Anti-depressants for the Christian?
This is an issue fraught with varying degrees of confusion.
The reason I even ask the question is this… I know many people who are “on” anti-depressants, and more than one of them has told me that the effect they feel is that their emotions are sort of “flat.” No lows (the desired outcome, being “anti” depressants) but also no highs. On the surface level, that bothers me… like having a very low level of emotional-elasticity. What impact would that have on the ability to truly worship with all your heart, mind, and soul? Not that worship is purely emotional, but it should be a part, don’t you think? Personally, I don’t think I’d want that kind of limitation.
On the “down” side of the emotions is this: In Pastoral counseling with some of these individuals, I’ve noticed a seeming inability to really grieve over sin. Sometimes it’s manifested in the inability to truly see/feel the magnitude of a betrayal they’ve committed, or a sin they’ve nurtured. Not only are they not connecting with the reality and depth of what they’ve done, they also seem to be unable to reach a point of godly grief (2 Corinthians 7:10). My understanding of what Paul teaches it that godly grief is necessary for deep, lasting repentance to come about. I wonder if this type of medication, even if warranted on one level, is erecting a spiritual barrier on another?
Were I in those shoes – pressed to make the choice of EITHER being debilitated by a constant heaviness of depression, and therefore being engaged in a life-long struggle to have joy in the LORD - OR – taking an anti-depressant and running the risk of not being able to truly see and deal with my own sin adequately, I wonder what I would choose.
Perhaps the LORD’s intention is not that we escape the lows, but receive them as His will and means of our sanctification, faithfully enduring for the sake of His purposes and for His glory (Romans 5:3-5). I’m reminded of C.H. Spurgeon’s battle with this very thing.
What are your thoughts?
Introducing Christian Home and Family
I’ve been working on a new web-venture… and TODAY IS THE OFFICIAL LAUNCH! It’s a ministry endeavor aimed at using the great blessing the LORD has poured out on my family to bring an even broader blessing to others! It’s Christian Home and Family with Carey Green!
It’s designed to help followers of Christ make Christ the center of their home. Drawing on my experience of God’s grace in my own home and family, and my knowledge of the scriptures, I’m providing teaching, coaching, and resources that are truly helpful in making godly sense of the mess that family life can be.
My approach is very simple: All of life is an act of stewardship. Every believer in Christ is responsible before God to make the most of the life and resources God has entrusted them with, for His glory. Our stewardship before God over arches every aspect of who we are – spirit, soul, and body – and I’m working to help believers in Christ faithfully carry out that stewardship individually, and in respect to those under their care.
My instruction focuses on those three areas – spirit, soul, and body – and their relationship to the everyday issues of home and family life… marriage, parenting, communication, household organization, life management, education, and many others.
I truly feel this is a “calling” for me… on the same level as my calling to the Pastorate. God has placed this on my heart so strong, so heavy, and so passionately… I LOVE IT!
Christian Home and Family already includes:
- Regular blog posts (3 to 5 times a week) – subscribe!
- Topical indexes (Family Foundations, Spirit Health, Soul Health, Body Health, Marriage, Parenting, Education, Reviews)
- Resources & other services
- Parenting, marriage, or family coaching
- Prayer Wall (leave your request any time)
- On-site voice mail to leave me your question or suggestion!
Coming in the near future:
- The Christian Home and Family Podcast (debuts within the next two weeks)
- A possible “User Forum” to discuss home and family issues from a Christian perspective (what do you think… would that be helpful?)
I’m excited… but open to any and all ideas you have to shoot my way!
Your help is needed!
You can help me in the following ways…
- Use the various contact forms to shoot me suggestions or comments aimed toward helping me improve the site.
- Help me spread the word! You know and rub shoulders with many who I may never have the chance to meet. Please consider recommending the website through your social media channels (Facebook, Twitter, Linked-In, etc.) as well as your personal relationships.
- Help me contact guests for the podcast! I’d love to interview people like Dennis Rainey and James Dobson (if you know them, could you make the introduction?). But I’m also interested in interviewing anyone you know who has significant, Christ-honoring things to share about Christian home and family life. Could you introduce me and suggest the interview?
- Subscribe to the blog, either via email or in your favorite reader. It makes a difference to new visitors if I have 4 subscribers or 40 or 400. They will be influenced to join by your presence.
- Join in the conversation by commenting at the end of the posts. The more commenters I have, the more others are encouraged to join in.
