Hand Washing

In 1847, Ignaz Semmelweis proposed that all medical practitioners who assisted a mother with childbirth, wash their hands in a chlorine-lime solution beforehand.  He had determined that many Doctors were carrying “cadaver contaminants”  from their morning autopsies which were infecting Moms and giving them a deadly fever.  At his own Vienna General Hospital he had noticed that physicians had double the death rate than did midwives practicing at the same hospital and, after eliminating all other variables, deduced it was the autopsies.  Midwives didn’t do autopsies.  The scientific community, which is much less open to conflicting ideas than it likes to believe, rejected the advice of Semmelweis because they did not yet have Louis Pasteur and germ theory.  It was several decades later before the ideas of Semmelweis were accepted.  By then, however, he was dead.

Today, one would think, with sanitizers of all sorts available on the market, the medical profession would be sparkly clean.  Ah, but we reckon without considering human nature.  Ceders-Sinai in Los Angeles did a study not too long ago and discovered that 35% of their Doctors were not practicing proper hand hygiene.  In other words, they were not washing their hands often enough. Janitors we could understand but Doctors?  Shouldn’t they know better?  Ceders-Sinai is ranked one of the best hospitals in the nation by US News and World Report.  It’s a research hospital of high regard.

They tried reminding the Doc’s to no avail.  Of course not.  Nagging never works.  Ask any wife.  So, they cultured the hands of several of their physicians and grew the cultures in petri dishes.  Soon they had rather ugly looking bacterial growths which they photographed.  Then, they made the photos the screen saver for every computer in the hospital.  That worked!  At least for awhile.  Eventually everyone was used to the photos and ignored them.

Imagine if, in front of every home and apartment building, there were a giant screen which displayed both videos of the sins of the occupants but also the thoughts running through their heads?  Initially the world would be so shocked, that hardly anyone would leave their homes.  Or maybe most of us would get in our cars and drive as far away as possible.  In time, I believe, we would all grow indifferent to the messages and life would go on as usual.

The response of God to the level of sinful evil in all of mankind is quite different.  He sees everything, ignores nothing and offers grace to anyone who wishes.

Romans 5:8
But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. (NASB)

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