Mental Illness and Evangelical Christians

It’s Sunday and that means a number of people around the world went to their place of worship to celebrate their particular entity. It being Sunday, I decided to take a friend up on her invite to attend the church that she is a member of. The reason why I took my friend up on the invite was because she had a solo. Going to church is a major deal to me because I rarely go.

I rarely go  to church for many reasons and one those things happened today at the church I visited today. To give you a back story I use to self harm by cutting myself and that means I have scars and some of those scars are on my arms. Whenever I go and visit a church and wear short sleeves I get a lot of stares and some questions and that’s okay with me. It’s a way to educate others. The thing I have an issue with and is one of the reasons I choose to not attend church is when those in attendance of the church telling me various things in regards to my scarred up arms. Things like “You need Jesus because if you had Jesus you wouldn’t have those,” as they point to my arms or “The Devil must be inside of you because you cut yourself,” or “I think you should attend our healing service to be healed of your mental health issues. You obviously have one or you wouldn’t have scars on your arms.” All three of these statements were told to me today. Unfortunately, my friend didn’t hear the people who told me these statements because she was getting ready for her solo with the choir. My friend attends an Evangelical Christian church and I have found that with all the Evangelical Churches I have been to, I have at least five or six people make similar comments like the ones I shared with you above. When people of faith tell me comments like above or similar ones it has me feeling less than human and undeserving. I do have to say I was able to stand up for myself when I had people make comments to me today. The comments my friend was around to hear she backed me up and helped me convey my message and ultimately stood up for me. In fact, she even stood up for me when the senior pastor of her church made the comment, “Oh another lost soul that allowed Satan to take over so he could make you crazy.” Yes, he said crazy. I am so grateful that my friend stuck for me and gave her senior pastor a lesson on God, faith, compassion and mental illness.

My friend was in disbelief when she not only heard her friends make discriminatory and “un-Christ-like” comments but the comments her senior pastor said. When I told her I was hesitant to go to her church for reason such as I just described to you she told me it wouldn’t happen. I find my friend being a little naïve when it came to this issue. In fact many Evangelical Christians are naïve and ignorant toward mental illness. Many Evangelical Christian feel and think that we chose to have a mental illness or allowed the devil to give us one. Why would we choose to have a mental illness? I would wish a mental illness on my worst enemy.

I am not posting this blog to pass judgment on any particular person, religion or faith but to educate those who may not be aware that their comments and actions hurt and turn away potential Christians to believe what they believe or attend their church. I know some of the comments are well intended but not helpful. A great deal of the comments I receive today in regards to my scarred up arms were quite ignorant, discriminatory, judgmental and just plain ole continued the stigmatizing of mental illness.

The goal of this blog and blog entry is to educate those on mental illness. Stigma has no place anywhere especially in a place of worship. Everyone need to feel safe when they are worshiping their particular entity.

Now that I have gotten that off my chest I will call it an evening and night. Have a good rest of your Sunday evening. Peace Out!!

12 responses to “Mental Illness and Evangelical Christians

  1. So sorry that people said hurtful ignorant things to you today. I just want to give you a big (((hug))) and let you know that you are loved as you are, as you were, and as you will be. We do not have to be perfect to be loved. Even Jesus suffered. Many people just don’t understand the message in their religious texts regardless of the religion. Many people do not understand that if you have cancer or diabetes or a brain disorder, you seek medical help. Praying helps the soul which can help you cope, but it doesn’t make a biological illness simply disappear.

  2. I agree with you 100%. For myself, I am spiritual but no longer “religious”. I was brought up in those types of churches, and they are good churches and a great place for so many. However, as I got older I got tired of the hypocrisy. I’m sorry you go through that, and yes, you are exactly right. Church should be a place to feel safe and accepted. I’m sorry that happened to you, but glad too that you were able to stand up for yourself and educate.

  3. This story breaks my heart, for many reasons. First and foremost, because the things that were said were so hurtful, and so ignorant, and so wrong. I hate so badly that this was (and has been before) your experience at any Christian denomination. Secondly, it breaks my heart because it only takes a handful of “bad apples” to spoil the whole bunch. People have a negative experience, or several negative experiences, with Christians, and they tend to associate the few with the whole, which is a very human thing to do. It isn’t truly LOGICAL, when you consider the billions of Christians in the world, to take five or ten or twenty or fifty “bad” Christians and use them to label the whole of Christians around the world, but it is very HUMAN. Thirdly, the fact that these people are so ignorant about mental illness disturbs me greatly. While I don’t necessarily agree that we should choose religions or denominations like we choose cereal, to some degree, we have to. I have been a devout Christian all my life, and yet there are some Christian churches that I am not comfortable with at all, because I believe so very differently than they do. There are just certain denominations that fit what you believe in, and certain denominations that don’t, and that doesn’t matter whether you are an every-Sunday churchgoer, or someone who has never been before at all. I am very blessed to have been part of some very different denominations, all of which hugely supported me when I was going through the worst of depressions. And they are all very different — Catholic, Methodist,and Baptist. We make moral choices, every day, to stand by what we DO believe in, and to avoid or fight against that which we DON’T believe in. Christianity, unfortunately is no different. I think so often that people assume, because it is a religion and because our God and Savior are loving beings, that all Christians have it together. And they don’t. One of my favorite quotes is this: “Quitting church because of all they hypocrites is like quitting the gym because of all the fat people.” The very nature of Christianity is that we are HUGE screw ups, all of us. While i would understand completely if you chose never to set foot in another church again, my hope is that you won’t let the few dictate how you see the many, and that one day, you will find as much love and support within a church family as I have. Peace. 🙂

  4. This is why I do not go to to church. I was raised in the evangelical tradition, and have some issues of my own, so I know what you are talking about.

    “Christian” therapy did me a lot of harm at one point.

    And here is the crazy thing. I identify as a Christian, at least privately (I typically avoid religious talk altogether in public).

    So sorry this happened to you, but I must say. It sounds like you handled it.

  5. Gertie, I am so sorry that you heard those remarks! I’m a Christian and bipolar, and I’ve attended several different denominations over the years.

    Some churches are better than others at helping those with not-the-typical-physical-illnesses. One church member tried to exorcise the “demon” of depression from me. When I threw up, she told me, “I don’t mean to scare you, honey, but sometimes demons leave people that way.” I went to the doctor the next day. I had a stomach bug. Sheesh.

    I still attend a conservative evangelical church, but I haven’t heard any remarks like that, nor did I encounter any blatant discrimination at my previous church (in the same denomination) of ten years. (If people gossiped about me, I didn’t know about it.)

    The bigger problem was that people didn’t know how to respond to mental illness, so they just didn’t respond at all. A non-response is a response, of course, and silence can be just as hurtful as words. But I’ve found that the non-responders aren’t just in the church. They’re everywhere.

  6. As a Christian and preacher of the gospel, it is sad to hear about your experience. Certainly the reactions of those those folks were not only unkind and rude, but not at all in harmony with the attitude Christians should have in welcoming guests to their assembly. Your experiences does give me a deeper insight to some on your comments on my blog.

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