Can Protestants partake in acupuncture and martial arts?

This question goes to Protestants. Are Protestants allowed to get acupuncture? Are they allowed to watch or train in martial arts? A Pastor said that these things are evil and contradict Christianity because they contain a spiritual element.

Everything in this Universe contains a “spiritual element” as everything in the Universe is God’s creation.

The martial arts that my (Protestant) nieces participate in are nothing more than a discipline of control and flexibility. All the bowing etc. that goes on is a sign of respect to the opponent, and is no more of a “spiritual element” than boxers touching gloves before a match.

Acupuncture works on the nerve lines of the body. My Protestant aunt recently had acupuncture for back problems and she said it helped immensely. I myself am looking into it for my arthritis, if my new insurance will help pay for some of it.

In other words, the pastor sounds like he’s from the school of “I don’t understand it, therefore it’s evil.” :rolleyes:


While individual Protestant pastors might (I’ve never heard a teaching on either) teach that these are wrong, I would think this is something that most Protestant churches would leave to individual conscience.

I took martial arts as I child. I soon lost interest in it, but my parents, very devout Pentecostals, were supportive. To them, it was just a sport, no different than football. However, when I brought home Bram Stoker’s Dracula to read for a book report, my father told me, “Read it for your report and then throw it into the trash because you have to be careful what spirits you let have access to your house.” So, we all have our own ideas what is evil or what has evil behind it. However, a lot of this is stuff we have to decide for ourselves in light of scripture.

I would think that any positive health benefits that acupuncture brings (though I don’t know about it) would be because it actually has a positive physical and provable affect on the body. As long as you receive it in a purely medical mindset and setting, I don’t see the problem.

Protestants are not particularly homogeneous. I tend to think Christians can do whatever they want as long as it doesn’t contradict the commandments of God.

Protestants are very diverse. In my old church, the Church of Christ, we were free to practice martial arts and get acupuncture. In fact one of my best friends in that church made a living out of doing acupuncture. Our pastor was one of her frequent clients and he claimed that it was quite effective in reducing pain.

I also know of some Protestants who were forbidden to avail of these Eastern treatments.

Of course. Even Catholics are allowed to learn Eastern martial arts (which I take it you are speaking of: there are Western ones, too, from fencing and Mediaeval sword-fighting, to modern marksmanship), and even some of the spiritual elements therein in the context of the martial art, as long as it is congruous with Catholic teaching, or does not militate against it. Now, the internal martial arts, the neijia and wudang quan, which are the “spiritual” martial arts, or the martial applications of the Taoist religion/philosophy, are incompatible with Christianity. Kung fu/wushu is not sinful; I can not make a determination on Qi-gong (the breathing and meditative practices with their roots in the incorrect and inherently sinful system of qi/“life energy” that also gave rise to acupuncture) in general, but to say that it is not sinful insofar as it is compatible with Catholic teaching.

Different Protestants would answer differently on acupuncture. It’s an ineffective, pseudoscientific, pseudo-medical treatment that is based solely on a Satanic philosophy or system of how some nebulous “energy” supposedly “moves through” various “channels” in the body. The mere act of acupuncture is not sinful: the entire system from which it rose and in which it moves and has its life is.

Some aspects of martial arts and acupuncture are purely physiological, and these things are perfectly acceptable.

Other aspects of these Eastern practices are less helpful…even contradictory…to Christian faith.

Caution is advised.

As a former Protestant, I can say that the answer to your question varies from denomination to denomination, from community to community, even from minister to minister. Generally the more liberal denominations will be more tolerant, even approving, of Eastern practices. However, more conservative groups tend to take a dim view of such practices, similar to Catholic Christianity.

Completely untrue, but you are welcome to your opinion. :rolleyes:


Not opinion, fact: the efficacy of acupuncture is equal to that of placebo. Now, the power of placebo can be quite great in some situations. Many studies (the abstract of the case study appended below summarizes the pertinent conclusions, and is from a top-tier journal of medicine) have shown that “real acupuncture” according to the theories of Qi and “sham acupuncture” of random needle placement are equally effective, and both are more effective than nothing. etc. The relevant quote of the short abstract (no subscription required) is: “Clinical trials of acupuncture for chronic low back pain have shown higher rates of symptom improvement with either acupuncture or sham acupuncture [placebo acupuncture] than with usual care.”

The fact that it is based on a demonic philosophy is even easier to document: it comes from theories of “life energy” (Qi) and Taoism. Anyone who wishes to demonstrate a scientific, secular, atheistic, or Christian basis for the practice - any basis that is not one of a false religion (which is, by definition, demonic) - is welcome to try.

