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

This post is a P.S. to my article on Monday entitled Rick Warren’s Horrific Tragedy & The Sickening Response of Some “Christians” which has become my most viewed blog post since I started the blog in 2008.

Throughout my years of being involved in various and sundry Christian movements and denominations, it seems that Christians understand mental disorders in one of three chief ways:

  1. Mental illness is demonic in origin. So the antidote is to cast out the demons that are causing it.
  2. Mental illness is psychobabble. There’s no such thing as a “mental disorder.” All so-called mental illnesses are just sinful behaviors. So the antidote is for the person to repent and get right with God.
  3. Mental illness is a physiological disorder. The brain is a physical organ just like the heart, the thyroid, the joints, etc. Thus if someone has panic attacks or bipolar disorder or schizophrenia or chronic depression or ADHD, they have a chemical imbalance in the brain, not dissimilar to a hyperthyroidism or high blood pressure or arthritis.

I cut my teeth on a movement that promoted #1. I’ve met many people who believed #2. But I believe #3 is often the case.

Yet it’s not so simple.

The problem, I feel, is that confusion over this issue seems to be rooted in the fact we don’t properly understand the integration of body, soul, and spirit.

1Thessalonians 5:23: May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole SPIRIT, SOUL, and BODY be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Hebrews 4:12: For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing SOUL and SPIRIT, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.

The popular model of the human anatomy among Bible-believing Christians is that the body and the soul (and spirit, if you believe the spirit is distinct from the soul) are completely separate entities.

Imagine 3 circles. One circle represents body, anther soul, and another spirit.

CIRCLES1

I don’t believe this model is correct. Instead, I understand the body, soul, and spirit to be interconnected. And I think the NT bears this out. See the diagram below for an example.

CIRCLES2

According to this model, the body (brain), the soul (mind, will, emotions), and the spirit (the part of the Christian that’s been made alive to God) are all interconnected. That means that each part has an effect on the other.

God sometimes heals physical disorders supernaturally. This includes mental illnesses, such as panic attacks. But . . . not always. Sometimes the Lord treats it through medication.

Sometimes demons are involved in mental illness, but not always.

An entire book can be written on this subject, and perhaps Rick Warren will write one on it someday. But these are some cursory thoughts.

Having known people who have had various kinds of mental illnesses – including friends and family members – this is an issue that I’ve grappled with and sought answers for myself over the years.

I know many others can attest to the same thing because mental illness, like heart disease, cancer, and arthritis, touches millions of people . . . including God’s people.

I certainly don’t have all the answers . . . and the so-called “experts” disagree with each other.

But I feel that as believers, we could better understand that mental illness is not just a matter of only spirit, or only soul, or only body. It’s often physiological at its root. And this affects both soul and body. And vice versa.

(The Fall did great damage to the human soul as well as to the body.)

If we could better understand this, we’d be less prone to making detestable judgments against our fellow brethren who may suffer from a mental illness.

For instance, if you take blood pressure medicine, you have no right to judge a believer who is taking medicine for depression.

If you take thyroid medication, or medicine for migraine headaches or arthritis, you have no right to judge someone who takes medicine for bipolar disorder.

Or let’s put it in terms of what Paul and James both said: If you are a follower of Jesus Christ, you have no right to judge a fellow Christian.

Romans 14:4: Who are you to judge someone else’s servant? To his own master he stands or falls. And he will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand.

Romans 14:10: You, then, why do you judge your brother? Or why do you look down on your brother? For we will all stand before God’s judgment seat.

James 4:11: Brothers, do not slander one another. Anyone who speaks against his brother or judges him speaks against the law and judges it. When you judge the law, you are not keeping it, but sitting in judgment on it. There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the one who is able to save and destroy. But you – who are you to judge your neighbor?

There is one who is called “the accuser of the brethren,” so be careful not to be caught siding with him in the matter of mental illness.

That’s how the terrain looks from my hill, anyway. Your mileage may vary.

My friend Adrian Warnock has written two articles on this subject also. Check them out.

What Are Mental Disorders?

Can a Christian Be Depressed?

