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My Take: Let’s stop keeping mental illness a secret
April 8th, 2013
12:18 PM ET

My Take: Let’s stop keeping mental illness a secret

Editor’s Note: Rebekah Lyons is the author of "Freefall to Fly: A Breathtaking Journey Toward a Life of Meaning." She writes on womanhood, purpose and mental health at RebekahLyons.com. Follow her on Twitter @rebekahlyons.

By Rebekah Lyons, Special to CNN

(CNN)– We grieve. Our stomachs turn as the shock settles in. Many of us were raised in pews where answers were given freely. But this past weekend proved otherwise. If we are honest, we are shaken by the frailty of our faith.

As the news spread on Saturday, Christians around the world were gripped by the suicide of 27-year-old Matthew Warren, son of Rick Warren, a beloved megachurch pastor and best-selling author of "The Purpose Driven Life." A son’s life was fraught with mental illness from his earliest years. A father bravely addressed this struggle head-on in a letter to church staff stating, "only those closest to him knew that he struggled with mental illness, dark holes of depression and even suicidal thoughts."

Mental illness is a category so vast, with varying degrees so complex, we collectively avoid the topic until it creeps into our homes and afflicts those we love most. But today, we're forced to face something that’s become so rampant, it can no longer be ignored.

For years, we've reserved the term “mental illness” for only the most extreme cases, but 26% of us in any given year suffer from depression, anxiety and a serious number of other mental illnesses, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. It’s a dirty little secret few people want to talk about, a devastating statistic implying that, in each of our families, we all care for someone who faces this pain.

This problem doesn't go away just because you have faith. For many, the church has become a place where they quietly suffer.

Almost one in four middle-age women is on some form of antidepressant medication, according to the National Center for Health Statistics. Women intent on managing the expectations of their spouses, children and friends quietly medicate while trying to keep it all together.

Opinion: How churches can respond to mental illness

As one representing the 26%, for me it came in waves. From the low hum during the longest of winters to volatile moments rocking on the floor of my closet, questioning whether my life would always bear this weight. Watching it firsthand in my family during my formative years, I wondered whether history was repeating itself in me.

For those afflicted, depression enters when we've lost hope for the future. When we no longer imagine a life that is free. Whether it’s triggered by a chemical imbalance or a change in circumstances, facing it in isolation is the most treacherous. At precisely the time we need others, our inclination is to turn inward.

I’ve been comforted to know I’m not alone.

Anxiety and panic are my nemesis. In my struggle to break through the mental distress, I’ve found comfort and promise in the writings of Holocaust survivor Viktor Frankl. His summation that the root cause of anxiety is a sense of unfulfilled responsibility resonates.

For me, the low surfaces when I am not contributing to someone or something. When I lose a vision for my life, purpose hides beyond my grasp. But when I recover my sense of purpose and calling — to help women navigate these hidden troubles — meaning rushes in.

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Over the past three years, the promises of Jesus have been paramount in helping me walk forward. Uttering hushed prayers in subways as the doors close in, softly crying out for rescue on long desolate Central Park walks in the dead of winter. God’s presence has always been a guiding force, my source for purpose beyond myself.

For each of us, this tragedy raises important questions: How do we better care for the 26%? What is your role in bringing healing to those who hurt?

Perhaps these three postures could go a long way.

Remove the stigma
As people of faith, let’s talk about mental illness, giving others permission to do the same. Let's release the stigma that keeps this a secret, holding untold millions captive. All secrets lose power when they exit the dark. The church is a place where we should be able to come as we are, with our longings for what we hope to be. Jesus always pursued the weak with open arms. When we are broken and fragile, He draws us closer to Him in ways we’ve never known. In my own journey, I’ve never felt more loved and cared for by God than in my darkest hours. When we grieve, we are comforted.

Be present
Let’s be present. Let’s love unconditionally. Eye to eye, we must be honest about our own struggles. Especially in the church, no one should have to hide or sneak around or double his or her dose. Let’s be on-call in the late night hours, when the phone rings and we are summoned to show up. What if our communities of faith were the one place you could count on to find a listening ear, a hand to hold, another loving human being with a compassionate and sensitive response?

Don't pretend to have all the answers

Let's not shame mental illness with the judgment of spiritual weakness. As Christians, we believe this side of heaven all disease, sickness and pain is rooted in a world broken by sin. But there are real consequences to living amidst the mess. To oversimplify these complexities would be naive at best, negligent at worst. Faith should never undermine the necessity of doctors, of medications and therapy, because we must deploy every effort afforded to us when we tackle our brokenness.

