This is the last post that I’ll give based directly off of the emails that I have talked about in the last 3 posts. You can read about this conversation here, here, and here. It’s been helpful for me to think through these psychology issues and offer what I believe to be a God-honoring response to these, though I know they can be very personal. I know that some of this hits very close to home for many of you, and I invite you to comment below.
Here’s the email I sent to the licensed psychologist that I have been having the ongoing conversation with:
Good thoughts. Thanks for even being a bit self-disclosing.
I do think that medication is helpful and maybe even warranted. Take, for example, the schizophrenic (schizoid/typal personality disorder, schizophrenia, etc.). Many, if not all, have to be on varying dosages/levels of medication. Life is likely intolerable for them and those around them if they are not treated physically. But if we as humans are comprised of both body and soul, the meds only treat the body side. We, as soul-care providers (I tried to use a generic enough term to lump us both into), have a responsibility to look at both aspects. This schizophrenic, though on medications, still has responsibilities in society, even if “society” for him is in the mental hospital. From a biblical standpoint, I think that he still has a responsibility before God as well. God will hold him accountable for his actions done on earth. God holds all people accountable for their actions, even when the issue is completely biological. Take, for example, Type I diabetes, which is clearly a physiological issue. Though there was not a specific sin that lead to this, we still have a responsibility to God for how we respond to it. Holiness may more difficult in certain psychological problems, but holiness is still the requirement for all men (Leviticus 19:2). God is full of grace and mercy, but His requirements are the same for everybody. Obedience will likely be more difficult for some, but not impossible. Think about someone who is mentally handicapped, but functions at a high level. They are held responsible for some tasks, right? Obeying their parents may be tough, but it’s possible.
Medication doesn’t negate anybody’s responsibility before God. “Sorry I was short with you today…I’ve just got a headache.” Our impatience and anger are not justified because there are physical issues present. We need to realize where our weaknesses are and address them biblically. There are over 40 places in Scripture where we are commanded to do things to “one-another”: love one another, serve one another, submit to, encourage, admonish, be kind to, be devoted to, think of them better than yourself, prefer, build up, accept, care for, envy not, be truthful to, etc. God is pleased when we take even small steps in the right direction.
Hardships in life, no matter what the cause or what the suggested treatment, are a chance for our true hearts to be revealed. We are all sinners living in a fallen world. And what do sinners do? Sin against one another…lots. God will not judge us based on how people have sinned against us, but based on our response to being sinned against. For those who have been scarred more deeply by the effects of sin, obedience may be so difficult that we, humans, cannot see how it would even be possible. Good thing others’ obedience is not placed on our shoulders! We serve a big God, who is able to change the vilest hearts and the most corrupt souls. Lest we think ourselves prideful, I put us both in that category as well! We serve a God who can cure cancer, heal headaches, mend broken relationships, heal crazy people (see Mark 5:1-20), and, biggest of all, save sinners. “Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever.” (Ephesians 3:20-21)