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Comments

  1. M.I.K.E. says

    Recently I was looking into a few cost sharing Christian “ministries” for an alternative health care approach (that also was given an exception in Obamacare) but they all have the same exclusion against sharing cost for anything related to “mental” reasons. I have long believed it to be unwarranted, the stigma attached to actual physical problems with the organ of the brain as opposed to any other physical problem with the body. I wrote them and asked why they made such a differentiation and they at first completely dodged the question. I pressed them further and they said, “To put it very simply, [name redacted] doesn’t want to bruise the conscience of of any of our members by having them send to something they might find morally questionable.
    I might find it “morally questionable” to help pay for a hospital visit for a heart attack because the person ate poorly. But that doesn’t have the same stigma.
    I recall a loved one of mine went to the church another loved one was a member of and asked them to pray for her because she was experiencing a mental illness and this church literally told him they couldn’t do anything for something like that. Not even pray. That attitude did a lot of damage. And I still have trouble trusting Christians with this kind of information because these attitudes are still predominate in the Church. If they falsly judge me it is one thing but I feel so much worse if they falsely judge this person I love.

  2. Tragoudi Arpa says

    Hi Frank – I think I agree with you on the intertwined nature of mental illness. It is so funny that if a person breaks a leg and has to have a cast, and pain meds, and crutches or a walker or wheelchair, we cut the person some slack, and even help them during their time of difficulty.

    Yet let that brokenness be mental or emotional, with little or no physical “cast” or “crutches” and we tend to think it’s not real or if they would only buck up and get right with God they would instantly be healed.

    I don’t understand it all, but I know the mental and emotional pain of bi-polar disorder and depression after a failed marriage and finances hurt my sister worse that two knees with bone on bone cartilage that needed replacement joints. In August 2012, she commited suicide. The short answer to everything is that suicide in no way “blind sides” Jesus because of Rev.1:18 – Jesus has the keys of death and hades, and NO ONE goes through those doors without Him personally superintending the process.

  3. Robyn G says

    Frank…thanks so much for addressing this. While reading some of the responses that challenge or disagree…regardless of all the good debate on both sides (and I align with you btw)…bottom line…no matter what…the command to “NOT JUDGE” trumps any opinions we have. Be grateful if you and your loved ones don’t suffer with mental illness, or any other illness…and have compassion on those who do.

  4. Angela says

    AS far as which one comports best with the Bible — though it definitely teaches a holistic view of man, I’d say the Lord and his people in scripture definitely emphasize intervention from the spiritual/psychological end of things, so we’d best not let that get lost in the current fad for medication and a strictly bio-chemical model.

    From personal experience I can say that real Christian love, deep fellowship with the Lord, and knowing who God has made us to be in Christ are HUGE helps to mental health.

  5. says

    Great article, Frank, and thanks for tackling this touchy issue. I’ve known people who have suffered with illnesses because some Christian tells them that it is all spiritual and it is wrong to take medication. I’ve seen people stop taking medication cold turkey to satisfy other Christians and it causes further problems (many meds for these issues cannot be quit cold turkey but have to be phased out). There are many factors, both physical and spiritual, that should be explored for people with these issues. Having a friend who will walk with them without judgment is a huge help!

  6. Katherine Toon says

    Moods and neurological functions can be affected by something as simple as a vitamin or mineral deficiency, by allergic reactions to foods we eat, by toxins we are exposed to, and by other illnesses (one example could be an old one: syphillis ). Almost all people who suffer from mental illness have other health issues. Anyone who does not recognize the physical component of mental illness is not armed with the truth. Truth sanctifies the Christian, so could we call them unsanctified? Does that sound better than ignorant? Certainly if a person has the balm of knowing the forgiveness and love of Christ at the core of their being, all of their battles are easier. With improved diet, family support, good medical care, good spiritual care, mental illness is still a mystery and a great challenge for anyone it afflicts. Even with every support in place, sometimes we lose the loved ones suffering from it. They simply feel they cannot go on living regardless of all the potential for a happy life that we see from the outside. Mental illness distorts perception. Only God knows the view from the inside. I am so sorry to hear of Rick’s family’s great loss.

