Crazy Life: Ecclesia et Mentis Morbum

I was hungry, and you fed me. I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home. I was naked, and you gave me clothing. I was sick, and you cared for me. I was in prison, and you visited me.
~ Jesus of Nazareth, the Christ

Playing on the words of the Messiah, I could very well say to clergymen/women and laity alike, “I was sick and committed, and you did not visit or minister to me… We were mentally and emotionally ailing … and hurting, suffering, yet you do not seem to care, or even give us a second thought. What must we do to deserve the ministry of the Church?” And yet again, Jesus weeps.

Amy Simpson hit the proverbial nail on the head when she surmised that “in general, the church tends to handle mental illness in one of three ways: ignore it, treat it exclusively as a spiritual problem, or refer (the suffering) to professionals and wash (their collective) hands of (the) trouble.”¹ Except instead of “ignoring it” she could have/should have been more pointed and said, “ignoring them.

StetzerAnd it is all-too-easy for superficially spiritual, religious individuals to ignore those with mental illness, unless of course they are disturbed and maladjusted right smack-dab in the middle of their communities, be that the neighborhood or the local church or wherever else. It’s almost like a toddler’s game: If they put their hands over their ears and shut their eyes, then the mentally ill have gone away … vanished … no longer exist.

As for her second point, Ed Stetzer certainly agrees. Recalling challenges with mental illness early in his ministry, he honestly confesses, “I was 25 years old, and all I had heard about dealing with mental illness was that Christians just ‘prayed it away,’ or it was an attack of the enemy, or so I’d been told, and the necessary response was expulsion — just cast it out.”² (The “enemy” being Satan, the devil, or demons.)

The third response listed by Simpson is, perhaps, the easiest: Just confine “them” to an institution, group home, and/or day treatment program and … forget about them. After all, “they” are being helped by professionals, right? So why would I want or feel the need to get involved? I haven’t been trained to be involved. I wouldn’t know what to do or say, and it can’t be as easy as simply loving, spending time, and encouraging … can it?

Of course, it helps to be as prepared as one can because, obviously, the different mental illnesses can be difficult to deal with, not to mention quite disconcerting (in many cases.) Yet from my own personal experience, which most certainly counts for something, most group home residents, and even individuals in the psychiatric wing of hospitals, would just be grateful and happy to have someone from the “outside” visiting them. Yes, there are extreme cases in which it is effectively impossible to visit, but really, in most instances, the mentally ailing are fully able to communicate!

And there is that famous, and popular, question many Christians like to ask: What would Jesus do? They even have WWJD stickers, ball caps, shirts, arm bands, etc. Oh, it’s quite “the thing” in many religious circles … but one is justified in wondering how often the “believer” actually answers the question … still more, how often s/he puts that answer into practice, especially where the mentally suffering are concerned.

And just what would Jesus do? I think he would at least visit, and it’s no good to simply assume one is not allowed. I know for a fact that, at least from my own experience, practically anyone could have dropped by the Samson Group Home to visit on the front porch … especially members of the clergy. There are no laws or restrictions against visiting group homes here, anyway, at least not pastors, priest, rabbis, imams, etc.

No … It’s just a matter of doing it! And even if the ostensibly spiritual-religious individual cannot visit a group home or hospital psych wing, the very least we/they can do is embrace the mentally anguished within our/their own faith communities, and, very importantly, do so in a dignified manner, (after all, many mentally ill individuals have practically been stripped of their personal dignity already!) Indeed, what would Jesus do? I really think he’s already answered that question… 


¹ A. Simpson, “Mental Illness: What is the Church’s Role?” as accessed on 09/25/2018 at qideas.org 

² Ed Stetzer, “A New Approach to Mental Illness in the Church,” as accessed on 09/25/2018 at christiaitytoday.com


For previous articles in this series, go to:

Crazy Life: My Testimony, Part I

Crazy Life: My Testimony, Part II

Crazy Life: My Testimony, Part III

Crazy Life: My Testimony, Part IV

Crazy Life: Sally Dumped and Deserted

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7 thoughts on “Crazy Life: Ecclesia et Mentis Morbum

  1. Life is a function of time and Christ implored us to use our time well, that is for sure. It is easy to help some one. There are nursing homes where we’ve seen those who have no one. There are Memory Care units where we have seen those who don’t know if they have some one or not. It isn’t difficult to schedule several hours per week to sit with someone. But no matter who we are with and where we are, we need always to consider Christ’s will for us in this life. The realities of having to struggle for survival in this world during this life make us mindful of how precious time is and should keep us humble and focused. I pray for those who think they have no one, and I thank God for Jesus Christ – sometimes he’s all we have.

  2. It is unfortunate that neglect the people who need our help the most. I remember visiting nursing homes. It brought such joy to the those who were there. I sang in one once. The smiles on their faces. They sang along with me. It was so nice. I have a mental illness. I have suffered from depression for years and one thing I have learned is this. Some people will never believe you no matter how hard you try. Unless that person has it themselves they just don’t understand. That’s why I started my blog. I wanted to help those who are like me to not feel alone in the world. We must continue to keep pressing forward and try to help as many as we can. God knows we can only do so much. We must continue to seek his will. He will give us the help we need. Thank you for sharing this information. It was just beautiful to read. In love, Kathleen

    1. Thank you so very much, Kathleen. You are so right: God knows what we can handle and what we cannot, and thankfully, God has provided help through counseling, therapy, medications, etc. And I, too, want to help those who are like me … that is, those who also struggle with a mental illness. Yes, together we will keep pressing forward! God bless you, Kathleen!

      1. You’re so welcome. Yes Amen. Yes He does. He makes a way when there’s no way. I’ve seen it. I quit my job a few weeks ago and next Monday I start a whole new job. He’s amazing. He brought me through. He can bring anyone through. We can together can help each other and help others as well. God bless you my darling!

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