Thursday, August 14, 2014

Questions About Clinical Depression and Religion

In the aftermath of the recent tragedy with Robin Williams, people have wrestled with the issue of depression and how that intersects with religion.  Here are some questions.

1.  Do people with clinical depression who commit suicide have no choice?  Could they have chosen differently, or did their depression push them inevitably towards the act?  Where does free will come into the picture?  Or does it?

2.  The Bible says that a fruit of the spirit is joy.  Does that mean that Christians cannot be depressed?  But there are many Christians who are.  Can they be said to have joy, somehow?

3.  Many have said that Robin Williams is in a better place now.  I read one person who questioned whether that was an appropriate thing to say—-whether that can encourage suicide because there is a pleasant afterlife awaiting us.  That’s a good question, but, ultimately, I can think of reasons to keep on living: I may be needed here, I do not want to hurt my loved ones, etc.

4.  Personally, I appreciate tips people give on how to have a positive attitude.  To someone who is clinically depressed, however, they may not be helpful.  I can only say what has worked for me.  For me, I depend on God to maintain a good attitude.  But that may not work for someone with clinical depression.  Why not?  Is God not more powerful than clinical depression?  If reliance on God does not work for everyone, how can I be sure that it will always work for me?

I hope that my questions do not come across as judgmental.  I am sincere when I say that I do not have an answer to all of these questions that is satisfactory to me.  My response to these questions is largely a blank.  I do not know where God is, when it comes to people’s clinical depression.

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