  7. Jack says

    Thank you for your latest three posts. I read them all tonight after my husband asked me to. I am so sad over the loss of Rick Warren’s son. As a young adult I spent many o’nights in the local mental institute, not by choice. It was a period of time in my life when I suffered so much trauma and pain, and mental illness, that death was welcomed. Finally I chose to stop fighting it and to get some help. I began fighting for my sanity with Christ. Only my brain didn’t get the message and still I struggled with thoughts of suicide constantly, even though I decided I wanted to live by the Spirit. It was a constant battle not to take my husband’s gun and shoot myself. I was told that I wasn’t turning to the Lord because if I was I wouldn’t be having these problems. But all I did when alone was spend time with Him and cry out to Him, and I was still mentally ill. I decided to try a new drug for mood disorders, dragging my feet the whole way to the shrink. I was judged harshly by my closest friends, but I did it anyway because my thoughts were getting worse. I believe that my medicine does not get rid of my severe sadness and/or numbness, but it allows me the sanity and clarity to see those thoughts for what they really are… illness and lies. My medicine has given me time to heal and to stop hurting people I love. I have always known Christ, even in my depression, but now I can know Him without the constant battle over my thoughts of suicide. For the first time in a long time I want to live. I relate to Rick Warren’s son and have much sorrow in my heart for him and what he must have felt in those final days. You have done good work here in diluting the awful stigma attached to mental illness. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

  8. Ransom Backus says

    I am not so quick to jump on the notion that God treats this stuff with medication. I hold the theory that if you have to drug yourself to fit in with and function in this current state of things in the world, there is something terribly wrong. Medication, I find, is a temporary answer, much like pain killers if you have cancer. The problem is, we live in a very backwards world. I don’t judge those who take medication, God knows they are doing the best that they can, but I am not so sure that God wants to treat people with medication either. I believe that God is much more holistic than that.

    • says

      Ransom: I think you may be confusing two different things. “Drugging oneself to get through life” implies that there isn’t a physiological disorder at work. I’m not speaking of people who are perfectly normal and use drugs as a Band Aid.

      We have to remember that Luke was a physician and Proverbs speaks well of medicine. Medicine isn’t “evil.” Consider if you or your loved ones found yourselves down the road with a thyroid condition or arthritis or diabetes or high blood pressure or any number of other physiological conditions. (All medicine is based on herbs, by the way. Consider RX and the symbol for pharmacy.) Saying that medicine to treat these conditions is somehow bad is what Scientology teaches, not Christianity. And there’s a whole list of dead people to testify to the integrity of that notion.

      Having studied neurology for many years, the brain is also a physical organ and sometimes there are abnormalities in the brain. Sometimes they appear at birth, sometimes there are environmental factors at work. Often we don’t know why. That’s just as much a fact as is the problem of hyperthyroidism or heart disease. I’m simply arguing that it’s inconsistent to be okay with taking medicine for a heart or thyroid problem or diabetes and condemn it for a *real* neurological problem. I hope this helps clarify the issues. Thx. for your comment, bro. Appreciate you and I LOVE your name! :-)

      • DonaldN says

        Frank, do you not believe in demonic oppression causing mental illness? Your post has concluded that there are only 2 possible answers,(3 but #2 don’t count anyway), And we must choose one or the other to believe in. Do you believe that if there is a physical explanation then it cannot be attributed to demon activity?

        • says

          Huh? Not sure how you can conclude that. Read the post again. I said that some mental illnesses are without question rooted in the demonic. But not always. And often they are physiological just like other illnesses I listed. I also argued that spirit, soul, and body are integrated. So one affects the others.

      • Silas Raven says

        There are no chemical imbalances in the brain. That is a theory, much like evolution is a theory. Is fear a disease, Frank? Is hopelessness an illness? As a person who has “studied neurology for many years”, surely you know that the mind is not the brain and cannot be diseased or ill.

        • says

          Nope. It’s not a “theory.” Every credible neurologist, psychologist, biologist, and psychiatrist disagrees with you. You aren’t familiar with the research. Depletion of serotonin yields depression, excesses of dopamine yields psychosis. Hormone imbalances also influence behavior, whether thyroxin or testestrone, etc. This has all been documented for years. To ignore the evidence is like saying the earth is flat. :-)

          • Jim says

            Frank, I’m a psychologist and you are mostly right. Brain chemistry certainly influences behavior and the examples you gave are correct. The problem is that in the field the term ‘chemical imbalance’ is not precise enough so many experts consider it to be outdated. The problem is very complicated because it delves into the areas of what causes the abnormalities in the first place. There’s also debate on serotonin, for example. Some studies have shown that low levels were common in suicide victims, but others question the data on the connection. Just like any field there is debate on some of the particulars but I would say your main point is accurate. The two model approach was very good and I think it’s spot on from a biblical and biological standpoint.

  9. Linda Spagnola says

    Frank, yes, body, soul and spirit are intertwined. That is what makes the medical profession today so sad: it treats only the physical part of the body instead of the whole being. Although some folks with mental problems may need pills, prescribing them without treating the whole being may bring inappropriate results. That said, we should encourage these people, not condemn them.

