Thursday, 14 May 2015

Is depression a sin?

We've all heard of it. Some of us have it. But the question here is whether depression is a sin that should be put from us. Let’s start with 1 Kings 19:4-8

But he himself went a day's journey into the wilderness and came and sat down under a broom tree. And he asked that he might die, saying, “It is enough; now, O Lord, take away my life, for I am no better than my fathers.” And he lay down and slept under a broom tree. And behold, an angel touched him and said to him, “Arise and eat.” And he looked, and behold, there was at his head a cake baked on hot stones and a jar of water. And he ate and drank and lay down again. And the angel of the Lord came again a second time and touched him and said, “Arise and eat, for the journey is too great for you.” And he arose and ate and drank, and went in the strength of that food forty days and forty nights to Horeb, the mount of God.

We see a number of things here. 1) Elijah was depressed. 2) More than that, he was suicidally depressed. He asked God to take his life. 3) And this is important. He asked. He didn’t take matters into his own hands. 4) God sent an angel to him to help him. The angel did not come and punish him or scold him. Now if an angel, send from God himself made no effort to condemn a suicidally depressed man, then who are we, as mere mortals to? God also commands us to rejoice? How can a depressed person do that? My faith in God demands I must accept that it is possible, albeit much, much harder. However God gives grace to those that need it and He will provide as he promised.

But what then should our reaction be to a person who actually harms themselves? Jesus died for that sin. And yes I did call it a sin. But Jesus still died for that sin out of His love for that person. He being God, did not shun people for sinning. He spoke the truth in love.

Pain is not and cannot be a sin. It can at times be the result of sin and depression can be a consequence of sin but to claim a person must have sinned to be depressed and in pain is far more serious than we realize. First of all God would have had to have made a mistake in not telling the angel to punish Elijah and second, Jesus Himself would have been wrong to feel pain in the garden of Gethsemane. And we would all say 'Perish the thought' at such an idea.

And yet there is more judging and condemnation from Christians than the unsaved at a persons suffering. The result of condemnation for a sin that isn’t actually one is more pain. In fact I would argue it even causes sin. Many, many times people will lie that they are 'fine' when they are in agony. Why? Fear of rejection, condemnation. Why should any Christian feel they have to lie, simply to avoid more pain? I should note i'm not condoning the lie and that is a sin. But why should anyone contribute to a persons temptation? It's just not right. How is this love? Biblical love is always seeking the best for one another and verbally slapping a hurting person upside the head is about as far from love as you can get. Furthmore many depressed people resort to lying because they know they are very likely to be attacked for having a lack of faith or some other such judgement. We can rarely know that. We rarely have enough information to suggest anything about a depressed persons heart, likely because they are too afraid. Maybe we should seek to help sufferer. Thank them for their bravery in stepping out and admitting something there is such a stigma about and learn not to make the mistakes others do in trying to help sufferers, which actually don’t help at all.

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