Rick Warren's son lost in 'wave of despair'
April 7th, 2013
06:43 PM ET

Rick Warren's son lost in 'wave of despair'

By Alan Duke, CNN

Los Angeles (CNN) - The weekend's sermon at Saddleback Church was "Surviving Tough Times," a theme Pastor Rick Warren planned before his youngest son killed himself with a gun Friday.

Matthew Warren, 27, committed suicide "in a momentary wave of despair" at the end of a lifetime struggle "with mental illness, dark holes of depression and even suicidal thoughts," the pastor wrote to the staff of his Southern California megachurch.

"Matthew was an incredibly kind, gentle and compassionate young man whose sweet spirit was encouragement and comfort to many," a statement from the church said. "Unfortunately, he also suffered from mental illness resulting in deep depression and suicidal thoughts. Despite the best health care available, this was an illness that was never fully controlled, and the emotional pain resulted in his decision to take his life."

Friend Mike Constantz told CNN he had a "playful spirit."

"There are the days where he was just this bubbly, outgoing, effervescent, reaching out to people," Constantz said. "And there were the days where he just didn't want to be around people. Just the pain, the excruciating pain, was just too much."

- Dan Merica

Filed under: Belief • Christianity • Pastors

soundoff (211 Responses)
  1. MrHighMighty

    Condolences to Mr Warren, but this loss is another example of the dangers of his watered-down version of Christianity. Warren's teachings and his followers were described by Jesus in the parable of the sown seeds (Mark 4). Some seeds fall upon shallow soil and quickly sprout, but then in the heat of the day they wither and die, because they are not rooted in deep truth, commitment, humility, or in the favor of the Grace of God. Warren's basic message is true, and may be acceptable as an introduction to salvation, but then he elevates himself and his "Purpose" book above Scripture, and the end result of that is tragic.

    Look at all the comments about this story on this blog from non-believers, who point to this suicide as proof of their arguments that believers are delusional and mentally ill, and that God does not protect His followers. Such is the fruit of false teachings. By making Matthew out to be a saved Christian, many others are led astray.

    But ultimately, the Lord uses even tragedy for His Glory. This story of Warren's son actually affirms true Christianity - the fallen and depraved state of Man, the absolute sovereignty and Holiness of God, and the gift of eternal life in glory and service available only through Jesus Christ, as revealed in Scripture and Creation. Scripture tells us the Lord saves whom He wishes to save, and His Spirit dwells eternally in His chosen people. Committing suicide is a final display of a lack of faith in God and a rejection of Him. Suicide would be blasphemy against the Holy Spirit, and therefore is an act that can only be committed by an unsaved person, deep in unresolved despair. We all would be headed into the same fate of eternal despair, if not for the Grace of God and the sacrifice of Jesus Christ.

    The message here is that life is a gift from God to be taken very seriously, and there is still opportunity for forgiveness for everyone living, as the Lord stands at everyone's door and knocks, until their death. Scripture tells us that those who seek the Lord will find Him, but those who reject Him or seek other desires will find only darkness. Warren should contemplate the reasons why someone so connected for so long to his "ministry" could not find the joy and peace that is available through Jesus Christ, and examine his own priorities, fruits, and his standing before the Lord.

    April 8, 2013 at 9:07 pm |
    • A Conversation

      I know the difference...the sentiment was the same (duh)

      April 8, 2013 at 9:09 pm |
    • The real Tom

      How is the suicide of a desperately mentally ill man "another example of the dangers of his watered-down version of Christianity"?

      April 8, 2013 at 9:10 pm |
    • A Conversation

      sorry, that was meant for below...

      April 8, 2013 at 9:10 pm |
    • The real Tom

      Apparently you don't, Con, since you can't even figure out the reply function and how it works.

      April 8, 2013 at 9:11 pm |
    • The real Tom

      Are you really trying to claim that Warren's beliefs and his ministry caused his son to be depressed because his son didn't find absolute joy in his life? That Warren's lack of your brand of faith was the cause of this young man's illness? You are a complete ass.

      April 8, 2013 at 9:15 pm |
  2. sensible

    @ A Conversation..nobody is shouting here...sorry it seems that way on your end. I just don't think you are serious as you try an act. I have seen many of your post on here and you seem to like to start lil fires all over the place and run. Plus you evade alot of points and arguments. The olny conclusion I can come up with is you are just playing around. Nobody said anything about being smarter, who knows, you could be the smartest person on the blog. That has no bearing on the truth of any claim though so it is moot. What does matter is the support of claims being made. If I had a truth with evidence to support my truth, it would not matter if you thought you were smarter than I, if you thought I was an idiot or whatever. I would give you my evidence and let you deal with it regardless. That is how it works if you want to be taken seriously anyhow.

