions that we now understand had hygienic benefits to minimize viral transmission.
In the New Testament, many of these rules were continued. There was a prohibition against drinking blood, and the increased use of baking and boiling foods contributed to a low virus transmission rate. Moral rules that reduced the spread of disease included the elimination of polygamy and polyandry and the strong condemnation of prostitution. In time, the keeping of exotic pets and the acceptance of foods previously forbidden to Israel tended to thwart human attempts to fight disease.
God has given us the capacity to understand viruses and the connection between animal viruses and human illness. God has also given us the tools to control these virus issues. He has also given us hope for something better. Will we use the tools and techniques God gave us to stop the pandemics, or will we open our culture to more viral events in the future? Time will tell.