CNN’s Belief Blog: The faith angles behind the biggest stories

I’m comforted to know that even in this tragic moment, America's beloved pastor still teaches us. Warren's sensitivity and understanding in the closing words of his letter give hope for a new posture within the church. He acknowledged that "Kay and I often marveled at (Matthew's) courage to keep moving in spite of relentless pain. I'll never forget how many years ago ... Matthew said, 'Dad, I know I'm going to heaven. Why can't I just die and end this pain?' But he kept going for another decade."

With that kind of honest, raw vulnerability and perspective, who wouldn’t want Rick Warren to be their pastor? Or their dad, for that matter.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Rebekah Lyons.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Belief • Christianity • Opinion

soundoff (312 Responses)
  1. 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 3:03 pm |
    • Big Shiz

      What about the mental illness you have with your insane hatred of religion?

      April 8, 2013 at 3:12 pm |
    • William Demuth

      Abraham was the founding Fruit Loop

      By todays standards he would have been in a State Mental hospital, or perhaps living in a Subway

      April 8, 2013 at 3:18 pm |
    • "Reality" is a hatemonger and a bigot

      Your comparisons are inaccurate and offensive to both religious people and people with mental illnesses.

      First of all, being religious is a choice. Being mentally ill is not. While it’s a bit arguable whether or not faith itself is a choice–I certainly can’t make myself believe in god, but perhaps others can–the existence and success of religious proselytism proves that choice is at least part of the equation. Only a completely ignorant person, on the other hand, would attempt to proselytize mental health (although it obviously does happen).

      Regardless of whether or not you can choose to believe in god, you definitely get to choose whether and to what extent you observe a religion (unless you’re a child, but that’s different). People with schizophrenia don’t get to choose which hallucinations they have and how often. People with OCD don’t get to choose their compulsions. People with phobias don’t get to choose which phobias they have or how they manifest themselves.

      Second, suggesting that religious people are mentally ill is sanctimonious and offensive. It insinuates that they are incapable of consciously and purposefully choosing to be religious, and that their religious beliefs are just as meaningless as a symptom of mental illness. It reminds me of when I used to bring up concerns with friends who would respond, “Oh, that’s not such a big deal, you just feel that way ’cause you’re depressed.”

      April 8, 2013 at 3:24 pm |
    • "Reality" is a hatemonger and a bigot

      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.

      April 8, 2013 at 3:25 pm |
    • "Reality" is a hatemonger and a bigot

      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 3:26 pm |
    • Al

      Thank you, hate-filled atheists are the worst.

      April 8, 2013 at 3:28 pm |
    • sam stone

      No. Hate filled Christians are.

      Petty, vindictive pr1cks find comfort in a petty, vindictive pr1ck god

      April 8, 2013 at 3:36 pm |
    • Al

      @ sam stone

      Hate filled people, regardless if they believe in God or not, are the worst. Don't become worst than what you profess to hate.

      April 8, 2013 at 3:40 pm |
    • sam stone

      I do not profess to hate anything

      And, the word is "worse", not "worst"

      April 8, 2013 at 4:04 pm |
    • Al

      "Petty, vindictive pr1cks find comfort in a petty, vindictive pr1ck god"

      Hate speech.

      April 8, 2013 at 4:09 pm |
    • Poltergiest

      @sam stone

      Because you just love vindictive pr1cks right?

      Just because you encountered some vindictive Christians doesnt give you the morale high ground to be vindictive to every stranger that happens to be Christian. I mean you can be, but the behavior will look ugly to most.

      April 8, 2013 at 6:04 pm |
    • Reality

      More details on the Three B Syndrome (Bred, Born and Brainwashed in religion), definitely a mental condition:

      “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 6:14 pm |
    • In the 26%

      @Reality – The only person being narrow-minded or spreading intolerance in this thread is yourself. The entire point of tolerance is to respect people for who they are and what they believe, even if they learned those beliefs due to an accident of birth.

      Also, to say that religious beliefs are primarily based on geography or ethnicity in that "accident of birth" is very interesting to me. If I were born in Saudi Arabia, I'd not only be more likely to be Muslim, but I'd also likely have dark hair and brown eyes. Is the fact that I have blonde hair and blue eyes an accident of birth, or is it genetic? Is there a natural proclivity towards a certain belief structure (though not the beliefs themselves) within our genetic makeup? Nurture or nature?

      My point is that you need to take a step back and ask if you are making a productive contribution to this conversation. If the goal is the education and improvement of society as a whole, then you should listen before you speak.

