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Christian Doctors' Argument

A husband and wife who are retired doctors responded to a reader who shared concerns about Christians visiting doctors of the opposite sex for intimate issues at this link. Note: We support Answers in Genesis completely. This article was the only one we found on Answers in Genesis' web site that we did not support because it was misguided. Answers in Genesis has many excellent articles that we support. We have included the doctors' responses in different areas (numbered) and our rebuttals are in red.

Starting Rebuttal: It was disturbing to see how Drs. Tommy and Elizabeth Mitchell responded to JL because we strongly believe in sacredness of sex in marriage. Biblical Modesty believes that God intends for the husband of a woman to be the only man in the world to see and touch her private parts and for the wife of a man to be the only woman in the world to see and touch his private parts. God has the same standards for medical professionals as everyone else. Many people tend to accept almost anything that the medical industry does because our culture sees doctors as the definitive “experts” on the human body. Often Christians fall into this trap; they submit to a doctor’s methods without questioning, but often doctor’s methods go against God’s nature. It is a blind spot in our culture today.

One of concerns at Medical Patient Modesty, a non-profit organization that works to educate patients about their rights to modesty in medical settings is that there are still not enough female ob/gyns in rural areas and they want to play a role in increasing female ob/gyns. They have an online directory of all-female practices in the US. I know without a doubt that Dr. Elizabeth Mitchell was an answer to many prayers of women and husbands who did not want a male gynecologist under any circumstances. It’s very likely that Dr. Elizabeth was the only female gynecologist in her town for a period of time.


1.) Nakedness in the Bible is therefore often associated with vulnerability and shame, though there is nothing inherently sinful in being naked. Nevertheless, the importance of not provoking others to lust and even common decency demand we avoid public nakedness. The law required priests to wear undergarments (Exodus 28:42). Peter, when he swam to shore to see Jesus in John 21:7, made sure he was decently attired. The principles of modesty in public appear in both the Old and New Testaments. The doctor’s examination room, however, is not public.

Rebuttal: This is not true. If this argument is true that modesty does not matter in private settings, can you please answer the questions about two scenarios in private settings?

1.) Why is it not okay for a boyfriend and a girlfriend to be naked in front of each other without having sex before marriage as long as it is done privately?

2.) Can you explain why a father watching his naked teenage daughter taking a shower without having sex with her as long as it is done privately at their home is inappropriate?

Many sins are committed in private. Nudity is wrong before a sexually mature person of the opposite sex to whom you are not married to in private settings. God has the same moral standards for medical professionals as everyone else.

2.) Numerous injunctions in Leviticus prohibit certain marital choices and illicit sexual relationships with warning not to “uncover the nakedness” of such-and-such a person. Uncovering one’s nakedness was a euphemism for a sexual relationship.1 These passages are concerned with the appropriate selection of a marital partner and, therefore, sexual partner. These verses do not focus on the viewing of a person’s body or any activity associated with a visit to the doctor.

Rebuttal: This is very misguided. Doctors and nurses are humans like the rest of us. It is clear in the bible that nudity before a person of opposite sex who is sexually mature should be reserved for a husband and a wife only. In Leviticus 18, God goes into great detail condemning nakedness between brother and sister, father and daughter, mother and son, aunt and nephew, uncle and niece, grandfather and granddaughter, and the list goes on and on. Those verses certainly focus on the viewing of a person’s body even in a non-sexual way. My great-grandma had a very bad case of Alzheimer’s disease many years ago and my grandma would only permit women and girls to be around when she changed her mom’s diapers or gave her a bath. My grandfather helped with some tasks such as lifting her, but he never changed his elderly mother-in-law’s diapers or helped with bathing her simply because he was not married to her. He also respected her dignity. I am pretty sure he would not have had lustful thoughts toward her if he changed her dirty diapers, but that still did not make it right for him to see her naked because he was a man and not her husband.

3.) The book of Leviticus also provides an example that addresses your very question. Chapter 13 focuses on various skin diseases. When an Israelite suspected that he had contracted some sort of skin disease, he was to show himself to a priest, who would examine the person’s skin. For example, Leviticus 13:38–39 states, “If a man or a woman has bright spots on the skin of the body, specifically white bright spots, then the priest shall look . . .” So God commanded the (male) priests to examine the skin of a woman in certain medical situations, and the command makes no exception for private areas of the patient.

