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Friday, July 28, 2006

Mental Illness And Personal Responsibility

When one reads the Bible it becomes evident that men are capable of unbelievable evil. It is difficult to admit because in some measure it is an indictment of our condition. If we can say this or that person was deranged, then they are set apart from the rest of us; we do not look so bad. We can continue to have good thoughts about ourselves, thinking I would never do something like that. Insanity comforts us because we can be consoled that few people are in sane. Evil troubles us because we all know we have done evil things and what is to say that our depravity could not carry us to the depths of any other evil person.

I will be the first to admit that human behaviour can tend to be complicated. Mostly it is complicated because it is hard to get to the bottom of issues. Nevertheless, it seems to me, that when it comes to human behaviour instead of turning to a Freudian based understanding we should turn to the Scriptures for understanding. This is our only safe haven. While many things happen in this world we will never fully understand, when one accepts the Bible the picture at least becomes a little more into focus.

I do not pretend to be able to answer all the questions and objections that can be raised. I do know that we are complex creatures. We are a mix of chemicals and reasoning. We are spiritual creatures. There are many aspects of our existence that science can study and draw conclusions about. There are other aspects of our existence that science cannot take into the laboratory and study. The soul of man. Why do men decide the way they do? Why do men act the way they do?

Mental Illness.

Problems of behaviour can be organic usually they are not. More often than not behaviour problems are problems of the heart, the spiritual part of man. They are not physical problems but soul problems. The trouble with the word “illness” is that it immediately brings to mind a medical problem, something that is not right with the human body. Unfortunately the term mental illness has come to be used to explain erratic behaviour that has no medical reason. By that I mean the following:

Every thing in our physical body is OK. Biologically we are functioning properly.
Hormones are at the right level.
No chemical imbalances.
No organic problems with the brain.

All of these are things that have the capacity to be detected through a series of scientific, medical test. When no physical problems are found the person is referred to the psychological community for help. The psychiatrist authority to prescribe drugs adds to the misnomer that there is an illness, when in fact what they are doing is not correcting an organic, biological problem they are using drugs to manipulate the personality. This is the practice of sorcery.

The use of drugs to correct physical abnormalities in the body is absolutely justifiable. The use of drugs to alter the personality of one who has no medically verifiable chemical or hormone imbalance is outrageous, and may in fact, because the drug places the person in an altered state of consciousness makes them especially vulnerable to tampering by devils.

If it is not a medical problem, it is a spiritual problem. It could in fact be both.

Behaviour problems are more often than not a problem of the heart. The following is a list of illness identified by the psychiatric community.

Adjustment Disorder
Alcohol/Substance Abuse
Anorexia Nervosa
Antisocial Personality Disorder
Attention-Deficit Disorder (ADD, ADHD)
Autistic Disorder
Avoidant Personality Disorder
Bipolar Disorder
Borderline Personality Disorder
Bulimia Nervosa
Conduct Disorder
Cyclothymia Disorder
Delusional Disorder
Dementia (Alcoholic, Alzheimer's type)
Dependent Personality Disorder
Dissociative Identity Disorder
Dysthymic Disorder
Generalized Anxiety Disorder
Histrionic Personality Disorder
Major Depressive Disorder
Narcissistic Personality Disorder
Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder
Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder
Oppositional-Defiant Disorder
Panic Disorder
Paranoid Personality Disorder
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
Schizoaffective Disorder
Schizoid Personality Disorder
Schizotypal Personality Disorder
Separation Anxiety Disorder
Social Phobia
Specific Phobia
Tourette's Disorder

They are identifying more all the time. The sad reality is every one of us could have a label of some kind. We like these labels because they do not serve to hold us responsible. What is wrong with how the Bible labels us, sinners? That will never do, if it is sin then we are responsible. It must be an illness, something beyond our ability (and God’s I might add) to do anything about.

For an example of what I have been saying consider the following statement concerning bi-polar.

“Like other mental illnesses, bipolar disorder cannot yet be identified physiologically—for example, through a blood test or a brain scan. Therefore, a diagnosis of bipolar disorder is made on the basis of symptoms, course of illness, and, when available, family history.” The diagnostic criteria for bipolar disorder are described in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Mental Disorders, fourth edition (DSM-IV).3

When we turn to the scripture what we learn is that we are all a little off center.

Jeremiah 17:9 - The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?
Matthew 15:19 - For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies:
Mark 7:21-23 - For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, Thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness: All these evil things come from within, and defile the man.

In fact God deals not only with the behaviour of men but also with their thoughts.

Proverbs 24:9 - The thought of foolishness is sin: and the scorner is an abomination to men.
Isaiah 55:7 - Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the LORD, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.
Isaiah 59:7 - Their feet run to evil, and they make haste to shed innocent blood: their thoughts are thoughts of iniquity; wasting and destruction are in their paths.
Jeremiah 4:14 - O Jerusalem, wash thine heart from wickedness, that thou mayest be saved. How long shall thy vain thoughts lodge within thee?
Acts 8:22 - Repent therefore of this thy wickedness, and pray God, if perhaps the thought of thine heart may be forgiven thee.
Psalm 10:4 - The wicked, through the pride of his countenance, will not seek after God: God is not in all his thoughts.
Jeremiah 6:19 - Hear, O earth: behold, I will bring evil upon this people, even the fruit of their thoughts, because they have not hearkened unto my words, nor to my law, but rejected it.

