Health reform does not belong to Adventists

Three days ago I read the most profound article I’ve come across in a long time. It was written by Dr. Jack Hoehn, a retired Adventist physician, who actually wrote a three-part series, “Adventists in Health Care,” published in Adventist Today (see link below).  But one section stood out as resonating so completely with the philosophy of Adventist Vegetarian Diabetics that I have to share it in its entirety:

God never intended Seventh-day Adventists to have a little treasure of privileged Divine information on health and happiness that we could use as bait to get people to join our church.  In the past we have spoken of “health care” or “the health care message” as “an opening wedge.” This used to mean if we are good doctors and nurses, they might listen to us about the Sabbath and the State of the Dead. If we get them to stop smoking with “The 5-day Plan” then they will join our churches. While this is perhaps true, it misses the point that we serve a God who gives the rain to the just and to the unjust. And to think that our vegetarianism is the cure to cancer or that not smoking or drinking wine will exempt us from death and pain is bogus and unworthy of our faith.

God gave Adventists a prophetic health message, because we were sick and needy, and he wanted us to live better and share the information with the world. It was not to make Loma Linda Adventists a Blue Zone who would live 10 years longer than anyone else; it was to help everyone everywhere live better and happier. Our health message is not unique and special; the only thing unique and special about the Adventist Health message is that we believe we should do what we know, as a spiritual duty.

But we can learn, as did our Adventist Pioneers, from non-Adventists what is healthy, what is hygienic, what is rational, what is safe, pure, and effective in living our lives. Health is from God, and God is not handing out little packets of special blessing on Adventists; he is pouring out blessings on every religion, every gender, every race. While God worked for us through Ellen White, he worked for the world through Louis Pasteur, Joseph Lister, William Osler, and Bayer chemical company with knowledge of infections as causing disease, aseptic surgery, rational medical treatments, ether anesthesia, and aspirin. These are all much larger and more important blessings to mankind than avoiding mustard, tea, and coffee ever will be.

Vegetarianism no longer belongs to Adventists. Not smoking is no longer a peculiar belief of Adventists.  Avoiding narcotics and addicting drugs is not an Adventist issue. We no longer need to talk about “dangerous drugs;” modern medicine has fully accepted that every chemical used for health purposes need to be pure, safe, and effective. The church needs to move from 19th century health concerns to 21st century health concerns. We need obesity prevention, diabetic prevention, cancer risk reduction, and mental health promotion now, not just stop-smoking clinics and harping on mustard! If the evidence shows that coffee is good for old people with memory loss, we need to encourage its use. If the evidence shows that spices actually are good for people, we need to drop those errors of our 19th-century prophetess, and move on to health for today, not the reforms useful in 1863. Once it took Adventists to make breakfast cereals and peanut butter. There is no need for us to do these things today.

And we must fully embrace cooperation with all other agencies for good in our world.  We will support every health initiative from every source. If the Muslim Red Crescent and the American Red Cross are improving health, we will support both equally. That’s the kind of God Adventists worship.


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