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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. Fred

    I'm not a big fan of churches, but every now and then you get one in which the people involved really are trying to live the Christian ideal. I went to one in Kansas which was what they called a "shalom" congregation - all were welcome as long as they were willing to accept all others there wholeheartedly. So there were gay people, and straight people, and people of different races, and people who had mental or physical illnesses. Seriously, this place was wonderful, and I'd go to church (even though I'm on the fence about what I believe) if I could find another like it where I live now. They had a group who'd take meals to houses for people who were in mourning or ill, and one of the times I was there they were taking meals to a family in which the mother was severely depressed and was going to have to be hospitalized for it. They set up a round of people who'd be willing to care for the kids as needed or pick them up/drive them to school or activities. No stigma, no nothing. Just an illness like any other, and loving care given to the family during the treatment process.

    I just can't describe how caring and kind the people in this church were, I never heard a negative word, a judgement, or malicious gossip and I was there once or twice a week for the better part of a year. I've been to many churches but never another like that one.

    April 8, 2013 at 2:29 pm |
    • Chad

      Did they talk about Jesus Christ?

      April 8, 2013 at 2:30 pm |
    • The real Tom

      If he was helped, Chad, who cares? Just because you think there's only one path doesn't make it so.

      April 8, 2013 at 2:36 pm |
    • Lucifer's Evil Twin

      "how caring and kind the people in this church were, I never heard a negative word, a judgement, or malicious gossip" – doesn't sound like a christian church

      April 8, 2013 at 2:40 pm |
  2. DB

    If churches finally start to do as Mr. Stetzer suggests, then what hold would religions have over people anymore? They attract those with problems, mental, physical, and others – the people who think that their only hope is for a miraculous cure for what ails them.

    So treat people fairly with real compassion for their illnesses, with medication, therapy, and anything else they need. Once they are no longer "broken", what hold does the church have them on anymore? The church relies on making people think they are damaged and need of some kind of salvation. Take that away, and churches become social clubs for those who need that kind of social attachment.

    April 8, 2013 at 2:28 pm |
  3. Dan Allen

    Churches can absolutely help with the mentally ill, by continuing to keep millions off the street every sunday for an hour or two.

    Thank you churches!

    April 8, 2013 at 2:23 pm |
  4. Corkpuller

    Ask how that worked out for Rick Warrens Son Matthew. RIP Matt

    April 8, 2013 at 2:23 pm |
  5. Zeus Vs Set (AKA The Thrilla in Manilla Rematch)

    Of course churches can help with mental illness. They can do anything with the money the zealots give to them for brainwashing and fairy tale power.
    BOW!!!
    YIELD!!!
    KNEEL!!!
    AND GIVE ME YOUR MONEY, ERRR, UMM< I MEAN DONATIONS!!!

    April 8, 2013 at 2:22 pm |
    • What does Manila in the Philippians have to do with Zeus (Greece) or Set (Egypt)

      ?

      April 8, 2013 at 2:26 pm |
    • Lucifer's Evil Twin

      which one represents Mohammad Ali?

      April 8, 2013 at 2:43 pm |
  6. DB

    Religion preys on those most vulnerable, especially fundamentalist Christianity. One of the basic premises is that "people are inherently flawed/broken/sinful/evil/whatever", and there is NOTHING that you can do by yourself to fix this. Alcoholics Anonymous says the same, that without a god, you cannot fix yourself.

    Instead of actually fixing the problem in the first place, churches exacerbate it. The entire point of worship to a god is to debase yourself and to receive... something... from letting go. The problem is that the mental illness doesn't go away, but festers without treatment. These people are supposed to be happy after being "saved", and I've seen so many Christians say that if your life is not different, if you aren't happy, if things don't get better, then it's your fault – not enough prayer, not really faithful, still sinning, etc.

    This is a "fake it until you make it" culture, where almost everyone is faking it, pretending everything is great until the day when it really becomes great. In the meantime, the mental illness and related problems just get worse, and no one will help.

    There aren't any gods to magically fix all of your problems. There's only our fellow humans, and if we can't finally learn to give a damn about each other and actually help, instead of pretending to be pious and saying "I'll pray for you", we're going to have people who go to a church to find solace and peace, and only end up killing themselves.