The physical (organic/biological) and spiritual undoubtedly interact with each other. The physical can adversely affect the spiritual. The spiritual can adversely affect the physical. Consider the following verses.

Proverbs 15:13 - A merry heart maketh a cheerful countenance: but by sorrow of the heart the spirit is broken.
Proverbs 15:15 - All the days of the afflicted are evil: but he that is of a merry heart hath a continual feast.
Proverbs 17:22 - A merry heart doeth good like a medicine: but a broken spirit drieth the bones.
Proverbs 12:25 - Heaviness in the heart of man maketh it stoop: but a good word maketh it glad.
Proverbs 18:14 - The spirit of a man will sustain his infirmity; but a wounded spirit who can bear?
Nehemiah 2:2 - Wherefore the king said unto me, Why is thy countenance sad, seeing thou art not sick? this is nothing else but sorrow of heart. Then I was very sore afraid,
John 14:1 - Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me.
Psalms 42:11 - Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted within me? hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him, who is the health of my countenance, and my God.
Proverbs 16:24 - Pleasant words are as an honeycomb, sweet to the soul, and health to the bones.
Psalms 32:3,4 - When I kept silence, my bones waxed old through my roaring all the day long. For day and night thy hand was heavy upon me: my moisture is turned into the drought of summer. Selah.

Depression is not a “mental illness.” Depression may in part be due to medical reasons. Depression is always linked to spiritual reasons. We need to quit placing the emphasis on mental well-being and start talking about spiritual well-being. The humanistic culture has taken problems of living from the spiritual realm and placed them in the psychological realm. The resulting conclusion is that man has the answer apart from God.

Psalm 77 is an interesting chapter concerning this issue of depression. Consider the following brief outline.

Vs: 1-9 – Clinical depression

Vs. 2 – Trouble and refusing to be comforted.
Vs: 3 – Complaining – problem oriented instead of God oriented.
Vs; 4 – Catatonic schizophrenia.
Vs: 5,6 – Withdrawal into self.
Vs: 7-9 – Sense of helplessness and impending doom

Vs: 10-20 – The remedy
Vs: 10 – This is my infirmity but……
Vs: 10-12 – He begins to talk about what he will do.
He was going to exercise his will.
He was going to choose differently.
He was going to take responsibility for his thoughts, attitude, and behaviour.
“I will” is spoken four times in those three verses.
Vs; 13-20 – The focus goes from self to God.

Depression is remedied (having ruled out any biological/organic issues) by changing one’s focus.

Consider Jonah.

Jonah 4:1-3 – God spared the city and Jonah was displeased exceedingly and very angry and even suicidal.
Jonah 4:6 – God caused a gourd to grow up and shadow Jonah and he was exceedingly glad.
Jonah 4:7,8 – God prepared a worm to eat the gourd and sent a hot east wind and Jonah was again suicidal and was angry.

If Jonah had been living today he would have been diagnosed as bi-polar (manic-depressive). He would have been prescribed ongoing therapy and personality altering drugs.

Jonah 4:9-11 – God felt the remedy for Jonah’s problem was a sever rebuke and laying the source of the problem where it really belonged, selfishness.

There are other examples. Consider Cain.

Genesis 4:5-7
Vs: 5 – Disobedience led to anger, which led to his countenance falling.
Vs: 6 – God not only deals with the depression but also the cause, anger.
Vs: 7 – Cain had a choice.
Do well and feel better.
Do wrong and be plunged deeper into the abyss of depression.
Cain was depressed because of his disobedience.

Consider Elijah.

1 Kings 19:1-18
Vs: 1,2 – A disadvantageous turn of events.
Vs: 3,4 – Depression, self-pity, and wishing for death.
Vs: 5-8 – The apathy that accompanies depression.
Which by the way makes it worse.
Vs: 9,10,13,14 – The Lord’s confrontation.
Vs: 15-18 – The Lord’s remedy for depression.

Consider David.

Ps. 32:3-5 – The cause of depression was unconfessed sin.
Ps. 51:1-12 – The remedy for depression was repentance and confession.

Personal Responsibility

All men will give account for their actions.

Matthew 12:36 - But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment.
Re 20:12 - And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.
2 Corinthians 5:10 - For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad.
Re 22:12 - And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be.
Proverbs 24:11,12 - If thou forbear to deliver them that are drawn unto death, and those that are ready to be slain; If thou sayest, Behold, we knew it not; doth not he that pondereth the heart consider it? and he that keepeth thy soul, doth not he know it? and shall not he render to every man according to his works?
Jeremiah 32:19 - Great in counsel, and mighty in work: for thine eyes are open upon all the ways of the sons of men: to give every one according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings:
Matthew 16:27 - For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then he shall
reward every man according to his works.
Romans 2:6 - Who will render to every man according to his deeds:

There will be no excuses in the Day of Judgment. No genetic excuses. No mental-illness excuses. No excuses rooted in circumstances. No blame shifting.

I find it amazing that Christian people come to believe that there are problems of living that are bigger than God, that a truly saved person, who has the omnipotent God dwelling in them, does not have the power to overcome. This is exactly what happens when we are influenced by Freudian philosophy. Personally I believe that I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.
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