      April 8, 2013 at 6:30 pm |
    • Reality

      What religious insanity looks like:

      As the koranic/mosque driven acts of terror and horror continue:

      The Muslim Conquest of India – 11th to 18th century

      ■"The likely death toll is somewhere between 2 million and 80 million. The geometric mean of those two limits is 12.7 million. "

      and the 19 million killed in the Mideast Slave Trade 7C-19C by Muslims.

      and more recently

      1a) 179 killed in Mumbai/Bombay, 290 injured

      1b) Assassination of Benazir Bhutto and Theo Van Gogh

      2) 9/11, 3000 mostly US citizens, 1000’s injured

      3) The 24/7 Sunni-Shiite centuries-old blood feud currently being carried out in Iraq, US troops killed in action, 3,480 and 928 in non combat roles. 102,522 – 112,049 Iraqi civilians killed as of 9/16/2011/, mostly due to suicide bombers, land mines and bombs of various types, http://www.iraqbodycount.org/ and http://www.defenselink.mil/news/casualty.pdf

      4) Kenya- In Nairobi, about 212 people were killed and an estimated 4000 injured; in Dar es Salaam, the attack killed at least 11 and wounded 85.[2]

      5) Bali-in 2002-killing 202 people, 164 of whom were foreign nationals, and 38 Indonesian citizens. A further 209 people were injured.

      6) Bali in 2005- Twenty people were killed, and 129 people were injured by three bombers who killed themselves in the attacks.

      7) Spain in 2004- killing 191 people and wounding 2,050.

      8. UK in 2005- The bombings killed 52 commuters and the four radical Islamic suicide bombers, injured 700.

      9) The execution of an eloping couple in Afghanistan on 04/15/2009 by the Taliban.

      10) – Afghanistan: US troops 1,385 killed in action, 273 killed in non-combat situations as of 09/15/2011. Over 40,000 Afghan civilians killed due to the dark-age, koranic-driven Taliban acts of horror

      11) The killing of 13 citizen soldiers at Ft. Hood by a follower of the koran.

      12) 38 Russian citizens killed on March 29, 2010 by Muslim women suicide bombers.

      13) The May 28, 2010 attack on a Islamic religious minority in Pakistan, which have left 98 dead,

      14) Lockerbie is known internationally as the site where, on 21 December 1988, the wreckage of Pan Am Flight 103 crashed as a result of a terrorist bomb. In the United Kingdom the event is referred to as the Lockerbie disaster, the Lockerbie bombing, or simply Lockerbie. Eleven townspeople were killed in Sherwood Crescent, where the plane's wings and fuel tanks plummeted in a fiery explosion, destroying several houses and leaving a huge crater, with debris causing damage to a number of buildings nearby. The 270 fatalities (259 on the plane, 11 in Lockerbie) were citizens of 21 nations.

      15 The daily suicide and/or roadside and/or mosque bombings in the terror world of Islam.

      16) Bombs sent from Yemen by followers of the koran which fortunately were discovered before the bombs were detonated.

      17) The killing of 58 Christians in a Catholic church in one of the latest acts of horror and terror in Iraq.

      18) Moscow airport suicide bombing: 35 dead, 130 injured. January 25, 2011.

      19) A Pakistani minister, who had said he was getting death threats because of his stance against the country's controversial blasphemy law, was shot and killed Wednesday, 3/2/2011

      20) two American troops killed in Germany by a recently radicalized Muslim, 3/3/2011

      21) the kidnapping and apparent killing of a follower of Zoraster in the dark world of Islamic Pakistan.

      22) Shariatpur, Bangladesh (CNN 3/30/2011) - Hena Akhter's last words to her mother proclaimed her innocence. But it was too late to save the 14-year-old girl. Her fellow villagers in Bangladesh's Shariatpur district had already passed harsh judgment on her. Guilty, they said, of having an affair with a married man. The imam from the local mosque ordered the fatwa, or religious ruling, and the punishment: 101 lashes delivered swiftly, deliberately in public. Hena dropped after 70 and died a week later.

      23) "October 4, 2011, 100 die as a truck loaded with drums of fuel exploded Tuesday at the gate of compound housing several government ministries on a busy Mogadishu street. It was the deadliest single bombing carried out by the al Qaeda-linked al-Shabab group in Somalia since their insurgency began. "

      o 24) Mon Jun 4, 2012 10:18am EDT
      o
      BAGHDAD (Reuters) – A suicide bomber detonated an explosive-packed car outside a Shi'ite Muslim office in central Baghdad on Monday, killing at least 26 people and wounding more than 190 in an attack bearing the hallmarks of Iraq's al Qaeda affiliate.
      The bombing on a Shi'ite religious office comes at a sensitive time, with the country's fractious Shi'ite, Sunni and Kurdish blocs locked in a crisis that threatens to unravel their power-sharing deal and spill into sectarian tensions."

