How My Faith in Christ Shapes My View of Mental Illness

Adrian Warnock is asking how we see mental illness and how our faith shapes the way we understand it.

I posted on this subject last month in 3 Christian Responses to Mental Illness and which one, I believe, is closest to Scripture.

But in answer to the question, as a person who believes the Bible, humans are tripartite. We are spirit, soul, and body. The soul makes up mind, will, and emotion.

All of these parts are connected.

In addition, the brain is an organ just like the thyroid, the heart, and any other organ that can become imbalanced.

I also believe in the invisible realm, where God, angels, and demons exist and operate on earth.

Most of the churches I’ve been a part of have held the same understanding.

So looking over the course of my life and all the people I’ve known, even relatives, who have had different forms of mental illnesses (from panic attacks, to depression, to schizophrenia, to bipolar disorder, to social anxiety, to ADHD, etc.), here are the different ways we’ve helped people who suffered from these things.

  1. Medication when it was warranted.
  2. Deliverance when demons were involved (casting out of devils). One such instance was very formative for me in my spiritual journey. I’ve told the story elsewhere.
  3. Counseling and the love and care of a local body. This involves emotional and mental healing from the Holy Spirit through members of the body of Christ. Larry Crabb has written a good bit about this aspect in some of his earlier work.

So there you have it.

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  • Carlos Carbajal

    Thanks for posting this, Frank. I truly believe we need to talk more in our local churches about this topic. I do have a question for you. What is your opinion about hypnosis? Can we consider that an alternative for christians with mental disorders? Can we have a Biblical approach for that? Well, I think there are 3 questions, all related. I would appreciate your guidance. God bless.

  • Karen Patterson

    My uncle has schizophrenia. In the 40 year he has had this, he has suffered quietly and alone. He has no church because the church that he was baptized in is scared of those with schizophrenia- although less than 10% are ever violent (the violent ones are the only ones that make the headlines). Honestly my uncle probably would never have attended church anyway, because large crowds are too stressful for him (although outreach of any sort would have been much appreciated). But this absence has been filled by a network of friends- local restaurant managers, gas station attendants, bank tellers, etc. These are people that he has developed a relationship with because they reached out to him during his daily life and forged a bond with him. Maybe just a free soda or a short chat about the Yankees or just a friendly smile. But their words and actions were life-changing and ever so meaningful to my Uncle who was shunned by so many. They embraced him both where he was and for what he was, with no expectations and no accolades. They gave him a network of friends, lifted his self-esteem, and made him feel loved. So my conclusion? It is our daily, individual interactions that are more important than anything else. And the simple rule to love our neighbor.