Protestants are a diverse group so you will get a mixed response. But over all, I’d say no.

As for acupuncture, I wouldn’t stop anybody from doing it. I’ve used and I don’t care whether it’s a placebo effect but it helps stop the pain. Is it based on a demonic philosophy? No. The practice is based on anecdotes and the idea that the body needs to be in balance. It’s hard for me to explain Qi. I’ve read the definitions but they are inadequate in describing that is something that’s so culturally ingrained.

The closest way to describe Qi is air. But acupuncture and martial arts is not talking about actual spirits. It’s really just a philosophy.

Also chiropractic & herbal “medicine,” homeopathy, ear candles, & all the rest of the woo. My mother, a well educated person & a Protestant, was a great believer in medical woo. So are a surprising number of both Catholics & Protestants I know.

It’s been a shock to find out that people I thought were level-headed, well educated Catholics believe in chemtrails, Agenda 21, new age medicine, & other strange things :confused:

I hope you’re not putting acupuncture as well as Chinese herbal medicine in the same category.

Indeed, some herbal medicine actually works (think St John’s wort, kratom, phenybut, stuff with GABA in it, GHB and BDL before they were banned), but generally has every bit as much or more side-effects than prescription drugs.

The lowest low in quackery is “homeopathy”: water with poisonous herb alkaloids in it, diluted until less than one molecule per liter of poisonous herb alkaloid remains, “potentiated” to retain a “memory” of the alkaloid…


I don’t know about the other things in your 1st paragraph, but recently read that St. John’s Wort is pretty close to a placebo. It seem to have some affect for a few people, but that’s about it. The side affects of “Asian medicines” (in quotes because some are fakes & many are adulterated) can be horrendous.

Homeopathy is so bogus I can’t understand why people believe in it. Something that I think came from their belief in water memory is “structured” water. If it isn’t H2O, it isn’t water! :wink:

Khalid - do you remember the skeptics who “committed suicide” by drinking “lethal” doses of homeopathic waters? Instead of being sugar pills, the water had been mixed with alcohol. No harm came of it, tho 1 skeptic who wasn’t used to alcohol got a bit tipsy. Reminds me of Geritol & other patent medicines. Man, I loved that stuff! :smiley:

St John’s wort (hypericin and hyperforin) works as an antidepressant (more effective than most SSRIs, less effective than TCAs or SNRIs, which isn’t saying much… anti-depressants have a depressing efficacy rate), kratom has alkaloids in it that act at the mu opioid receptor (exactly like morphine, and just as addictive), phenybut is a non-chlorinated derivative of baclofen or a phenyl derivative of GABA that can cross the blood-brain barrier (a GABA-B agonist), GABA is the stuff that naturally occurs in the brain and is what is responsible for the supposed effects of tryptophan (tryptophan is metabolized to GABA) but can’t really cross the blood-brain barrier easily, GHB and GBL are GABA-B and GHB-receptor agonists that I’m not sure occur in nature (but were sold as “herbal” remedies for a long time, and are quite addictive and dangerous).

Now you know what I was talking about, but I doubt you actually wanted to.

I actually don’t, but it sounds like something the MythBusters guys would do - I do remember them getting trashed one by one and sitting in a freezer to see the effects of alcohol on hypothermia (it made you feel warm and not care about the cold, and die more quickly).

Martial arts might be fun to try, but, I ain’t paying some feller to stick me with a bunch of needles.

Hi. I’m a former Pentecostal (AoG), now an Episcopalian.

I do practice martial arts, and at least the particular arts (Karate, JKD) I have practiced contain no spiritual elements that seem questionable to me.

I have not received acupuncture. IMO it isn’t spiritual, just traditional Chinese medicine with a pretty good track record. I have no principled objection to it, just that the need for it hasn’t arisen. (I’ve had sports injuries of course, but conventional Western treatment has sufficed.)

I don’t think any of my clergy, past or present, would have any problem with what I just said.

My family members (all Protestant), as well as I when I was younger and didn’t have the power to object, partook in “herbal medicine” and acupuncture. There was no “spiritual” basis to them – just some needles to hit nerve points and plant-extract-containing blackish-brown liquid. It was bitter, kind black coffee times 3.

Who knows where the plants came from and if they grew from heavy-metal containing soil, for instance. I do believe natural compounds CAN have beneficial considerations (e.g., paclitaxel), but the way these “remedies” are administered (e.g., brew a bunch of stuff together, and voila) do not take into consideration how they interact with each other to produce different effects than if they were taken individually alone. The way the body processes what it considers to be “foreign” molecules is pretty complicated. I mean, even grapefruit juice should be taken with caution because of the CYP enzymes it induces.

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