Internet Goosing the Antithesis

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Right For The Wrong Reasons

Dr. Gary Merrill of Christian Medical Services, a Christian pediatrician in Bakersfield, California turned away a child with an ear infection because her mother has tattoos. According to a sign posted on his office:

“This is a private office. Appearance and behavior standards apply.”

This refers to a "dress code" of sorts that Dr. Merrill enforces in his office, in which no tattoos, no body piercings, and a host of other requirements based on his Christian faith are necessary to receive treatment. Now, obviously Dr. Merrill is running a private office, and has the right to establish whatever criteria he wants for it- restaurants, after all, can enforce their own dress codes, and most business establishments have at least a "no shirt, no shoes, no service" policy. So I have no problem with Dr. Merrill not wanting to sully his office with the "unclean" masses who have engaged in some form of body modification (although I'm not sure if he allows ear piercings, and if so, why there's a difference- after all, there are a number of fundamentalist Christian women I know that will not pierce their ears). Hell, he could even explicitly preclude any atheists from treatment for all I care. There are many other physicians, and certainly plenty of them are competent, and not quite so discriminating.

But then P.Z. Myers of Pharyngula made a good point- according to Christianity, Jesus told a parable in which a man was robbed, beaten, and left for dead- and two individuals who were too concerned about staying away from "unclean" people passed right by, while someone who was divorced from the official Jewish religious system went beyond expectations to heal and help the victim. The parable is represented thusly in Luke 10:

Jesus replied and said, "A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among robbers, and they stripped him and beat him, and went away leaving him half dead. And by chance a priest was going down on that road, and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. Likewise a Levite also, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, who was on a journey, came upon him; and when he saw him, he felt compassion, and came to him and bandaged up his wounds, pouring oil and wine on them; and he put him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn and took care of him. On the next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper and said, 'Take care of him; and whatever more you spend, when I return I will repay you.' Which of these three do you think proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell into the robbers' hands? And he said, "The one who showed mercy toward him." Then Jesus said to him, "Go and do the same."

As there is a clear directive from Jesus to show mercy to anyone, regardless of their social status, it seems pretty clear that Dr. Merrill isn't being completely consistent with his Christianity. So even though I support Dr. Merrill's exclusionary policy as a statement of his freedom to do business with whom he chooses, it seems that he's doing so for all the wrong reasons.

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At 2/27/2007 12:44 PM, Blogger Hellbound Alleee declaimed...

Of course, Zach, you know that the doctor, to be consistent, should have shown the mother Agape-Love/Corrective Love. He should have used to opportunity to be Jesus-y to take them in and preach against tattooing.

But now, that would be bad for business.

Bad Christian! Bad! Bad Christian!

At 2/27/2007 12:59 PM, Blogger Zachary Moore declaimed...

Yeah, I suppose it wouldn't seem so hypocritical if he hadn't mentioned his "Christian values," and just said, "I just don't like tattooed people."

The honesty, at least, would be appreciated.

At 2/27/2007 1:34 PM, Blogger Mattison declaimed...

An ear infection isn't an emergency so you could make a libertarian argument that the Dr shouldn't be required to treat this child. Also if I recall correctly, the Dr is right that there are Bible verses that condemn tattoos and body piercings and the like. However, that doesn't get away from the moral and ethical problem that the doctor is being evil (that which causes harm or destruction or misfortune).

Just because you have a right to do something doesn't make it the right thing to do. Just because the Bible says something doesn't mean it isn't evil.

At 2/28/2007 3:48 PM, Blogger Aaron Kinney declaimed...

That Bible passage is hilarious. Not the whole compassion part, but the part about attending the wounds. Surely, they didnt have medicines like we do today, but that doesnt mean it isnt still funny.

I can imagine the scene unfolding:

"This man is wounded! Quick, pour this olive oil and this cabernet on his wounds! That will fix him up good and proper! Or perhaps, should we use a white zinfandel instead?"

At 3/14/2007 3:10 PM, Blogger Heather declaimed...

Mattison has written that an ear infection isn't an emergency. That's true if you are an adult. Illnesses are much more serious when they affect children.

First off, who knows how long the child has had the ear infection? Small children aren't very verbal and in many cases lack the ability to TELL their caretakers that they are sick. Sometimes they become listless or whiny, but it may take a day or two to realize that the child is really sick.

In addition, ear infections hurt worse as they go along. Who knows how long this child had been in minimal pain and if it had progressed to serious pain by the time she was taken to the doctor.

Also, ear infections are very serious matters for children. There are instances of hearing loss and the need for tubes to be implanted in the ear if the illness goes on too long. Who knows what damage one more night with no antibiotics did?

Further, the mother of this child was not the doctor's patient; the child was. Basically, in order to make himself feel like a "good Christian" he CHOSE to let a little girl spend a night in pain.

I'm sure Jesus would get behind that. What with him being such a cruel person and all. Apparently, I really need to reread the Bible.

Finally, here is a question. If my Christ loving, but very tatooed best friend was bleeding to death on the floor, could I expect Dr. Merrill to help us or would he feel the need to fall back on all the Christian-like superiority?



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