My Take: How churches can respond to mental illness
April 7th, 2013
02:55 PM ET

My Take: How churches can respond to mental illness

Editor’s Note: Ed Stetzer is president of LifeWay Research, an evangelical research organization. He blogs at edstetzer.com and his most recent book is "Subversive Kingdom."

By Ed Stetzer, Special to CNN

(CNN) - The first time I dealt with mental illness in church was with a man named Jim. I was young and idealistic - a new pastor serving in upstate New York. Jim was a godsend to us. He wanted to help, and his energy was immeasurable. He'd visit with me, sing spontaneously, pray regularly and was always ready to help.

Until he was gone.

For days and sometimes weeks at a time, he would struggle with darkness and depression. During this time, he would withdraw from societal interaction and do practically nothing but read Psalms and pray for hours on end. I later learned that this behavior is symptomatic of what is often called bipolar disorder or, in years before, manic depression.

I prayed with Jim. We talked often about the need for him to take his medicine, but he kept asking God to fix him. Eventually, at his lowest point and filled with despair, he took his own life.

As a young pastor unacquainted with how to deal with these events, I found myself searching for answers. I realized two things:

First, people with mental illness are often attracted to religion and the church, either to receive help in a safe environment or to live out the worst impulses of their mental illness.

Second, most congregations, sadly, have few resources for help.

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This weekend, we learned of the death of Rick and Kay Warren's son Matthew. Those of us who know the Warrens know how they have anguished over their son's illness, seeking to keep a low profile even as Rick penned the best-selling devotional, "The Purpose Driven Life." This weekend, Matthew took his own life - putting the issue of mental illness front and center again.

Matthew had the best medical care available, a loving church that cared for him and his family, and parents who loved and prayed for him. Yet, that could not keep Matthew with us.

Mental illness is incredibly destructive, and the end result is not always ours to determine.

Matthew's life was not a waste and, yes, every day had a purpose. His pain is over now, but perhaps his life and death will remind us all of the reality of mental illness and inspire people of faith to greater awareness and action.

So, what can we do as people of faith to address issues of mental illness?

1. Churches need to stop hiding mental illness.

So often in a congregation, we like to pretend this is not a real issue because we have such a difficult time understanding it. We stick our heads in the sand, add the person to the prayer list and continue on ministering to the “normal” people. But it’s real, and it isn’t going away. In 2009, the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index showed 17% of respondents as having been diagnosed with depression. There are people in the pews every week - ministers, too - struggling with mental illness or depression, and we need to recognize this.

2. The congregation should be a safe place for those who struggle.

We are often afraid of mental illness and the symptoms that come with it. As a result, we don’t know what to do with our own level of discomfort and our fears for safety, or we just don’t want to be inconvenienced.

A study from Baylor University indicates “that while help from the church with depression and mental illness was the second priority of families with mental illness, it ranked 42nd on the list of requests from families that did not have a family member with mental illness.” This is a real need among our congregations, one that we absolutely cannot ignore or expect to go away. People of faith know that God has freed them to love others, and that love extends to everyone, even (and sometimes especially) those we don’t understand.

3. We should not be afraid of medicine.

I realize this can be a heated debate. I also recognize that medication must be handled with care - as it should with any condition. But many mental health issues are physiological. Counseling will naturally be a part of treatment. But if we are not afraid to put a cast on a broken bone, then why are we ashamed of a balanced plan to treat mental illness that might include medication to stabilize possible chemical imbalances? Christians get cancer, and they deal with mental illness.

We’ve long seen the value in the medical treatment of cancer. It’s time for Christians to affirm the value of medical treatment for mental illness as well.

4. We need to end the shame.

I saw it in my own family. Suicide has struck our family more than once, making the news where we wished it did not. When my aunt was arrested for gun smuggling to Ireland, our family did not think of this as an issue of Irish revolution. She was brilliant, a lawyer and a doctor, but mentally ill. Her involvement in the Irish "revolution" was one in a long line of bad choices driven by her illness and eventually led to her suicide.

Yet, it was hard to talk of these things. They had to be “handled in the dark” because “no one could know.” I love my family. But shame was something that was difficult to avoid in every case.

Let’s be honest. These are typically delicate situations. And we want to protect the privacy and dignity of the people we love, particularly when they are behaving in ways that might draw negative attention. But compassion and care can go a long way in helping people know they don’t have to hide.

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Why should this be of concern to people of faith? Simply put, there is no place where Americans are more connected and no place where grace is more expected than the church.

Mental illness has nothing to do with you or your family’s beliefs, but the greater community that holds those beliefs can be key to the lifelong process of dealing with mental illness. Most research points to the fact that more religious people tend to be healthier, both physically and mentally, but religious activities do not remove people of faith from sickness of either kind.

Christians believe the church is the body of Christ—the hands and feet of Jesus—and that means going into the darkest places and the toughest situations to bring light. It means walking with those who are suffering, no matter what the suffering looks like.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Ed Stetzer.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Belief • Christianity • Church

soundoff (873 Responses)
  1. Answerman

    Christian leaders whould be leading the fight to expose Big Pharma and Drigmoney MDs, not recommending churchgoers eat drugs developed by pagans.
    And it wouldn't hurt if they taught the truth: The practice of taking mind-altering drugs is listed as a work of the flesh by the apostle Paul. (all modern english bibles mistranslate 'pharmakeia' as witchcraft, sorcery, etc., rather than it's true meaning: Druggery)

    April 8, 2013 at 7:32 am |
    • The real Tom

      You are incorrect. Medication can save the lives of people who suffer from mental illness.