- Share the posts you like with others, via the sharing buttons at the bottom of each one. This is another “social proof” issue, where others are more likely to share posts they see have already been shared.
- “Like” and pass along my Facebook page! – www.ChristianHomeAndFamily.com/facebook – Many people are influenced by the number of “likes” a Facebook page has. They will be more likely to check out what I’m doing if I have more “likes”…so “like” me!
- Pass along resources on the site to others! – If you find something on the Christian Home and Family website that you find helpful, pass it along!
- Add this ministry project to your prayer list! – I truly want to see the LORD do His work through these efforts… your prayers will help!
Any additional suggestions or comments?
Christian Psychology – my disclaimer: What you are about to read falls into the “if the shoe fits” category… read at your own risk.
Like biology and physics and chemistry, psychology is a human science. It is the study of the “mind.” Pschological research is mostly done through studies and observations regarding human behavior. I get that.
But psychology is different than other sciences because it deals with the internal workings of people. People are not inanimate laws or facts of the natural world, they are beings with soul, body, and spirit. There is much more that quantifies an individual than biological properties and chemical reactions. And then there’s the effect that sin has had on us as a race… that complicates things a bit more, wouldn’t you say?
So, it won’t surprise you to know that I’ve come to be a bit skeptical of the psychological/psychiatric world – especially as it has crossed-over into the Christian church. Don’t get me wrong… as a Pastor I do counseling. I’ve been trained in many psychological methods and skills. I know that some of the “science” of human behavior as it relates to our biology is indeed true. But I’m still on the leading edge of skeptical…
The main reason? I don’t see very many Christian counselors actually practicing “Christian” counseling (Bible-based counsel). I see them practicing “psychological” counseling, with the name “Christian” tacked on. That may sound harsh, but it’s what I’ve witnessed in 20 years of ministry.
What that amounts to is this: The prescriptions many Christian therapists give, are clearly unbiblical (I heard another account of it just today). Yes, I said clearly unbiblical. I could tell you so many stories. In such cases the therapeutic has triumphed over the theological – and nobody is helped when that happens. In fact, great harm occurs because the very real power of God to truly transform a sinner into a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17; Galatians 6:15) is relegated to irrelevance.
Look, psychology may have its place, but not if it is used as a cover-up for legitimately sinful behaviors or attitudes that can only be transformed by the power of God’s Spirit. That’s exactly what I’ve seen our culture’s love-affair with the therapeutic do in many cases. Here’s how it looks: I go to a therapist, I get a clinical-sounding label for a troublesome attitude or behavior, and it suddenly seems legitimately outside my control, like something that’s “happened” to me. I subtly give myself permission to be the victim of my biology and past, instead of a child of the King who is called and equipped to be more than a conqueror (Romans 8:37).
Do your own self-check. Which of the following terms are regularly a part of your vocabulary?
- personal issues
- addictive behaviors
- passive aggressive
The odd numbered points are biblical terms. The evens are based in the therapeutic model. I hear many, many more of the even-numbered phrases in the church nowadays than I do the odds. Have we been desensitized to our real need?
We aren’t dysfunctional people who need a therapist. We are sinners who need a Savior. Psychology is only Christian in so far as it holds out Christ as the cure for the human condition.
I’m thinking about “blogging” my couple’s marriage devotional, “The Marriage Improvement Project” for anyone who would commit to doing it for the sake of their own marriage. If you don’t know about the MIP, it’s a couple’s devotional study I’ve put together that has helped many couples I’ve counseled. It’s designed for both spouses to go through together, with some discussion built in.
The way I’d go about it is that I’d post one day’s devotional at a time, at an interval of every other day.
AND I’D BE DOING THIS TOTALLY FREE!
- Saturday: I “blog” the “How To Use This Book” chapter
- Monday: I “blog” the day 1 study
- Wednesday: I “blog” the day 2 study
- Friday: I “blog” the day 3 study
- Sunday: I “blog” the day 4 study
- Tuesday: etc. – you get the idea… until Day 40 is done.
I’m curious what you think…
Would you do the work of improving YOUR marriage if I posted it? Talk to your spouse and let me know through the comments below! If you don’t see it posted at a later date… nobody was interested.
Books from the PF Journal..
The E-book “Rid of My Disgrace” is free from The Resurgence Store for a limited time (April 2-3, 2012).
