A Health Test for You?
The Watch Tower Society does not make recommendations or decisions for individuals on medical and diagnostic practices. If certain practices have aspects that are questionable in the light of Bible principles, however, attention may be called to these. Then each person can weigh what is involved and decide what to do.
Dear Brothers: I would like your opinion. A [certain health practitioner] seems to have good success, but a method she uses makes me suspicious. . . . By examination she determines what is wrong. Then to find out what kind of medicine or how much of it to use, she puts a medicine bottle next to the skin near a gland or an organ. She tries to pull down the patient’s raised arm. The kind of medicine or the amount of it is determined by the force she needs to pull the arm down. The theory is that electrons, like a current, travel from the medicine through the metal cap of the bottle to a body part, strengthening it. Is this like water witching?
THIS letter from Oregon, U.S.A., concerns a practice that some use to determine nutritional needs, weigh emotional issues, assess memories, and resolve questions about daily life. However common the practice is, are the writer’s suspicions justified?
Health—At What Cost?
Since ancient times, people have tried to understand why they get sick and how to get well. The Israelites had an advantage because they knew that they were sinners, and they had laws from God that helped them to avoid contracting or spreading many diseases. (Leviticus 5:2; 11:39, 40; 13:1-4; 15:4-12; Deuteronomy 23:12-14) Still, God’s people also sought help from qualified physicians of their day.—Isaiah 1:6; 38:21; Mark 2:17; 5:25, 26; Luke 10:34; Colossians 4:14.
What a contrast to people in ancient Babylon and Egypt! Their “doctors” had some remedies based on natural ingredients, yet many of their “treatments” would now be labeled quackery. An Egyptian hieroglyphic text tells of a physician treating blindness with a vile potion of pigs’ eyes, antimony, red ocher, and honey. This concoction was poured into a sick person’s ear! An ancient testimonial claims that this treatment was “really excellent.” Its strangeness or mystery may even have enhanced its appeal.
Babylonians and Egyptians often invoked occult powers.a A priest/physician might ask a patient to breathe into the nostrils of a sheep, believing that some force, or energy, could flow from the patient into another creature and produce an effect. The sheep was killed, and its liver supposedly could reveal the patient’s sickness or his future.—Isaiah 47:1, 9-13; Ezekiel 21:21.
Of course, a God-fearing physician in ancient Israel would not have employed spiritistic practices. God wisely commanded: “There should not be found in you . . . anyone who employs divination, a practicer of magic or anyone who looks for omens or a sorcerer . . . For everybody doing these things is something detestable to Jehovah.” (Deuteronomy 18:10-12; Leviticus 19:26; 20:27) The same applies to God’s Christian servants today. Caution is in order.
In recent years many people have turned to “alternative” diagnostic techniques and treatments. This is basically an area for personal decision. (Matthew 7:1; compare Romans 14:3, 4.) It would, of course, be sad if any Christian became so preoccupied with controversial health issues that these overshadowed the ministry, which is the one sure way to save lives. (1 Timothy 4:16) The Bible does not say that in the new world sickness will be cured and perfect health achieved through medical approaches, herbs, diets, or holistic regimens. Actually, full healing will be brought about only by means of forgiveness of sin on the basis of Jesus’ ransom sacrifice.—Isaiah 33:24; Revelation 22:1, 2.
What Forces Are Involved?
What might a Christian want to consider in making his own decision about the practice of muscle testing mentioned in the opening letter?
Certain modes of testing the strength or response of muscles are part of conventional medicine, and few would question their validity. For example, poliomyelitis can weaken muscles, and therapy for this may involve what is called kinesiology—“the study of muscles and muscular movement.” Such kinesiology is also used in rehabilitative therapy for stroke victims. Most people would understand such treatment.
But what of the muscle testing described in the letter at the start of this article? This sort of “kinesiology” has been used in an attempt to find out whether certain foods, herbs, or vitamins might help or harm a person. As often practiced, the individual holds out his arm, and a practitioner presses down to test muscle strength. Next the subject puts a nutrient or other substance in his mouth, on his abdomen, or in his hand. Then the arm muscles are retested. It is claimed that if he needs that nutrient, his arm will test stronger; if it is bad for him, the muscles will be weaker.b
Some who have tried this believe it works and that the effect is based on forces within the body. They reason that there are many things that modern science cannot explain but that occur or can be observed. Thus, they claim that there might be lines of energy or interaction between forces and substances, even if physicians have not yet discovered or accepted these.
On the other hand, the book Applied Kinesiology states: “Sometimes [books] teach that chemical substances, such as nutrition, are evaluated by holding the substance in the hand and testing the muscle. There is no evidence that suggests any reliability in this type of testing. . . . A philosophic attitude can be so strong that operator prejudice interferes with obtaining accurate information in the testing process.” “An examiner who is experienced in manual muscle testing can easily make a subject’s muscle appear weak or strong at his discretion by simply changing the . . . test very slightly.”
However, some muscle testing goes beyond this. Consider what is termed “surrogate testing.” This might be practiced in the case of an old person or a baby too weak to be tested. While a surrogate touches the baby, the practitioner tests the surrogate’s arm. This has even been applied to pets; the surrogate’s arm is tested while he is resting a hand on the collie, German shepherd, or other sick pet.
