Rick Warren’s Horrific Tragedy & The Sickening Response of Some “Christians”

Now is a good time to go back and re-read Warning: The World is Watching How We Christians Treat One Another.

Why do so many people not want to have anything to do with Jesus? It’s because of the cruel, harsh, self-righteous, and judgmental attitude that some professing “Christians” level against their fellow believers.

“Why would I want to be part of that bunch!?” . . . is the common response by so many non-Christians today.

Yesterday, I got the sad news that Rick Warren’s youngest son committed suicide. Here’s a short explanation with quotes from Rick himself.

The 27-year-old son of Pastor Rick Warren has taken his own life after a lifelong struggle with mental illness. The internationally known Christian leader at Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, California, made the announcement about his son early Saturday morning in an email sent to his staff.

“No words can express the anguished grief we feel right now. Our youngest son, Matthew, age 27, and a lifelong member of Saddleback, died today,” wrote Warren.

“Over the past 33 years we’ve been together through every kind of crisis. Kay and I’ve been privileged to hold your hands as you faced a crisis or loss, stand with you at gravesides, and prayed for you when ill. Today, we need your prayer for us,” began the staff email from him.

Warren described Matthew as “an incredibly kind, gentle, and compassionate man,” as those who grew up with him would also say.

“He had a brilliant intellect and a gift for sensing who was most in pain or most uncomfortable in a room. He’d then make a bee-line to that person to engage and encourage them,” he continued. “But only those closest knew that he struggled from birth with mental illness, dark holes of depression, and even suicidal thoughts. In spite of America’s best doctors, meds, counselors, and prayers for healing, the torture of mental illness never subsided. Today, after a fun evening together with Kay and me, in a momentary wave of despair at his home, he took his life.”

Warren said that he and his wife often marveled at Matthew’s courage “to keep moving in spite of relentless pain.”

“I’ll never forget how, many years ago, after another approach had failed to give relief, Matthew said, ‘Dad, I know I’m going to heaven. Why can’t I just die and end this pain?’ but he kept going for another decade,” he wrote.

If you are a Christian and your heart doesn’t go out to this brother and his family, something is wrong with you spiritually.

I don’t care what you think about Warren’s theology, his books, or how he combs his hair. The fact is, he lost a child. Few things can be more painful and nightmarish in this life.

To add insult to injury, just take a look at some of the comments by fellow “Christians” (professing ones at least) to the news. These are comments that were left on various Christian news websites under the Warren article:

Train up your children in the way, live a godly example with right priorities, care enough to home-school despite the great sacrifice involved, don’t let them date unchaperoned, have daily family devotions, turn off the 1-eyed idiot, TRULY HAVE A PURPOSE-DRIVEN LIFE, and your children WILL NOT COMMIT SUICIDE, nor will they be involved in homosexuality, nor fornication.

He killed himself, it’s much worse than fornication or homosexuality or Onanism or eating pork. He denied himself a chance to get better. If your kids need a chaperone to date, why do you let them date? They shouldn’t be dating if they are not mature enough to control themselves.

Suicide happens soon after your stupid enough to read “The Purpose Driven Life”.

Poor Matthew denies God’s Love with suicide.

He could not save his own because Mr. Warren does not truly understand how his own heart works, how it is broken and the mechanism by which Jesus laid out the example of how to fix it. Matthew killed himself because he did not understand either. He was a victim of his own ignorance and the ignorance of his family, friends, society and Christians around him — presently!

Sisters and Brothers, we have not so learned Jesus Christ!

There were more comments like these, unfortunately. And they made me want to vomit.

“If Christians cannot extend grace through faithful presence within the body of believers, they will not be able to extend grace to those outside.”

~ James Davison Hunter

I remember reading a book by Watchman Nee in my youth. In it, Nee made the remark that he observed a certain pattern throughout his life. Every time someone judged another person harshly for a mistake they made or because of something that went wrong in their lives, sometime later, the person who made those harsh judgments had something far worse happen to them.

Having been a Christian for over 30 years now, I’ve observed the same pattern.

Consequently, I fear for those who made these deplorable remarks. The Scriptures clearly teach that how we treat others is how the Lord will treat us. And if we have the knife out for one of His children, we will eventually end up falling on it ourselves.

Paul said you will reap what you sow. That’s written in the heavens.

So be very, very careful how you respond to someone else’s tragedy, mistakes, pain, or loss.

I read the New Testament once :-) and Jesus taught that the entire Law and the Prophets is fulfilled in this one statement: Treat others the way you want to be treated in every circumstance.

Ergo, how would YOU want to be treated if you lost a child?

How we respond to bad things that happen to others (be they tragedies, failures, or pain) is a barometer that reveals how well we know our Lord. In fact, there may be no greater test.

I could say much more about this particular issue. And I have elsewhere.

Let’s keep the Warren family in our prayers and in our thoughts.