    April 8, 2013 at 8:10 pm |
    • A Conversation

      Here you say: "Nobody said anything about being smarter..." Yet below you argue: ""Education seems to have an inverse relationship with religious belief" Don't tell me that the issue of "smart" isn't something you try to play with.

      April 8, 2013 at 8:57 pm |
    • The real Tom

      Duh, Con. Being intelligent and being educated aren't the same thing.

      April 8, 2013 at 8:58 pm |
  3. Opinionated and God Fearing

    If you (A Conversation) do NOT concur with christian beliefs....why is it you use the calendar which by the way is based on Christ's death....B.C. and A.D. ....and I guess you believe you came from an ape as well...I much prefer knowing that my God created the heavens, earth and the beings on it than the other...You are the fool! just saying

    April 8, 2013 at 8:01 pm |
    • Moby Schtick

      I'll use the calendar that's standard and refers to BCE (before the common era) and AD just like everyone else. And you'll continue using the names of the Roman gods for your days of the week (Saturnalia, Thor's day, and so on).

      And since your god acts so invisible and undetectable, I say we do him the honor of treating him like he is invisible and undetectable–nonexistent.

      April 8, 2013 at 8:06 pm |
    • The real Tom

      I suppose you believe, Opinionated, that Jesus was born on December 25, too.

      April 8, 2013 at 8:15 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Other One

      You are claiming that it is true that your God created the heavens and the earth etc. Knowledge I don't think you actually have.

      April 8, 2013 at 8:16 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV


      why is it you use the calendar which by the way is based on Christ's death....B.C. and A.D.

      Opinionated is a good handle for you because apparently all you have is opinions – certainly not facts.

      The numbering system we use for the calendar is not based on Christ's death.

      In point of fact it is a (bad) estimate of the date of Christ's conception. The year 1 Anno Domini refers to the annunciation and at one point, years numbered AD were considered to have started with March 25.

      Mind you, of course no one even thought of using this numbering system until 525 and it didn't really catch on until Ca ~800.

      April 8, 2013 at 9:35 pm |
    • Brian, Detroit

      Since you christians continue to believe in MAGIC, your opinions cannot be listened to anymore.

      April 9, 2013 at 9:17 am |
  4. R.M. Goodswell

    I hope the people around him don't stop with "He was Bipolar- there was nothing we could do"
    He may have been Bipolar – (the extreme highs and lows) but that condition is brought into being because of prolonged mental stress... anger bottled up...over time this can actually change the chemistry in the brain...resulting in a full blown mental illness. there is always a outside trigger.

    April 8, 2013 at 7:14 pm |
  5. Ken Margo

    As a father myself my condolences go out to the pastor's family. On the other hand I'm sure Warren prayed for his son. Did god listen? did god care? At some point reality has to kick in.

    April 8, 2013 at 6:22 pm |
  6. PrimeNumber

    I'm not an atheist, but thank you so much for your sane comment below. It demonstrates genuine reasoning ability.

    April 8, 2013 at 5:56 pm |
  7. PrimeNumber

    Rick Warren's son has committed suicide. But reading the comments on this page, one can only pray, "Save us from the 'love' of the 'tolerant' and 'open minded' people".

    April 8, 2013 at 5:52 pm |
  8. Rundvelt

    I wonder how a father deals with the thought of his son being tortured forever in hell.

    I wonder what his opinion of God's divine justice and mercy is now.

    April 8, 2013 at 4:21 pm |
    • A Conversation

      "I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will sn.atch them out of my hand." John 10:28. I don't think Rick has anything to worry about.

      April 8, 2013 at 4:35 pm |
    • truth.

      Luckily God is in charge; not Rundvelt.

      April 8, 2013 at 5:13 pm |
    • Rundvelt

      > "I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will sn.atch them out of my hand." John 10:28. I don't think Rick has anything to worry about.

      So, suicide is not a sin anymore? News to me.

      > Luckily God is in charge; not Rundvelt.

      Same as above. Since when does suicide not result in you going to hell?

      April 9, 2013 at 8:52 am |
  9. Voice of Truth-Censored by CNN

    Clearly Warren's son suffered from the guilt of living a life of privilege based off the "big lie" of religion.

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

      The medical industry is censoring you with CNN backing them financially

      April 8, 2013 at 4:05 pm |
  10. Reality

    Mental illness in Christians can be traced back to one of its founders:

    JC's family and friends had it right 2000 years ago ( Mark 3: 21 "And when his friends heard of it, they went out to lay hold on him: for they said, He is beside himself.")