Here’s the blurb from the back of the book:
The statistics are jarring. One in four women and one in six men are or will be victims of sexual assault in their lifetime. But as sobering as the statistics are, they don’t begin to speak to the darkness and grief experienced by these victims. Because sexual assault causes physical, psychological, emotional, and spiritual pain, victims need clear help, hope, and healing. In Rid of My Disgrace, a couple experienced in counseling victims of sexual assault explains how the grace of God can heal the broken and restore the disgraced.
Justin and Lindsey Holcomb outline an approach for moving from destruction to redemption. While avoiding platitudes and shallow theology, Rid of My Disgrace combines biblical and theological depth with up-to-date research. This book is primarily written for those who have been assaulted (either as children or adults) but also equips family, friends, pastors, and others to care for victims in ways that are compassionate, practical, and informed. Part of the Re:Lit series.
Most Christians have heard this one. Most Christians have said this one. I think at one point I’ve actually said it too. But I’ve come to see that the Bible NEVER affirms it to be true….
“God will never put you in a situation you can’t handle.”
And if you buy that one, I’ve got some wonderful swampland in Florida you should consider buying…
The more I read the scriptures, the more I realize that this quote is blatantly false. In fact, it’s worse than that… it’s exactly opposite of what God typically does or what we see regularly demonstrated in the scriptures. Think about even the most well-known accounts from the scriptures…
- God’s command to Moses to lead the Israelites out of Egyptian slavery (who wound up handling that one? Uh… God)
- God’s command to Noah to build the ark (Who wound up bringing all the animals to the ark? Uh… God again)
- How about David’s fight with Goliath (David was confident he could kill Goliath because he was such a “dead-eye” shot with a sling… right? READ IT FOR YOURSELF)
- Jesus’ command to us to “be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Matt. 5:48). Which of us is up for that one?
Though very well-meaning, isn’t this quote really saying more about OUR ability than it is God’s? Since when has God been all about telling us how wonderful WE are? how much WE can accomplish on our own? what good hearts WE have?
So back to the quote in question…
Q; Well-meaning? A: Perhaps.
Q: Accurate? A: Not on your life. In fact, it’s more akin to humanism than to Christian faith…
Some months ago we went through the “Celebrate Recovery” materials created at Saddleback Church in CA. We did the entire sermon series, etc. Below is the entire series for your edification – enjoy!
Step 1 – Realize I’m Not God – DOWNLOAD
Step 2 – Earnestly believe that God exists / Step 3 – Commit my life to His care – DOWNLOAD
Step 4 – Openly confess to God – DOWNLOAD
Step 5 – Voluntarily submit everything to God – DOWNLOAD
Step 6 – Evaluate my relationships & release my hurts to God
Step 7 – Reserve a daily time with God – DOWNLOAD
Step 8 – Yield myself to God to be used to spread His good news – DOWNLOAD
Matt Johnson writes the following on the Resurgence
Both the average churchgoer and those seeking one-on-one pastoral care are generally seeking two things: spiritual life-coaching for sin management and deliverance from pain and chaos. Self-improvement advice is more palatable than proclaiming death to the believer and their indwelling sin. (read the rest of the article here)
When you are seeking counsel or advice from those spiritual leaders the Lord has put over you (your local church leadership) are you doing so for either of the reasons Matt describes?
- Seeking to how to manage your sin (instead of killing it through the power of the Spirit)
- Deliverance from pain or chaos (instead of imitating Christ’s example through the power of His Spirit, by perseverance through suffering)
Give it some thought…
Related post - Three Prerequisites to Changing Your L ife
Originally posted on Albert Mohler’s blog – www.albertmohler.com
“When an institution so central to human experience suddenly changes shape in the space of a generation or two, it’s worth trying to figure out why.” Belinda Luscombe of TIME magazine made that observation in the course of reporting on a major study of marriage undertaken by TIME and the Pew Research Center. In the cover story for the magazine’s November 29, 2010 edition, Luscombe summarizes their findings with a blunt statement: “What we found is that marriage, whatever its social, spiritual, or symbolic appeal, is in purely practical terms just not as necessary as it used to be.”
Without doubt, marriage has been utterly transformed in the modern world. In Western nations, the concept of marriage as a sacred covenant has given way to the idea that marriage is merely a legal contract. The limitation of sexual intercourse to marriage went the way of the Sexual Revolution, even as the ideal of permanence gave way to no-fault divorce and serial monogamy. And as for monogamy, that may be on shaky ground, too. These days, you can’t take anything for granted.