If you find this post helpful, you are free to add a LINK to it on your blog or website.

Related:

Don’t Believe Everything You Read or Hear

Jesus & Paul Under Fire

Forgotten Words of Jesus 

3 Christian Responses to Mental Illness & Which One Comports Best with the Bible

Warning: The World is Watching How We Christians Treat One Another

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Comments

    • JAdezeria says

      my heart feels like its been ripped open after reading this tradgic story about matthew, rick warren n his wifes son n the ruthless comments that followed! all I can say is shame on those who sit in judgement of matthew n his family! True Christ followers would not be sitting in judgement but would reach out in GODS LOVE n COMFORT N PEACE for this family n their son matthew, whom I believe is with JESUS right now <3
      Those who have chosen to strike out at this family in judgement, really need to look at who they are in a mirror deep down inside theirselves, asking GOD for wisdom n understanding in HIM who first LOVED us.

  1. Paul Koopman says

    Luckily in my circle of friends, even among the hardcore conservative/reformed crowd, I’m not seeing anything but graciousness and sorrow regarding this tragic story. But I don’t frequent the comment section of any theology-driven blogs or articles. If you ever want to see Christians acting like anti-Christians, read the comment section of some political article or a piece written by some theological figure. I’m not denying there is a certain fallen aspect to this attitude; but I think this a good example of the medium being the message.

  2. says

    A number of years back, I ran a suicide prevention and awareness campaign throughout our local area, which also included 2 memorial services for those bereaved by suicide.

    I remember this incident which is burnt into my memory. After one service I asked a lady how she was going and if she found it too much. She replied while holding both my wrists tight.

    “Craig, 12 years ago, our son died by suicide. That Sunday at church, the preacher spoke about how all who suicide are going to hell. My husband stood up, took me and our daughter by the hand and walked out. We were blackbanned by the church as being back slidden. In the midst of our pain, the church we had belonged to most of our life, abandoned us. —- Craig, I believe in Jesus, we never have stopped believing in him.. but how the church has hurt us.”

    She then said to me, while crying and holding onto me. “Craig, we want to find a church and belong, but the pain of the past is keeping us away, as we don’t want to face that pain again… You have given me the hope that indeed once again, we can now start looking for a church that will love us the way Jesus does!”

    • Jae Call says

      I cried when I read this. Thank you for posting this, my heart and prayers go out to that family and all who have been pierced by the callousness and the dogma of churches. May they find comfort, peace and hope in a nation whose Christians have become so tepid with sharing the love God gave us.

  3. Jan Pack says

    My first response to hearing the news of the death of Rick Warren’s son was one of deep sadness and pain for the family. My heart aches. When one member of the body hurts, we all hurt. There are some in the body that I don’t agree with every stance theologically, including Rick Warren, but you are so spot on that the negative and harsh comments are not in line with the New commandment to love one another as Christ has loved us, and by that love all men will know we are part of the body of Christ. Praying for the entire Warren family as they grieve the loss of their beloved son.

  4. Mike Williams says

    Unfortunately humans act just like animals when someone’s down. I’ve seen it in the animal kingdom. An animal will suffer an injury and the other animals will attack it even though they have been working together as a team for years. Humans, especially Christians need to rise above our primal instincts and LOVE always. If you can’t say something good, shut the hell up. Get real people. It’s not about you, it’s about Christ alive in us.

  5. Derek says

    Our thoughts and prayers are with the Warren family at this time of terrible loss and tradgedy, so sorry for you all. The Lords comfort and peace we pray.

    Our thoughts and prayers are also unfortunately with the church at this time of loss and unfortunate response to the Warren family tradegy. The Lords compassion and wisdom we pray.

    Lord help us all

  6. says

    Other than grieving together, the best theological response I know is Romans 8:38-39. “For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

  7. Laura says

    Good one Frank. What you write from Watchman Nee is always in my thinking, I dare not even consciously think a judgement. As we judge so will we be judged.

    I’m so sorry to hear of yet another Christian suicide, I’ve known of a number, friends, children of friends. Oh Lord. Our body needs hope

  8. says

    I came by to see what you may hav wrote. I’m already aware of what happen to Rick Warren’s son. I read about it on Alan Colmes site. My thoughts and prayers went for the family.

    From experience, I know that depression is rough. However, my depression was nothing compared to this kid.

    As for your post, I am rather shocked to hear about the garbage spewing out of so called professing Christians. I had to read it, twice. Have these people not heard what happens to those who practice such judgement?

    You mentioned “Treat others; as you would have them treat you.” For me, this is so much easier said than done. I try to practice and sometimes I don’t always see it happening.

    Nevertheless, I will trust Jesus at His Word.

  9. says

    Frank,

    All I can say is how sad I was to hear the news of Rick’s son’s passing. I can’t for the life of me figure out how and why other believers could or even would do something so hurtful. I don’t always agree with Rick but he is our brother and this Just seems so un-Chirstlike to me and to call them Christians that is questionable. And for me and my house we will pray for the family and also the knuckle heads who have not yet learned the Love of God.

