Counseling Notes: The Church & caring for those who struggle with depression, despair, & Suicidal Ideation.

Topic: Soul Care, Depression

Counseling Notes are a series of short posts that are often taken from Twitter threads that I’ve done on various topics. The goal of Counseling Notes is to take the short snippets (tweets) I make about Soul Care issues and compile them into one place.

Depression & despair are often NOT the fruit of unbelief, & when we think of them only as such we minimize the reality of both the fall & the comprehensive suffering it brings. Our default posture towards those who struggle w/ depression and despair should be caring for a sufferer, not “correcting” doubter.

Kyle J. Howard

The church’s lack of understanding of mental health has life or death consequences.

Ignorance of mental health + underdeveloped theology of Sin & suffering + truncated understanding of depression/despair = church often being unsafe for those struggling w/ suicidal thoughts.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard Christians speak abt depression & suicide in a way that is not only profoundly unhelpful; but leaves me with the thought, “There is no way a person on the edge would ever come to this person. This person has slammed & locked that door.”

Often, the people who have door closed & locked due to their ignorance & underdeveloped theology of sin & suffering often think they’re welcoming. They think they’re folks who have door open & if someone they know does die by suicide, they are like, “why didn’t they come to me?”

Listen, the Roman Catholic Church took a trash stance on suicide & Protestantism has largely followed suit. Awhile ago, the church chose to view suicide thru the lens of Sin rather than suffering, & so suicide become a mortal (unpardonable) sin. It became an act that = damnation.

Protestantism toned down language a little, but it still carries on the same posture of looking at suicide as “self-murder” & looking at depression & despair solely as the byproduct of doubt and unbelief. Therefore, depression, despair, & suicide solely became the fruit of sin.What this reveals, however, is an extremely truncated conception of sin & suffering within much of Western Christian Theology.

What this reveals, however, is an extremely truncated conception of sin & suffering within much of Western Christian Theology. Depression, despair, & even suicide should be looked at primarily thru lens of the fall & suffering, not thru a lens of rebellion, sin, & judgement.

The church MUST get this right. Engaging a depressed person who is in the depths of despair, to the point of even considering suicide is already suffering. Heaping judgement & condemnation on them in that state does not bring them up to hope, it drives them further into darkness.