Rebuttal: This is very misguided. Look at the history about how men were not allowed to examine women’s private parts before 1800’s again. There is no evidence that they examined women’s genitals in the bible. You can examine one spot of skin to diagnose a skin disorder. I had chicken pox twice and the doctors did not examine my whole body. I spoke to the director of a purity ministry that helps with men who have sexual addictions about the leprosy argument and he thought it was lame. He said it was true that priests examined women for contagious diseases, but that there is no indication that they examined female genitalia and that the Hebrew people were far more modest than the surrounding nations. He also shared that it would be unthinkable for them to examine women like a gynecologist does today. I have included a theological rebuttal to this argument from a Christian man, Billy who is an expert on the bible below and a rebuttal from a Christian counselor who has worked with men who had sexual addictions below.

Concerning the Levitical priest argument for performing gynecological exams on women, it is pretty lame. It assumes that the priests examined women (which they probably did for contagious diseases such as leprosy) but there is no indication in the Bible that they inspected female genitalia. The Hebrew people were far more modest than the surrounding nations. It would be unthinkable for them to examine women like a gynecologist does today. - Christian Counselor Who Has Worked With Men With Sexual Addictions

The argument is made that cross-gender exams are sanctioned by the precedent of the Old Testament priesthood. Using this precedent succeeds in either minimizing the Levitical priesthood by defining it as a social construct, or exalting the medical profession to God-ordained status. If the Levitical priesthood is only a social construct, without divine appointment, then morality is a moot point, and there is no moral implication either way. This is more in line with an atheistic and Evolutionary approach to medicine and theology. To argue on the basis of social convention and historical precedent would define the moral argument as only subjective and cultural. If, on the other hand, one equates modern medicine with a Biblical holy priesthood, serious theological questions must be posed. For example, are women allowed to be priestesses? Is the Levitical law still in effect? Is "Levitical" a certain bloodline, or is this a new spiritual concept? Are non-religious students allowed to become doctors?

The Biblical argument must be approached from two directions. If we understand that doctors are human, and that medicine is a pursuit of human science, doctors can never be viewed as not subject to the failings of any human pursuit or defined as separate from Biblical authority. They cannot exist outside either biblical morality or social law. First, is it ok for men, who are not the husband, to touch women in their intimate parts? Clearly, in most human endeavors, this is a rhetorical question. Why should it be different for the medical field? Biblical sanctions cannot be found for such activity. While assumptions may be drawn concerning the priesthood, doctors are not priests, and the drawing of assumptions is no basis for professionals executing their duties. In addition, creating Medicine as a new priesthood of Modern or Postmodern expression has serious historical and social consequences. Second, should women, who are Biblically exhorted to be "keepers at home" enter into a field of professionalism like medicine which has the potential to make them disobedient to the exhortation? Socially, this is a taboo question. For this discussion, it is necessary to address, since, for women to have women available to tend to their medical needs, women must have access to education and licensing, and the Christian must be able to address the apparent contradiction. The consistent Biblical perspective, across the spectrum of Biblical narrative, is that women care for women. As science has progressed, and Modern institutions have been devised for licensing and defining professionals, levels of training have been identified for human certification that is honored by title. What one does not see across that spectrum is cross-gender physical examination outside the context of marriage. If women who render care to women reach the levels of certification and title in our culture that brand them as Doctors, there is nothing Biblically inconsistent with it. There is, however, something Biblically inconsistent with cross-gender exams. -Billy

4.) Jesus warned that “whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Matthew 5:28). The key component here is lust. A physician with reasonable professional standards is not enticed to lust by seeing and touching naked patients. Professional standards do not even permit such a way of thinking. A patient trusts a doctor with confidences, dignity, and life itself. Professional standards prompt a physician to provide the best possible medical judgment while preserving the patient’s privacy with discretion. Those same standards keep the physician from ever considering the patient as a sexual object. (Incidentally, the same standards apply to all medical professionals.)