    Said passage is one of the few judged to be authentic by most contemporary NT scholars. e.g. See Professor Ludemann's conclusion in his book, Jesus After 2000 Years, p. 24 and p. 694.

    Actually, Jesus was a bit "touched". After all he thought he spoke to Satan, thought he changed water into wine, thought he raised Lazarus from the dead etc. In today's world, said Jesus would be declared legally insane.

    Or did P, M, M, L and J simply make him into a first century magic-man via their epistles and gospels of semi-fiction? Many contemporary NT experts after thorough analyses of all the scriptures go with the latter magic-man conclusion with J's gospel being mostly fiction.

    Obviously, today's followers of Paul et al's "magic-man" are also a bit on the odd side believing in all the Christian mumbo jumbo about bodies resurrecting, and exorcisms, and miracles, and "magic-man atonement, and infallible, old, European/Utah white men, and 24/7 body/blood sacrifices followed by consumption of said sacrifices. Yummy!!!!

    So why do we really care what a first century CE, illiterate, long-dead, preacher/magic man would do or say?

    April 8, 2013 at 3:04 pm |
    • Big Shiz

      Mental illness is in all groups of people(including atheists).

      April 8, 2013 at 3:06 pm |
    • Segoy of Earthsea

      Reality is a copy pasting twit.

      April 8, 2013 at 3:08 pm |
    • Uncouth Swain

      ESPECIALY ATHEISTS. I've never met one intelligent enough to carry on a decent conversation. Nothing but greedy, innept strawmen spewing unlogical bullcrap. They do not ever help others. They are completely selfish ingreats.

      April 8, 2013 at 3:26 pm |

      Although I’m an atheist who kinda sorta wishes religion didn’t exist, the fact is that it does, and I refuse to believe that all of the billions of religious people in the world are just mentally ill. No, they’re onto something. It’s just not something that I’m interested in myself.

      So when you imply that the definition of mental illness is believing in things without evidence, you miss a lot about what it’s like to be mentally ill. Namely, you ignore the emotional pain, cognitive distortions, thwarted goals, ruined relationships, physical fatigue, and all the other things that are part of the experience of mental illness.

      There are many interesting, intelligent, and non-offensive ways for atheists to argue against destructive religious ideas. Calling religious people mentally ill is not one of those ways. Let’s put that kind of useless rhetoric back on the shelf where it belongs.

      April 8, 2013 at 3:37 pm |
    • sam stone

      uncouth: it is spelled i-n-g-r-a-t-e-s

      April 8, 2013 at 3:40 pm |
    • Reality

      More details on the Three B Syndrome (Bred, Born and Brainwashed in religion), definitely a mental condition to the point of being an illness in some:

      “John Hick, a noted British philosopher of religion, estimates that 95 percent of the people of the world owe their religious affiliation to an accident (the randomness) of birth. The faith of the vast majority of believers depends upon where they were born and when. Those born in Saudi Arabia will almost certainly be Moslems, and those born and raised in India will for the most part be Hindus. Nevertheless, the religion of millions of people can sometimes change abruptly in the face of major political and social upheavals. In the middle of the sixth century ce, virtually all the people of the Near East and Northern Africa, including Turkey, Syria, Iraq, and Egypt were Christian. By the end of the following century, the people in these lands were largely Moslem, as a result of the militant spread of Islam.

      The Situation Today
      Barring military conquest, conversion to a faith other than that of one’s birth is rare. Some Jews, Moslems, and Hindus do convert to Christianity, but not often. Similarly, it is not common for Christians to become Moslems or Jews. Most people are satisfied that their own faith is the true one or at least good enough to satisfy their religious and emotional needs. Had St. Augustine or St. Thomas Aquinas been born in Mecca at the start of the present century, the chances are that they would not have been Christians but loyal followers of the prophet Mohammed. “ J. Somerville

      It is very disturbing that religious narrow- mindedness, intolerance, violence and hatred continues unabated due to randomness of birth. Maybe, just maybe if this fact would be published on the first page of every newspaper every day, that we would finally realize the significant stupidity of all religions.

      April 8, 2013 at 6:21 pm |
    • The real Tom

      Fake Uncouth Swain:
      "ESPECIALY ATHEISTS. I've never met one intelligent enough to carry on a decent conversation. Nothing but greedy, innept strawmen spewing unlogical bullcrap. They do not ever help others. They are completely selfish ingreats"

      This is too funny. "Unlogical"? "Ingreats"? You've outed yourself, honey. Lycidas you are not.

