I knew this one was a hard issue to address on a blog post, and since I got some valid questions from dear friends, I want to write one more post on this. As you can already see, it will be impossible to address all the “But what about this …?” questions here, and I am learning to be OK with that. Isn’t that one of the main reasons that God has placed us in a local church? Bring your questions and concerns to your husband, your Pastor and/or elders. And most of all ask them all the questions you may have with a heart totally open to admit that maybe they are seeing something you are not, and prayerfully bring those things that you might need to change before your God.
Many asked what about oils to cure simple things, like a headache, nausea, coughing. Aren’t the oils doing basically the same thing as an Advil? Aren’t those cases faithful ways to put the oils to use?
I would say yes, they might work for those things, and there is no problem at all with that. In my medicine cabinet, we have, for example, arnica ointment as well as Voltaren cream. We have medicine to relief coughing and yes, we do have a spray with some oils that help us breath better when we have a cough spam. The problem is not with the oil itself, but with the way many are putting all their trust in them, not only to help heal a sinusitis, but to help with attitudes and problems that the Bible clearly tells us find their root in our sinful nature that needs to be mortified; or to help heal deep emotional and spiritual wounds that only our Father, through the Word of God applied by the Holy Spirit to us, can heal.
But if you carefully read my post, that was not the point I tried to address. If we had people in our churches selling an oil to make your home smell delicious, and a peppermint oil to help pregnant women deal with nausea, we will not need to make a big deal out of this. See, some prefer to buy their soaps at Walmart and some others prefer the organic ones found at the Farmers market (that’s me). Some women like to burn any kind of candle in their home, some others prefer the ones made with natural ingredients because they claim that the smell is better and the candles last longer (that’s me again). Some women prefer not wear perfume, others prefer to wear the same perfume for over 15 years (yep, that’s me). But this issue is not a matter of simple preferences, the problem is not that of using an oil to give your feet a good rub after a long day, the issue is clearly what that the industry which makes and sells these oils is saying about what their goal is and the way many women are choosing not to see it and the way many other women are choosing to embrace it. This company doesn’t really want you to use their lavender oil to make your sheets smell delicious, what they really want is to take over your whole lifestyle (read under “Our Purpose”).
Look, for example, at this main industry’s mission: “We honor our stewardship to champion nature’s living energy, essential oils, by fostering a community of healing and discovery while inspiring individuals to wellness, purpose, and abundance.”
See that? They don’t want you to be using the peppermint oil in isolation; part of their mission is to make sure you become part of them, part of their mission. They are openly telling us that they want their oils and philosophy of life to reach to your home, my home, your neighbor’s home. They also want to inspire you not only to wellness, but to purpose (a purpose they have defined and chosen and which clearly excludes God) and abundance (because like those preaching the prosperity gospel, your abundance quickly becomes their abundance). They clearly want you to know that “[They] are committed to providing pure, powerful products for every family and lifestyle, all infused with the life-changing benefits of our essential oils.” (emphasis mine) Their mission is not a secret.
It is strange to me that many choose to believe the promises these oils offer (physical, emotional and spiritual benefits), but at the same time choose to deny the unbiblical principles that the company stands on or try to detach the products they sell from the descriptions the makers provide about them.
Many will say, “But wait, I am not into that. It is possible for me to sell these products, for example, as a Christian woman committed to Biblical principles.”
The problem is that they are trying to do the impossible. The company behind them won’t let them do that because they are not ashamed of letting us know on what ground they are standing. It is as if I were trying to sell you a chocolate beet ice-cream promising that no beet will go in there. Would you buy it?
Or what about this other example. Let’s say that there is a Classical school five minutes away from where you live, which is known in the whole country for its academical achievements, and it also happens to cost only 100 dlls per year, per family. Yay! So you decide to go check it out, of course. Once you get there you see that the only problem is that the teachers are Buddhist monks. You are a bit concerned, and ask the lady who is giving you the tour of the school (who makes money for each student who enrolls) about all this and she promises that you can rest assured that they will never try to push their worldview on your children… (Though you can read their statement of faith, their mission and their purpose printed with big letters on their brochure). Would you enroll your children there?
So this is why I believe that the problem we have here is other than just a matter of different opinions and preferences. It runs deeper, but thanks be to God, the company who makes these oils has put big and clear signposts all over the slippery oily slopes for us to read where they are heading (and where they are leading their consumers).
Some other quick questions that I’ve received (I am not necessarily copying them verbatim) and some quick, broad answers:
Q: Why are you worried about this issue more than others? Anything can become an idol like oils, coffee after a bad night of sleep, a glass of wine at the end of a long day, etc.
A: Because many of the women in my life, which I dearly love, are not falling into those other ditches, but into this one.
Q: So you are saying that there is no place for true medicine if someone is clinical depressed? I mean, that is what I’m hearing you say in your post.
A: Please read my post again. And no, I am not saying that. I have encouraged friends to go see the doctor and take medicine for mental issues; and I am sure that many women would benefit from visiting their doctor, maybe they do have some hormonal imbalance that needs to be treated by an specialist.
Q: Have you read other articles that bring a balanced point of view to the whole thing?
A: No, I have not, and probably will not. I have read the statements of the company that makes and markets these oils, I don’t think I need to read the way other people are choosing to reinterpret these.
Friends, my purpose with all this is to encourage you to pay attention to the words, the rhetoric, the testimonies of those who promote these oils. Dig in deeper before walking in deeper.
But most of all, see where your heart is in all this. Sit down and read carefully what the company is really offering you and prayerfully consider, with your husband if you are married, if this is what your family should do. Talk to your pastor, to your elders, and be willing to submit to each other. (Wives, if your husband is uneasy about these, drop the issue, don’t try to push this further. This is a place where submission to your husband might be required and God will bless you.)
Let us pray, Friends, and pray earnestly for each other, that we may not grow weary of practicing discernment in all things (Hebrews 5:14), may we all remember that we all can slip, that we all can fall.
And finally, may we all make Paul’s and the Psalmist’s prayers our very own:
“..it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.” Paul (Phil. 1: 9-10)
“Teach me good discernment and knowledge, For I believe in Your commandments.” (Psalm 119:66)
Under His sun and by His grace,
Latest post on the series: A More Potent Way that Oily One