Rebuttal: Professional standards do not make doctors asexual. God created humans to be sexual creatures and it is very normal for a man to be aroused by seeing a naked woman’s body and the only woman he should see naked is his wife. Women can also have lustful thoughts. Even if there were no lustful thoughts, it is still not right because a person should never touch and see the private parts of a person of the opposite sex to whom he/she is not married to. Those doctors fail to talk about the numerous sexual abuse cases by medical professionals. Many doctors and nurses who do not sexually abuse patients have private lustful thoughts. Jesus makes it clear that when a man has lustful thoughts about a woman who is not his wife commits adultery in his heart. It is impossible for a man (doctors are no exceptions) to stay pure in mind 100% of the time when he sees and examines a woman’s private parts.

If it was true that men could see women’s private parts as objects in a non-sexual way, can you please explain why so many men have lustful thoughts when they see scantily clothed or naked women? It is worse when men see naked women. Male gynecologists are no different from other men. I am so tired of hearing this argument “Male gynecologist has seen so many naked women that it no longer affects him”. If that was true, why is it so hard for a man who constantly looks at pornography to give up pornography? The desire to see more naked women actually increases. Jesus makes it clear that it is wrong for men to lust after women even if they don’t act on their thoughts. Jesus makes this bold statement: “But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” (Matthew 5:28) I encourage you to consider reading a godly pastor, Josh Harris’ book, Not Even a Hint. He updated his book and changed the title to “Sex Is Not the Problem (Lust is). He talked about how he and his family went to a beautiful beach that had some scantily clothed women and that he struggled with lustful thoughts. He shared this on page 66-67 of the book: “After a vacation to a certain beach in Florida one year, I decided I could not go back. The water was great, the beach was great. But it was also crowded with women in revealing swimsuits. Shannon and I talked about the temptations and the next year found a more isolated beach to visit. It was not as nice, but I was not sinning every day and had a much better time”. He went to the beach with good intentions to have a great vacation with his family. I’m sure he had no idea that he might struggle with lustful thoughts there. Even good doctors and nurses are prone to have lustful thoughts when they see opposite sex patients naked.

Many people say that bathing patients is not sexual. This is not true. Why have so many male nurses sexually abused female patients? David who was a very godly man in the bible lusted when he saw Bathsheba bathing naked and then they became immoral.

There have been many heartbreaking cases of women who were abused by doctors who were supposed to be “professionals”. One “Christian” male doctor did unnecessary breast exams on teenage girls for sports physicals in a small town. He only did the breast exams on girls whose mothers were not present. What does that tell you?

Consider a male gynecologist who does cosmetic gynecological surgeries on women in North Georgia. This doctor has a semi-pornographic web site. He had a picture of a porn star on his practice’s web site at one time. He also has after and before pictures of women’s breasts on his web site. This doctor has gotten compassionate awards. I tried contacting an advocacy organization in Georgia to see if we could stop what he is doing and unfortunately, I was told that what he does is legal so we cannot take actions to try shutting down his practice. This reminds me of abortion again. Just because something is legal, it does not mean it is God’s will. The person at this advocacy organization agreed that this doctor uses his web site to sell “sex”. What do you think about this?

It is ridiculous about how moral standards do not apply in medical settings. What about men being professional bra fitters? Think about how clothing stores would label a man who wanted to be a bra fitter a pervert. Why are professional standards different for non-medical people?

5.) As physicians, we often opted to invite an assistant such as a nurse to attend examinations in which a patient might feel vulnerable or uncomfortable. In this litigious-minded society, avoidance of a potential misunderstanding or false accusation was obviously one consideration but generally only a secondary one. The presence of an assistant often makes a patient feel more at ease during examinations of a potentially embarrassing nature. But the physician, to borrow a phrase from a television program, “has seen more bodies than you’ll ever have.” The physician is focusing on physical examination, not seduction. The years of medical training certainly reinforce the proper attitude toward a patient, an attitude balancing empathy with professional distance. As medical professionals in training spend time with patients—from the first cadaver to living people—they practice the proper attitude of respect that is drummed into them from their very first day. And they learn how to put patients at ease—not to harbor evil thoughts, but to help their patients relax and trust them.

Rebuttal: Doctors have a chaperone to protect themselves. A chaperone does not help to protect sexual abuse or prevent lustful thoughts. In fact, many women are sexually abused by male doctors with a nurse present. A chaperone often defends the doctor when she/he does something wrong. What about a chaperone watching an unmarried man and woman having sex? Does it make it less sinful? What about a man having a chaperone present every time he looks at pornography? Does it make it less wrong?

