It is Better to be Silent…

silentI read a heart-breaking post on Facebook this evening. A woman attends a church where the pastor—whose qualification consists of a seminary degree—has pulpit-shamed his congregation into abandoning their medications for depression, anxiety, and other mental illnesses. The woman fears for her friend, who followed the pastor’s counsel and has slipped further into depression.

I cannot remain silent any longer. Churches should stay silent on the issue of mental health rather than diminish the mental health crisis by claiming that people who suffer lack faith. What kind of drivel do they teach in seminaries these days? Will pastors next pulpit-shame diabetics into discontinuing the use of their insulin? Or perhaps urge those with broken limbs to saw off their casts?

Can preachers be sued for pastoral malpractice?

I confess that I have a limited and rudimentary knowledge of mental illness. Although I suffered from depression after my husband’s stem-cell transplant, I never took antidepressants. Maybe I should have. I probably would have had fewer physical side-effects from my depression. But we DID almost lose our youngest daughter to an undiagnosed mental illness—all because of our ignorance.

We cannot stay silent any longer—cowed by those who claim we lack faith when what we really lack is education. A one-cure-fits-all does not exist for mental illnesses. God created each of us as unique individuals with incredible variety, history, and epigenetic makeup. We need to embrace the fact that what works for one patient might not work for another.

Don't be cowed by those who claim that mental illness is a lack of faith. #anxiety #depression #mentalillness #bipolar Click To Tweet

A Call for Change

The church needs to change its attitude or stay silent. That rigid ‘you’re-depressed-because-you-lack-faith’ attitude sends those who need the support and compassion of the church stumbling out the back door—never to return.

The #church needs to change its attitude about #mentalillness before they cause more harm. Click To Tweet

Maintenance of most mental illnesses requires medication—just like maintenance of most forms of diabetes requires insulin. We need to educate ourselves and train pastors to provide the support and healing that those suffering from mental illnesses need in order to have a full and meaningful relationship with God.

We DON’T need pulpit-shaming ignoramuses heaping guilt upon the lost and hurting. Jesus didn’t do that. He called the weary and heavy-burdened to him. He also didn’t promise to heal everyone’s ailments (think about Paul and the burden that Jesus never healed for him).

We don't need pulpit-shaming ignoramuses telling the mentally ill to stop their medications. #mentalhealth #suicide Click To Tweet

(She steps off her soapbox, passionate tears falling down her face—tears for all those who suffer in silence. For those who love Jesus but don’t feel safe in his house. Tears for the family members who suffer along with them. Is anyone listening?)

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