  10. says

    Frank:

    When I heard the news of Matthew Warren’s passing, I literally anticipated the barrage of self-righteous ‘rock throwing’. It’s sad that we all knew it would happen.

    The Warren’s are wounded. It’s time to bind up the broken hearted and bring salve to the wound. We are to do these things for all but especially those of the household of faith.

    Thanks for taking the time to write this.

    Peace.

    Bob

  11. James English says

    Thank you, Frank, for being a strong voice for our Papa’s never-ending compassion. Change is slow, but it is happening, and you are helping to bring it!

  12. cas says

    Condolences and prayers for the Warren’s and family… I saw your post Frank, and my first thought was about all the stories coming out in recent days of increasing persecutions of Christians. I don’t know if you’ve read some headlines how the police and military are being prepped to look out for “extremist” Christians here in our country. From what I understand there are “trolls” that comment on controversial sites, etc and add disinformation and agitation. I have this feeling that maybe a lot of these cruel comments are propaganda to add fuel to the fire of Christian persecution and “painting” us all total loonies. Granted we all get mean streaks, moods, but to attack when a family, any family has gone through a loved one’s suicide is not just judgmental, but insane.

  13. Jeff says

    A few years ago, I might have responded the same way, were it not for being subjected to the hatred of other Christians myself. Thinking evil of another, unfortunately is VERY rampant in the Body of Christ, as I have learned so well. God was merciful to me, I survived the hatred thrown my way. It is the Accuser of the Brethren that is the instigator of both the hatred of and the death of the saints. The little snake is called the Accuser of the Brethren, and he comes only to steal, kill, and destroy. There is no reason to lend him aid. Unfortunately, he finds lost of flesh to feed upon in us. We need to starve him out. And we need to fast from feeding our own flesh. It needs to die out as well. Let’s feed the Spirit instead.

  14. AnDraea says

    It seems the church has a tendency to demonize mental illness and to accuse both the victim and the family of some sort of spiritual shortcoming because of it. What mind could be more sick, than that which would kick the wounded and the broken when they are down? This type of toxic religion is destroying people, and can sometimes be the cause of the very mental illness it so strongly condemns. My prayer is that the Church will withstand the temptation of the age to wax loveless, and to allow Jesus to relentlessly love and live His life through us.

  15. Fiona Linford says

    My heart is breaking Frank, both for the Warren family and the many people who suffer with mental illness. My daughter is a Social Worker who works along side people who struggle with mental illness. We should not be afraid or ashamed to talk about it. Mental illness is very real and in many cases tragic. May God have mercy on us! What do we have if we have not love.

    Fiona

  16. Vic Cameron says

    Thank you for those words Frank, powerful yet simple!

    And we wonder why the world doesn’t want to be like us!!

  17. says

    Actually I think most of the deplorable comments come from people who know they are not Christians but pretend to be when online hiding behind an alias. Some cults and religions actually hire people to work full-time as pretenders in hopes of defaming their opponents.

    • says

      Philip: I wish this was the case, but it’s not, I’m afraid. You can go to some of these people’s webpages. They clearly profess to be Christian and other very sincere Christians receive them as such. I’ve seen this same spirit operate in other cases almost every month . . . by people who have so-called “ministries” even. And I’ve been addressing the problem for years on this blog.

      • Chad says

        Spot on Frank, they purport to be CHRISTIANS, but what the have is CHURCHIANITY, which is a foul smelling RELIGIOSITY based on the traditions of man, which is something I stress when nurturing new Christians with the question “What is a Christian?”

    • Tommy says

      While I am sure there are some ‘troll’s out there, I think as Frank says, it is largely Christians, though they may be very misguided Christians in this area of their faith.

      That said, “defaming their opponents” caught me by surprise. I try not to think of other faiths as “my opponents”. Seems that’s what gets us in trouble in the first place.

  18. Arnold says

    It’s horrible to judge anyone like that. This mistake is often made: to make a connection between good or bad things happening in our lives and our behaviour. Life’s all about grace. We’re called to bring love to other people. Our calling has never been to interpret one’s tragedy. Frank, thanks for posting.

  19. Jim says

    The best thing the Warren’s need right now is space, and for those closest to them to just sit and listen to their thoughts and memories, and to just lovingly in Christ, be present. Right now, it’s all a shock, emotions are numb, confusion, probably anger and sadness fleshing out. Not to mention the the media calling and the onslaughts of accusations coming from other so called “Christians” just throw salt on the open wound. Advice, no matter how good is not what they need right now. The real grieving won’t even start happening until after the funeral and everyone goes away. Even my own mother, in her bi-polar, depression, confusion, pain, intense headaches, she still lived unto the Lord, but yet in her mental illness and confusion overdosed on pain meds when I was 19. I believe she went to be with the Lord and that He has mercy for those just like her, who are weak and ill in mind. It is never anyone’s place to question the intention of the heart or salvation of a person who commits suicide. Who among us knows the mind of the Lord? His mercy triumphs over judgment. For my mother, our family grieved, but yet the Lord Jesus still had His purpose in the midst of it all, despite my own understanding years down the road, and it resulted in bringing us as a Family (biological and the Church) closer to Him.