    April 8, 2013 at 2:20 pm |
    • Rob-Texas

      I respect your opinion but that is all it is. If you believe in God and sin, then you know you cannot be sinless. All churches are different, even within the same denomination. Just like schools are different, goverments are different, teams are different, etc. Whenever people are involved there will be differences. Some churches do what you say and many do not. People that are mentally ill are drawn to chruches because many churches welcome all people. Don't believe what the media tells you.

      April 8, 2013 at 2:43 pm |
    • Elspeth

      Db- neither you nor the supposed people you mention in your rant understand the promises of salvation that Jesus brought. Jesus did NOT promise happiness in this life, never once. That is a human misunderstanding. One does not miraculously and automatically become happy, or successful, by accepting Jesus as their personal savior. One becomes "saved". That salvation is for the life AFTER this one. It provides nothing for this life except a promise for something better to come. With it comes a whole host of BURDEN and RESPONSABILITY...to spread the Word and lead ones life by example...to the best of ons ability. No human is God, however, and all humans make mistakes so it is. It possible to expect that any human will lead a perfect life...not even the "saved" ones

      April 8, 2013 at 2:44 pm |
    • Elspeth

      It is NOT possible to expect humans to lead perfect lives, rather

      April 8, 2013 at 2:45 pm |
    • religion; a way to control the weak minded

      "neither you nor the supposed people you mention in your rant understand the promises of salvation that Jesus brought. "

      LOL and people like you (the majority) fail to understand that the book was written by MEN not a god. All words of mere mortals years after the death of jesus. You really trust men?

      April 8, 2013 at 2:52 pm |
  7. Dyslexic doG

    Psalm 50:15 And call upon Me in the day of trouble; I shall rescue you, and you will honor Me."

    Now surely Pastor Warren prayed for his son? Why wasn't he cured?

    What a crock!

    April 8, 2013 at 2:18 pm |
    • falcon

      All religions began out of early man's fear of the unknown. Soon they had gods...lots and lots of them. Just look at the Milky Way, billions and billions of suns, with probably billions of planets, and that's just a teeny part of our total universe. I'm to believe that god hears my supplications and says to himself, "Oh, I'd better help Falcon, I see there's a worry in the family."
      We should all remember that our Earth, as Carl Sagan said, "Earth is like a grain of sand on all the beaches of the world".

      April 8, 2013 at 2:30 pm |
  8. Dyslexic doG

    James 5:13-15 Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing praises. Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord; and the prayer offered in faith will restore the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up, and if he has committed sins, they will be forgiven him.

    Now surely Pastor Warren prayed for his son? Why wasn't he cured?

    What a crock!

    April 8, 2013 at 2:18 pm |
  9. Dyslexic doG

    John 14:13-14 "And whatever you ask in My name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. "If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it.

    Now surely Pastor Warren prayed for his son? Why wasn't he cured?

    What a crock!

    April 8, 2013 at 2:17 pm |
  10. Tee totally bonkers

    For years better nutrition and better health care increased longevity in our society.
    The tide has turned.
    How many people do you know that are taking box full of varied drugs every day as their health declines rapidly?

    April 8, 2013 at 2:17 pm |
    • The real Tom

      Our longevity isn't declining, dingbat.

      April 8, 2013 at 2:18 pm |
    • Akira

      Not that many, there, Tee. How many do you know?
      You sound like that Answerman guy yesterday. What a load of crap THAT guy was spewing.

      I dunno...do you equate people having to use insulin as "taking drugs"? Somehow, I think you do.

      Don't want to take any medicine? Fine. But to tell people not to seek help for their mental health issues is disingenuous.

      April 8, 2013 at 2:24 pm |
    • Tee totally bonkers

      In one-quarter of the country, girls born today may live shorter lives than their mothers, and the country as a whole is falling behind other industrialized nations in the march toward longer life, according to the study.

      Hundreds of articles about declining life expectancy are at your finger tips.

