Ask An Evangelical: Essential Oils

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What do you want to know about Evangelicalism? Submit your question here.

By Scott McIntyre

Do you use essential oils?

Interestingly, the day I received this question, our church had met for the first time in 14 weeks and upon entering, I used an essential ‘oil’ (?) as part of a spiritual practice for the first time in my life; it was called a hand sanitizer. Now, I’m reasonably sure, our reader wasn’t inquiring about that type of oil, so let me grease up my palms and share what I’ve discovered. 

The short answer is, No, I don’t use essential oils, at least, not in my spiritual life. That doesn’t seem like much of an answer though, so perhaps I should pose my own question to an Evangelical, “Should we use essential oils?”

Essential Oils Not Necessary

I admit to knowing very little about the topic. Perhaps some of the creams or ointments my wife or I use could qualify as essential oils but I’m not out purchasing them for that reason. And when it comes to my spiritual practice, I don’t recall the Evangelical churches I attended ever using or promoting essential oils. And as an Evangelical, I think that provides a jumping off point for the answer to my question. I don’t think I need essential oils.

There’s a lot of information out there about these oils, but I focused my attention on one article that I found on MindBodyGreen.com.

But it’s in the Bible

It pointed out that “the Bible contains many references to the burning of incense as an integral part of sacred ceremonies, and the precious aromatic botanicals frankincense and myrrh were offered to the Christ child by wise men.”

True statements but, from an Evangelical position, not reasons to justify ramping up my use of the same items. For instance, to my knowledge, the Bible doesn’t identify the spiritual background of the wise men, but because they came to the infant Jesus, they were before Christianity, so their example wouldn’t necessarily pass on to today’s believers.

But then, we have God directing the Israelites in the Book of Exodus, to combine liquid myrrh, fragrant cinnamon, calamus, cassia and olive oil into a sacred anointing oil. The passage states that “whoever makes perfume like it and puts it on anyone other than a priest must be cut off from their people.” Exodus is also dealing with pre-Christian times, so again, it doesn’t automatically apply to today’s Evangelical population and even if it was, it would only be speaking about people in pastoral roles.

Relationship with God

A more dramatic reason, for me, to stay away from oils, is the relationship I believe Christians have with God, through Christ, that they didn’t have in much of the Old Testament books of the Bible, where the majority of references to essential oils are found.

From being a God that was unapproachable before Christ’s time on earth, our Lord has moved to a much closer relationship with His followers in Christ. Through prayer we can seek His will for our lives and ask for assistance, while He can communicate directly to the very heart of who we are through His Holy Spirit.

Imagine an elementary school with a group of 4th graders having problems with some aspect of the instruction they’ve received. Would we, as parents, want someone to recommend to the children that they sit outside in the playground, inhaling an essential oil while meditating about the issue?

Inviting Inspiration?

While this is something, stated in the MindBodyGreen.com article mentioned earlier, that some people use to “invite inspiration,” I think we’d want the students to check in with their teacher for some good old fashioned tutoring. And that’s what Christians have, I believe, through their relationship with God.

I’m not sure I see any way that utilizing essential oils could have an impact on my relationship with the Heavenly Father, that I believe is mine through the totally unmerited grace and mercy of a loving God.

Scott McIntyre

About Scott McIntyre

Scott McIntyre is glad his parents didn’t name him Vladimir or he’d be listed last on this page. While a long time California resident, he was the Oakland Spirituality Examiner for Examiner.com from 2011-12 and about the same time began blogging on several topics. The first, teaching Christians how to lovingly share their spiritual beliefs, emphasized skills that can benefit all forms of one-to-one interaction. He also writes on marriage, travel, downsizing, humor, and the motive behind people’s words and actions. After retiring in 2016, Scott embarked on some major ‘R & R’; Relocating and Rebranding. Following in his sister’s footsteps from the early 80’s, and later in the decade, his parent’s, Scott left the Golden State to become a Washingtonian in a small town just west of Spokane County.

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