      25) BURGAS, Bulgaria | Thu Jul 19, 2012 11:27am EDT

      (Reuters) – A suicide bomber carried out an attack that killed seven people in a bus transporting Israeli tourists in Bulgaria, the interior minister said on Thursday, and Israel said Iranian-backed Hezbollah militants were to blame.

      26 ) September 12, 2012
      U.S. AMBASSADOR KILLED
      Envoy to Libya dies in rocket blast

      April 8, 2013 at 9:08 pm |
    • Reality

      More examples and results of religious insanity:

      – The Jews and Palestinians are being separated by walls. Hopefully the walls will follow the 1948 UN accords. Unfortunately the Annapolis Peace Conference was not successful. And unfortunately the recent events in Gaza has put this situation back to “squ-are one”. And this significant stupidity/insanity is driven by the mythical foundations of both religions!!!

      -Christian "red neck" Timothy McVeigh was exe-cuted. Terry Nichols escaped the death penalty twice because of deadlocked juries. He was sentenced to 161 consecutive life terms without the possibility of parole,[3][7] and is incarcerated in ADX Florence, a super maximum security prison near Florence, Colorado. He shares a cellblock that is commonly referred to as "Bombers Row" with Ramzi Yousef and Ted Kaczynski

      – Eric Rudolph is spending three life terms in prison with no parole.

      – Jim Jones, David Koresh, the "nuns" from Rwanda, and the KKK were all dealt with and either eliminated themselves or are being punished

      April 8, 2013 at 9:13 pm |
    • The real Tom

      So you have time to post your copied and pasted nonsense here but can't explain why same-s#x unions should be called something other than marriage?

      You're such a waste of space, Reality.

      April 8, 2013 at 9:16 pm |
  2. palintwit

    The only bigger piece of sh!t than an evangelical is a tea party patriot evangelical.

    April 8, 2013 at 2:53 pm |
  3. palintwit

    " Sarah Palin announces her candidacy for president of the United States" This is the headline I most wished for in 2011. Palin has the potential to eclipse the golden age of political comedy provided to comedians by George W. Bush. Her gaffes and missteps have secured her a place in the Dan Quayle political comedy museum.

    Who can forget Palin referring to the fighting in Libya as a "squirmish" - a word which sends my spell check into an endless loop. Or Palin sharing her foreign policy prowess with the comment: "But obviously, we've got to stand with our North Korean allies."

    And just a few months ago, she gave us this comedy classic: Paul Revere warned the British during the Revolutionary war.

    Ahh...I get a bit misty thinking about what could have been if Sarah ran for President.

    Don't get me wrong, from a comedic point of view, 2011 was a pretty good year, but I think we all can agree that it could have been funnier. "

    April 8, 2013 at 2:48 pm |
  4. lsalles1218

    Reblogged this on Take Captive My Thoughts.

    April 8, 2013 at 2:37 pm |
  5. William Demuth

    If you believe you can converse with the ruler of time space and dimension, then you too are crazy!

    April 8, 2013 at 2:33 pm |
  6. William Demuth

    I agree

    The pastor is crazy as a loon

    Why wont the Fundies admit their preachers are madmen

    April 8, 2013 at 2:32 pm |
    • Now

      Rick Warren is not a Fundamentalist.

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

      No, the pastor is getting rich (or richer).
      The people sending him money are crazy.

      April 8, 2013 at 4:43 pm |
  7. 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 2:11 pm |
    • Now

      If anyone is in trouble, that person should pray to God.

      The answer to that prayer may not remove the problem. But it will give help and strength to be able to live through the trouble.

      April 8, 2013 at 2:48 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      @Now

      I can get the same benefit through slowing down, and analyzing the problem thoroughly without the illusion of a giant man in the sky.

      April 8, 2013 at 2:52 pm |
    • Now

      The context of these verses... most likely deals with the restoration of people to Christian fellowship, not the healing of physical diseases.

      But you would know this if you actually read it.

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

      @ a giant man in the sky.

      1. God is not a man
      2. God is not in the sky

      April 8, 2013 at 2:58 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      @Now

      Actually, James 5: 1-6 Seem to be talking about rich people who don't worship, then from 7-12 it is talking about the faithful. So contextually it would seem that from 13-15 would be addressing those who are already faithful to your god.

      April 8, 2013 at 2:59 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      @Now

      1) It states in your bible that god created us "in his image". You could argue it as "spiritually in his image", yet you would need actual support for that position, which I have never heard.
      2) The "heavens", according to your bible, is under the firmament that holds the water, and we fly through that every day in planes.

      Yes yes, I know the whole "metaphor" blah blah blah don't care. Your Big Book of Multiple choice strikes again.