      When you know little, it's best to shut up and read. You should try it.

      April 8, 2013 at 7:35 am |
    • Simran

      Oh, I heard Scientologists were leading that battle against mind-altering drugs! When did they pass on the beacon to Christians?

      April 8, 2013 at 7:39 am |
    • JWT

      Medications in general may be over-prescribed. Psychiatric medications are an absolute necessity for many people. Without them they are in a lot of pain and the symptoms of their disease can be life-threatening.

      April 8, 2013 at 7:41 am |
    • Saraswati

      Do you object to all drugs, just all drugs used in mental illness, or only a specific subset of those.

      Are drugs used to treat schizophrenia OK?
      Those used for cancer?

      April 8, 2013 at 7:46 am |
    • sam stone

      yeah, gotta watch out for that drigmoney

      April 8, 2013 at 7:49 am |
    • sam stone

      Well, bully for the apostle Paul. Which mind altering substances? Like prayer?

      April 8, 2013 at 7:52 am |
    • sam stone

      While we are it, answerman, why do you feel that these drugs were developed by "pagans"?

      April 8, 2013 at 7:54 am |
    • Gwen

      I heard medicines were taught by the fallen angels as a necessary allowance.

      April 8, 2013 at 8:18 am |
  2. SamSam

    Reading these posts makes me sad because your hearts are hardened by your ignorance. God, Jesus is real. I've experienced him and his influence in my life. I admire everyone's passion atheists and Christians alike but direct it better maybe. Seek the answers to the questions you have because they are there.

    To some of the anti-God posters: Don't be disrespectful, condescending or condemning of Christians and their beliefs. It's not cool.it doesn't makeyou special. It actually makes you seem weak, scared and insecure because you have to put other people and their beliefs down to make yourself feel better.

    Oh and bash the church all you want but it's interesting to see how you've discounted the GOOD the church and GOD had done.

    The people of the Church are broken people and that's the point. Because we have Jesus we don't have to be perfect . We can sin, do bad things or whatever but God forgives all of that. It's okay not to be okay.

    At the end of the day if God IS real what do you have to again or lose?

    April 8, 2013 at 7:26 am |
    • The real Tom

      Look up Pascal's Wager.

      April 8, 2013 at 7:27 am |
    • Saraswati

      I've got to agree with rea Tom. You're making Pascal's Wager, a bit of logic discredited hundreds of years ago. Look it up and really read and understand the objections if you're interested. If you aren't I'm happy if you go about your life the way you want, just so long as your beliefs aren't influencing others through your actions, including voting. Otherwise your decision to believe what you believe impacts the rest of us, and where it causes harm it is our responsibility ethicaly to try and clear things up.

      April 8, 2013 at 7:33 am |
    • sam stone

      "Don't be disrespectful, condescending or condemning of Christians and their beliefs"

      Don't try to codify your religious belief into our secular laws

      April 8, 2013 at 7:58 am |
    • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

      People get immediate respect,

      Beliefs have to earn respect.

      April 8, 2013 at 11:07 am |
    • Susan StoHelit

      Condemning the beliefs of Christianity, particularly those that do so very much harm to so many people, is not the same thing as condemning Christians – any more than your post condemning atheism is condemning atheists. There's a difference between a belief and a person who holds it, and I can find a belief wrong and harmful, without that meaning I have any issues with those that choose to live by that belief.

      Until you force your belief on me (by law, by pushing it into schools, by making it regulation), I've no problem with anything you choose to believe.

      And, yeah, Pascal's wager – by that, you should be sacrificing a few goats to Zeus, just in case that's the one true god.

      April 8, 2013 at 1:35 pm |
    • TruthHurts

      Real to you. If it was really real, everyone should see like the Sun and Moon. Blindly believing any scripture without willing to verify and preaching your views to others is more than dangerous, not only to yourself but also to others who may believe you. Verify first that what you believe can be seen without really believing, then you may preach if convinced. Truth doesn't need to be twisted. God is not weaker than you and me (assuming you don't feel more powerful than the invisible) and does not have a reason to sit behind the clouds and wait for you to preach what he feels is right.

      April 8, 2013 at 4:39 pm |
  3. Pope free, Pope free

    Free at last, not one of the ten current stories is pope a dope related. Hosanna, Hallelujah!
    ...Off topic but had to be said.

    April 8, 2013 at 7:05 am |
  4. Uncouth Swain

    Mental illness can have it's own strange quirks withing very religious families. My wife has a variant form of schizophrenia, let's just say it's quite bad, and for the first year and a half of it progressing to where it is now...she mostly wanted to pray it away. Even now there is a part of her that thinks this has demonic qualities to it.
    I am a person that believes that we were given faith and hope by God to get through our lives. But he also gave us logic, common sense and the ability to manipulate nature in the form of medicine to also help get through life.
    Mental illness is never easy for anyone or those who have to watch their loved ones go through it. And for the supposed "clever" ppl that equate mental illness with faith...I dare say you have no notion of what you are talking about.

    April 8, 2013 at 6:14 am |
    • faith

      why r atheists such complete idiots?

      when did faith become something gods hand out to help you get through life? is faith hokus pokus bull? atheists will ride this issue for 27 million years. it don't dawn on dotty that mental illness may result from the physical and the spiritual.

      he who commits sin is the slave thereof.

      April 8, 2013 at 6:58 am |
    • The real Tom

      faith, how stupid are you? US isn't an atheist. Quite the opposite.