I am so tired of the argument: “We have seen more bodies than you’ll ever have”. It does not matter if medical professionals have seen 10,000 naked patients. That does not change the fact that medical professionals should not see and touch private parts of people of the opposite sex they are not married to. A male gynecologist’s desire to see more naked women often increases. We often hear this argument “Oh, they’ve seen it so many times; it no longer affects them.” This is exactly the opposite of reality. Men who look at nudity and pornography for extended periods become more perverted, not less perverted. If the appetite for nudity is fed, the appetite increases not diminishes. What about Dr. Levy, a well-respected male gynecologist in Baltimore who secretly took pictures of many women’s private parts during examinations with a pen camera? He obviously saw thousands of female patients over many years and his appetite for seeing naked women did not diminish. Also, many abortion doctors justify that because they are professionals that they can do abortions, but that it is not okay for someone not in the medical profession to shoot a mother in the stomach and kill her unborn baby.

6.) Furthermore, when Paul warns, “It is good for a man not to touch a woman” (1 Corinthians 7:1), the context concerns male-female relationships with the potential for marriage and goes on to describe the proper relationship between husbands and wives. Nothing in the context of the passage applies to the doctor-patient relationship. The passage goes on to consider self-control, again in the context of ordinary relationships. But when it comes to the professional character, attitude, and conduct of a physician while examining and treating patients, lust requiring self-control should never even enter into the mind.

Rebuttal: This verse applies to everyone including medical professionals. Medical professionals are not morally above us. God has the same expectations of medical professionals as everyone else. I encourage you to check out an article in New York Daily News in 1979 about how 25% male gynecologists admitted to some kind of sexual contact with patients. Most male gynecologists would not go as far as Dr. Levy in taking pictures of women’s private parts, but many of them have private lustful thoughts.

7.) Over the years, each of us cared for patients of the opposite gender quite often. In every case, our concern was to put the patient at ease and to provide them with excellent care. Neither of us ever had the first concern that the other was somehow compromising the purity or sanctity of our marriage by seeing and touching patients of the opposite sex.

Rebuttal: God intended for a husband and a wife to have a special bond with each other and that includes giving each other the privilege of being the only person of the opposite sex to see each other naked. Medical and nursing schools work to desensitize medical and nursing school students that it does not matter to do intimate procedures on opposite sex. Also, many medical and nursing schools teach that abortion is a medical procedure rather than murder. I knew of a strong Christian man who had the dream of becoming a nurse anesthetist. He had to go to nursing school first. He was so upset when he was informed by his nursing professor that he had to do breast exams on female patients for training because he felt it was inappropriate. He told his mom of his concerns and she told him he had to do the breast exams in order to pass nursing school. He finally gave in and compromised his convictions. Later on, he was instructed to give a female patient a bath and he really did not want to do it. But he gave in. He has gotten desensitized. It is possible for nursing and medical students to refuse to do intimate procedures on the opposite sex based on conscience. “Just as physicians can object to providing services due to their ethical and/or religious beliefs, medical students can have conscience-based objections to participating in educational activities" according to Medical Student Section of the American Medical Association (AMA). A Christian female nursing student shared that she and her husband feel intimate procedures should only be performed by the same sex health care professionals. She was in a dilemma because she was a first semester nursing student and she was learning intimate procedures that are meant to be performed on both male and female patients. She spoke to her professors asking if she could only perform these skills on female patients and the professors stared at her like she had two heads. It would be a challenge, but we have to stand up for what is God’s will even when it is hard. If I desired to be a nurse or a doctor, I would refuse to do intimate procedures on male patients. If I received the threat that I would not graduate from medical or nursing school unless I did intimate procedures on male patients, I would get a good Christian lawyer to fight for my constitutional rights to get through school without compromising my moral convictions.

In the article, “Nudity and Christian Worldwide” by Robin Phillips, the author makes some very powerful points that I feel apply to the medical settings. Here are the points that were shared in this article that I feel apply to how medical and nursing schools work to desensitize students.

