(July 21, 2007)

I guess I need to continue this discussion, though I’d rather leave it alone. Talking about these things upset me and are not good for my mood. I’d rather talk about positive things. The Bible says:

“…whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things.” (Philippians 4:8)

That’s excellent advice. I’d much rather do that. But when Christians say things that hurt other Christians, we need to speak up. We should not hide our head in the ground. So I must say just a few more things–things I read in Neil Anderson’s The Bondage Breaker that I think are harmful and dangerous to many people suffering from mental illnesses.

The subtitle of the book describes in short what the book promises to help the reader do: Overcoming Negative Thoughts, Irrational Feelings, Habitual Sins. According to the book, the entire answer lies in our spirituality. There is no suggestion that these negative thoughts or irrational feelings could be due to medical causes requiring a doctor’s care and medications. Anderson, and too many other evangelists, are in the dark about the cause of mental illnesses. Too many spiritualize all problems involving the mind.

According to Anderson, when we have emotional pain it is because–a person loses his freedom from Satan–“because you have failed to stand firm in the faith or you have disobeyed God” and “it is your responsibility to do whatever is necessary to establish a right relationship with God.” He gives us seven steps to follow to recover freedom from Satan and demons.

I studied these steps with an open mind, very much wanting to find something to help my friend with the depression that doctors had not been able to cure. I even mailed her the first two steps to try to follow. Over the phone I had her pray out loud one of the prayers he recommended. It did not feel good. I was sorry I’d done it. It felt too regimented–negative in its approach and not at all from the heart.

The book claims that “…if anyone in your family was involved (in cults, false religions, etc.)” you need to renounce them, just in case you unknowingly gave Satan a foothold. One young woman I counseled had simply ridden along while her mother visited a psychic, and the daughter walked out with her own spirit guide. (or demon)” This seems so far fetched to me. According to Anderson, this could be the reason for a person’s emotional problems.

Yet he doesn’t talk about the medical. He does not even touch on it. That’s a very dangerous omission. A person reading this book would not even think about going for medical help and might think that doing so would be showing lack of faith. Christian friends encourage their depressed friends to throw away their pills…all they need is Jesus.

For a Christian to refuse medications for a mental illness is as bad as a Jehovah’s witness turning down a blood transfusion. Lack of either of these treatments could cost a person his life.

Too many uninformed evangelists like Anderson–some quite influential–do not seem to understand that our minds are housed in an organ of the body, the brain. And when something goes wrong with this organ–in the same way things sometimes go wrong with other organs of our body–our thinking, moods, feelings, and behavior will be affected.

But Anderson believes this dysfunction is caused by demons, by Satan, by not being right with God.

This approach has hurt many mentally ill people, keeping them from going for medical help. They feel evil and ashamed. (Am I starting to repeat myself?)

I abandoned trying to help my friend using Anderson’s seven steps. They felt ugly and counter-productive. I ended up praying with her that God’s spirit would fill her so much that there would be no room left for evil. Praying for God’s love to permeate us is so much simpler.

I realize there can be spiritual triggers for depression and other mental illnesses and spiritual ways of coping with them, but we need to balance treatment by looking at all the facets that make us what we are. We need to have a wholistic approach to our health. Focusing on Jesus and his love seems to me a far better way to fight Satan than to focus on what Satan is doing in our lives.

Now this is all the negative stuff I want to focus on for now. My next post will be on happier topics, I promise. Because the Bible tells us to “think about such things.” And God IS good, and I’d rather talk about that.