      The moron here is you.

      April 8, 2013 at 7:13 am |
    • WASP

      @faith: until you and ilk can prove demons, etc etc etc mental health and illness reside squarely in the realm of the physical.
      however eventually they will show the conection between growing up in a "religious family" and mental illness.

      April 8, 2013 at 7:49 am |
    • Saraswati

      I certainly don't equate religiosity with mental illness. Schizophrenia is a special case, however, which we know increases or alters one's religious tendencies which then become part of the illness. It's just something people with the disease or with family members with it need to be aware of.

      April 8, 2013 at 8:07 am |
    • Uncouth Swain

      "however eventually they will show the conection between growing up in a "religious family" and mental illness."

      Just for the record, in this case it was due to genetics (PKU).

      April 8, 2013 at 8:19 am |
    • Science

      Like ADHD is linked to genitcs. ?..............no god(s) required ?

      April 8, 2013 at 8:24 am |
    • Saraswati

      @Science, who are you addressing? Just to be clear, PKU is a complete determinant of disease. We aren't talking about some fuzzy probabilities here...you have it and you're stuck without a diet so restrictive almost no one can guarantee 100% adherence. Everyone has some measuarable symptoms in the end.

      April 8, 2013 at 8:30 am |
    • Science

      Get over the god(s) issue and mental health might improve for the general public ?

      April 8, 2013 at 8:40 am |
  5. faith

    Heaven sent us earthquakes, tsunamis, and other natural disasters, plus typhoid, meningitis, other contagious diseases, plus cancers too varied to list.

    Wow, god must be quite an ass hole. No thank you god, you jerk."

    poor baby

    April 8, 2013 at 2:38 am |
    • sam stone

      kind people take comfort in a kind god. angry people take comfort in an angry god

      April 8, 2013 at 5:35 am |
  6. willremainundefined

    The suicide of this young man, while tragic, is extremely unlikely to become some catalyst of change among Christians or churches in how they treat those with mental illness. Christians are already, and will continue, flocking to the prayer, love, and support posts on Facebook, Twitter, and Blogs all over the internet...for a few days anyway. And then it will be back to business as usual, shunning anyone who doesn't fit in, ignoring, and snubbing their noses at the people who might damage their self righteous image.

    People commit suicide every single day. Just because this young man happens to be the son of one of their most revered mega church pastors they are going to show out– at least for a little while. In real life they drop off a casserole– online they hit like or share on Facebook or follow on Twitter. Either way, in the end they will go right back to being fake, shallow, and uncaring toward those with mental illness.

    April 8, 2013 at 2:38 am |
    • The efficacy of prayer

      Bob: "I'm struggling with depression. What should I do?"

      Rev. Dickie: "Pray. God will never give you more than you can handle."

      Bob: "I tried prayer, but it's getting worse. I don't think I can go on."

      Rev. Dickie: "Pray harder."

      Bob: "But I have been praying fervently, almost endlessly. But I get so down."

      Rev. Dickie: "You're not doing it right. God never abandons his faithful.


      Rev. Dickie: "May you be comforted in the knowledge that Bob's struggle on this earth is over and that he is now at peace with the Lord."

      April 8, 2013 at 3:50 am |
  7. faith

    WhenCowsAttack "Her faith saved her from neither." NO!

    how did i know you would say that? liar

    April 8, 2013 at 2:36 am |
    • Prophet


      And how did I know that you would say that... AND totally misplace the post too. Moron.

      April 8, 2013 at 2:57 am |
  8. who you calling big nose?

    I have a sincere question: How do people who go around saying "God will never burden us with more than we can handle" explain things like suicide, psychotic breakdowns, killing sprees, etc?

    April 8, 2013 at 12:54 am |
    • Pete

      Kinda makes people like this guy appear too weak, or lazy to save themselves, doesn't it?

      April 8, 2013 at 1:07 am |
    • tallulah13

      I'm not sure if you read the original post wrong, or if you are deliberately interpreting in incorrectly, because it says nothing like that at all.

      This poor young man was simply human. We will probably never know what stresses or possibly chemical imbalances led him to act as he did. Judging him negatively will do nothing to help others going through similar situations.

      April 8, 2013 at 1:35 am |
    • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

      It's just a way to rationalize the abusive nature of their religious delusion.

      BIG NOSE!

      April 8, 2013 at 2:26 am |
  9. Austin

    #9 the cat dream. I had a cat at my house that had shown up and it was the only time i had seen it. , that night i dreamed that a demonic voice sang to me which inverted my body and then the same cat, covered in blood, ran below me as I was hanging upside down.

    I woke up and the cat was dead in the highway, 550 feet from my house.

    April 7, 2013 at 9:18 pm | Report abuse |

    April 7, 2013 at 11:17 pm |
    • exRed

      Great, Austin. You had a cat dream. I once dreamed that my dog got in the highway and got killed. Two weeks later guess what happened? My dog got in the highway and got killed. So what? Maybe our brains are connected to the universe in ways we can't yet explain. But we'll make up all kinds of stories to try and explain it.

