What's God Got to Do With it?

As much as some people would like to, we cannot remove God from healthcare (…or from anywhere!) Our beliefs about God and our relationship to Him are integral in our wellbeing. This is true whether you call Him God, Love, Universe, Creator, Source, Allah, or The Divine.

There is a growing body of evidence to support this idea. Dawson Church, PhD, wrote in his book, Genie in Your Genes, about some research done by Dr. Gail Ironson:

“Dr. Ironson measured several indicators of health in HIV patients over a four-year period. One measure was their viral load - the quantity of the HIV virus in a sample of blood. She also counted the concentration of a type of white blood cell responsible for killing invading organisms. The concentration of these “helper T cells” (also known as CD4 cells) in the blood is one measure of the progression of AIDS. If the concentration of helper T cells drops, our bodies are less able to fend off other diseases like pneumonia. That’s why the I and D in AIDS stand for Immune Deficiency; as AIDS patients lose their T cells and their immunity to disease drops, they are more susceptible to the kinds of invading organisms - opportunistic infections - that healthy immune systems easily fend off.

“She found that there were two particularly interesting predictors of how fast HIV progressed in the bodies of her research participants. The first was their view of the nature of God. Some believed in a punishing God, while others believed in a benevolent God. She observes that “People who view God as a judgmental God have a CD4 (helper T) cell decline more than twice the rate of those who don’t see God as judgmental, and their viral load increases more than three times faster. For example, a precise statement affirmed by these patients is ‘God will judge me harshly one day.’ This one item is related to an increased likelihood that the patient will develop an opportunistic infection or die. These beliefs predict disease progression even more strongly than depression.”

“[The] second major factor Dr. Ironson noted: A participant’s personal relationship with God. Her study found that patients who did not believe that God loved them lost helper T cells “three times faster than those who believed God did love them.”

“Dr. Ironson summarizes by saying, “If you believe God loves you, it’s an enormously protective factor, even more protective than scoring low for depression, or high for optimism. A view of a benevolent God is protective, but scoring high on [highly agreeing with] the personalized statement ‘God loves me’ is even stronger.””

Do you believe in a punishing God? Is your God judgmental? Is He an authoritarian God?

Do you believe God loves you? Is He helpful?

Maybe it is time to re-examine your beliefs about God.

As Church says, “Your body will be deeply grateful if you adjust your religious faith in the direction of a loving God.”

Here’s to conquering stress.

With heart,


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