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What Questions Do You Have about Mental Illness and the Bible?

By in Crazy Grace Blog | 4 comments

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Because I have a mental illness, I’ve spent time on many different Christian sites looking at the “help” they offer and it is downright shameful the types of responses Christians give about mental illness. From what I’ve seen, the last place I’d want to go for support for my mental illness is a church. I’m becoming increasingly confident that my ministry is to provide positive, grace-filled resources for people affected by mental illness.

As a first step, I’m compiling a list of frequently asked questions. I’m carefully answering each question with positive, grace-filled answers from the Bible or credible sources in the mental health industry.

This is where I need your help.

I have compiled a list of questions based on common misconceptions I’ve seen online, but I know I’m not covering everything. I’ve only scratched the surface. So take a moment to look at some sample questions I’ve assembled on the list below and then respond in the comments with other questions you’d like to see answered (for yourself or someone else).

  • What is mental illness? What causes mental illness?
  • What are some common mental illnesses?
  • Are all people with mental illness dangerous criminals?
  • What is the prevalence of mental illness?
  • Can Christians have a mental illness?
  • Who suffers from mental illness?
  • Is mental illness a sin?
  • Is mental illness a lack of faith?
  • Is mental illness demon possession?
  • Are the mentally ill merely people with unsolved personal problems?
  • Is seeking medical treatment for mental illness a sin or a lack of faith?
  • Is seeking medical treatment for mental illness ill advised?
  • Shouldn’t people with mental illness be institutionalized?
  • Can people with mental illness work?
  • What should I say to someone with a mental illness?
  • Does the Bible describe people with mental illness?
  • Does the Bible mention specific mental illnesses?
  • Does the Bible offer words of hope to people with mental illness?
  • Is suicide a sin? Will someone go to hell for committing suicide?
  • Did anyone in the Bible commit suicide besides Judas?
  • What help and hope does the Bible offer to someone considering suicide?
  • How can I cope with the perceived disgrace of having a mental illness?
  • How can Christians help the mentally ill?
  • How can the church help the mentally ill?

What other questions do you have about mental illness?

Please share your questions in the comments section or message me privately.

4 Comments

  1. Diana Pon

    January 23, 2016

    Post a Reply

    What kinds of comments are/are not welcome or helpful in the course of a typical conversation with someone who has been diagnosed, or with that person’s close family?

    • Christy

      January 23, 2016

      Post a Reply

      Diana, that’s a very thoughtful question. My brief, initial response is that discussing the person’s well-being is welcome, as well as topics concerning the person’s needs, if done in an encouraging and helpful manner. For instance, it’s always okay to ask, “how have you been feeling lately?” because that’s an open-ended question that shows concern and the person can respond with as little or as much as desired. Most people with mental illness are unable to work and struggle to earn an income so talking about their fears and frustrations in life is helpful as long as you show genuine empathy (“that must be frustrating”) rather than judgment (“you just need to try harder”). And, of course, the pat answers are annoying (“God will provide”). It’s probably a good idea to simply ask a person what they are comfortable discussing. Tell them you want to be supportive but you also want to respect their boundaries, you just need to know where the boundaries are so you can help and not hurt.

      I’ll put more thought into this question and look at some examples in the Bible. Later I’ll put these together in some form–blog posts, free PDF, or eBook–I’m not sure yet. Thanks for a very good question!

  2. Sara McKeefer

    January 24, 2016

    Post a Reply

    My son who is 37 and has Asperger’s syndrome, says the hardest thing for him is that people in the Church aren’t all that friendly, as if they’re nervous about what they would say to him when they see him, so they say nothing. He is friendly, though, and will say ‘Good morning’ to people at church but everyone seems to be in a hurry.

    He feels like people are just thinking about themselves and who they can impress rather than being Jesus to each other. Because he battle depression, he says it’s easier to just isolate so he doesn’t have to think about people not being friendly. It’s been particularly hard, since he hasn’t been able to work because of panic attacks.

    The Church has far to go in making everyone who comes through the doors each Sunday to feel included and accepted in the Beloved. I appreciate what you’re doing, Christy, in getting the subject of Christians who suffer from mental illness out there so Christ-followers will realize they need to take action to minister to ALL needs.

    • Christy

      January 26, 2016

      Post a Reply

      Thank you for sharing, Sara. I’m afraid your son’s experience is all too common in Christian circles. And if unfriendliness is all he encounters, he’s fortunate because there’s a lot of blaming and shaming from Christians who say mental illness is a sin, lack of faith, or demon possession. I’m feeling a holy fire well up in me to address these wrongs in the Christian community.

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