      April 8, 2013 at 3:04 pm |
    • Live4Him

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

      The issue you raise is known as the 'Problem of Evil'. Why does God allow evil to exist. One simple answer is that God uses evil for good – to draw His people to Him. This is similar to a mother allowing a school to test her child's knowledge in a given area – it allows the child to realize the areas in which they need improvement.

      April 8, 2013 at 3:12 pm |
    • Now

      1) Yes, I think God is more concerned about our spiritual well-being. That is the eternal aspect of our selves.

      2. According to Jesus – The Kingdom of God (heaven) is within us. That is where God dwells (not just in the sky).

      April 8, 2013 at 3:14 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      @Live

      Comparing a school test to children dying needlessly. Now that's just evil.

      April 8, 2013 at 3:15 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      @Now

      Yup, ignore ne part of the bible that doesn't fit your preconceived notions, and only pay attention to what you agree with. A typical response.

      April 8, 2013 at 3:17 pm |
    • Now

      @ Hawaii Guest

      Isn't that what you are doing?

      Where in the Bible does it say that God is just a "man in the sky."?

      April 8, 2013 at 3:20 pm |
    • Science

      Make sure to update the list L4H

      April 8, 2013 at 3:20 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      @Now

      Yes I am. It's an illustration of what I'm talking about when I speak of the Big Book of Multiple Choice. Holding all kinds of different positions based on the same book is easy when it comes to the bible. And yet this is supposed to be the perfect word of a god that is not the author of confusion. The same book has been used to spawn 30,000+ denominations.

      April 8, 2013 at 3:26 pm |
    • Now

      Who said it is supposed to be the perfect word of God?

      To me, is true and honest. It is a collection of stories, genealogy, poetry, songs, wise sayings, parables, history, laws, customs and testimonies.

      Not everybody believes how you seem to think they do. Maybe you should focus on your self for awhile.

      April 8, 2013 at 3:35 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      @Now

      And you seem to be going against the bible with that as well. The bible bills itself as divinely inspired by a perfect being. So how then, when inspired by a perfect being, would it be imperfect? Not to mention, if the bible is supposed to be the guidebook to god's will, would it be made imperfect?

      April 8, 2013 at 3:57 pm |
    • Now

      Where does the Bible say this?

      According to the Bible God created us and this universe as imperfect. But you think he created a pefect book?

      The Bible is supposed to be the guidebook to God's will?

      Where do you get this stuff?

      The Bible points to God. But it is not God. I don't worship the Bible.

      "The Bible alone is the most dangerous thing I can think of, you need an ongoing context and a community of interpretation to keep the Bible current and to keep yourself honest. Forget the thought that the Bible is an absolute pronouncement."

      — The Rev Peter J Gomes

      April 8, 2013 at 4:05 pm |
    • Now

      "The Bible – like all scripture – is meant to be interpreted. It was never meant to be taken literally. The Bible speaks to you differently than it speaks to me. And, if I’m doing my job, I am presenting the Bible in such a way that each one present can take what they need from it."
      Peter Gomes

      April 8, 2013 at 4:07 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      @Now

      Then tell me, why do you believe any of what the bible says at all? If it does not give you a guide to your gods will, if it is merely a collection of stories and metaphors, why do you take anything within it seriously in the least?

      April 8, 2013 at 4:08 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      We can thank Martin Luther for the gift of solo scriptura which I find remarkable that hawaii leans on, being that he is a Catholic. The magistrerium provides a pretty well reasoned interpretation.

      April 8, 2013 at 4:13 pm |
    • Now

      It is helpful to me. It points to the living God that can help me today. It works for me – especially the New Testament. What Jesus has to say is beautiful.

      April 8, 2013 at 4:14 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      @Now

      And why should I care what an apologist says? And exactly what biblical support does he have for that position?

      April 8, 2013 at 4:15 pm |
    • Now

      You have that same viewpoint about the Bible as the crazy fundamentalist preacher's I avoid.

      I'm not buying it. I trust in God.

      April 8, 2013 at 4:24 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      @Now

      Yet you answer no questions, at all. Is it just that when something in the bible doesn't seem very nice it's not literal, just because? You also never responded to my response of your context remark when it came to those verses in James.

      April 8, 2013 at 4:28 pm |
    • Now

      Answer your questions? What are you? Like some kind of internet cop? You aren't answering my questions, either.

      And when you were commenting about the book of James you made statements. There were no questions.

      April 8, 2013 at 4:34 pm |
    • Now

      @ So contextually it would seem that from 13-15 would be addressing those who are already faithful to your god.

      Yea that is what I said:

      "The context of these verses... most likely deals with the restoration of people to Christian fellowship, not the healing of physical diseases."

      April 8, 2013 at 4:40 pm |
    • Alias

      @Now
      I agree that there is a lot of wisdom and good advice in the bible.
      The world would be a better place if we all treated each other according to how the bible tells us we should.