    My view for some time has been that mental illness can be caused by organic issues – for instance, imbalance in the body for any number of reasons (food, drink, lack of exercise etc), but also due to psychological issues or even self-centeredness – which are just other forms of imbalance. That is why the whole person must be dealt with to find the root of the problem.

    I have had a bit of experience with this. When a small child, I was locked up in my bedroom for hours on end. I remember crawling under a bed, rocking back and forth and pacing windows. Going to school, I would not step on cracks etc. You get the picture. During this time, I was also quiet. What kept me from completely crossing the line to mental illness was, I believe, intervention from the Lord (as a child, I did not know what Christianity was, or anything related to it: but even then I had a heart longing to be filled up with something bigger than myself that I did not know or understand). Some small ‘voice’ kept telling me over and over that what I was doing was not good – that I should not do such things. Eventually the exterior cause of this disturbance in my life ebbed, but I have struggled from time to time since with related social issues. Still – I know that if we see others struggling with mental issues, we can help them by being there for them, seeking Father and being His tool to bring them out of their dilemma.

    Keep putting out the word, Frank!

  10. says

    Thank you for posting on the topic of mental illness. It is so rare to find a Christian willing to speak about this topic in a balanced, caring way.

    I have worked and lived with mentally ill people. I can honestly say that there are no simple answers – each person’s experience is unique.

    The one thing they all need is love and acceptance, patience with their illness and its symptoms and people who are just willing to be their friends – even if/when they are not very friendly themselves.

    This Scripture is what often comes to my mind: Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers. 3 John 2

    We’ve often seen that there’s a connection between our souls and our bodies – mental illness is no different. When healing comes to the soul, the body often gets healthier and vice versa (when your brain chemicals get balanced out, you feel better & you can think more clearly). I encourage my clients to stay on their medications while they work on healing the wounds of their souls. They often need the meds to keep them “balanced” chemically so they can make good decisions and have the courage to work on the pain of their past. Some report a reduced need for medication as joy returns to their hearts, but it’s not a quick fix. It’s a journey – like it is for all of us.

    The Main Point: People suffering with mental illness need our compassion and support, not judgment. Jesus was moved with compassion and healed those that were suffering – why should it be any different whether it is physical, mental or emotional suffering?

    Thank you for writing this post – I hope it gets a lot of hits.

  11. Vinny says

    AMEN! I was apart of a movement here in Boston that put so much emphasis on such matters that some left God or committed suicide.
    We should be VERY careful to not speak Authoritatively about things we KNOW little about or think we know something about.
    There are consequences to the things we do and say.
    God is clear about those that mistreat His little ones.

  12. says

    When I was a kid in the 80’s, my mom suffered from mental illness. Still does. My youth minister told the entire youth group that mental illness was caused demonic possession. That haunted me throughout middle and high school.

  13. says

    Agreed.

    Like everything else in life – the extreme opinions are not true.
    And we can’t blanket a generalization across the board that appropriately applies to all people, though it will apply to some.

    We are all individuals and to know exactly what is going on (whether it be mental “issues” – which we all have some level of as we are transformed in our mind and battle between our old & new nature…..mental “illness” – a physical illness going on that some people have….or demonic influence shown in mental turbulence) we have to have close intimate relationships with others and be able to live life together to be able to discern what is going on and how to pray/help.

    I wonder if most people believe that medicine is often over diagnosed? Do you think most people battling mentally have a Church family to talk to first before they see a therapist or doctor? Or do they have no close relationships full of trust & openness where they can process and be real? so that is why they turn to professionals?

    Haven’t we seen a sharp increase in medicine/paid professionals for mental battles in the past ___ years? I don’t know the exact statistics…but I know it has increased dramatically – is that because there are simply more resources or more illness? more money to be made? or is mental illness simply overdiagnosed without trying other avenues first??

    Seems to me that the increase in mental illness is directly related to the quality of intimate relationships people have.

  14. Kalil says

    Great Post Frank. After working in the mental health field for little over 10 years with ages ranging from 4-51 with various cultural and economical differences some observations that I’ve notice is that some people are born with mental illness, some are legitimately diagnosed after one or a series of traumatic events and some that I’ve served didn’t suffer from anything at all other than the flesh :) However, one of the greatest mistakes people make is cast judgement based on a certain behavior that they are seeing. Seeing or observing a behavior in and of itself doesn’t allude to the “why” or “whats” driving it. What’s been humbling is when I’m able to read someones behavior plan or bio then I get chance to see a larger picture as to the “why”. I once had a client who suffered from schizophrenia, however that illness came from someone putting a mickie in his drink when he was a teenager at a party.