      April 8, 2013 at 2:27 pm |
    • The real Tom

      Most of the people who are taking a slew of drugs are treating illnesses that would have killed them long ago had it not BEEN for drugs. Most of them are elderly and have lived long enough to develop illnesses BECAUSE of better medicine. Only a few decades ago, they'd have died from another disease at a younger age. We're living with diseases that would have meant swift decline and death because of better treatments.

      April 8, 2013 at 2:28 pm |
    • The real Tom

      "MAY live."

      Nope, not declining in longevity and certainly not due to medication, but due to obesity, lack of exercise and other lifestyle-caused illnesses. NOT because of the increase in the number of medications available to us.

      What a maroon.

      April 8, 2013 at 2:30 pm |
    • Tee totally bonkers

      having to use insulin

      Using insulin while making no dietary changes is foolish.
      Using insulin in conjunction with other strategies makes sense.
      Same with mental health issues.

      Epilepsy is another great example where drugs may be unavoidable. But life style changes are necessary and over medication should be avoided.

      April 8, 2013 at 2:31 pm |
    • The real Tom

      And way to go with dishonesty, too. Now you're claiming that we're "falling behind other countries" instead of simply living shorter lives than we used to.

      Your back-pedaling must do wonders for your hamstrings.

      April 8, 2013 at 2:32 pm |
    • The real Tom

      Keep on retreating, honey. You're doing a great job of undermining your own ridiculous assertions.

      April 8, 2013 at 2:33 pm |
    • Tee totally bonkers

      "due to obesity, lack of exercise"

      Another good example of where popping pills for the ill effects replaces lifestyle changes as the solution of choice.

      April 8, 2013 at 2:37 pm |
    • Tee totally bonkers

      Keep on retreating, honey.

      No retreat! You just don't have very good reading comprehension and tend to assume a lot.

      Quit coming on to me. I don't have any drugs for you.

      April 8, 2013 at 2:39 pm |
    • Chris

      Better nutrition is helping those that live that lifestyle. However you attempt to bring in people with disease. People that might have died if they didn't take that box of pills. Again you're talking about two completely different things here.

      April 8, 2013 at 2:39 pm |
    • The real Tom

      My word, you're stupid.

      I didn't advocate taking medication for lifestyle-caused illnesses, you moron. Learn to fvcking read. I said that the reason some people in SOME parts of the country are living shorter lives than they might otherwise have had has nothing to do with taking loads of drugs, as you stupidly attempted to claim.

      You don't know what the fvck you're talking about.

      April 8, 2013 at 2:41 pm |
    • The real Tom

      Thank you, Chris. Obviously, my previous post was meant for Bonkers, who can't even seem to figure out what he/she has claimed.

      Maybe if I t y p e r e a l l y s l o w l y, it will help. Or perhaps Bonk can try moving its lips when it reads.

      April 8, 2013 at 2:43 pm |
    • Tee totally bonkers

      "Again you're talking about two completely different things here."

      I am talking about over medication and under use of alternatives such as life style changes and avoidance.

      April 8, 2013 at 2:44 pm |
    • Tee totally bonkers

      "I didn't advocate"

      You are attacking what I am advocating. Less overmedication! Not the other way around.

      Slow down on those drugs and maybe you would be able to remember what you are doing.

      April 8, 2013 at 2:46 pm |
    • The real Tom

      No, ass. You're attempting to make a different argument than you originally posed. And lying about it.

      April 8, 2013 at 2:46 pm |
    • The real Tom

      You are claiming that more medication is shortening lives. That people are living shorter lives than their parents because of pharmaceuticals. You are wrong.

      April 8, 2013 at 2:48 pm |
    • Tee totally bonkers

      Simply put!

      Drugs are dangerous. They all have side effects. Many take more drugs to contend with the side effects and end up confused like Tom.

      Don't take them if you don;t have to.
      If you have to take them take as little as you can.

      More drugs is not more effective.
      Quite often too much of a drug has the opposite effect.

      April 8, 2013 at 2:53 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      @Tee

      Do you have anything to back up your claims besides you spouting off over and over?

      April 8, 2013 at 2:54 pm |
    • Tee totally bonkers

      "That people are living shorter lives than their parents because of pharmaceuticals."