  20. Frank Ealker says

    Frank I agree with your response. My years as Law Enforcement Chaplain were much more rewarding than the same years as a pastor. It seems many on the outside of the church building are more concerned for the feelings of others than we. So many times we as Christians are our own worst enemies.
    May Gods Grace sustain them through this tragedy.

  21. Bill Weger says

    Why do some people need to affix blame when a tragedy strikes?? Even if there were blame to be assigned (by no means established), wasn’t it Jesus who said “Let him without sin cast the first stone.”? Before criticizing in any way another person, each should examine his or her own life, get that life aligned correctly with God, and there will be no room for criticism, only love (lacking in those negative comments).

  22. Jean Moon says

    My first response was sadness and tears. My second response was to realize that Matthew could have been me or my children. As I prayed for the family I also thanked God that he had brought us thus far without this happening in my family.

    I also knew in my spirit that there would be those who would throw stones and blame this tragedy on Pastor Warren, Matthew or the family. May God forgive them and change their hearts.

    I’m a senior citizen and I’ve lived long enough to have seen those who judge and criticize… especially those who judge, condemn, and falsely accuse those who are innocent, will one day experience that same judgement at themselves in a much worse way.

    May God show us our own lack of love and show us His great love and mercy to us all, especially to others.

  23. Art Lech says

    It’s one thing to believe in Christ. It’s an entirely different and much more important thing to live in Christ. Our prayers should and must be both with Rick Warren and his family and with those who have so maliciously attacked him. We are all created by God, and we all need God’s grace — even us sinners.

  24. pamela says

    thanks for posting this… these people may be professing christians but they are NOT DISCIPLES of Jesus. Jesus is weeping with the Warren’s right now and his spirit is comforting them- Jesus is also cradling thier precious son in his arms…

    May God forgive and have mercy on us when we injure each other- May the God of our saviour Jesus continue to bless the Warrens at this time and may all who speak and do evil (me included sometimes) feel the hand of God’s correction

  25. JULIE ALLEN says

    I would like to say that anyone posting disrespectful or hurtful comments about pastor Rick Warren or about his child dying can Not be Christians. It disturbs me greatly that people say they are Christian yet do not show love and compassion, the very essence of God!

    • Jackie Marwick says

      I agree, Sandra

      My sister says ” each one gives as much or whatever he is capable of”
      That applies to everything

      May God bless and protect the Warren family in the palm of His mighty hand

  26. Kenneth Dawson says

    Yea frank you are so right–it is sad to see how harsh people can be–I guess the truth of the matter is that they are proffesers but maybe not possessors I don’t know cause when I was an epistemological Christian I was the same way–now that I have an ontological relationship with god I find myself being more compassionate even when I disagree with someone on theological issues

  27. says

    I think anyone who responds hatefully against a Christian, is not a Christian. 1st John 2:9-11 (ESV) Whoever says he is in the light and hates his brother is still in darkness. Whoever loves his brother abides in the light, and in him there is no cause for stumbling. But whoever hates his brother is in the darkness and walks in the darkness, and does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes.

  28. says

    Been meditating over Ephesians in the last couple of months and am drawn by the language of unity and love. I don’t even know what to do with those who choose extreme contention and division anymore. I used to want to debate them. Now I just sit back and don’t know what to do.

  29. says

    I may not agree with Bro. Rick’s teachings, however, this is a tragedy of the highest order, to lose one’s son.
    All we can, and should, do is pray for the family.

  30. Dave Hamilton says

    Frank, I enjoy your writings and insights very much. Takes me deeper. I keep hearing negative stuff about Rick Warren and the Yale agreement, etc. Don’t really know if such accusations are true and the whole thing is negative.
    In any case my heart goes out to the Warrens and their great loss and pain, since I sense their hearts are NOT against Christ and His Gospel, although there may be some negatives somewhere.

  31. Robyn G says

    I think sometimes what we forget is our human body is flawed because of our fallen nature…all illness is a result of that fallen nature…but many want to categorize “mental illness” separately as though a born-again believer should never struggle with mental illness…wrongly believing that somehow mental illness is different than other illness and true believers will be fully delivered from it. Born again believers struggle with disease every day…and diseases take lives of born-again believers every day…but because a disease of the mind may cause one to end their own life…some find it impossible to accept. We should never be a friend of death…we should always fight for life…but the mind is a powerful thing and unless you have experienced mental illness, which I have not, one should not speak against something they know nothing of.