Points from article that are relevant:

a.) When I hear Christians say that watching sex scenes in movies does not affect them, I sometimes wonder if the shoe isn’t actually on the other foot. If someone can honestly claim that viewing erotic nudity does not affect him, then this seems the clearest evidence that such content has already had a marked effect. This is because such a person is admitting to having become so desensitized that viewing a body that is bare, or partially bare, has become merely commonplace like looking at someone’s elbow. It is not a sign of maturity to be unaffected by cinematic sex, or even plain nudity, since there is a hardening up process that must occur before a person can view such scenes detached and non-sexually.

This reminds me so much of the desensitization process that medical professionals go through.

b.) Indeed, if a woman can strip down to a bikini in the presence of men without having any thought of the sexual overtones, then this only shows that she has let her body become demystified, that her God-given barriers have been lowered, and that her bare flesh has been evacuated of its inherent eroticism. And this is exactly what early advocates of nudism hoped would happen. Being in a condition of undress has been unnaturally disengaged from the sexual connotations that ought to accompany it. It follows that the line “there’s nothing sexual about this” is as much an indictment against immodesty as it is a defense of it.

Many women are deceived that men including doctors would not lust after them at all. It is disturbing that medical professionals claim that there is nothing sexual about intimate female exams and then many male doctors admit that they have lustful thoughts.

c.) Perhaps God never intended for the naked body to be demystified like this. Perhaps seeing someone of the opposite sex in a state of undress was never meant to be disengaged from its sexual connotations and to become merely ‘ordinary’ so that we can say ‘Oh, that doesn’t affect me.’ Perhaps we were never meant to become so detached that seeing someone’s genitals becomes like looking at their elbow. Perhaps it is for this very reason that the Bible places such a premium on modesty (see 1 Timothy 2:9–10 and 1 Peter 3:3 for starters), restricting nudity between the sexes to the marriage bed.

Look at how the above paragraph mentioned that we were not meant to become so detached that seeing someone’s genitals becomes like looking at their elbow. This reminds me of the gender neutral mentality in medical settings. Also, many abortion clinics work to desensitize their workers to abortion by detaching them to see fetuses as just tissue.

8.) Nevertheless, we know that doctors, like people in every profession, are sinful human beings. Just as you must evaluate the character of the people you deal with in other areas where trust is required—your banker, lawyer, builder, pastor, or dentist, for instance—so you must be aware of the trustworthiness of your physician. If you ever suspect that your choice is unworthy of your trust, you should obviously make a change. That does not mean there is a moral issue with the medical profession as a whole, just as the bad character of individual members of other professions should not indict the entire group. The professional training of a physician, the safeguards we mention above, and your own good sense all contribute not only to avoiding misunderstandings but also to protecting patients from individuals with bad character.

Rebuttal: No amount of professional training can change the fact that a medical professional should not examine private parts of a person of the opposite sex he/she is not married to. We have heard of numerous nurses and doctors who maintained professional composure while doing intimate procedures on their patients while they were awake, but then made fun of their patients’ genitals with their friends or even on Facebook. A nurse made this comments on a very popular Facebook page for nurses: “We see more penises than prostitutes”.

9.) As you choose your family’s doctors, the gender of your doctor really should not enter into the equation except as a matter of personal preference. If anyone in the family has a particular gender preference for simple comfort’s sake, then obviously that preference should be respected. But the decision has no moral implications. In short, if you find a physician with whom you can trust your life and the lives of your family members, you should certainly be able to trust that physician with dignity, modesty, and purity. Some religious and cultural traditions do prohibit male physicians from touching female patients. But that prohibition, we believe, does not come from the Bible.

Rebuttal: This is very misguided. The Bible is very clear that nudity before a sexually mature person of opposite sex except for a man and a woman who are married to each other is inappropriate. I think that if it is okay to expose to the opposite sex, then there is nothing wrong with nudity in other settings. Family doctors can treat patients of opposite sex for non-intimate health issues. My mom and my sister went to a male family doctor from their church for a number of years for non-intimate health issues. He never did any intimate exams on them at all. One male family practice doctor gave up doing intimate female exams because he was convicted that it was wrong. It is easy for family and Internal Medicine doctors to refer their patients to a same gender doctor in a practice for intimate procedures. Family doctors often treat patients for non-intimate health issues so it’s not a big deal.

     
 
         
 
         
 

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