Five Minute Friday: City

Gentle Reader,

Zoom fatigue is real. I’m grateful for the technology that enables me to connect with people I would otherwise not be able to, but it’s been three weeks of meeting after meeting. I feel very done.

That said, I’d like a mute button for real lilfe.

Whether I’d use it on myself or others is undecided.

Kate says: city.


Have humans always had immune systems?

I wonder.

Genesis 1 and 2 aren’t scientific accounts. The point of the creation narratives is not how God created, or even that God created. The point is God is, and that God is specifically The I Am (which, to me, is just a fabulous response to Moses’ question in Exodus 3). This is the foundational theological principle around which God’s first people, the physical descendants of Abraham, orient themselves. And it is the foundational theological principle around which the spiritual descendants of Abraham, those who are “adopted in” to Israel, orient ourselves.

So. There’s a lot that Genesis 1 and 2 leave out. And honestly, what’s left out doesn’t matter to me. If God made the world in 7 seconds, 7 literal days, or 7 gajillion years, great. Those facts, or lack of those facts, don’t take away from the central fact of God’s existence. Genesis 1 and 2 are poems, hymns, words of praise to the Great God who is not contained by creation, but is Lord over each and every atom, and all the little parts inside the atoms.

The world of Genesis 1 and 2 is one that is operating in perfect harmony, as God designed. Whether this world lasted for a week or for a thousand years, I don’t know. But I do know that all was well. There was no fear, no suffering, no death.

As such, I don’t think the first humans had immune systems.

Disease is not baked into creation’s clay, out of which humanity was formed.

I think immune systems are a mark of God’s grace, arising in the bodies of the first humans and those who followed in response to the decay that was introduced to the world the moment teeth bit through the flesh of the fruit. A mark of grace, yes. But also imperfect. This is obvious. I live with this obviousness every single day. My immune system is weak. It doesn’t fight off microscopic attackers as it theoretically should.

People get sick. They get injured. They die.

Our immune systems are not magic shields. To say, “I don’t need _____ medicine” or “I won’t use ______ treatment” because “God gave me an immune system” is both faulty logic and theology. It also implicitly shames those of us whose bodies are more fragile. (Although, to be clear, all bodies are fragile). There is a message threaded into the words that flow from faulty logic and theology: “If you trusted God, you wouldn’t need that medicine or use that treatment.”

“For what is the self-complacent man but a slave to his own self-praise.”

– Augustine of Hippo, City of God



15 thoughts on “Five Minute Friday: City

  1. A bloke I know from local church
    said “Bubba, just believe in God;
    He won’t leave you in the lurch!”
    His thinking, though , was kinda flawed.
    I understand he wasn’t keen
    to do just as the gov’ment bid,
    to go and get the darn vaccine
    and then his wife got COVID.
    I guess he went and changed his tune
    (for he loves her quite a lot)
    to “Mate, please do not be a loon
    like me, and get the bloody shot;
    this is something we’re all needin’
    ’cause we for sure don’t live in Eden.’

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Very much agree with you. I wish the previous generation of Christians (spiritual “generation” having nothing to do with age) had been trained to care about the weak versus protect their own opinions.
    And that last point about dismissing those with weak immune systems through some of these comments…!!! YES.
    Have you ever listened to the Bema podcast? The host introduced me to some of the concepts you mentioned about Genesis.


  3. This is such a good and important post! I firmly believe that science is a gift from God. The fact that we’re able to even begin to understand this world He made is a testament to the fact that we are made in His image. Science and medicine are far from perfect, but when used correctly, they are tools that can make us better stewards of the earth for the time that we are here. It’s not a matter of trusting God OR using modern medicine – we can absolutely do both!


  4. Not to argue, but to present an opposing view for your consideration: I think it comes down to whether you trust the sacred cow of science and the motives of pharmaceutical companies and political agendas better than one’s own immune system and the Will of God. This is never something that should be mandated, this choice between the two. I’m perfectly fine with those who choose to trust in manmade science. Go for it. Just don’t force me to do likewise. I, personally, trust God and my own immune system far more — and work hard and pray hard that I am in as good form as possible where both are concerned.

    For the record, I believe we earned disease with the fall of Adam and Eve — and, that being all loving, God did leave us with immune systems to help protect us against disease — if we are living right and using common sense. Regardless, though, when it is our time, it is our time. We were not made for the earth. Dying isn’t the worst thing that can happen.


    1. All points of view are welcome here.

      I’m not that active in responding to comments these days due to a heavy seminary workload. Doing my best to reestablish a regular writing routine, and figure out the best way to interact with you and others. I moderate comments because I got spammed a ton at one point, but I don’t block anyone who disagrees or who has a different take on a subject. 🙂


  5. I always look forward to your posts Marie. This one offers such a thought provoking concept of the origin of immune systems and how that connects to a theology of health and science. I appreciate the way you lifted up your personal experience into that last paragraph.


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