      April 7, 2013 at 11:26 pm |
    • Austin

      Your comment is awaiting moderation.
      @ Mass D
      "By the way, there are many people who keep dream journals, but only psychopaths try to decipher them as divine inspiration."

      i am going through this again...
      all of the dreams I had, that I discern were visioins, were because I was having dreams that were LEADING what my reality and awake life was about to actually present to me. Did I know when i wrote them down, or expect, for these dreams to be doing such a thing? there were a few where I knew that I could expect something. and they did hit .

      two nights in a row, and a little space between the third dream,

      #1I dreamt about the tile patio , a huge and beautiful rock tile with wide grout and a beautiful pattern and color, ater i had entered a stone arch entrance. There was an arm reaching into a whole, a whole chizzeled out of the ground. and the arm pulled out a leather bag full of gems. wrote these down in the middle or the night half asleep. The next day....I kept reading my bible.......

      Jeremiah 43:8-13
      New American Standard Bible (NASB)
      8 Then the word of the Lord came to Jeremiah in Tahpanhes, saying, 9 “Take some large stones in your [a]hands and hide them in the mortar in the brick terrace which is at the entrance of Pharaoh’s [c]palace in Tahpanhes, in the sight of [d]some of the J.ews; 10 and say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, “Behold, I am going to send and get Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon, My servant, and I am going to set his throne right over these stones that I have hidden; and he will spread his canopy over them.

      #2 the next night I dreamed that i was being attacked by a motorcycle gang and that the leader of the gang had a huge animal horn, att.atched to his seat. he could not even sit on his bike. he was trying to run me over. they were a rebel gang.
      the next day, i had finished reading Jeremiah and gotten into Lament.ations

      ◄ Lament.ations 2:3 ►

      New International Version (©2011)
      In fierce anger he has cut off every horn of Israel. He has withdrawn his right hand at the approach of the enemy. He has burned in Jacob like a flaming fire that consumes everything around it.
      ◄ Lament.ations 2:17 ►

      New International Version (©2011)
      The LORD has done what he planned; he has fulfilled his word, which he decreed long ago. He has overthrown you without pity, he has let the enemy gloat over you, he has exalted the horn of your foes.


      #3 a few days later I had a dream that there was a huge pile of feathers underneath a bed. that day, I was reading in the book of daniel, ◄ Daniel 4:33 ►

      New International Version (©2011)
      Immediately what had been said about Nebuchadnezzar was fulfilled. He was driven away from people and ate grass like the ox. His body was drenched with the dew of heaven until his hair grew like the feathers of an eagle and his nails like the claws of a bird.

      the kid who i had the dream about, got into trouble that day, which i had suspected the feather was a sign that he would be humiliated. he had his work pass suspended which was a major blow.

      #4 dreamed I was poisoned by mercury in alcohol. the next dream, didnt have a single dream for two weeks, this next dream I had just let two snakes out of a cage. one was a viper, the other was a rattler. but I had not thought even thought the word viper for a long time. when i woke up, i said to the kid next to me................."something is going to happen today, this one is a sign" i knew the snakes were a sign..

      two hours later i went down to bible study, the leader, on the second passage, said turn to proverbs 23:32

      29 Who has woe? Who has sorrow?
      Who has strife? Who has complaints?
      Who has needless bruises? Who has blo.odshot eyes?
      30 Those who linger over wine,
      who go to sample bowls of mixed wine.
      31 Do not gaze at wine when it is red,
      when it sparkles in the cup,
      when it goes down smoothly!
      32 In the end it bites like a snake
      and poisons like a viper.

      #5 Dreamed i was in a wh.ore house and I flooded it because i turned on a water spitot upstairs and just let it go and left it on. I had been praying about lust. I didnt catch this dream, until a few week later i did a study on water. I had no clue about this dream. i seemed like a random joke. but i got kicked out for letting the water run and flood.

      15 Drink water from your own cistern, running water from your own well. 16 Should your springs overflow in the streets, your streams of water in the public squares? 17 Let them be yours alone, never to be shared with strangers. 18 May your fountain be blessed, and may you rejoice in the wife of your youth. 19 A loving doe, a graceful deer– may her breasts satisfy you always, may you ever be intoxicated with her love. 20 Why, my son, be intoxicated with another man's wife? Why embrace the bosom of a wayward woman? 21 For your ways are in full view of the LORD, and he examines all your paths. 22 The evil deeds of the wicked ensnare them; the cords of their sins hold them fast.

      # 6 dreamed i was touring a house and went out back and there was an ABOVE ground pool with an flush deck and a privacy fence right around the deck.

      two days later the kid sleeping next to me pulled out a piece of paper , sheldon clay was his name, and he showed me his blue print he drew, of a new house, with an above ground swimming pool , with a flush deck around the pool, and a privacy fence on the deck.

      #7 this kid on night threw a roll a tp and racked me. I was furious and said to myself, I wonder if he has the light in his eye. and then i rebuked my judgment of his spiritual condition. THE NEXT MORNING he woke up and came up to me and said, "i had a dream last night that i was going around to see who had a special light in their eye to see if they were possessed or not"
      this kid was not a bible verse type of guy.

      #8 had a dream that the kid who was ripping on me lost his money
      a month later i over heard him talking about how he lost his money, and i said watch this, and pulled out the dream i had that he had lost it.

      #9 the cat dream. I had a cat at my house, that night i dreamed that a demonic voice sang to me which inverted my body and then presented the same cat, covered in blood.

      I woke up and the cat was dead in the highway, 550 feet from my house.

      #10 I had a dream i was inside the st. louis arch and I was in there with my cousin, and she was pointing at a glass case , with a bust of someone. she said "look, its thomas Jefferson" and the place was very nice. very expensive and ritzy.

      I had no idea what the st. louis arch was about. but what i had been doing, was getting heavily into the rumors about masons, and this dream just came to me. and when I googled this and I started trembling . this is called "a word of knowledge" which is a type of spiritual gift.

