Mental Health

How should we, as Christians, define a mentally healthy person? I believe it begins with a true knowledge of God, and a true knowledge of who we are as children of God. Suppose you know that God was omnipresent, omnipotent, and omniscient. You believe that your Heavenly Father has forgiven you, and loves you beyond your ability to comprehend. You also know who you are in Christ and your life is characterized by love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control, and there is a peace of God which passes all understanding, guarding your heart and your minds in Christ Jesus. If all that were true, would you be mentally healthy? Of course you would be. That potential is there for every child of God!

But let me quickly add that mental illness is a distorted belief in God and a distorted belief about yourself. If you don’t think the latter is true, visit any mental hospital and ask the patients what they believe about themselves and God. With rare exception their beliefs will be totally distorted, and many of them will be very religious. Secular social workers see such religious beliefs as being counter-productive for their clients. So guess what they conclude about religion?

Many reading this blog would not relate to the concept of “hearing voices.” Let me assure you that many people are experiencing that phenomena. Even though I personally haven’t experienced that I started to believe what others were reporting to me. I had to create an environment where they could do that without feeling judged or labeled. If an inquirer thinks that someone won’t believe them, or would judge them to be mentally ill, they won’t share what is happening inside.

Suppose a mother comes home from the hospital with her third child. She is exhausted, the kids are crying and she suddenly has the thought, “Kill your babies.” When her husband comes home that evening, do you think she is going to say, “Hi honey, I have had thoughts about killing the kids!” That is not going to happen, and the vast majority won’t kill their kids, but she will be deeply troubled by such thoughts, unless she knows where they are coming from. Tragically, in some extreme cases they do kill their kids. A few years back a Christian mother drowned five of her children in Texas. She told others the thoughts she was struggling with and believed herself that it was demonic, but nobody believed her. Society judged her to be mentally ill, and she ended up in a psychiatric prison. The church failed that family.

Dr. Neil

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