There’s a great scene in the British show Doc Martin where the doctor finds out that some of his patients have been visiting an amateur natural medicine practitioner on the sly. One of them is nearly killed by an herbal remedy which the natural doctor recommended to him without doing any research into his medical history, which would have shown that this particular herb is contraindicated for people with his condition. When one of the villagers protests that he doesn’t see what could be wrong with taking something natural, Doc Martin snaps, “poison ivy’s natural, too! You wouldn’t take that, would you?”
I’m not here to dismiss natural remedies, but I want to talk a little bit about the danger of assuming that natural necessarily means better. When it comes to women’s health, especially, I am so tired of hearing that your body knows what it is supposed to do. Yes, most of the time, it does. But sometimes it screws up. This isn’t necessarily because nature is bad, or God created us with flaws; it’s because our nature isn’t what it used to be.
Most of the time, pregnancy and childbirth go smoothly, because a woman’s body was made for that. But sometimes, your body doesn’t know how to take care of the baby, or when it’s time for him to come out. If you sit around for 43 weeks waiting for that baby to come out naturally, he may not make it out alive. Time for an intervention.
Most of the time, breastfeeding goes smoothly. They tell you, “if it hurts, something is wrong. It shouldn’t hurt.” But sometimes, you’re doing everything right, and it just hurts anyway. Time for…well, there’s not much you can do, but time to stop thinking it’s your fault for not doing it the way nature intended!
Sometimes, depression can be cured with changes in diet, exercise, and mental routine. Sometimes, all you need to do is take care of your body, and it will function normally. But sometimes, if you don’t interfere with your body, it will kill you.
Now, our bodies are still wonderful things. It makes sense to look for natural remedies first, and to try to be in tune with the way our bodies were intended to work. But to act as if the “natural” course is always the right course is to ignore the fact that our nature is no longer what God intended it to be. It’s fallen. The woman in the NFP forum, who thought that antidepressants were just as bad as artificial birth control, was mixing up “natural” with “moral.” For her, birth control was not evil because it does violence to God’s original design for our sexuality; it was evil because it was artificial. In reality, though, the Church doesn’t reject any artificial or technological remedies unless they interfere with the integrity of the person. As one of my sisters pointed out, if the Church were against artificial medical remedies, she would not approve of any fertility treatments, either.
To be continued when I manage to sort out my thoughts a little more, hopefully without getting a little heretical! I’m still trying to figure this out. Thanks for listening!