      April 8, 2013 at 7:21 pm |
    • The real Tom

      You're with zero doubt some stupid filthy cock mongrel. I bet I could accurately guess the color of your skin based on how stupid you are.

      April 8, 2013 at 9:11 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      @The real Tom,

      what are "greedy innept [sic] strawmen"?

      We can add mixed metaphors to his crimes against language.

      April 8, 2013 at 9:39 pm |
    • The real Tom

      Who knows? But the poor thing is all butthurt now so he has to post under my screen name. Poor little whipped puppy.

      April 8, 2013 at 9:44 pm |
    • biggles


      April 9, 2013 at 12:03 am |
  11. Bootyfunk

    according to Christian belief, rick warren's son is burning in hell right now for committing suicide. yes, the "loving" and "compassionate" bible says he is to be tortured for all eternity for taking his own life in a fit of despair. does daddy warren believe, like the Christian God does, that his son is worthy of hell?

    April 8, 2013 at 2:10 pm |
    • Big Shiz

      No,all Christian belief is not catholic belief. Know the difference.

      April 8, 2013 at 3:04 pm |

      The "HOLY MYTH" actually states nothing about this act. Read it. It's not there. I recall one instance of a fictional individual in the "HOLY MYTH" that states his depression in so many words. But as far as suicide is concerned, nothing of the act is mentioned. They don't know where their beliefs come from.

      April 8, 2013 at 3:10 pm |
    • Bootyfunk = DUMB

      Have you ever read anything other than your loonie atheist websites?

      You are 100% wrong.

      Go away.

      Stop being a troll.

      April 8, 2013 at 3:38 pm |
    • clarity

      I don't know of a Christian religion that currently has such a notion, but what is interesting is the number of people that I've heard that claim to be Christians who actually have said on blogs like this that they believe it to be true.

      April 8, 2013 at 3:52 pm |
    • A Conversation

      "I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will sn.atch them out of my hand." John 10:28–God cares more about our heart than the manner of our death.

      April 8, 2013 at 4:37 pm |
  12. 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 2:07 pm |
  13. 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 2:05 pm |
  14. Dyslexic doG

    John 5:14-15 And this is the confidence which we have before Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests which we have asked from Him.

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

    What a crock!

    April 8, 2013 at 2:04 pm |
  15. 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 2:03 pm |
    • luke

      I know that you don't really want to know the answer... that being said – We as Christians want God's will to be done and for Christ and the Father to be glorified. Sometimes that means he does not answer our prayer. But time and again I find that my prayer was selfish and the good that came from Him not answering far outweighed what I desired to happen.

      John 5:14-15 And this is the confidence which we have before Him, that, if we ask anything ACCORDING TO HIS WILL....

      John 14:13-14 "And whatever you ask in My name, that will I do, that the FATHER MAY BE GLORIFIED in the Son.

      April 8, 2013 at 5:00 pm |
  16. sbstarlite

    I believe there is a lot more to this story than told by pastor warren. I think they are conveniently using mental illness to hide a truth. A lot of things made sense until he said his son spent a fun filled evening with him and his wife. That in itself is hard to believe.Let the young man rest in peace, perhaps he is better off than being a son of a pious tyrant

    April 8, 2013 at 12:19 pm |
    • jamessavik

      I would have my moments too if my father was a high profile religious nut.

      April 8, 2013 at 1:54 pm |
  17. palintwit

    I wonder if the NRA sent their condolences.

    April 8, 2013 at 12:05 pm |
  18. Alias

    Other bast.ards protesting at funerals does not excuse this.

    April 8, 2013 at 12:04 pm |


    April 8, 2013 at 12:00 pm |
  20. Vic

    John 3:16,17

    "16 For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him."

    New American Standard Bible (NASB)

    April 8, 2013 at 12:00 pm |

      This does nothing to alleviate the underlying problem. In fact, it merely amplifies it.

      April 8, 2013 at 12:02 pm |
    • sam stone

      if god truly loved the world, he would not have set up such an entrapment in the first place

      April 8, 2013 at 12:06 pm |
    • Dyslexic doG

      Your book says "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. John 14:13-14

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

      April 8, 2013 at 2:14 pm |
    • A Conversation

      @Dys...cherry picking at its best.

      April 8, 2013 at 4:39 pm |
    • luke

      to sam – God did not set up an entrapment... Sin keeps us from God. God, seeing this problem, sent his Son Jesus to pay the price required for sin. If man accepts this gift, he can be with God again. Otherwise, sin continues to keep us from God, even after death. Of course this is a very simplified way of explaining...