    • Sharon Price says

      Thank you for this post. It is really profound! I plan to share it at my life group as we are looking at mental illness.

  32. Greg Dressel says

    I found myself interceding for the Warrens but for the portion of the Church that are attacking them too. Acts 9:4 On the Road to Damascus, Jesus says to Paul, “Saul, Saul, why are you attacking ME?” People don’t realize they are attacking Christ in the other believer when they are saying these things. Pride and religious crap blinds their eyes. Their own stuff in their own hearts needs to be dealt with but they don’t see the log in their eyes. I found myself changing my intercession to Lord, have mercy on them! I know that is what Rick would be doing or is doing. Jesus is going to get His way, regarding Unity. John 17, His High Priestly prayer for His Church will come to pass. We must wake up and stop making it so easy for the enemy to pull our strings. It is a sad statement regarding the Church today.

    I am not even going to for a second wade into suicide and it’s implications. I am not God and will not be so prideful to make that jump. It is okay to say, I don’t know….

  33. says

    Michael, in a comment above, said that we need to remember, “There, but for the grace of God go I.” He echoed exactly what I was thinking.

    When our Lord reveals Himself to us, and we see our own selves in his glorious light, we see just how tragic and deplorable we are without Him. And He loved us when we were not just “sinners”, but *enemies* of God! None of us is above doing any type of sin, or stooping to the lowest of lows, given the right circumstances. It’s truly only by God’s grace we live.

    If we engage in that type of judgmental backbiting, how is that displaying the love of our Lord? Jesus’ command was not “make sure that none of you steps out of line”, but instead, “And this is my command to you: Love one another.”

    I have a dear friend who, when we first met years ago, was habitually cutting herself. I never could get my head around that very well. And, sad to say, I did my own share of judgmental talk in regards to her. But the only thing I ever saw make a difference in her life was not the opinions of people, even the good advice, but only the love of our Lord, shown through the members of His body. She was delivered from those selfish and destructive bonds and is now one of the sweetest, most giving people I know.

    I’m sure that Rick and his wife are already struggling with the thoughts that they are at fault for what happened, irregardless of what’s true. I don’t know a parent alive that wouldn’t think those thoughts in the face of any tragedy involving their child. They need brothers and sisters to stand alongside them and comfort them.

    “Above all, maintain an intense love for each other, since love covers a multitude of sins.” 1 Peter 4:8

  34. Kris says

    How sad, and we Christians are supposed to show the world Gods love. My prayers are with the Warren family

  35. says

    Great article! The extent to which we are one with others who follow Christ is the extend to which we proclaim to the world that there is something different about Jesus. The extend to which we are divided is the extent to which we proclaim that there is nothing different about Jesus from all the other religious options in the world. John 17:23

  36. Karen Newham says

    I am a Titus II woman by calling not only because that is for all women and not only day to day but being called to start a ministry by that name, a number of years ago. My first young woman at that time came to know the Lord in a hospital for depression. A couple of years later God used her to lead her sister, her mother and an Aunt, to receive her Jesus, too. She loved the Word of God memorizing much of it. For some reason her body began to wear down and she too had Doctors both medically, spiritually and physically and had to move to her parents in another state because of expenses. We had times of phone conversations and little did I have any idea (nor did the Spirit give me any indication) that would be our last conversation, a conversation that was sweet, encouraging and appeared joyful for she left the house entering a hotel ending her life. We do not choose our own trials nor do we have the right to make judgment on how one goes through theirs. Who has the right to categorize sin. Apparently many forget or do not know of the Finality of the Cross. Her spirit was in His Spirit though her soul struggled. My friend came to the Lord in depression and went home to Him the same way. Praise be to Jesus that no one will be taken from His hand, the hand tht ultimately brought her and Rick’s son to HIM.

  37. Larry Marshall says

    Frank, good words. The moment I heard the story, I immediately knew there would be this sort of response. But I mostly guessed it from non-believers (and there is plenty of that too). I guess I’m not surprised. Some days I’m sorry that many who call themselves Christians have figured out how to use the internet. No words for The Warrens, just prayers.

  38. Claire says

    That’s why I cannot blame this man for his quote:

    “I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.” – Mahatma Gandhi

    case closed.

  39. Tertia steynberg says

    In 2012 we took our daughter that is fighting a eating disorder now for a long time to a clinic (Rebeccas house) in the Orange County, California where she followed a program that helps people like her to find the courage to quit the bad habit that distorts there life in so many ways. We live in South Africa and because we have read a book of Rick Warren we grabbed the oppertunity to visit the church when we discovered that Saddleback was home for Pastor Rick. It really became home for us in so many ways and helped us through our struggles. We participated in some of the programs and really enjoyed the love we experienced there. It is so true what you say Frank, sometimes you have to really walk the extra mile with a person and stand in his shoes and share in the uphill road of hope and faith for an outcome, only to realise that God somehow did a work in you while you were holding on with the other person. And yes, I agree that you get to eat from the same plate you judged your brother with at another time! My heart really goes out to the Warren family and I know that somehow their experience will become a witness to us all.