It is not for us to judge such actions, but you might ask, ‘Are bodily forces behind these effects?’ Scientists have proved the existence of cosmic rays, microwaves, and various types of electromagnetic radiation. Yet, do all creatures, even infants and house pets, have within them forces that can flow out and produce a testable effect on a second person? The Babylonians thought that forces could flow out to and affect a sheep. You might ask yourself, ‘Do I believe that something similar can happen with humans or animals today? Or might the effects have another explanation?’
Some healers claim to measure a person’s “forces” with such devices as metal spirals or pendulums. These supposedly move as the healer’s “energy field” interacts with that of the patient. One practitioner and writer in this field, who had once been a research scientist, sometimes diagnoses with the use of a pendulum. She also asserts that she can visualize “the human energy field” or colored aura said to surround individuals. She claims to use “internal vision” to look into a body to see tumors, blood cells, or microbes, and to view the past.c
As noted earlier, gauging forces by means of arm strength has been used to test emotions. A widely distributed book said: “If you desire to throw [in] a slight emotional test at the same time, ask audibly ‘Do you have a problem?’ and retest. This will occasionally weaken the arm if the nutrition is poor.” Some use such a test “to identify the age at which specific physical, emotional or spiritual trauma” occurred. It is also employed to make ‘yes or no’ decisions on daily matters.
Likely, many who do such muscle testing (kinesiology) would say that their practice differs from what was just described, that no spiritism is involved, or that they do no emotional testing. Nevertheless, is what they do still based on a belief in forces within each human that can be tested or seen only by certain people claiming special powers?
Christians do not take such issues lightly. God counseled Israel: “New moon and sabbath, the calling of a convention—I cannot put up with the use of uncanny power along with the solemn assembly.” (Isaiah 1:13) When that nation became apostate, they were ‘practicing divination and looking for omens.’ (2 Kings 17:17; 2 Chronicles 33:1-6) Evidently they sought information by special rites, and then they spoke “what is uncanny.”—Zechariah 10:2.
Some muscle testing may be innocent, performed with no harm to patient or practitioner. Clearly, though, some may have uncanny or supernatural aspects, such as internal vision, mysterious auras, and the use of a pendulum. Christians must not practice uncanny powers. They should not even experiment with such, for they are not curious about the deep things of Satan. (Revelation 2:24) Rather, there is good reason to exercise caution about anything that might seem related to the practice of spiritism, which God’s Word condemns.—Galatians 5:19-21.
What a practitioner does is his responsibility, and it is not our intent to review and pass judgment on each one’s claims or procedures. Even if you feel that some of these practices do involve uncanny power, it is clear that many who tried them did so in all innocence, with no thought of involvement in spiritism. It may have been just a reflection of their desperate desire for good health. Still, some who have been involved in such practices have decided later that any potential physical benefit was not worth the spiritual risk.
Again, each individual must resolve what to do regarding such personal matters. Yet, Christians should remember God’s counsel: “Anyone inexperienced puts faith in every word, but the shrewd one considers his steps.” (Proverbs 14:15) That applies to health claims too.
Satan is eager to distract God’s servants from true worship. The Devil would rejoice if he could do so by getting Christians fascinated with other interests. He would be even more delighted if they became fascinated with things that are, or seem to be, uncanny practices that might draw them into spiritism.—1 Peter 5:8.
Though Christians are not under the Mosaic Law, Jehovah God’s attitude toward occult practices has not changed. As noted earlier, God commanded the Israelites that “anyone who employs divination, a practicer of magic or anyone who looks for omens or a sorcerer, or one who binds others with a spell” was not to be found among them. “Everybody doing these things is something detestable to Jehovah . . . You should prove yourself faultless with Jehovah.”—Deuteronomy 18:10-13.
How wise it is, then, for Christians today to keep on “the complete suit of armor from God . . . because we have a wrestling . . . against the wicked spirit forces in the heavenly places”!—Ephesians 6:11, 12.
a Many people still consult shamans, witch doctors, or similar healers. A shaman is “a priest who uses magic for the purpose of curing the sick, divining the hidden, and controlling events.” A witch doctor, or shaman, might combine herbs with spiritistic practices (invoking mysterious forces). A careful, loyal Christian would shun such involvement in spiritism, even if it seemed to offer a cure.—2 Corinthians 2:11; Revelation 2:24; 21:8; 22:15.
b This is a general description, but the testing process may vary. For example, a subject may be asked to press his thumb and forefinger together, and the practitioner tries to pull them apart.
c She writes: “How do these seemingly miraculous events take place? . . . The process I use is called laying-on of hands, faith healing or spiritual healing. It is not at all a mysterious process, but very straightforward . . . Everyone has an energy field or aura that surrounds and interpenetrates the physical body. This energy field is intimately associated with health. . . . High Sense Perception is a type of ‘seeing’ in which you perceive a picture in your mind without the use of your normal vision. It is not imagination. It is sometimes referred to as clairvoyance.”