      I said Pharmaceuticals push drugs and their control combined with the Insurance control is a conflict of interest.

      A point you never refuted.

      April 8, 2013 at 2:57 pm |
    • Tee totally bonkers

      Overmedication in the Elderly

      Polypharmacy a growing problem among seniors

      .parentgiving dot com/elder-care/overmedication-in-the-elderly/

      Once again hundreds of articles are at your finger tips.

      April 8, 2013 at 3:00 pm |
    • Tee totally bonkers

      en.wikipedia dot org/wiki/Paradoxical_reaction
      .medicinenet dot com/drug_interactions/article.htm

      April 8, 2013 at 3:05 pm |
    • The real Tom

      I never said that overmedication was a good idea. Set up a few more straw men, why don't you? You are claiming that most people are living shorter lives in poorer health because of it. That is not the case.

      Mental health professionals do not simply "open a book" and prescribe whatever the pharmaceutical companies tell them is good. There's no conflict of interest, as conspiracy theorists like you would love to believe. There are many cases in which mental illness responds well to medication, and faster than with talk therapy.

      Deny it all you want.

      April 8, 2013 at 3:08 pm |
    • The real Tom

      I think Bonky is channeling the teacher from South Park: "Drugs er bad, mmkay? Don't take drugs, mmmkay?"

      I also think Bonky is our resident troll using yet another screen name. Can't disguise that personality, honey. Nice try, though.

      April 8, 2013 at 3:10 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      @Tee

      So you link to an article which gives no surveys, studies, statistics, or anything else except for a few anecdotes and 1 pharmacist.

      April 8, 2013 at 3:11 pm |
    • The real Tom

      Bonkers claims: "For years better nutrition and better health care increased longevity in our society.
      The tide has turned.
      How many people do you know that are taking box full of varied drugs every day as their health declines rapidly?"

      I know a number of people who are living better and longer than any of their parents ever did. I don't know any taking a "box full" of varied drugs whose health is declining rapidly.

      April 8, 2013 at 3:15 pm |
    • The real Tom

      Yup, HG, that's our Bonky. No actual cites, just the claim there are "hundreds" of studies.

      None of which is going to show that people are living shorter lives now than their parents did.

      April 8, 2013 at 3:16 pm |
    • Tee totally bonkers

      Tom has been trying all along to alter the connotation of the thread.
      He has not taken a stand on anything. And he calls me the troll LOL.

      April 8, 2013 at 3:17 pm |
    • The real Tom

      Oh, you are one. You're just using yet another name.

      Not very effective, since your style comes through pretty clearly, kind of like the stink of a dirty litter box.

      April 8, 2013 at 3:20 pm |
    • Tee totally bonkers

      Someone mentioned insulin.

      Diabetes is actaully one of the areas of medicine where quite a few studies have been funded for studying why the increase in our society.

      This website is my attempt to examine the scientific evidence surrounding our exposure to contaminants and the development of diabetes.

      Here is a guy that attempted to put some of the evidence together.

      diabetesandenvironment dot org/

      April 8, 2013 at 3:23 pm |
    • Tee totally bonkers

      "Oh, you are one."

      That is not a stand, Tom. It is a cop out.

      April 8, 2013 at 3:25 pm |
    • Tee totally bonkers

      hawaiiguest

      There are thousands of articles about the dangers of mixing and over medicating.

      Can you find one that defends the "more is better' mentality?

      April 8, 2013 at 3:28 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      @Tee

      You made a very broad statement. So instead of focusing on one disease that was mentioned before, how about actually supporting your original claim with evidence.
      Also, saying that there are "hundreds of studies", and yet not providing any, expecting others to do the work you should do in trying to prove what you say is a fairly dishonest tactic.

      April 8, 2013 at 3:29 pm |
    • The real Tom

      Nobody mentioned insulin except you.

      I know someone who is still alive two years after having been diagnosed with Lou Gehrig's disease because of new medications.

      When you finish with your straw men, notify the media.

      April 8, 2013 at 3:32 pm |
    • The real Tom

      "Can you find one that defends the "more is better' mentality?"

      Another straw man. Nobody made this argument. Just as nobody mentioned insulin.