  40. says

    Frank, thanks for this blog. It is heartbreaking to see the effect of some “Christians” destructive words in such a time of pain for Rick and his family!

    I have the joy of leading a bible study group tomorrow morning on the prayer of Jesus in John 17. And Jesus prayed for the church to come that we would be one in Christ, so that the world can believe… It breaks my heart to see words like these comments you quoted, thinking of the absolute negative impact it has on people still wishing to see Jesus’ love in action.

    May the Lord be with Rick and his family- we should as one church across the world help carry their burdens in prayer, and grief with them as one big family…

  41. Marcy Lapinsky says

    I agree Frank! I find a lot of “christians” to be the rudest, nastiest, judgmental people on the planet. When I belonged to a church that talked about the Law nonstop, and expected everyone to perform like circus animlas in order to,maybe,be good enough for God to love them, I was the same way…I judged everyone and constanty compared my behavior with theirs. veryone aroubnd me was doing the same thing. That makes me wonder what these nasty folks we are discussing are hearing in the churches they go to! Anyway, when I came to realize how much God loves me..no matter what..I dropped that attitude and started feeling more loving and understanding towards my fellow man…at much more at peace. Rick’s book was one of the things that helped me get to that point!
    I have also suffered from severe depression in my life and I pity those who judge someone that doesn’t make it through the depression. They obviously don’t know what it is like to suffer with depression to that degree. I too fear that they are in for some hard lessons in the future for being so harsh and unloving towards these suffering people.
    As a sidenote..something for these people to think about. They are basically calling this poor boy and his family sinners. Well, we are supposed to imitate Christ in our responses to sinners, right? Did you ever notice that Christ never berated and harshly judged the sinners He encountered in His life? He was never anything less than forgiving and loving. Every time He spoke harshly or used strong admonition in anyway, it was always when He was addressing the SELF-RIGHTEOUS Pharisees who harshly judged others while thinkng that they had it all right. HMMM….sounds familiar to me.

  42. says

    This is unfortunate and I am sad for Rick’s loss. There is no question that there are some “Christians” who comment with this type of self-righteous vitriol but I have been noticing lately that there are those we call “trolls” who write inflammatory things for no other purpose than to cause hurt and pain and confusion. These people may not even be Christians but in the name of a christian write horrible things and then turn around and accuse them of being unloving. I agree we need to get in touch with the one who is love for if Christians and the church in america were known for their love then these things would be obviously not stick. I hope that was made clear enough.

  43. chuck says

    My father committed suicide 20 years ago. While I do not agree with the positions of those “Christians” in the above blog, I do think suicide is a selfish act. Having said that I can still be sorry for Mr. Warrens loss and agree with Mr. Violas assessment that you don’t have to agree with someones theology to grieve with them in their loss. Its something the family has obviously struggled with for years. It is not my position or place to question Mr. Warren’s love for the Lord as some evidently do. One of the many things wrong with the body of Christ today is brothers and sisters think subconsciously if someone believes this way or that way contrary to me they don’t love the Lord as much as I do. None of us have all the answers. We’re all supposed to be figuring things out together. As Mr. Viola suggests these type comments only further the reasoning of the lost to have nothing to do with Jesus Christ and His people

  44. Shane Anderson says

    You know, you chould see those kind of stupid comments coming a mile away and my heart went out to the Warren family when I heard about their tragedy, for the sake of their loss as much as the inevitable onslaught of stupid speech you knew they’d eventually have to endure from haters. I remember as a boy when Keith Green died hearing a preacher from the pulpit condemn his death as punishment from God for the “ungodly” music he’d created, and 3+ decades later we still haven’t matured together. Thanks for standing in the gap on behalf of this brother in Christ and for speaking honorably to a real issue within the so-called Christian community. What will it take for us to love one another as Jesus loved?

  45. Marc Goodman says

    My heart goes our to the Warren’s. We also experienced the despair that comes from a son that struggles with life and everything that the evil one could throw at him. Believe me we raised him in the scriptures, went to church, read the bible and prayed together often. We applied discpline when appropriate but still he went down to the depths. Was God’s truth wrong? Did His promises fail? Satan would like nothing more than to divide us from each other and the love of the father. In times of crisis like the Warren’s are suffering through today we need to beg to be in the boat so we together can help them row to safer shores.

