Sex, religion and politics are taboo subjects in our culture. We all arrive to our beliefs through different paths. Regardless of what I think, I try hard to respect all opinions that are shared with me. I agree with some. I disagree with others. I know everyone draws conclusions from their different experiences. Respect that. I will respect you. But don’t hurt me and/or others.
Recently, I was attending a church. The lesson of the week was Mark 9. Within this, there is a verse that deals with a boy falling to the ground having what could be interpreted as a seizure. The pastor at this church taught the son was having seizures and Jesus rescued him by purging the evil spirits from his body. After church, I went up and asked this pastor to further define his view of epilepsy and religion. He said “not all seizures, but those not medically diagnosable, could be fallen angels or evil spirits taking over the body of people who have not been born again.” ….But, he did not feel all seizures were the work of the devil.
I kept quiet after his explanation. I needed time to really think about his comments before I reacted emotionally rather than respond intelligently. The following week I went up again after the service to continue our conversation. My hope for an unemotional discussion was quickly dashed. I asked questions about the progression of medical knowledge and miracles of healing beyond purging of the devil. After all, the blind man saw again and the lame man walked. I asked about young children who had seizures. He said the evil spirits could possess them too if they were living in a home without two believers.
I explained to the pastor beliefs like this were not only discouraging but potentially harmful. On different occasions, I have been invited to churches because they felt they would heal me from these “fallen angels”. It never worked. There have been children who have even died because of the extreme religious view seizures can be healed by laying of hands or exorcism. I also explained to this man for the first ten years I was a child with seizures not medically diagnosed, I was not possessed because my parents were nonbelievers. While an adult, we did find the medical reason, and no evil spirits fled from my body. When the neurosurgeon cut open my skull and removed the piece of brain, his medical reports did not claim a swoosh of air passed him because fallen angels or a possession of the devil exited my damaged brain.
I hope this message is passed on by many and some with doubts are able to understand: Seizures are a medical, not religious, condition.