    I was once asked by someone, “based on my experience what has been the most successful solution”? My answer was and will always be LOVE. Don’t get me wrong, Love by the Life of the Lord will be very practical.

  15. Jeff says

    Thanks for the great read on a topic that needs addressed Frank! I used to lean towards #1 & #2, but after my brother was diagnosed with schizophrenia, having other friends with various mental illnesses, and my own personal wrestling with depression/anxiety- my eyes have been forced open! As believers, we should always seek the Spirit’s discernment- addressing issues case by case- and not painting other people and their situations with a ‘broad brush’. The last thing my CHRISTIAN brother with schizophrenia needs to be told by well-meaning Christians is “You have a demon.” …”You don’t have enough faith”..”You need to pray more.”…”If you tithed God would bless you.”. These types of comments only cause further torture to our hurting friends.

  16. Nancy Williams says

    My belief in regard to mental health covers all 3 plus other reasons. My son meets the criteria to determine whether a person is afflicted with a mental illness. I believe that all 3 cases tie into the reason for his illness, plus trauma endured as a young boy. He too refuses to admit he has problems and refuses to seek help. What happened to Rick Warren’s son is my worst nightmare as a parent. I couldn’t even comment on the last article because it was so emotional for me and hit far too close to home. I also believe through the power of God my son can be healed. I’ve experiences several healing’s in my family of unrelated illnesses…a healing of cancer and healing for myself recently with an ongoing back problem. I have no reason to doubt that my son can be healed. If not in this life then certainly in the next. I look forward to seeing him whole, mentally, emotionally, physically and spiritually. We have an awesome God who longs to see His children walk in health and wholeness. What an awesome God who is able to fix and restore what has been damaged or broken.

    My deepest sympathies to the Warren family.

  17. Yolanda says

    Thank you so much, Frank. Although I too believe as you do about mental illness–or any illness for that matter–many Christians gravitate to number 1 with the belief that the body, spirit and soul are separate and we just have to “kill the flesh.” My degree is in counseling from a well-known Christian college and I am happy to report the professors I had the privilege of learning from all believe as you have written. My work is with women in recovery from addiction and I have found the model of Alcoholic’s Anonymous to resonate with number 3 approach as well. I’m going to pass this on to my brothers and sisters who respect your work and may be more inclined to “listen.” Thank you for sharing your heart.

  18. says

    The reason for the confusion is that the spirit and the soul are non-material unlike the body. So as to how exactly the Biblical model of the tripartite man made up of the body, soul and spirit is constituted will remain a mystery and hence a source of debate. Consequently Christians will disagree and unfortunately condemn others when dealing with this issue.

  19. CatherineS says

    The suffering of those with mental illnesses is often greatly compounded by well-meaning but ignorant and/or confused Christians. I have family and friends who’ve battled with different mental illnesses, and it seems invariably — when they’re at the darkest point in their battle — someone shows up to tell them if they had more faith in God the demon would be cast out or God would heal them or they wouldn’t need medication, if they’d only count their blessings/read their bible/pray every day they’d get out of their depression and stop feeling sorry for themselves, etc., etc. So then, on top of having the mental illness to deal with, the sufferer is also feeling like a complete failure as a Christian, that the mental illness is somehow their fault, and that to seek medical help shows a lack of faith in God. These “friends of Job” are judging the sufferer, causing more torment instead of giving support, and actually throwing up obstacles to that person getting the medical help needed. It’s just one more area where Christians who think they have all the answers cause havoc and hurt. So what do these sufferers need? Just like anyone with an illness, they need our support and prayer and for us to be vessels of God’s love in their lives.

  20. DonaldN says

    I agree with most of what you have to say, with one difference.
    You seem to believe, as most these days, that it is better to have a physical ailment than to have a demon. Therefore, most believe that their ailment is physical rather than to believe they are possessed by a demon, and are more than willing to deal with it with medication. If you study the Greek, there is no actual possession, but the word actually means to be demonized. We can be owned by God and still be demonized in the natural. Jesus both healed and cast out demons. Where do you think all those demons went since Jesus cast them out of others? They are still active in this world. I believe we need to be more aware of demonic activity so that we can free many from the bondage of medication. Search you hearts to see if there is a fear of demons in you. Through study and prayer we can overcome this fear and begin to take our authority over demons as Jesus commanded. (I am not one who thinks there is a demon behind every tree, but I do think the root cause of all sickness is the devil. Let us be healed and freed from the power of the devil, by the power of the Holy Spirit.)