      Romans 10:13
      "for Whoever will call on the name of the Lord will be saved."

      April 8, 2013 at 5:09 pm |
    • sensible

      A Conversation, cherry picking is what believers are masters at. Why complain when the not so good parts are shown the light?? @luke....sin is a man made concept....There is no reason to think there is a god..ergo no reason for the concept of sin

      April 8, 2013 at 5:16 pm |
    • A Conversation

      @Sensible...no doubt some Christians cherry pick–you refer to the "not so good parts"–I don't have a problem with the "not so good parts"–When its my universe, and I'm in control, then perhaps I'll do it differently. BTW, are you conceding that DYS is cherry picking, or are you equally illiterate about the Bible?

      April 8, 2013 at 5:24 pm |
    • sensible

      @ A Conversation....Conceding or not isn't the point. If DYS or any other person cherry picked the bible that does not affect any of its claims. The truth is independent of which ever verses are quoted from the bible or any other book for that matter. Claims are weighed angainst evidence from investigation. In the case of your magic book, its long on claims and short on facts and evidence. It has gross errors, fabrications, and rife with nonsense. Only someone brainwashed into believing it would believe it. Its nothing short of mythology, fantasy, wishful thinking. Actually survey after survey show non belivers to be more literate when it comes to believer's delusions....thats why we don't believe.

      April 8, 2013 at 5:47 pm |
    • A Conversation

      @sensible...you say: " If DYS or any other person cherry picked the bible that does not affect any of its claims." Unless, of course, understanding the claim made is contingent on context, for which DYS takes a swing and a miss. The rest of your rant is...a rant. Did I read your post right–you don't believe because a survey tells you your more literate of my belief than I am–that's a good one.

      April 8, 2013 at 5:54 pm |
    • sensible

      A Conversation....no sorry you seem to be hard of understanding. The survey has nothing to do with me not believing in your nonsense. Your rubbish does that well enough. The survey comment was a response to non believers being bible literate, we always seem to on average know more about believers nonsense than they do, thats why we don't believe. Education seems to have an inverse relationship with religious belief, imagine that. Calling it a rant doesn't make it so. You are welcome to provide evidence for your delusional beliefs but of course you have none, otherwise you wouldn't hide behind faith which is an easy and lazy way out of thinking.

      April 8, 2013 at 6:22 pm |
    • A Conversation

      "you seem to be hard of understanding"; "your nonsense"; "your rubbish"; "believers nonsense"; "your delusional beliefs"; "hide behind your faith"; and..."easy and lazy way out of thinking"

      "Calling it a rant doesn't make it so" - LMAO!!!

      April 8, 2013 at 6:50 pm |
    • sensible

      A Conversation....I noticed you provided no evidence for your beliefs, you and your ilk never do. One day you gona realize why it is that you can't besides the fact that you don't have any. It's because you were fed nonsense and you ate it. You still have time to throw it back up and out but the longer you hold it in the more delusional you will become. I really feel bad for you, wasting your life and time believing in absurd nothings. I think you are probably a troll, you just get on here to spout nonsense just for attention. What's the matter, the men in the fuuny robes been ignoring you at church?? It will be ok, they will get around to you soon enough. Where is that zombie guy? He supposed to be around for you to chat with when your lonely, guess he busy chatting with the other delusional folks. Poor guy must get tired of hearing from all you weak minded fools all the time. Hey, why don't you create another character of mythology and start your own delusional sect. You could have your own sheep to toy with instead of being a tool yourself.

      April 8, 2013 at 7:25 pm |
    • A Conversation

      You're right...it wasn't a rant 😉

      April 8, 2013 at 7:46 pm |
    • A Conversation

      BTW...the reason I won't discuss evidentiary issues with you is because it would merely be a shouting match–your posts confirm that for me. Now, if you want to play nice and have a reasonable discussion, I might entertain the issue–but I'm not going to debate someone who's first line of argument is "I'm smarter than you, so there!"

      April 8, 2013 at 7:56 pm |
    • sensible

      @ A conversation...I forgot to hit relpy so you can find my response at the top of the page with its own reply

      April 8, 2013 at 8:12 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      @A Conversation

      You make it sound as if you actually have evidence for the god claim. You'd be the first.

      April 8, 2013 at 8:18 pm |
    • Moby Schtick

      99% of the time when I read the comments of a Christian, it makes me glad I'm an atheist. I mean, the stuff that they say when they are TRYING to sound sensible and cogent!!

      April 8, 2013 at 8:25 pm |
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