      There have been numerous other ones that I believe were spiritual words of knowledge that i wont get in to .

      None of this stuff, is me trying to fit things together. everything i dreamed, and then experienced in real life as i have stated. Some of these, are totally obvious. others, I have complete faith that they were also spiritual revelations, because I know %100 that some were, so I can have faith that others probably were too. and 8 of the first ten there, all happened in jail.

      This is organized, and relevant information that is a dream, relating to reality that i was about to live.

      That is spiritual revelation.

      March 18, 2013 at 12:46 am | Reply

      March 24, 2013 at 12:01 am | Report abuse |

      April 7, 2013 at 11:30 pm |
    • Wally

      Should I point out yet again that all your Bible-reading dreams are easily explained by the fact that you had read the bible before? It's called memory.

      April 7, 2013 at 11:50 pm |
    • Donna

      550 feet from your house you might hear a cat cry out before it got killed, even in your sleep.

      April 8, 2013 at 12:50 am |
    • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

      Awww C'mon Donna cats NEVER die on highways...how could that possibly be a coincidence....? Oh...wait...nevermind..

      April 8, 2013 at 2:30 am |
    • Squished Kitty Zombie

      Roams through Austin's dreams, when it is really just another blood stain on the highway of life.

      April 8, 2013 at 6:32 am |
    • sam stone

      Can't be a coincidence. After all, Austin has these "special dreams" sent by Jeebus

      April 8, 2013 at 6:36 am |
    • sam stone

      nothing delusional about Austin, nosireebob.......

      April 8, 2013 at 6:50 am |
    • WASP

      @austin: don't worry the cat was resurrected after three days for dying for all of cats sins. lmfao

      April 8, 2013 at 1:21 pm |
    • TruthHurts

      What desire could all powerful GOD have you see stuff in dreams. May be he wants you to believe that he exists and he wants you to share this with everyone else which you did. Seems like your life's ultimate purpose is fulfilled already. What next.

      April 8, 2013 at 4:52 pm |
  10. Ghostriver Studios

    Reblogged this on Ghost River Studios Blog.

    April 7, 2013 at 11:12 pm |
  11. Colin

    "How can churches can help the mentally Ill?" That's like asking "how can a bar help an alcoholic" or, "how can a racetrack help an addicted gambler."

    April 7, 2013 at 11:05 pm |
    • Austin

      Tell that to God right before He judges you.

      April 7, 2013 at 11:13 pm |
    • ʎʇıʌıʇɐlǝɹ

      ˙uosɹǝd ǝuɐs ʎluo ǝɥʇ sı uıʇsnɐ

      ǝuɐsuı sı oɥʍ ǝslǝ ǝuoʎɹǝʌǝ s,ʇı

      April 7, 2013 at 11:56 pm |
    • HotAirAce

      Colin, as usual, has it right.

      Austin, most likely your god does not exist – fuck off!

      April 8, 2013 at 12:52 am |
    • Donna

      In a democracy, we have some say in who can judge us and by what laws. God, then, is an autocratic tyrant who judges people by his own rules. Why do you seem to love this? Don't you like the freedom-loving, democratic principles that this country was built upon, or are you the kind of guy who would gladly serve any dictator who managed to take over the USA? Serve him, rather than fight for our freedom? Which side would you be on, Austin?

      April 8, 2013 at 1:05 am |
    • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

      Better watch out Colin....Austin's loving god is going to beat you up...!

      April 8, 2013 at 2:32 am |
    • sam stone

      austin: it is your petty, vindictive pr1ck god who being juidged.

      for the record, your empty proxy threats are just delusional blather.

      April 8, 2013 at 6:54 am |
    • Austin

      I don't choose to alienate God as the holy and just giver of life that He is because He has redeemed people from sin and we see how you all treat Him. You are the evil ingredient and reason that He has another place where people end up after they hate and reject Him.

      18“If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. 19If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. 20Remember what I told you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’b If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also. 21They will treat you this way because of my name, for they do not know the one who sent me. 22If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not be guilty of sin; but now they have no excuse for their sin. 23Whoever hates me hates my Father as well. 24If I had not done among them the works no one else did, they would not be guilty of sin. As it is, they have seen, and yet they have hated both me and my Father. 25But this is to fulfill what is written in their Law: ‘They hated me without reason.’c

      April 8, 2013 at 8:24 am |
    • Donna

      So, God is "holy and just" because He has redeemed people from a sin that he, himself, defined? If your mayor introduced a law all by himself stating that it was illegal for citizens to "offend" him, and people were prosecuted for this for years, would you think he was a great guy after he had a change of heart and revoked it? Only in places like North Korea do citizens "love" a leader who overturns an oppressive law that he levied against them in the first place. So, tell me, how is your God different from the Kims in this regard?

      April 8, 2013 at 10:12 am |
    • TruthHurts

      @ Austin – What happens if you tell him after he judges you. Could he reverse his judgement. Is that possible at all.

      April 8, 2013 at 4:54 pm |
  12. Francis

    This is a hope inspiring piece of work. I'm impressed by the writers sincerity, but also on his seeming understanding of mental illness. Most columnists have ridiculous and unfounded "opinions" that are worth about as much as your average studio audience commentator on Jeryy Springer. Believe me, others can also tell the difference between informed reporting and "propaganda news" that CNN is so notorious for writing.

    April 7, 2013 at 11:03 pm |
  13. Colin

    Dear Delusional Christians:

    God here.