    • says

      You said: “You seem to believe, as most these days, that it is better to have a physical ailment than to have a demon.”

      I never said or implied that. Both are horrible. And sometimes related, as the soul, body, and spirit are integrated.

  21. Vinci says

    Nice article, Frank. Surely 3 is often the case, though both 1 & 2 could be true at times- 1 when demonic possession is mistaken for mental disease.

    Both the world we live in and the bodies we inhabit have been so stained with the sinful nature brought on by the Fall that decay is a reality and diseases and suffering a part and parcel of life. Hence God’s promise that we shall be given new bodies at the resurrection and a new earth when the current one folds away.

    Surely there is no reason to judge because all of us are affected by sickness and will ultimately succumb to death.

  22. LaMontG says

    Thank you Frank for your Post. I agree with #3 above, is it possible we need to be waiting on God to see what He says about what’s going on in the person’s life while offering support and care to the person?

  23. Steve says

    IMO, when YHWH made the 1st Adam the body was perfect. Made to live close to a 1000 years. The Bible speaks of the Nephilim and I am lead by the spirit to believe that was the reason for the flood. Noah being the only family left, pure through the generations. After the flood they managed to return and Joshua was told to kill them all. He succeeded less one tribe. I believe whether it’s cancer or mental illness, it is because our once pure bodies have and are being genetically changed and diluted by Lucifer and fallen angels. I do also believe demonic possession as well. I pray RW and his family can find comfort, peace and love in these difficult times.

    We all need to realize that the mysteries of the Bible sometimes sound like science fiction. These forces spoke of in Ephesians are real demonic spirits that work in this fallen world. They have been here for thousands of years and will show them selves when the last Adam returns. The Christ-Yahushua/Yeshua/ or as most have been taught to call him Jesus.
    -Steve

  24. Miguel says

    My brother Frank, as a psychiatrist myself I can validate all what you have said. Mental illness is a very very complicated issue, and in my practice there are so many brothers and sisters confused and tortured because the effects of depression and other diagnoses, but in all there is a mixture of factors that originate them. Is what we call in medicine “multi causality”. We really don’t treat diseases, we treat suffering ones.

  25. Jim says

    I wholeheartedly agree Frank. I’ve known many believers, to include my mother (who had bi-polar, suffered seizures and intense migraines to the point of always being in bed), yet she served the Lord, hold a part-time job, and spread the love of Jesus in her workplace and among other believers in the Church. She overdosed on Tylenol. Her illness had nothing to do with sin or demonic oppression, rather a psychological chemical imbalance of the brain. In some cases, the imbalance went so far to bring confusion to point of doing irrational things, such as taking too much medication to numb the pain, saying/doing things they don’t intend, and in extreme cases, take their life without knowing or a cognition of consequences. Because there is no real sober/rational thinking (as a result of the disorder), I believe the Lord has mercy for His children who may take their lives (as I believe in the case with Warren’s son) because in that state of mind, there is a lack of a clear thinking from a biological state.

    My wife had 2 brain tumors when she was a child, yet the Lord healed her of cancer. However, a chemical imbalance remained, and she suffers from depression, learning disability and short-term memory loss. She loves the Lord dearly, and serves widows and the poor and emanates the love of Jesus wherever she goes and testifies of His healing over her life. She takes meds for depression, and the Lord uses those meds to stabilize the brain, so that she has the ability to wage the battle in the mind. Without that, she wouldn’t have a chance to wage the battle because of the roller coaster affect of imbalance. The meds help as a biological stabilizer, so that therapy can work and have clear thinking. Unless the Lord fixes the imbalance biologically (which we continue to pray for), she will have to take the meds the rest of her life.

    In some (not most I would argue) cases, mental illness is the result of demonic activity. People, whether intentionally or unintentionally, can open the door to demonic activity through the practice of other religions, occult practices, doctrines of demons (or even as children have been exposed and forced into these teachings) has resulted in mental illness and into the family either by oppression or in some cases possession by demons.