      April 8, 2013 at 3:33 pm |
  11. Choir Loft

    Not all brain damage comes from God as evidenced by those who oppose Him.
    but that's just me, hollering from the choir loft...

    April 8, 2013 at 2:12 pm |
    • Akira

      Why are you conflating mental illness with brain damage?

      April 8, 2013 at 2:17 pm |
    • ME II

      "Not all brain damage comes from God as evidenced by those who oppose Him."

      What? Why would a brain damaged opposition "evidence" your case? Are you saying that believer's get brain damage from God, but non-believers get it from somewhere else?

      April 8, 2013 at 2:21 pm |
    • sam stone

      Keep singing from the sheet, Choir....beats the wear and tear on your noggin' from all that thinnin'

      April 8, 2013 at 2:23 pm |
  12. snowboarder

    no amount of prayer can repair mental illness.

    April 8, 2013 at 2:09 pm |
    • Chris

      So is that an admission that god cannot do all things like the bible says? Just wondering....just wondering. Just curious because I've never seen someone regrow a limb either.

      April 8, 2013 at 2:40 pm |
  13. Lucifer's Evil Twin

    The old adage is true... "birds of a feather, flock together."

    April 8, 2013 at 2:08 pm |
  14. The God Delusion

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9FiHRVb_uE0

    April 8, 2013 at 2:08 pm |
  15. Howard

    I believe in believing in yourself but also that believing in something greater or other than yourself has merit. I do not look at this issue as understanding "God's laws" but as being able to understand that our humanity comes with deep responsibilities. The people that have come into this world who for what ever reason cannot understand or simply choose to ignore these responsibilities are perhaps a test of our own.

    April 8, 2013 at 2:06 pm |
    • ME II

      What?

      April 8, 2013 at 2:23 pm |
    • clarity

      I think I got part of that. The last sentence kind of went into a circle.

      April 8, 2013 at 2:54 pm |
  16. ME II

    "SHAM [Self Help and Actualization Movement] takes advantage by cleverly marketing the dualism of victimization and empowerment. Like a religion that defines people as inherently sinful so that they require forgiveness (provided exclusively by that religion)... "
    (http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=sham-scam)

    April 8, 2013 at 2:05 pm |
  17. mk

    Not only are people with mental illness attracted to religion, churches specifically solicit these kinds of people. I (accidently) switched to a religious radio station and caught an "advertisement", something like "Do you feel hopeless, depressed or without direction? Come to our church and find the answers..." They are specifically looking for people who are gullible and have little self-esteem. These type make the best sheep.

    Same reason they are so interested in helping the third world populations...it's about increasing the membership. A co-worker told me that his religion is growing rapidly because they are "helping" others in third world countries. I asked, "Helping how?" He said, "By translating the bible for them."

    April 8, 2013 at 2:01 pm |
    • Beam49

      Maybe look a little deeper. Many churches take food donations monthly then after that collection, take the food to the local food bank. They help the elderly, disabled and single parents in their community by cleaning up their yards, painting their homes, building wheelchair ramps. They run homeless shelters, provide clothing for those in need. They also sponsor missionary over seas and send groups from their own church overseas to help those in need. Many in church also send money monthly to help support a child overseas that has only one parent or none at all. Its very common for them to work with orphans over seas. Many risk their lives going to these places in order to help villages get the food or medication they need. I am sure you have read news stories of them being captured or killed trying to help others. People tend to take one negative experience and then assume its that way with all churches, when its not.

      April 8, 2013 at 2:18 pm |
  18. Alex walker

    if a person has a mental disease it means only one thing,they have a demonic spirit dwelling on the inside and they need to be delivered.the church is not ignoring this but you need to have a pastor who has the holy ghost living on the inside and that can pray and cast the demon out.the only resource that the church has is the word of God which tells us how not to be bound by the devil.THE WORLD SAY MENTAL BUT I SAY DEMONIC.WHAT MAKES PEOPLE KILL FOR THE FIN OF IT,HUMANS EAT OTHER HUMANS,MALES SLEEPING WITH MALES,FEMALES SLEEPING WITH FEMALES,DRUG ADDICTS,CIGARETTE SMOKERS,ABUSERS OF EACH OTHER,IT IS A SPIRIT.