    Have you ever thought that I might be a creation of your own minds? Is not the concept of a 13,700,00,000 year old being, capable of creating the entire Universe and its billions of galaxies, monitoring simultaneously the actions and thoughts of the 7 billion human beings on this planet utterly ludicrous?

    Look, if I did exist, I would have left you a book a little more consistent, timeless and independently verifiable than the collection of Iron Age Middle Eastern mythology you call the Bible. Hell, I bet you cannot tell me one thing about any of its authors or how and why it was compiled with certain writings included and others excluded, nor how it has been edited over the centuries, yet you cite it for the most extraordinary of supernatural claims.

    Thirdly, when I sent my “son” (whatever that means, given that I am god and do not mate) to Earth, he would have visited the Chinese, Ja.panese, Europeans, Russians, sub-Saharan Africans, Australian Aboriginals, Mongolians, Polynesians, Micronesians, Indonesians and native Americans, not just a few Jews. He would also have exhibited a knowledge of something outside of the Iron Age Middle East.

    Fourthly, I would not spend my time hiding, refusing to give any tangible evidence of my existence, and then punish those who are smart enough to draw the natural conclusion that I do not exist by burning them forever. That would make no sense to me, given that I am the one who elected to withhold all evidence of my existence in the first place.

    Fifthly, in the same vein, I would not make about 5% of the human population gay, then punish them for being that way. In fact, I wouldn’t care about how humans have $ex at all, given that I created all of the millions of millions of species on the planet, all of whom are furiously reproducing all the time. Human $ex would be of no interest to me, given that I can create Universes. Has it ever occurred to you that your obsession with making rules around human $ex is an entirely human affair?

    Sixth, I would have smitten all you Christian activists, and all evangelicals and fundamentalists long before this. You people drive me nuts. You are so small minded and speak with such false authority. Many of you still believe in the talking snake nonsense from Genesis. I would kill all of you for that alone and burn you for an afternoon (burning forever is way too barbaric even for a sick, sadistic bast.ard like me to contemplate).

    Seventh, the whole idea of members of one species on one planet surviving their own physical deaths to “be with me” is utter, mind-numbing nonsense. Grow up. You will die. Get over it. I did. Hell, at least you had a life. I never even existed in the first place.

    Eighth, I do not read your minds, or “hear your prayers” as you euphemistically call it. There are 7 billion of you. Even if only 10% prayed once a day, that is 700,000,000 prayers. This works out at 8,000 prayers a second – every second of every day. Meanwhile I have to process the 100,000 of you who die every day between heaven and hell. Dwell on the sheer absurdity of that for a moment.

    Finally, the only reason you even consider believing in me is because of where you were born. Had you been born in India, you would likely believe in the Hindu gods, if born in Tibet, you would be a Buddhist. Every culture that has ever existed has had its own god(s) and they always seem to favor that particular culture, its hopes, dreams and prejudices. What, do you think we all exist? If not, why only yours?

    Look, let’s be honest with ourselves. There is no god. Believing in me was fine when you cringed in fear during the Dark Ages and thought the World was young, flat and simple. Now we know how enormous, old and complex the Universe is.

    Move on – get over me. I did.


    April 7, 2013 at 11:02 pm |
  14. Colin

    Your average Christian believes:

    1. That an immortal, all knowing being powerful enough to create the entire Universe and its billions of galaxies has a personal interest in them
    2. That, when they think silent thoughts like, “Dear God, please help me pass my exam tomorrow,” this immortal being reads their minds and intervenes to alter what would otherwise be the course of history in small ways to answer their prayers.
    3. That there is nothing they can think, covet or do that this being will not know.
    4. That, after they die, they will continue to live, either in eternal bliss, or in a lake of fire, depending on whether they made this being “happy” (it apparently experiences human emotions) during their lives.

    The base beliefs 1-4 on some ancient Jewish and Greco-Roman writings cobbled together into a book before the Dark Ages.

    If that is not mental illness, what is? Now, before you answer, stop and actually think about it for 5 minutes. Why is that not mental delusion according to any reasonable definition?

    April 7, 2013 at 10:58 pm |
  15. judya48

    The sad thing is...the church has bought into the same lie as the world, there is NO such thing as mental illness...Whatever happened to satan? Does anyone remember there is a devil prowling about seeking whom he may devour? The church has traded the truth of God's word for dealing with the devil for humanism's lies. The mind cannot be sick...its not a physical organ. Satan must be extremely pleased when we ignore him and treat people with the same as humanist treat people, which has not helped anyone at all...Go back to the Word of God and obey Him and stop this nonsense about mental illness.

    April 7, 2013 at 10:48 pm |
    • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

      You would have fit in perfectly 1200 years ago.

      April 7, 2013 at 10:58 pm |
    • exRed

      Thank you Judy, for illuminating Colin's post. Well done.

      April 7, 2013 at 11:37 pm |
    • tallulah13

      I truly hope you are a troll, judy.

      April 8, 2013 at 12:33 am |
    • Rick

      Satan can be controlled by antipsychotics?

      April 8, 2013 at 12:43 am |
    • willremainundefined

      And that folks is the way Christians truly believe and behave toward mental illness. Judy has the stones to put her belief in writing whereas most other Christians say one thing but do another, or hint around, or even more use "I will pray for you" as their acceptable brush off to get rid of the mentally ill. I seriously doubt she's a troll, probably a children's Sunday school teacher at her local Baptist church.

      April 8, 2013 at 2:52 am |
    • Anonymous

      You're ignorant, self righteous and the reason I refuse to go to church any longer.