      Here is my problem – none of it is really original. Confucius was preaching the golden rule 1000 years before jesus. Most of jeus' philosophy is very similar to budhist or hindu teaching. Why do you think this good book of stories and principles proves that your god exists?

      April 8, 2013 at 4:56 pm |
    • Now

      @ Why do you think this good book of stories and principles proves that your god exists?

      I never said that. That is not my experience. And I don't believe that is true. If somebody wanted proof of God's existence I probably wouldn't start with the Bible.

      April 8, 2013 at 5:06 pm |
    • Now

      I also don't believe or preach that Jesus was the first to say those things.

      April 8, 2013 at 5:07 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      @Now

      In regards to James, you seem to be saying you said what I said, but your quote shows the opposite. Being "restored" to Christian fellowship implies that they are not within it at that time, yet within the James verses, he seems to be talking to those who are already within Christian fellowship.

      In regards to not answering my questions, every time I bring up something biblically supported, you merely shrug and go "nope nope nope, not what I think, nope nope" and don't go any further to explain anything.
      You can feel free not to answer anything, but to think you won't be challenged for your inconsistency is kind of dumb.

      April 8, 2013 at 5:17 pm |
    • Now

      I really don’t see where you said anything ‘biblically supported’.

      @ “The "heavens", according to your bible, is under the firmament that holds the water, and we fly through that every day in planes.”
      The heavens and Heaven are different.
      @ The bible bills itself as divinely inspired by a perfect being. So how then, when inspired by a perfect being, would it be imperfect? Not to mention, if the bible is supposed to be the guidebook to god's will, would it be made imperfect?
      Where does the Bible say the book is perfect? Or that it is the guidebook to God’s will?
      I’ve heard Christians say this? But does the Bible say this?
      @ every time I bring up something biblically supported, you merely shrug and go "nope nope nope, not what I think, nope nope" and don't go any further to explain anything.

      Where else have you talked about what the Bible says? I just don’t understand what you are talking about. I don’t see where I’ve been saying “NOPE NOPE NOPE”.
      You say what you think Christians believe, but not what the Bible says.

      April 8, 2013 at 5:32 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      @Now

      You know, for saying that the bible is not to be taken literally, you seem to need it to say things literally for the concepts to be valid. Kind of a strange contradiction there.

      April 8, 2013 at 5:41 pm |
    • Now

      You literally have brought up nothing biblically supported.

      April 8, 2013 at 5:55 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      @Now

      Really? Your only refutation has been "it doesn't say that", but also saying earlier that the bible wasn't to be taken literally. So which is it? Does a concept need to be spelled out in a literal manner in the bible for it to be valid, or is the bible not supposed to be taken literally?

      April 8, 2013 at 6:25 pm |
    • Now

      You posted something that isn't in the Bible... so I pointed that out. What am I supposed to do?

      I posted a quote from Peter Gomes about taking the Bible literally.

      Again, you were talking about something that some (not all, not many actually) Christians believe. I don't believe what they or you have to say about it.

      The end.

      April 8, 2013 at 7:10 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      @Now

      You're still not answering anything.

      April 8, 2013 at 7:55 pm |
  8. 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 2:10 pm |
    • Now

      Was that verse intended to be taken literally? Do you know the Psalms are poetic and musical? Did you read the verses before and after the ones you posted? What did they say?

      April 8, 2013 at 2:51 pm |
  9. 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 2:10 pm |
  10. 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 2:09 pm |
    • Reponse

      Glad you're reading the Bible.

      April 8, 2013 at 2:22 pm |
  11. Bootyfunk

    this story makes you wonder what was really going on in the Warren household. perhaps his son was g.ay. can't even imagine having rick warren for a father. not sure how a kid wouldn't have mental illness.

    April 8, 2013 at 2:06 pm |
    • G to the T

      EXACTLY! I wouldn't be suprised as most xians consider being gay a "mental illness"

      April 8, 2013 at 4:14 pm |
  12. lionlylamb

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=dFdYqRuqKDM

    April 8, 2013 at 1:53 pm |
  13. drep

    Just for clarification's sake, if you commit suicide, do you go to hell?

    I remember when I was a kid and my parents sent me to brainwashing school (church). They told me that people who killed themselves went to hell.

    What says the bible on this?

    April 8, 2013 at 1:43 pm |
    • ME II

      Is there time after pulling the trigger to repent?

      April 8, 2013 at 1:46 pm |
    • MEATPASTE

      drep, The myth sky-fairy book of the cavemen actual says nothing of suicide.