  46. says

    Frank, about 20 years ago my family and I went through a terrible series of trials, when (for various reasons) 4 out of the 5 members suffered accute clinical depression episodes. I recall coming home one day, and finding our son slicing at his wrist – I was able to stop the process in the nick of time. All 4 of us had suicidal thoughts at one time or another. All of us loved the Lord intensely. In accordance with 2 Cor. 1, our family has since been used to empathise and counsel with scores of folk suffering from depression/burn-out. All 4 of us can only say, ‘Never judge someone until you have stood in their shoes.’ People suffering from depression deserve only understanding, patience, good medication and much prayer. And yes, there are those who don’t respond to the best help on earth.
    On Sunday morning, at our organic fellowship here in South Africa, we poured out our hearts in prayer for the Warren family. [And, while I pastored my last traditional/denominational church, we found great help in Rick’s books and 40 days program].

  47. William Timmers says

    Frank, I agree with that post, no question. This validated what I know: World is watching us about how do we treat each other. Thank you for empowering post that I needed!

  48. Ruth Thomas says

    This is disgraceful and not representative of the nature and character of Christ. Lets pray for this family. Wake up Church!!

  49. says

    As someone who is all to familiar with these issues my heart breaks for Rick, Kay and their family and all who were touched by the obviously beautiful heart of Matthew. Matthew is now, as he always was, in the healing fellowship of the Trinity. Death, even self-inflicted, can have no victory over the finished work of Jesus.

    My heart also breaks for the minds and hearts that are so clouded by the religious spirit that they could make such heartless and callous remarks in the wake of this tragedy. Yes, they will reap what they have sown, but they also are, as they have always been, in the strong embrace of the Trinity. They have sown destruction, and will reap it tenfold, but it will be the destruction of all that is wicked in their lives which will bring them, in the end, to reconciliation with Rick, with Matthew and with all of God’s creation.

    God’s blessing on you Frank for your consistent stand against this harsh, judgmental blindness on the part of many (if not all) of us who profess to follow the way of Christ.

  50. says

    Thanks for the post Frank

    I agree, I just cannot fathom the pain and the hurt Rick, Kay and the family is going through. I cannot even imagine the questions they are all making to themselves about all of this. One thing is clearer than anything, they need our prayers and uplifting. We need to show that we are disciples, just as Jesus said: “In this they will know you are my disciples, that you love one another.”

    Sickening is to nice to describe the comments I have read also. We have to take the high road and instruct in love, even with those that just pour out hate. And that is very difficult sometimes. Rick and his family have given their lives to others, regardless from what angle we see it, they have done more than many of those that just sit down and write thoughtless words. And for that and more we have to uplift them in prayer. Sometimes words are unnecessary.

    Thanks again for this

    DM

  51. Dianne says

    I could not agree with you more. I worked in a “Christian” preschool with a self professed Christian woman. We had a few single mother’s who this leader would refer to as whores. It made me sick to my stomach at the hypocrisy.

  52. Jae Call says

    When I read of Christians passing judgement (especially in a hateful way, we are reminded to go to a brother if we have concerns or use the church for grievances), I have great sorrow since there is obviously something wrong with their heart. I think back at the first thing God said to Adam when he sinned, “Where are you?” This is not a question of physical location, God knew where he physically was, this was God’s insightful statement to Adam, “I am not in your heart, you hid me from your heart!” Something happened to Adam’s heart. This is the key to understanding who/what we are. Broken. But God had a plan. Ezk 36:26 “A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you a heart of flesh”. Heart check here! If we are dead, all our carnal, secular attitudes die with it and we should crucify the flesh. It is now not me that lives but Christ in me (Col 1:27). He dictates what I say and do (Phil 2:5). Not me. When we were brought into the body, it was to be a disciple (discipline), not remain sucking on milk. How is it that Christ said He desires MERCY and yet is that the attribute we think of when we think of Christians or ourselves? If we are admonished to love our enemies how is it that we are so quick to lay weight on someone who might not have the same THEOLOGY as we do. I might not agree on some things that Pastor Rick Warren believes, but I do know this, out of fear and trembling for my own salvation and that I have enough planks in my own eye to ever think I can see what is going on in his, that I fall to my knees and I ask God to have mercy on on this man. I have children and I could not even comprehend the magnitude of his pain. My heart breaks for him! I pray that he knows mercy. All that I know of Christ, all that He has revealed to me, is that He is the answer for all our needs, all our hope, all the LOVE and MERCY we ALL need. Where could I go without Him? How could I live? Only one way: by letting myself die and letting Him live and when that happens the fruit of the spirit is evident. I do not know how to show love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness and self control. But Christ does! Let us love one another for after all, He told us to. May God grant Pastor Rick Warren and his family peace, mercy and comfort during this time. Amen

  53. ZORAN says

    My wife and I have left our family to serve God some distance away and when I heard of this tragedy it made me think of my own children. Have I loved them as I should? Might they be hurting in some way that I should have understood and sought to heal? Might I never get the opportunity to hold and love them again? Kay and Rick must be longing to love their son one more time and cannot. We would die ourselves if we could spare our children such pain and despair. Thank God we have the knowledge that our children, once they have given themselves to Him are eternally safe, whatever the circumstances of their entrance into His presence. Nothing can ease the pain of a separation that we were never designed to bear except perhaps true love from Jesus expressed through our spiritual family.