      April 8, 2013 at 6:41 am |
    • sam stone

      interesting that you should use a fine display of mental illness to condemn mental illness

      April 8, 2013 at 6:58 am |
    • Truth Prevails :-)

      "nonsense about mental illness"

      Wow, there's an uneducated moronic statement. Andrea Yates was quite religious and killed her children believing it was what god wanted...she was diagnosed as suffering from religious psychosis. Mental illness is quite real and ignoring it and placing the blame on something imaginary is childish at best. I'd hate for any to be the child of Judy...she'd more likely have the priest come in and perform an exorcism than get the kid help. It's her kind of thinking that allows these people to go untreated.

      April 8, 2013 at 7:15 am |
    • Saraswati

      Scary that this level of ignorance can exist today. I've often wondered if intro psych should be a required high school class.

      April 8, 2013 at 8:42 am |
  16. His panic

    Is just a state of Panic, it can happen to anyone, anytime and anywhere, even to the best of us, I'm his Panic!

    April 7, 2013 at 10:46 pm |
  17. Benj

    From someone dealing with their own personal challenges – http://willtaylormusic.com/update-sickness-the-reality-of-grace/

    April 7, 2013 at 10:11 pm |
    • Pete

      Yup, everyone is selling something, it seems. I wonder how much tickets to this guy's concerts cost?

      April 8, 2013 at 12:41 am |
  18. Austin

    For those of you who think you are pyschiatric saviors, I can assure you that despite mental illness people still need salvation. I have experienced spiritual revelation, special revelation that was the spirit revealing the truth of God's power and word through supernatural voice and control of my circ.umstances. this experience takes precedent over any scientific or medical explanation, and all people are called to salvation through Christ.

    If you are here to insinuate that the resurrection of Jesus Christ complicates mental illness, you are speaking directly for Satan, you are trying to drag others down to the pit. Repent. Stop spreading spiritual death.

    April 7, 2013 at 10:00 pm |
    • JWT

      Auston getting involved with a religion or god can be the very worst thing for a number of people with schizophrenia. And for others it can be a good thing – not because of any thing to do with any god but rather the caring and understanding nature that many ministers bring to their profession.

      April 7, 2013 at 10:02 pm |
    • Pii

      The odds are stacked against them. Suicide rates are higher among atheists.

      April 7, 2013 at 10:03 pm |
    • Blessed are the Cheesemakers


      That is because religious people fear the afterlife, your implication is invalid.

      April 7, 2013 at 10:16 pm |
    • Austin

      What do you mean, "not because of God but because of. Good pastors"

      April 7, 2013 at 10:30 pm |
    • Jah

      Studies prove that for people suffering religious delusions, religion reinforces the illness and usually provides a false authority to say the doctors and family and friends are wrong. If they have some scripture that seems to support their delusion, that provides an impenetrable defense from acceptance of the illness.

      There is at least one example of that here.

      April 7, 2013 at 10:39 pm |
    • Austin

      Schitzophrenics try to convince people , So that means everyone trying to convince someone is schitzophrenic?

      I already told you I wrote my dreams down first, dated them and then wrot wha happened in my days to follow, so you can go choke on your opinion because you can't force a biased diagnosis on someone with a concrete and doc.umented experience as schitzophrenic. You are an oppressive taint.

      April 7, 2013 at 11:11 pm |
    • Yeah right.

      Schizoid people write down things too, and put dates on them. I guess that's "concrete, documented evidence" of the truth of their delusion too.

      Very funny stuff, Austin!

      April 8, 2013 at 12:00 am |
    • Hilda

      "oppressive taint"

      Austin sure has an interesting vocabulary.

      April 8, 2013 at 12:34 am |
    • Rick

      Nostradamus wrote a lot of prophecies, and his entire reputation is hinged on about a dozen that kinda, sorta could refer to Hitler, Napoleon, 9/11, and a few other things we're familiar with. That's still a pitiful "success" rate overall. Point is, people are easily impressed. Out of however many dreams you've ever had, how many would you describe as being eerily accurate? Chances are, everyone will have a dozen or so dreams that they recall having which seem like something they later experienced. Sorry, but it's just coincidence.

      April 8, 2013 at 12:37 am |
    • Jerold

      "concrete and doc.umented experience"

      So Austin, I have the nails that were in Jesus' hands and feet, ancient old verified by like people and stuff to be authentiactedable and I will sell them to you for only $10,000 each. Don't worry, their authenticity is concrete and doc umented. I have it written down right here in my journal "Jesus' nails" so you can see it's beyond reproach...

      April 8, 2013 at 2:01 am |
    • sam stone

      we are not alleging any such thing, austin. many of us do not believe there was any sort of resurrection. something that did ot happen cannot complicate mental illness. the belief it, however.

      fvck you and our "repent" bullspit, boy

      April 8, 2013 at 7:19 am |
    • JWT

      Just for your general fund of knowledge Yeah Right – Schizoid and schizophrenia are two separate illnesses. Having delusions is not part of schizoid personality disorder.

      April 8, 2013 at 7:30 am |
    • The real Tom

      The parents of one of my childhood friends were very much like you, Austin. They had "visions" and "revelations" and were sure anyone who didn't believe as they did was doomed to hell.

      They both ended up in the state mental hospital–involuntarily.

      You might want to get yourself help before you end up there, too.

      April 8, 2013 at 7:39 am |
    • The real Tom

      Oh, boy. "Oppressive taint" and "evasive exploitation."

