A Pondering: Mental illness, Christianity, and the deadly consequences of ignorance

A Pondering – A quick thought or random wondering

A quick heads up that the korero in this reflection involves discussion around suicide and depression.

Last week I wrote an article for When Lambs Are Silent entitled Is the Petition to Ban Gay Conversion Therapy a Wake up call to the Church?

In that article I highlighted statistics that pointed to a heightened risk of suicide for people within the rainbow community if they were involved in a religious community. I won’t go into that here, but check out the link above if your interested.

I expected some push back from that article.

What I didn’t expect was the amount of Christians who responded by blaming the suicide and depression on the individuals themselves.

The overall response could probably be boiled down to the following points:

1) If you don’t conform to the traditional sexual ethic of the church, you are a sinner

2) As a consequence for that sin it is no surprise that you will be depressed and want to kill yourself

3) Suicide is thus the individuals fault, and they need to stop blaming others, and start taking personal responsibility for choosing to sin by suicide.

Whether you believe point #1 or not, I shouldn’t have to qoute scripture to convince you that point #2 And #3 are extremally homophobic, hurtful and damaging.

Not just to the rainbow community, but to all of us who battle with mental illness.

This idea seems to be rooted in a profound misunderstanding of mental illness, depression and suicidality.

The idea that suicide is a choice. And a selfish and sinful one at that is outdated and dangerous.

It’s existence in the church is further proof that the statistics in my last article need to be taken more seriousely.

We as a community should be a place where vulnerable people are safe. Where they can come to heal, and be restored.

To condemn someone because they battle against a disease like depression, is the equivalent of condemning someone for say having cancer, or a broken leg, or perhaps even being born blind (A point I think Jesus may have had one or two things to say about).

If anything the response to that article revealed to me that we need to be more courageous about having conversations around suicide, depression and mental illness.

Its time for us to #EndTheStigma.

#Speakup #Speakout

2 thoughts on “A Pondering: Mental illness, Christianity, and the deadly consequences of ignorance

  1. It makes me so sad if that is what Christians in this country are still thinking. It is outdated, wrong and simply leaves me with the conclusion that I don’t want to identify myself as Christian. I agree with you that we must continue to talk more openly about mental illness and suicide. Otherwise, we leave one in five of us (at least) out in the cold. I don’t think that’s what Christianity should be about.Thanks for the reminder Aaron.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Cate, I think it is one of those old ideas that is really a hang over from another era. My hope is that by having this korero, by challenging these misconceptions, we can start bringing understanding to a very complex and difficult space. Appreciate your mahi mate, the courage you display in your writing is one of those sparks which will ignite change. Kia kaha

      Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s