      April 8, 2013 at 3:03 pm |
    • meifumado

      I found this was hoping for something better.
      1 Corinthians 3:16-17
      Do you not know that you are God's temple and that God's Spirit dwells in you? If anyone destroys God's temple, God will destroy him. For God's temple is holy, and you are that temple.

      April 8, 2013 at 3:27 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      While mortal violence against another, even ourselves, is a grave matter, we should not despair that the grace of God, by His will, may yet deliver such a soul.

      April 8, 2013 at 4:15 pm |
  14. BRC

    Here's 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 t ohell, 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 who's 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 kidn of spriritual 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 it 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, lake 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?

    April 8, 2013 at 1:38 pm |
    • Alias

      Why would a loving, caring, forgiving god allow people to be raised worshipping false gods? Clearly the bible condemns those billions who are muslim, hindu, budhist, or any of the ancient religions now called mythology. Are all of the native americans/ja.paneese/Chineese/etc who lived and died before the christians arrived burning? They never had a chance to be baptized, never asked jesus for forgiveness, and broke the commandment about following no other god.
      Either the bible is not 100% accurate, or they are burning for ever together – no matter how they lived their lives.

      April 8, 2013 at 2:12 pm |
  15. Paul

    Only in America- or other affluent countries- "Almost one in four middle-age women is on some form of antidepressant medication, according to the National Center for Health Statistics." How many in Haiti, the poorest nation in the Western Hemisphere, need an antidepressant to face another day? So what else should we make public, "I have acute acne but only those closest to me would know." If it was more public Pastor Warren would have only been ridiculed all the more, haven't you read some of these posts?

    April 8, 2013 at 1:32 pm |
    • myweightinwords

      Does lack of treatment imply lack of illness?

      Does lack of knowledge about illness imply a lack of need for healing?

      That said, I am sure that the stresses of living in our society are very different than those of living in say Haiti or El Salvador or parts of Africa or elsewhere. Does that mean they don't have the same mental illnesses we do? Not necessarily, only that they may manifest differently and in different percentages.

      Does that mean that our stress, our pressures are somehow bigger than theirs? Of course not. Does that mean we shouldn't be treating those with mental illness here in our society? Of course not.

      April 8, 2013 at 1:48 pm |
  16. My Take on your take

    "With that kind of honest, raw vulnerability and perspective, who wouldn’t want Rick Warren to be their pastor? Or their dad, for that matter."

    Saddleback is a very large church and there are various campuses spread across OC. Definitely, Pastor Rick is awesome but he cannot be there for 20000 of his congregants personally. As he always insists , it is very important for people to belong to small groups . Small groups are where people can really know each other and strengthen one another through struggles. There are no easy answers but ultimately each individual person ought to have hope, that hope HAS to be in the Lord

    April 8, 2013 at 1:22 pm |
    • Paul

      So true, my friend leads a small group of recovering addicts there, someone who has recovered himself. Do we tell everyone, hey, I'm a recovering addict! What good does that do? Do those struggling with mental illness wear a name badge, 'My name is Joe, I'm a ....." fill in the blank. Just another journalist with time on her hands trying to figure out how to be relevant. It's those that are closest that can help the most- and to be trusted, they'll honor the others in their group by not going public with everything someone tells them. What liberals have a hard time with is that sometimes we just can't prevent bad things from happening, no matter what.

      April 8, 2013 at 1:38 pm |
    • ME II

      "There are no easy answers [except] that hope HAS to be in the Lord"

      The "Lord" is the easy answer... too easy for this life.

      April 8, 2013 at 1:40 pm |
    • Akira

      Paul, I was unaware that mental illness was a liberal issue, especially since the conservatives defunded mental health facilities in the 80's.
      Nice spin. No cigar.

      April 8, 2013 at 2:04 pm |
    • Christianity is a form of SEVERE mental illness

      Hope in the lord? ???? We going throught he motions playing a part that the lord already knows. There are no 2 possible endings. There is no free will when the outcome is known. The lord is a sick and twisted.

      April 8, 2013 at 2:13 pm |
    • ME II

      @Akira,
      Deinsti.tutionalization, which is what drove the closing of many State hospitals along with general funding cuts, is not a "conservative" concept. The first applicable law was passed in 63 by JFK, then again in the 70's by Carter, and yes Reagan closed many hospitals in the 80s, although many were under utilized by that time.

      April 8, 2013 at 2:17 pm |
  17. HeavenSent

    He sent his word, and healed them, and delivered [them] from their destructions.

    Psalms 107:20

    Amen.

    April 8, 2013 at 1:06 pm |
    • Christianity is a form of SEVERE mental illness

      Didnt happen for the son. All the prayers in the world for him did not help his son. Your zombie savior will not speak on his behalf at the gates. God will judge him and send him to hell to suffer for eternity.