    In ANY case with illness, I agree, no one has the right to blindly use reckless words and pronounce judgment on a person for “why” an illness in a person’s life, and certainly shouldn’t take the “God position” and say someone is going to hell because of suicide. Such attitudes are fleshly, arrogant and ignorant in thinking, and are certainly not Christ-like.

    My prayer: Jesus, teach us how to better love and comfort those with mental illness.

  26. Pete says

    Its difficult to understand depression until youve had it. I never had it, or at least was not aware of suffering from it until just recently. It wasnt until i found myself feeling very anxious for no apparent reason that i finally realised that i had fallen gradually deeper into depression over the previous six months.
    I had been becoming more and more “Ecclesiastes” about everything, you know “everything is vanity”, “whats the point of it all” etc.
    There was no apparent reason why i should be feeling this way. Everything was going fantastically well in my life.
    After the feelings of anxiety i went to the doctor, he prescribed me some anti-depressants and now i feel better. It seems no-one knows really how anti-depressants work; but surely this suggests that in at least some cases depression is purely a physical condition, like any other illness.

  27. Bart Breen says

    Good Word Frank. I’ve suffered with recurrent Major Depression for most of my adult life and sadly, I’ve received more understanding and support outside of the Church than in it. The Church seems to lag behind the rest of society in acknowledging and supporting those who suffer in this manner rather than ostracizing and judging them.

  28. says

    Spot on, Frank. I have a nephew who has been diagnosed with schizophrenia. He is not a Christ-follower and does not want to be healed, delivered or set free in any way. He likes the voices. I believe many of his issues would be resolved just by becoming a disciple and follower of Christ.
    My wife suffered with manic depression for years. We were told the problem was a chemical imbalance – a lack of serotonin in her brain. While she stayed on medication she was able to function but often felt she was being manipulated or controlled by the drugs. We actively prayed for and sought God’s healing. After years of praying and believing for God’s healing, one day it happened. She was instantly healed and she knew it. We contacted our doctors, began a withdrawal from the drugs and today she is drug free and has been for about 10 years now.
    The brain is an organ and it does malfunction from time to time. Demonic activity, sin, stress, the influences of the world, almost anything can alter our thoughts process.
    My nephew needs Jesus – a soul problem. My wife needed healing – a physical body problem. The problems were similar and even have some common ground in that they involve the brain. But no one could make an honest evaluation without the discernment of the Holy Spirit and a firm grasp of what God’s Word says about how we were created.
    Thanks Frank, for a great follow-up on an issue that often leaves Believers confused.

  29. Miriam Conrad says

    I started to write what probably would have turned out to be a serious diatribe against Christ-followers who would exclude those who are experiencing mental illness from sharing the journey.

    I don’t think I would have convinced anyone in this limited space and probably only disturbed my own hard-won peace. So, suffice it to say the following: I am seventy-four years old. I was diagnosed when I was fifty-six. The love and compassion of God who gave men the desire to pursue chemical aids to damaged brains, then to train physicians to diagnose and prescribe those medications still overwhelms me when I think about it. I would be long dead by my own hand if God hadn’t intervened in the form of friends, physicians, therapists, family to encourage (read force in the beginning) me to cooperate with all of these who understood and offered help.

    Before my diagnosis I had been prayed for, prayed over, prayed through, all to no visible positive outcome. Within three weeks of applied medication and therapy I was virtually a new person. There have been dips in the years following, requiring more therapy and changes in meds, but I sit in my little house today, looking outside at sunshine and springtime and grateful beyond words that my illness is treatable and that God provided courage enough to face reality and get help.

    God’s care for us takes many forms. If you don’t need one particular type of His care, just be grateful that He can meet your need, too.

  30. Gordon says

    Frank, a great follow-up! Thank you. And you are certainly correct; in our Greek-style oriented thinking, we often try to compartmentalize and separate body, mind and spirit. But if I remember correctly, the Hebrews always saw these as interwoven. If someone spoke of the body, he or she meant the whole package — body, mind and spirit combined. These portions are inseparable, much like faith, hope and love. It is part of how we are made in His image. How can we separate and treat any of those elements without affecting the others?

    Again, thank you for sharing. I appreciate your exploration of the thoughts.

  31. Lana says

    Could not agree more Frank! I work in the mental health field and that is where my heart is… The amazing thing is that God lead me to Occupational therapy as a career and it’s holistic approach has much to be learned from. Anyway, thanks for the post, we need to show love. And the greatest of these is Love!!

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