    April 8, 2013 at 2:01 pm |
    • Lucifer's Evil Twin

      LET's Religiosity Law #11 – “From there to here, and here to there, funny things are everywhere.”

      April 8, 2013 at 2:11 pm |
    • snowboarder

      alex, that is just plain superst itious nonsense.

      April 8, 2013 at 2:13 pm |
    • Akira

      No, no, and no.
      There isn't any reason that religion and getting help for a mental health issue can't peacefully coexist.
      Your way or the highway is frightening. Please do not counsel anyone.

      April 8, 2013 at 2:14 pm |
    • Howard

      Who decides who's posessed? To what lengths should the exorcisms go to remove the demoic spirit? Do you worry about saving the body or just the soul? Did you eat that fruitcake you got last Christmas?

      April 8, 2013 at 2:14 pm |
    • sam stone

      Wow, Alex...you are bat-spit crazy

      April 8, 2013 at 2:25 pm |
  19. allens

    sorry, they do not have the time to help. they are busy getting tax free donations and molesting children

    April 8, 2013 at 2:00 pm |
  20. BRC

    Here is a theological question about mental illness- How do you reconcile mental illness and the fact that there are people born with fundamentally unstable minds, with a loving "God" who wants all people to be saved? Here's why it presents a problem (and I realize there are nuances to various denominations, but I believe this holds pretty generally to all Christian faiths). "God" gave his word, then he sent his son, and said follow my word and when you fail repent from those failings, and give thanks for Jesus sacrifice, and you will be rewarded with Heaven. Fail my word, and disregard the warnings and love of Jesus, and you go to hell, forever. To those of faith this seems like a fair deal because even though humans are inherently flawed, and "God" created an infinite punishment knowing that there were people who would ignore him and suffer it, he gave everyone a way out. If you go to hell it's because you ignored him twice.

    And if you don't look at it any closer that may seem all well and good, but what about people whose minds are broken? What about people who are truly insane, who are imbalanced, who do not have the grip on reality that one would need for that kind of spiritual contract? There are people who do not understand or even have the capability to feel remorse; so they cannot repent. There are people whose minds cannot grasp the fundaments of "God's laws" even if you tattoo them on their arms. There are people born, who more than the rest of us who have those human urges that make the rules nearly impossible to begin with, lack the parts of the human mind required to realize that you've broken a rule and made a mistake, and need to fix it. In short, if there is a "God", he doesn't just allow people who he knows will choose to break his laws to be born, he allows (and depending on your level of belief causes) people to be born who are incapable of NOT breaking his laws, and equally incapable of seeking his proffered salvation.

    So, how do you propose that there is a loving "God" who allows this to happen? Sorry for asking in two places, but I'm very interested in seeing if anyone has an answer.

    April 8, 2013 at 1:54 pm |
    • mk

      All very good questions and eventually you will get the answer that it isn't "god" who is making people act that way, it's the DEVIL (who, by the way, "God" was unable to defeat.)

      April 8, 2013 at 2:05 pm |
    • Howard

      Sorry for the double reply,

      I believe in believing in yourself but also that believing in something greater or other than yourself has merit. I do not look at this issue as understanding "God's laws" but as being able to understand that our humanity comes with deep responsibilities. The people that have come into this world who for what ever reason cannot understand or simply choose to ignore these responsibilities are perhaps a test of our own.

      April 8, 2013 at 2:07 pm |
    • Choir Loft

      You're post doesn't seek an answer – it only voices an objection to God and religion. There is no creative content in it whatsoever. It contains the usual atheist tripe in that everything religious is opposed and no concrete answers to real issues and problems are asserted.
      ***
      BRC's post as well as aliens post before it is a long winded objection to religion only. There are no constructive solutions to the mental health problem at all. Typical atheist blather. All fume and no substance. Mr. Stetzer's article describes what churches are DOING. What are atheists doing except dumping their toxic waste in public spaces.
      ***
      but they shall have the reward they seek...
      and that's just me, hollering from the choir loft...

