Sin does not cause depression.

This is going to be a rant.  Some of you who read this will agree with what I say, others will disagree and some of you will be incensed by what I have put on paper.   Be that as it may, I’m going to say it anyway.

Sin does not cause depression.   Yes, you heard it right.  Sin does not cause depression nor does God deliberately cause this darkness just so someone will become a better person.

Depression is an illness so terrible and stark that no one would actively seek it as a means to grow in the spiritual life.  And with such a burden to bear, when priests and ministers talk about how a person can find relief if they only ask and turn it over to God, it makes my hair stand on end. It’s not that easy, that simple.  All a platitude like that serves to do is to make the depressed individual feel that for some reason he is not good enough, is not really letting go, is not trusting God. Often for the depressed person an even worse downward spiral occurs as a result.

Even worse is the talk about sin being the cause of depression.  Do we deliberately commit depression?  Do we forget to include happiness in our lifestyle making a sin of omission?  When we look at the types of depression, are we talking about mortal or venial sin?  What stupidity!

We insist upon carrying out the myth that we know what God is thinking.  We speak with authority, insisting that God says this or says that when in reality, our discovery of God  is ever changing. and when we think we know what God is or thinks, we find ourselves back at the beginning of getting to know God.

So how in heaven’s name can we speak definitively that God gives us depression to help us grow in the spiritual life?  Granted, we can use all trials to grow and we can use depression but does God “gift” us with depression?  Is depression a result of the person sinning? I find that hard to believe of a loving, ever changing God.

It’s time that spiritual leaders looked into depression in more than a superficial way before expounding on what God does and doesn’t want in regard to depression. I don’t picture a God lying in wait to zap us with depression, who is waiting for us to say the magic words so this God can wave the magic wand and make the depression disappear.

And to that end I am leaving when sermons or homilies talk about how easy it is if we give it over to God and I refuse to read books on depression that use Scripture quotes so justify making depressed people and their caregivers more guilty and stressed than they already are.  I choose instead to look at a loving God who hurts when we hurt and cries when we cry and rejoices when recovery is achieved.

-Bernadette

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10 Responses

  1. I am a pastor, licensed counselor, and teach in the graduate Counseling program for Spring Arbor University. A big amen to this post. I am going to put a snippet of it on my blog at http://DavidKFlowers.com and direct people here to read the full article. I could not agree more. I have heard the same claims (perhaps even more often) with regard to anxiety, that it’s a sign of “lack of faith in God,” etc. It frosts me, both as a counselor who understands anxiety, and as a person with anxiety who, after twenty years of struggle, finally gave in and got on medication, which has given me my life back. Nice work.

    • Thanks, David. Bern and I are shocked by the number of people who still subscribe to that kind of archaic and damaging thinking. Both of us live with people struggling with mental illness, we both devote a lot of time to helping people in the same situation, and we’ve both spent large portions of our lives working in churches – so we find this attitude all the more discouraging. Thanks, too, for the re-post!

    • Keep preaching it brother, because we don’t hear much about mental illness in our churches.

  2. […] Source: Depression’s Collateral Damage […]

  3. I just wanted to follow-up and let you know I did that post I mentioned in my last comment. It is at http://davidkflowers.com/2013/03/depression-and-anxiety-not-spiritual-issues/. Nice work. I will continue to check here regularly. If you get a chance to examine my site and appreciate what I’m doing, I would love a link from here as well. Either way, thank you.

  4. Although I believe in God, I, also, think the ideology surrounding belief in an omnipotent figure, reinforces the fallacy that any form of otherness, be it a disability, mental health issue or sexuality, is indicative of sinfulness. Sin is a concept, born of social control. Depression is a condition which, only a few, much practiced individuals can conquer. I am still practicing.

  5. I agree with you that sin doesn’t cause depression, unless it’s the sin of the person who sexually abused me when I was a child. That woman’s sin ruined my life. Also, thank you for following itsmindbloggleing.

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