Below is the link to the letter to the editor I submitted in regard to an article the Courier published.
If I had chosen the byline for this article, I certainly would not have chosen “Depression Results from Sin” That said, I can see why they chose that particular byline due to one sentence I wrote back then. If I were to write this article today, I think I would change that paragraph so as to not offer the same confusion or pain to those who read:
Concerning the article, “When pastor’s silent suffering turns tragic” in the Jan. 7 edition of the Courier: I recognize that this article is one that is used by the permission of the Religion News Service and that it more than likely cannot be adjusted, but would it not have been more spiritually uplifting and helpful to offer a biblical perspective on depression in a box on the same page? If this is truly a problem that ministers should face, should the spiritual dimension not be considered?
Depression is brought on most times from unconfessed and unrepentant sin. Depression begins with a trigger event that spirals downward as we interact with our physical condition, human relationships, and personal response to the event. Thus depression can be worsened by a sinful human response as well as physical and relational factors. Proverbs 28:13 says that “he who conceals his sins does not prosper, but whoever confesses and renounces them finds mercy.” If we deal with every other contributing factor in depression but do not address the spiritual condition, we will not prosper.
As a pastor, I know the perennial sins that I face. People-pleasing, pride and unrealistic trust in my own abilities tempt me every week. The article mentions each of these sins, yet seemingly presents nothing other than psychological counseling as the answer.
This quote especially provoked my response: “Society still places a stigma on mental illness, but Christians make it worse – by ‘over-spiritualizing’ depression and other disorders as a lack of faith or a sign of weakness.” Such a quote, at least, belittles the work of a minister of the gospel, but at most it trivializes the work of our Savior! We are weak. We are sinners desperately in need. We must live by faith in one who can forgive our sin because he paid its price. Apart from that, we will live in bondage to sin and its devastating effects. How can we preach the sufficiency of Christ’s forgiveness and saving power in all things, while at the same time denying that power over depression?
Individuals who are depressed may have legitimate physical causes for such feelings; however, we can be sure that in this world we all strive against our fallen, sinful nature. The only freedom we experience comes not from counseling, but from confession – putting off the old man, as Paul states in Ephesians 4:22-24, and, in repentance and trust, putting on the new man – Christ Jesus.