Physician Practice , Sinful?

So this is a serious question as stupid as it may sound to
Some I have recently been questioning myself, I know there
Is a component of OCD to this and I’m working through that
But the following still bothers me…

I recently returned to the church having bee raised catholic
Fell away during school and felt called back In December.
As I said I know this may be OC but it’s bothering me

I am a physician. My recent struggles with coming back to the church
Have been concerning artificial birth control and how to convince
My wife to stop using it ( separate issue please don’t comment on this
I am diligently working to right this). In my reading the church teaches
Birth control is wrong because it frustrates the natural process / function
God intended ( not arguing this point)

This has got me thinking, everyday I frustrate nature . I treat high blood pressure
And or it’s effects, high cholesterol , strokes, appendicitis etc basically a ton
Of disease process could be described as natural. I’m questioning my whole line
Of work . On top of that I keep having the thought that when I save a life ( I’m emergency
Med so this is in the dramatic ER since not the I picked up skin cancer early sense )
What if I’m frustrating God because that person was heaven. Bound

  1. this is a serious concern for me, I know it sounds stupid and is probably
    Related to OCD but I can’t help it’s bothering me
  2. this is not an argument for artificial birth control, I used that to give background
    On my thinking
  3. As an ED doc I do not have to perform abortions , never prescribe
    Elective artificial birth control , and very rarely deal with contraception I n general
    As it relates to my practice with the exception of sexual assault cases that sometime
    Request plan b , but can usually be taken care of without me via a protocol or another Doctor …, so no guilt based on these things

Death and disease were NOT part of God’s original plan for the nature of mankind. Remember the choice in Eden - between eating of the tree of knowledge of good and evil and eating of the tree of (eternal) Life.

True, man must (as a result of the Fall which corrupted our nature) suffer and die, including Jesus.

Jesus did so, however, in order to bring man’s nature back to its intended state - sinless, spotless and enjoying eternal life both of body and spirit.

So you are aiding the plan of God in assisting to cure disease and prolong life.

By contrast, the marital act was intended from the beginning to be both procreative and unitive - hence God’s command, even before the Fall, to mankind to be fruitful and multiply. So in assisting people to avoid either command, you are frustrating God’s design.

Medicine is a legitimate field and I highly advise you speak to your priest with this since your post sounds scrupulous. People with scruples have a hard time knowing what is or is not a sin and having a regular confessor who can guide you and let you know what is or is not sin is essential if you suffer from scruples.

Praying for you.

Greetings fellow health professional!

I am an epidemiologist who does a lot of work in clinical science in ophthalmology and GI. Once upon a time was in medical school myself aiming to be a physiatrist, but ironically my own health issues got in the way right when Boards came around. A lot of my old classmates are ED docs/residents in places as diverse as Miami, New York City, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Anaheim, etc.

And i’ve come to tell you - Be at ease. :slight_smile:

Allow me to quote from a source - emphasis is mine

“A fundamental principle that was shared, if not always specifically articulated, by all the fathers . . . is that the material world was created by God for man’s use. Justin, whose cosmology is biblically based and nonspeculative, believed simply that God, in his goodness, created all things in the material world for man’s sake, that is, that the purpose of creation was the benefit of the human race, and that all earthly things were made subject to man. Clement held that, within God’s created order, understanding is from God, and many things in life arise from the exercise of human reason, although its kindling spark comes from God. Health obtained through medicine is one of these things that has its origin and existence as a consequence of divine Providence as well as human cooperation. Consistently enough, Clement elsewhere writes that the art of healing, which he describes as the relief of the ills of the body, is an art learned by man’s wisdom. Origen, in a homily on Numbers, quotes Ecclesiasticus 19:19—‘All wisdom is from God’—and a little later asks, if all knowledge is from God, what knowledge could have a greater claim to such an origin than medicine, the knowledge of health? Just as God causes herbs to grow, so also did he give medical knowledge to men. God did this in his kindness, knowing the frailty of our bodies and not wishing for us to be without succor when illness strikes. Thus Origen can call medicine ‘beneficial and essential to mankind.’ Basil also regarded all the arts as God’s gift, given to remedy nature’s deficiencies. Accordingly, the medical art was given to relieve the sick, ‘in some degree at least.’ Gregory of Nyssa records that, when his sister was ill, their mother had begged her to let a physician treat her, arguing that God gave the art of medicine to men for their preservation. John Chrysostom also writes that God gave us physicians and medicine, and Augustine attributes the healing properties of medicine to God.”

Citation: Medicine, Society, and Faith in the Ancient and Medieval Worlds (Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1996

In that one paragraph i’ve chosen out of the book, you see the Fathers of the Church - Justin Martyr, Clement of Alexandria, Origen of Alexandria, Gregory of Nyssa, John Chrysostom, and Augustine of Hippo.

And -every- last one of them refutes the OCD-induced idea in your head that you are somehow blocking the will of the Lord by performing the service and skill God has blessed you with.

This type of mentality tripped up some of the Sadducees and Pharisees during our Lord’s time - they were afraid that an action on the Sabbath was somehow a violation of the commandment to remember the Sabbath and keep it Holy.

Christ’s response was

Then he asked them, “If one of you has a child or an ox that falls into a well on the Sabbath day, will you not immediately pull it out?”