      April 8, 2013 at 2:10 pm |
    • BRC

      @Howard,
      The ability to care for, aid, try to understand and lets be honest sometimes just tolerate those who are unstable or very mentally different from ourselves is a very powerful test of someone's patience and will to help others. No question or argument there. And setting aside the belief portion and looking at it that way, yeah, no problem; while everyone has their limits we should all do what we can for those who from day one are at a dissadvantage in the world. It is as much a measure of humanity as it would be a measure of any person's faith.

      But, if you bring religion back in, doesn't that basically mean that one of those people was created or allowed to be created, at a natural dissadvantage that will burden their entire life if not end it quickly, and potentially set them up for eternal suffering, just to test other people? I would once again find that very at odds with teh concept of a benevolent "God".

      April 8, 2013 at 2:17 pm |
    • BRC

      @Choir Loft,
      Where as your post was invaluable to establishing intelligent discourse...

      I (for the most part), agree completely with this author and the Author f the article from today about no longer keeping mental illness a secret. I agree that people should be open in expressing their concerns an dneeds, adn people who are not afflicted should be open to recieving the people around them that are and helping in what way they can. I agree completely, that any group should try and do that for their members, because the purpose of a group is bonding and support, that support that allowspeople in the group to achieve more than they would as just an individual. I just believe that is a function of our humantiy, and has no need of religion.

      I gave you my perception of the situation. I will be the first to admit that I am not a spiritual person, and my be missinterpreting things, so I asked the question. tell me how I'm wrong, tell me what I don't understand, show me how "God's" grace is proven and I'm jsut not seeing it. You know, debate.

      Or don't, I find that people who are hollering aren;t usually taking to omuch time for listening, so I'm not going to be real surprised if it doesn't happen.

      April 8, 2013 at 2:24 pm |
    • Robin

      God does not punish the mentally ill. The rest of this discussion is arguing the number of angels you can fit on a pinhead. Whether God made them that way, or it is the product of faulty brain chemicals or a result of some sort of abuse, it doesn't matter. If you believe in God, then you have to believe that we can't understand everything God does, but that doesn't mean that because we set up some sort of bargain with God that gets us into heaven, that God can't still do whatever the hell he wants, and I doubt pretty seriously that that includes punishing people who are ill.

      April 8, 2013 at 2:28 pm |
    • Howard

      @Choir Loft,

      Actually if you had more than a kindergarten level of reading comprehension you would have found my answer in my reply. Except that you focused on my move away from making it a religious issue to making it a human issue as some athiest agenda. Mental illness in its varied stages and states is not a denominational issue it is a human issue. Perhaps if you climbed down from the choir loft you might understand that better.

      April 8, 2013 at 2:30 pm |
    • Interesting

      My take is that God understands completely the challenges mentally ill people deal with. He knows how much they are able to comprehend, and He will not punish someone for something which is out of their control or not able to understand. I think that what He asks of all of us when we have to face challenges (which happens to everyone; learning to face challenges is part of the purpose for our existence) is just that we try to do the best we can with what we have, and "endure to the end" as it says in Matthew, and Jesus' love and sacrifice will make up for what we are unable to do for ourselves.

      April 8, 2013 at 2:34 pm |
    • BRC

      Robin,
      I don't personally believe in "God", but I agree that if there are gods we certainly can't understand them, and I would hope that they don't wantonly punish people based on how well they follow arbitrary rules written by humans from a completely different time and age, and if they pass judgment at all it is based on how well a person lived their life based on what their life gave them to work with. From what I can see that philosophy doesn't really fall in line with main stream Christianity, but I don't think that religion is that crucial to being a good person.

      Interesting,
      My response would be similar to the one I gave Robin, with the addition that while the sentiment of Jesus' love and sacrifice making up for what people cannot do on their own, I don't see any physical evidence of it. Perhaps it applies in the more eternal sense, if I'm wrong and there is a heaven then Jesus' aid comes after you've lived out your life and he helps you get through what is necessary to gain acceptance to get into heaven; but I don't believe in or see that part. I just see that the person is left to suffer here in this life, adn that does not strike me as loving.

      April 8, 2013 at 2:50 pm |
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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.