      He's a pip, isn't he?

      April 8, 2013 at 7:40 am |
    • Austin

      #5 Dreamed i was in a wh.ore house and I flooded it because i turned on a water spitot upstairs and just let it go and left it on. I had been praying about lust. I didnt catch this dream, until a few week later i did a study on water. I had no clue about this dream. i seemed like a random joke. but i got kicked out for letting the water run and flood.

      15 Drink water from your own cistern, running water from your own well. 16 Should your springs overflow in the streets, your streams of water in the public squares? 17 Let them be yours alone, never to be shared with strangers. 18 May your fountain be blessed, and may you rejoice in the wife of your youth. 19 A loving doe, a graceful deer– may her breasts satisfy you always, may you ever be intoxicated with her love. 20 Why, my son, be intoxicated with another man's wife? Why embrace the bosom of a wayward woman? 21 For your ways are in full view of the LORD, and he examines all your paths. 22 The evil deeds of the wicked ensnare them; the cords of their sins hold them fast.

      # 6 dreamed i was touring a house and went out back and there was an ABOVE ground pool with an flush deck and a privacy fence right around the deck.

      two days later the kid sleeping next to me pulled out a piece of paper , sheldon clay was his name, and he showed me his blue print he drew, of a new house, with an above ground swimming pool , with a flush deck around the pool, and a privacy fence on the deck.

      #7 this kid on night threw a roll a tp and racked me. I was furious and said to myself, I wonder if he has the light in his eye. and then i rebuked my judgment of his spiritual condition. THE NEXT MORNING he woke up and came up to me and said, "i had a dream last night that i was going around to see who had a special light in their eye to see if they were possessed or not"
      this kid was not a bible verse type of guy.

      April 8, 2013 at 8:32 am |
    • Rick

      You might find it interesting to look up the Wiki article on "Dream", and read how the Mesopotamians and Egyptians felt that their gods were bringing them messages through their dreams. The Old Testament Hebrews simply shared the same beliefs, and thought that their god was revealing himself through the dreams of the prophets.

      April 8, 2013 at 10:00 am |
  19. seance


    April 7, 2013 at 9:46 pm |
    • marie


      April 7, 2013 at 9:58 pm |
  20. Ron

    "Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest" .....Jesus Mathew 11:28 I was weary and burdened down with the load of sin. Then, I came to Christ and my whole outlook changed, and I now have a continual sense of well being and blessing. PTL Thank You Lord

    April 7, 2013 at 9:33 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      Heaven sent us earthquakes, tsunamis, and other natural disasters, plus typhoid, meningitis, other contagious diseases, plus cancers too varied to list.

      Wow, god must be quite an ass hole.

      April 7, 2013 at 9:49 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      Heaven sent us earthquakes, tsunamis, and other natural disasters, plus typhoid, meningitis, other contagious diseases, plus cancers too varied to list.

      Wow, god must be quite an ass hole. No thank you god, you jerk.

      April 7, 2013 at 9:50 pm |
    • Jah

      Gotta love the shallow "fluffy bunnies" posts that dingbats think are so soothing but are actually just childish happy thoughts. Especially when the situation proves undeniably that religion played no effective role when theologically it should have.

      Happy thoughts. Fluffy bunnies.

      April 7, 2013 at 10:43 pm |
    • exRed

      I asked Jesus to help me, too. But, I continued to suffer from depression. I guess Jesus likes you better than me.

      April 7, 2013 at 10:50 pm |
    • Kevin

      God's world has cancer, earthquakes, death, evil people who do bad things, and lots of beatiful and good things. So, what is important to know about God. Well, He does not see death like we do. Here is the thing; we are all going to die. Someone may shoot you, you may get cancer, you may die in an earthquake, but you will die. So, if cancer, murder, earthquakes, etc. did not exist, would you live forever? Nope. So, God has plans that are much more long term than death, or how we die, or terrible things on earth. Believers know that His son also died a terrible death, but like all, He overcame that, so that we might also do so. AND, if your temptation is to lecture me on how I do not know death by cancer, murder, earthquake, know that I am an emergency room physician who sees more of death than most will ever see. God helps many through the agony of, what on an eternal perspective, will be a short time.

      April 8, 2013 at 1:01 am |
    • Pete

      Does "PTL" still stand for Pass The Loot?

      I kinda miss watch the Bakers on TV. They were a hoot!

      April 8, 2013 at 1:10 am |
    • Anonymous

      You are too heavenly minded for any earthly good.

      April 8, 2013 at 6:46 am |
    • sam stone

      i have a continual sense of well being. i think they are called cannabinoids

      April 8, 2013 at 9:09 am |
    • sam stone

      kevin: what gives you the authority to speak for god?

      April 8, 2013 at 9:12 am |
    • Pete

      Isn't it just a tad bit selfish and egotistical to want to live forever? I think that, when I die, that'll really be the end of me and I'm OK with that. Why does death scare you people so?

      April 8, 2013 at 9:44 am |
    • Burt

      Pete, first of we ALL live forever, its just a question of where. We will be with God in heaven, or apart from him in hell. God has made this known to us through His Prophets and through His Son who died for our sins. Those who receive Him as Savior will pass from death to life. There is no: "I think that when I die, that'll be the end of me and I'm OK with that." I can assure you that it will NOT be the end of you, and you will NOT be OK with that. Step out of your delusion and wake up! Unless you repent from your apathy towards God, you will surely die in your sins.

      April 8, 2013 at 6:14 pm |
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About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.