The debates over the legitimization and legalization of same-sex marriage have, among other things, revealed the fact that far too many Americans (and that includes a frightening number of American Christians) are simply unarmed for any intellectual conflict on any question related to marriage.
And the demographics? Brace yourselves. In 1960, 70 percent of all American adults were married. Now, that number is just over half. Eight times as many children are born out of wedlock as compared to that same year. In the 1960s, two-thirds of all young adults in their twenties were married. Now, only 26 percent of twenty-somethings are married.
Statistics can inform or misinform, and it is possible to find statistical support that puts a happier face on the health of marriage. But in order to find these happier statistics, it is necessary to redefine the question. For example, some marriage defenders will assert, accurately, that most Americans will at some point be married. But that fact lowers the question of marriage to the minimalist level of “at some point.” By any honest measure, marriage is in big trouble.
When Belinda Luscombe argues that marriage is “in purely practical terms just not as necessary as it used to be,” she has a rationale to back up her argument. “Neither men nor women need to be married to have sex or companionship or professional success or respect or even children.” All that is true — when marriage is viewed on the canvas of American culture. Marriage no longer regulates sex. The Sexual Revolution severed sex from marriage in a social sense, and the arrival of The Pill offered a pharmaceutical means of severing sex from reproduction. No-fault divorce arrived as a legal accommodation to marital impermanence, effectively redefining both marital and family law in the process. Social status and professional expectations were liberated from the question of marriage, and many feminists declared that marriage itself was an impediment to the full liberation of women.
And yet, Luscombe ends her argument about the “not as necessary as it used to be” status of marriage with these words — “yet marriage remains revered and desired.” Really? Well, that all depends on how you define reverence and desire.
TIME reports that 40 percent of Americans believe that marriage is now obsolete, up from 28 percent in 1978. Cohabitation is now the norm for American adults — not just before marriage, but increasingly instead of marriage. And American cohabitation is an exceedingly weak arrangement. As Andrew Cherlin of Johns Hopkins University explains, Americans “have the shortest cohabiting relationships of any wealthy country in the world.” Less than half of all Americans believe that cohabitation is morally wrong.
Divorce is now an institutionalized part of American life, complete now with an industry putting out divorce announcements, greeting cards, and party plans. The American divorce rate, though now somewhat stable, is so disastrously high that even social scientists are shocked. As Professor Cherlin remarked: “One statistic I saw when writing my book that floored me was that a child living together with unmarried parents in Sweden has a lower chance that his family will disrupt than does a child living with married parents in the U.S.”
That statistic should floor all of us.
The TIME/Pew study also revealed more visible contours of the “marriage gap” that has emerged with respect to income and education levels. For most of the twentieth century, the age of one’s first marriage rose for those young adults pursuing a college education, while those without a college education married earlier. That is no longer the case. Now, it is those marked by lower incomes and educational levels who are marrying late — if at all. In a stunning reversal of social patterns, it is the more highly educated who are now more likely to marry. Economic factors are most often cited as the reason for this reversal, but this is not fully convincing. In far more desperate economic times, couples have managed to get married, stay married, and raise a family. Furthermore, as TIME notes, this pattern becomes a formula for disaster, since marriage uniquely provides the stability needed to escape poverty and many social pathologies.
TIME’s cover asks the question straightforwardly — “Who Needs Marriage?” The magazine and its team sought to answer that question “in purely practical terms,” doing their best to leave questions of morality and theology aside. But Christians, who rightly see the practical benefits of marriage as exemplars of common grace, cannot stop there. We believe that humanity needs marriage. God created the institution of marriage — defined on his terms — as the central institution of human society. Marriage was given to us by our Creator as the central institution for sexual relatedness, procreation, and the nurture of children. But, even beyond these goods, God gave us marriage as an institution central to human happiness and flourishing. Rightly understood, marriage is essential even to the happiness and flourishing of the unmarried. It is just that central to human existence, and not by accident.
There is much more to the Pew Research Center’s report, but TIME’s cover story put the most crucial questions before its readers. The question on its cover demands a faithful answer.
Who needs marriage? I do. You do. We all do — and for reasons far more fundamental than can be explained “in purely practical terms.”
Series: Celebrate Recovery —- Sermon Date: 11.07.10