Jesus never strayed away from discussing tough topics. However, church history and man replacing God’s Word with his has created myths, misinterpretations and narrow views of mental health among other subjects. These twisted statements and thoughts have left us avoiding situations and topics which in the end alienate people and make them feel unwanted and unloved.
The church dares cast judgment upon the mentally ill at the same time saying they are following in Jesus’ footsteps. Jesus is clear when he says he has “come to bind up the brokenhearted.” Why don’t you substitute some other people in that statement? He has come to bind up the bipolar, the addict, the depressed, the homeless, the single parent, the cancer patient, and the schizophreniac.
Mental illness in print
Since I have committed to speak out on mental illness through encouragement and education, I have submitted written articles to Christian newspapers and magazines. My heart bleeds for the misinformed pertaining to mental illness and I want to get the word out – now.
In both publications, I was very upfront with my mental illness. As you can imagine, I got two different reactions for my boldness about mental illness and my faith.
The magazine accepted me with open arms two different times. The editor was always able to see the connection between my mental illness and the magazine readers’ own issues in their life. He saw each time where I can use my life as a witness for God’s love to his readers.
The other publication, a newspaper at a church, did not see things the same way, I suppose. I tried in vain to get one of my pieces accepted for publication. At one point, the editor did not return my emails after he said he would publish my work.
I have learned over the years that some publications are not at the point of discussing mental illness. Maybe that is because of their readership, the cditorial staff or the community.
The thing is many people have been exposed to what I call “Hasty Religion”. You could have been introduced to it at your neighborhood church, grandma’s church or a friend’s church. That hasty religion soon gets passed around and people apply it to their own lives. For instance, someone does not know the real meaning and background of ADHD, they might hastily say “that person is rude” or “that child needs to be punished” or “the parents need to go to a parenting class”. WRONG.
ADHD is not a behavioral disposition in either teenagers or adults. This disorder is only diagnosed after many observations by teachers, parents, guardians or extended family are made of the teenager. And the evaluations are not on behavior. The evaluations are on items like can he sit still for a given time or she has problems organizing tasks. Also, there are checklists that must be compared to see what types of symptoms are being exhibited.
In order to rule out any medical problems, medical evaluations such as vision and hearing tests are conducted as well.
“The symptoms are not the result of a person being defiant or hostile or unable to understand a task or instructions.” American Psychiatric Association
My mood swings are not a result of sin
The sad thing is people who are unlike the rest of the community or have a mental illness do not even get through the door of the local churches. Religious people see the mentally ill as having a spiritual problem, not a chemical imbalance or genetic predisposition. It is also viewed as a punishment for sinful actions.
This link between mental illness, sin, and spirituality “isn’t really a Christian or religious idea,” says Amy Simpson, the author of Troubled Minds: Mental Illness and the Church’s Mission.
“It’s really rooted in superstition and a misunderstanding of what mental illness is,” said Simpson.
I would agree with those statements. People will fill in the gaps of their knowledge with anything they want just so it will make “sense” in their minds. And it does not matter if the information they are using to fill the holes is the truth.
That is the problem with the “Hasty Religion”. When people do not know what something or someone is, they hastily jump to conclusions.
Call to Action
Next blog we will go more in-depth on what the Bible says about mental illness. It is time we shine a light on the truth that has been there all along.
What other topics would you like for me to explore? Write them below in the comments section or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.