-Gospel of Luke.

You are gifted sir, and have been blessed by the Lord to perform a service that holds you dear to his heart. It is why he deemed it fit to bless such great saints of the Church as St. Pantaleon of Nicomedia and the twin physicians St. Cosmas and Damian.

Because you have made an error in thinking. It is not “frustrating natural proceses” that matters, its preservation of life.

But don’t take my word for it - you went through medical school with your eyes bleeding from USMLE study. You know how proof is established.

So here is my proof to you -

**Medicine and Health Care in Early Christianity
** Gary B. Ferngren

The Concept of Medicine in the Early Church

Medicine, Society, and Faith in the Ancient and Medieval Worlds (Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1996

You do not work against the Lord every single time when you rescue a patient from cardiopulmonary distress, or when you pull back another from the brink of sepsis, or stabilize them from heavy trauma.

You work with him. Jesus is the Divine Physician, you are just his Resident. :wink:

Understand that what you have, only a fraction of humanity ever gets.

I envy you greatly sir. Were I worthy, i’d be fighting the good fight along side you.

I will not comment on each of the points you bring up.
I’m going to be blunt, and I mean no Ill will here.
I’ve noticed with scrupulous and OCD sufferers that there is a disconnect with logic. For instance the Hangup with frustrating nature in medicine and not being able to see the difference with ABC (artificial birth control).
And this disconnect is alarming when working a field based on logic. As medicine tends to be. It’s very much a cause and effect field. This means that not only for your spiritual and mental health should you seek help to get this under control, but also professionally.
Please understand, I’m not trying to be combative or to put you down, but mental illness is concerning in a doctor. Though certainly it can be treated and overcome.

I am very skeptical that someone who could graduate from medical school would rely on a free internet forum for advice on a serious ethics issue.

You are revert? So you are attending a mass and active in a parish then correct? Why not ask the priest?

Something about this post smells fishy.

I agree you should speak with a priest about your issue. Looking for answers on the Internet regarding a very serious concern you have about your profession, especially given OCD issues, is not the place to seek what you are looking for.

God bless,


I get the sense that the OP is not a native English speaker.

Oh there’s always a possibility that someone on the other end is trolling.

But there’s also a possibility he isn’t.

So we reach out - via logic or love. What else can we do?

It is not a matter of frustrating natural processes, but about frustrating the ends that are natural to man and his faculties. There’s a teleological approach to man. Man is designed a certain way, both a a physical animal and as a rational being, and he should operate according to that design. When the Church speaks of “frustrating nature”, they don’t mean the natural processes of disease and injuries and such, but about what is natural to man’s design.

Certainly no one instantiates physical humanhood perfectly, and there’s nothing morally wrong with the defects men have, some more than others. The Church is fine with medicine because it, insofar as it is able, is directed at restoring man to a healthy state, operating at peak design. When a man wears glasses, the Church isn’t concerned about frustrating “natural” deficiencies in the eye. The Church approves because it restores the functiom that is natural to the operation of a healthy eye. Again, it’s a matter of operating according to design, not just letting “nature run its course”, as some might say.

Obviously there are cases where amputation of a limb is necessary to save a life. That is fine. While amputation should not be performed for its own sake, it may be the best way to restore the man to as healthy as he can be given the circumstances. It restores the most healthy function that’s reasonably possible, as opposed to letting rot or other problems spread.

Likewise even with procedures or drugs that result in permanent or temporary sterility. There may be cases where the medical option to restore healthy function to a person makes them effectively sterile. This is licit. So long as it’s a matter of restoring healthy function, and not at contracepting in itself, it’s licit. Note that I’m referring to non pregnancy issues. If the intent is to prevent pregnancy because pregnancy has increased risks, and that’s the only medical impact, it’s not licit. In such cases, the person should practice abstainence.

There is a LOT more to say on the matter, but hopefully that helps some. When the Church speaks of something as “unnatural,” they mean unnatural to our design and function, and we are designed to be healthy people. (Certainly medicine must see some type of template for a healthy human, otherwise medicine would make no sense). If you have concerns over specific procedures, there is a National Catholic Bioethics Center website you can submit questions to amd get answers from for free.

Welcome to CAF MSNAV.

The problem with your analogy is in one case you are thwarting functions consistent with a HEALTHY nature. This is wrong.

In the other scenario, you are battling against PATHOLOGY. This is right.

God bless.


More detail for you MSNAV . . .

The problem with your analogy is . . . . in one case you are thwarting functions consistent with a HEALTHY nature. Birth control destroys the NORMAL phyiological processes. This is wrong.

In the other scenario, you are battling against PATHOLOGY. This is right.

Don’t conflate attacking a normal physiolocalgial processes (pregnancy is a normal physiological function) with . . . .

. . …battling against pathological disease states (hypertension isn’t a normal functional state of being. A laceration in the ER, is also not physiologic. Ethanol intoxocation is not a normal state of affairs.

]Phyiology =“Normal funtions” need no interventions.

*]Pathology = Tissue gone wrong. Needs intervention

God bless,


Herein lies the flaw in your thinking. Procreation is not just another natural process, it is God’s plan for mankind. Contraception is a deliberate attempt to frustrate that plan.

You might like to read the encyclical Humanae Vitae (On Human Life)

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