  54. Michael says

    My dad always says, “There’s a time and a place for everything.” Part of growing up is learning to discern proper times and places. And when a brother or sister (or a non-brother or non-sister) is in a crisis is not the time to debate theology, child-rearing methods, etc.

    It’s the time to step back and say, “There, but for the grace of God go I,” and then come alongside and offer comfort.

    Thanks for the reminder, Frank. It’s easy to forget that national figures are people, too, and that they sometimes stand in the need of prayer and support just like the rest of us.

  55. says

    This is heart-breaking on so many levels. I have friends and family who have lost loved ones to suicide, and it would destroy them to be told that it was somehow their fault. They need to be told the opposite, since most people who’ve lost someone to suicide already feel responsible. I can’t imagine the pain that Rick Warren and his wife must be suffering right now. So very sad.

  56. Linda Donegan says

    I am at an absolute loss for words. I can’t even imagine, Christian or not, saying something like that to a grieving parent. Having buried two grandchildren you don’t even know the anguish it causes. These people need to be on their knees begging forgiveness. Alas, I would bet against that happening!

  57. Keith says

    Great article! I have personally experienced what Watchman Nee observed. Years ago, I use to be so critical of a “certain sin” only to have it manifested in my family! God forgive me! I have learned so much and my heart goes out to the Warren and Saddleback families.

  58. says

    Excellent post, Frank. May all who say they follow Jesus truly come to walk in that. May prayers be offered in abundance for the Warren family at this time. Thank you for sharing this. God bless.

  59. Sean says

    As a father I couldn’t imagine the heartache and grief that must accompany the loss of a child. I pray that I will never have to face that, but I would hope that my brothers and sisters in Christ would be there to lift me up in a time of grief. My thoughts and prayers are with Rick Warren and his family.

    Yesterday in church we continued our study of the Galatians and I noted Galatians 5:15 “If you bite and devour each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other.” I’m afraid the people leaving these types of commandments will not only destroy their own lives, but the lives of those in their community. As Paul writes, “A little yeast works through the whole batch of dough.” As a younger man I was angry and hurt by the church for moments like these. I asked where was the church following Jesus’ commandment to love your neighbor as yourself? The church was and remains an easy target for criticism. Even now I still struggle with that same bitterness every time I see statements like these come from professed Christians. Recently, God has caused me to more fully understand His Grace and so now I pray “Father forgive them they know not what they do.” It was easy to be angry it is more challenging and fulfilling to love.

    I see now how easy it is to get wrapped up into moralism and why Paul was so vocal about it in Galatians. Unfortunately the people in these comments will pay the price for their theology in this life or the next. As a community of believers we must stand firm against this school of thinking that would cheapen Christ and His work on the cross.

  60. Rita Gatti says

    Such a sad event for any parent. Regarding the hurtful comments: Proverbs 11:17 Living Bible – Your own soul is nourished when you are kind; it is destroyed when you are cruel.

  61. says

    I once used to tell married persons how to spiritually manage their marriages – When I was single. I used to tell parents how parent their children according to the scriptures – When I was childless.

    Now that I am married with children I only tell my married parent friends that I shall pray for them for I now have a humbling wife and three humbling children of my own.

  62. Bob Hulley says

    It is heartbreaking to see christians (small ‘c’ on purpose) trash talk and tear down those who are hurt and hurting. How is it possible to expect God to extend us grace to forgive all our own sins and yet use our freedom to condemn others. It would seem so obvious that if you have nothing good to say then better to not say anything.
    I have heard of and know multiples of people who have been driven away from local churches by bickering and infighting. There is also an exodus of hurting Christians who have been driven out of a church body and seeking to heal in another setting. We need some major reminding of what grace is and what it means to us and those around us.
    I am truly sorry for the Warren family’s loss. God’s hand of blessing and mercy on all of them as they try to go on with their lives on this earth.

  63. Josh McDowell says

    This is the right kind of article, I wish all Christians were responding to this situation the way you are Frank. Good words. I’m sharing a link to this on my blog.

  64. says

    Thank you for your heart Frank. How my hearts over this. I have learned that there is only one accuser and he is not Christ. If we consider ourselves Christian and we accuse others we are not living by Him. May we live by Christ and not by our soul life.

  65. susan says

    Frank, this is the sad state of the American church. Where is the LOVE? He is LOVE! LORD, have mercy on us!!!

  66. Jay says

    Silent presence is the best response to someone else’s tragedy. No one really as enough answers to reason about the tragedy, so loving silent presence is usually the best option. As God is with us, usually deafeningly silent, in most of our tragedy, so we best follow suit. A simple, I don’t understand either,but I am with you is a wise answer.

    • Valarie Denise says

      I am so sorry about it all. The suicide of this young man, as well as the murderous tongues of others.

      God forgive us all.

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