      April 8, 2013 at 2:30 pm |
  18. T. E. Hanna

    I think you're right on here, Rebekah. One of the challenges Christianity faces is that so much of it puts on a face of "happiness and joy" and places that as the expectation of what Christian maturity looks like.

    But, that's not the reality of living in a broken world. It certainly wasn't the reality for our crucified Lord. The hope of th church is in walking through the dark places TOGETHER. When we lose sight of this, we lose sight of the heart of our faith.

    As a side note, I love Viktor Frankl. "Man's Search For Meaning" was a highly influential book for me.

    April 8, 2013 at 1:02 pm |
  19. Lycidas

    "Well, perhaps the religious should stop calling mental illness "demon possession." There is a lovely start."

    Not all do this....very few I know actually do. Perhaps you should dteer away from generalizations.

    April 8, 2013 at 12:46 pm |
    • MEATPASTE

      No. They all do. Perhaps it would be within your best interests to stop defending these belief systems (which have been proven to be nothing more than myths). And while you're at it, learn to use the reply link.

      April 8, 2013 at 3:00 pm |
    • Lycidas

      "No. They all do."

      No..they don't. See....I countered your statement with the exact same amount of eividence you provided. The only different is I am correct where you fell into a fallacy of absolutes. Sucks to be you eh?

      "Perhaps it would be within your best interests to stop defending these belief systems (which have been proven to be nothing more than myths)."

      Defending the truth, nothing wrong with that. I believe you have not proven them to be myths.

      "And while you're at it, learn to use the reply link."

      Lol...didn't want to get wrapped up in the multiple replies from your drivel. So I just put it one step up from it. Deal with it.

      April 8, 2013 at 3:06 pm |
    • MEATPASTE

      Then you can learn to deal with my lack of providing evidence you would reject anyway (as I've seen you do to others). See how that works? Being obtuse doesn't help you get anywhere. You've got quite a bit to learn. So sad.

      April 8, 2013 at 3:44 pm |
    • The real Tom

      No, they don't, MEAT, and claiming that all churches and denominations do this is patently idiotic.

      April 8, 2013 at 3:45 pm |
    • MEATPASTE

      By the way, you only believe yourself to be correct due to the superiority complex you've assumed from your caveman books. Man. It must REALLY. Suck. To. Be. You.

      <3

      April 8, 2013 at 3:47 pm |
    • MEATPASTE

      Tom, another superiority complexmonger. You just have to bury your nose in everyone's posterior.

      April 8, 2013 at 3:48 pm |
    • The real Tom

      Sweetie, I'm sorry if I hurt your little feelings, but you are lying.

      And if you really think you're as smart as Lycidas, you are also delusional.

      April 8, 2013 at 4:18 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      wow second time in one day I've agreed with Tom.

      April 8, 2013 at 4:19 pm |
    • Lycidas

      "Then you can learn to deal with my lack of providing evidence you would reject anyway (as I've seen you do to others)."

      Heck, I've learned not to expect much of anything from the likes of you. No facts and no intellectual backbone.
      Obviously you have never seen conversations I've had with hawaiiguest, Sara and others on here. If someone provides real facts (and not just great leaps of fancy like you tend to) I'll listen and consider what they are saying.

      "See how that works? Being obtuse doesn't help you get anywhere. You've got quite a bit to learn. So sad."

      I guess the term hypocrite means nothing to you. Hey, if you try to act like you actually know by facts what you are talking about, to whimper when people call you on it and all you have to offer up is hot air.

      April 8, 2013 at 5:29 pm |
    • Lycidas

      "claiming that all churches and denominations do this is patently idiotic."

      Thank you Tom..it's nice that someone on here understands the problem with claiming absolutes.

      April 8, 2013 at 5:30 pm |
  20. MEATPASTE

    Well, perhaps the religious should stop calling mental illness "demon possession." There is a lovely start.

    April 8, 2013 at 12:19 pm |
    • lol??

      Bully somebody else, meathead.

      April 8, 2013 at 12:23 pm |
    • MEATPASTE

      Shouldn't you be off protesting a funeral?

      April 8, 2013 at 12:36 pm |
    • Science

      Facts might help ?

      Listening to the Big Bang - In High Fidelity

      Apr. 4, 2013 — A decade ago, spurred by a question for a fifth-grade science project, University of Washington physicist John Cramer devised an audio recreation of the Big Bang that started our universe nearly 14 billion years ago.

      http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/04/130404170154.htm

      April 8, 2013 at 12:41 pm |
    • lol??

      science, evolution was taught by the lost long before science came along. try Aristotle. he didn't need no stinkin' science.

      April 9, 2013 at 10:32 am |
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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.