Friday, November 03, 2006

What Does the Bible Say About Psychiatric Medication ?

Like most topics, the Bible says nothing explicitly about whether one should or should not take psychiatric medication. Some in the church claim medication is satanic and others say God made it, so it must be good.

Like most topics in life, the Bible provides guidelines only, principles, boundaries of God's will. There is biblical freedom with the choice to take medication or not. Contrary to common thought, the Bible is (all) about God not man, but this is a topic for some other post.

Before moving on I want to get personal and state that over the last two years, on different levels, I have personally processed through what I am going to write. That is to say I have had my own personal experience with medication, over a ten year period of time. Today, I do not take anything. I have not taken medication for a year and a half. Do I have mental health problems? Well, if you've read any of my earlier posts, what is at the core of every mental health issue? In that case, everybody has mental health problems. Now though, that I am off the medication, I see all my problems as heart-related spiritual problems, period. Admitting that I once took medication, for over ten years mind you, and now I don't should serve as a credibility factor when considering what I talk about. I write from personal experience.

I mentioned in another post about people dealing with psychiatric problems are, at the core, suffering. The bible has something to say about suffering:
James 1:2-4
2Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. 4Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
James suggests there is value in faith being tested and strengthened through trials. Suffering is not something that should always be escaped. Some may see this as unloving, especially if they don't see the Bible as authoritative, being God's word. Life in America too is all about claiming rights to a pain-free life. But suffering is not the enemy it is sometimes seen as, and so medication is not, or should not be, considered to first be the end all answer to psychiatric problems. In the final analysis, medication is not the source of hope, Christ is.

Now that all was a pretty wide brush stroke when looking at medication through a biblical lense. Some how, things seem to be more complex than that don't they. Consider this:
  1. The depth of someone's suffering is never fully known by man.
  2. In general, alleviating suffering is a good thing.
  3. Since the Bible is not explicit on medication, the issue is not the morality of taking medication, the issue is about making wise, informed decisions.
When considering medication for yourself or another person, focus on what is clear in Scripture. Dr. Ed Welch points to the following passages that offer wise pastoral care: Hebrews 11 and 12. In these parts of Scripture it is shown that there have been many before us who have experienced suffering and have demostrated strong faith. Also, suffering calls for repentance and perseverance.

Scripture does not label medication right or wrong. As always, Scripture points out the motives of the heart and calls man to examine why? Why is someone taking or not taking medication?

Once again, medication is not the source of hope - "2Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God." Hebrews 12:2


Anonymous said...

I don't know how many can say drugs which are more damaging than cocaine such as ritalin and have killed over 2,000 kids can be good. One was as young as 4 how horrific is that?

Ms Walker said...

I started taking meds a year and a half ago...suicidal thoughts started. I started to not care about life anymore...I started overeating, now these r choices I made, but the meds def caused a sense of numbness in me..I wish I never started taking them...

Anonymous said...

psych meds are not meant to be a cure all. they Are meant to reduce the patients suffering to a level that s/he can work at getting better. sometimes it takes more than one try to get the right medication, and some people's bodies adapt in such a way that the medicine stops working after a while and they have to switch. it also depends on the patient's willingness and ability to seek and accept counseling to make whatever changes they can to help them get better. the experience and ability of the psychiatrist, if you can afford the best medication for your illness or if you can try a cheaper alternative, and other factors. bottom line, some people need medicine, some mental illnesses cause the sufferer to be unable to realize they are sick and they won;t accept medication and dont think they need to change anything (known as "lack of insight"...some people need medicine and counseling but will only accept medication and cannot/refuse to believe they need to do anything else. psych meds can only do so much but they have a place and they are a valuable tool. in His love,

Jim McMahon said...

I have suffered from depressions for 35 years. I uses to hate medications in fact I didn't believe that they were from God and God alone was my healer. I truly had an unhealthy condescending viewpoint. Till one day I really was out of choices. After praying and getting prayer I felt the Lord telling me that I would need Meds. to numb the pain that had caused me to act out in sin. "Sin causes death" I must say I hated taking them and experiencing the many side affects. I found Deplin that was taken from a food and felt the healing within 20 min. with no side effects. I got so comfortable on them that I didn't care if I had to take them. One day when I was just doing ordinary daily requirements of life I felt the impression of the Lord upon me. Granted I had heard voices from time to time in the depths of depressions and being severely oppressed, but this time I was truly hearing from God. He stated that He didn't want me taking the meds anymore. So without consulting my doctor I stopped. A week or two had passed and the pressure of the former depression and intense fear came back. So I took out a pill and told God I was going to take it. He clearly stated that was not His will. By this time I was not willing to get off them. I became angry that He was asking me to get off them. After five minutes or so I agreed. Then I realized there must be a reason He wanted me to feel this pain and pressure that caused me many years of suffering. So I agreed to feel it. Then something amazing happen. I experienced in a instant all the times and places I chose mental insanity to be my comfort as a way to escape my responsibility in life and taking care of myself. My life passed before me in seconds. The Lord was showing me how I had invited this mental illness and that I was responsible for bringing this upon myself. When I took ownership knowing that I did this throughout the many years and confessed it to Jesus, He took it all away and I haven't experienced it sense, it's been 2 years now. I am free to be loved and blessed by God. Zephaniah 3:17 He has quieted my heart with His love. I can now be still and know that He is God... Thank you Jesus for loving me!

Anonymous said...

Do not be afraid of those who can destroy the body.

Anonymous said...

I hope to one day to have a testimony like yours Jim. Pray for me as I pray for you.

Marial Arts said...

I was rasied by these pills. .

Mweezieb7 said...

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Mweezieb7 said...

Me tooπŸ™πŸΎπŸ™πŸΎπŸ™πŸΎπŸ™πŸΎπŸ™πŸΎ

Unknown said...

I can't help but think that some of the comments are coming from people that have never dealt with a true mental illness. If it weren't for medications, myself and many within my family would be dead. I stopped taking meds and it turned me into a crazy madman, full of violent fits of rage and uncontrollable emotions that were destroying every aspect of my life. No amount of prayer, devotion or belief that I didn't need the meds for the diagnosed chemical imbalances (within my fallen nature) changed those facts. Without them, I was becoming more of what the devil enjoyed. My wife has Rheumatoid Arthritis so incredibly bad that she cannot walk without them. Should I throw those out too? Not everyone of His children are physically healed by faith alone. So please, don't deter others from the God-given meds they may very well need.