People with BPD are often treated like untouchables in our modern world. Medical professionals and counselors don’t want to deal with them. They are feared by the people around them—feared because they don’t know the kind of response to expect.

But if we want to follow Christ’s ways, we must try and treat those who are considered today’s untouchables in the way he treated the untouchables of his day. With love.

I believe that for many of us the idea of “stigma” is not much more than a word. We don’t fully understand its meaning. We know it’s bad, but it’s only those who are affected by it who know how bad. In fact, the pain from stigma alone causes 10% of people with BPD to die by suicide.

To be stigmatized can mean a lot more than what we might think. The sad truth is that some individuals with BPD are not simply avoided. They are also despised and treated with disrespect and anger.

Put yourself in such a person’s shoes:

You feel hurt. But you might not even know why you’re being treated this way. You could have had two or three episodes of over-the-top anger. They happened in response to being hurt and couldn’t have been helped. Word gets around. And you ask, “Will I ever be forgiven?”

It’s easy to start feeling less than human. Easy to feel you don’t belong anywhere. “Is there anyone left who appreciates me? Hardly anyone wants to spend time with me. There seems to be nothing left for me in this world.” It’s this line of thinking that leads many to suicide.

This is how the person who did the hurting might think:

It’s not hard to hurt a person with BPD, especially when they’re already so sensitive. Especially when you don’t understand their disorder. Pretty scary to see how they behave at times. You do what you can to keep them at a distance. And sometimes that means not showing kindness—even treating them with disrespect. Sometimes it’s hard to be nice to them.

But stop for a minute!

You have before you a fellow human being who cannot help the illness that’s befallen him. It’s not his fault that he had a troubled childhood. He needs your love and compassion. He needs to be included in your world.

Have a good look at Jesus. Remember what it means to follow him. Jesus loved from the depth of his heart. The lepers, the demoniac. The love he felt left no room for fear. Can we follow him in the way we’ve been called to follow him? I believe we can. In a spirit of love we can follow him.

When we access the love God has put in us we will know that we don’t need to fear this person with his challenges. 1 John 4:18 says that …There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.

Jesus “…has given us this command: Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister.” (1 John 4:21)

We all need brothers and sisters.