Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
February 22, 1962
NUMBER 41, PAGE 5,12c-13a

Christianity And Mental Health

David Lawrence, Charleston, Arkansas

Competent psychiatrists should be lauded. However, not infrequently we hear of a psychiatrist leveling an attack against Christianity on the grounds that it is a contributing factor to mental illness. This is an unfair accusation, and reveals the doctor's ignorance of the gospel; but often he may influence an individual to forsake the Lord.

The anti-religious psychiatrist can enumerate several reasons why a person should not be overly religious. He will tell you that a man can be moderate in devotion, but if he is excessively so, he becomes susceptible to frustrations. These frustrations arise from a sense of failure as he realizes he cannot be as perfect as the gospel would have him to be. Also, he is frustrated when his family and friends fail to embrace the same religious beliefs as he.

It is true that a number of Christians, especially gospel preachers, have suffered nervous breakdowns and other forms of mental disturbances. The facts in the various cases will differ. Perhaps some were ignorant of gospel teaching regarding mental health. Perhaps others failed to apply and appropriate the teaching. But one thing is sure: Christ and his gospel are not at fault.

The following scriptural evidence is presented as the basis upon which the conclusion is formed that the gospel of Jesus Christ, when properly applied, is designed to and will produce the soundest condition of mental health possible for man, Further, this condition of sound mental health will occur in the devoutly religious, faithful Christian, and not necessarily in an individual who is "moderately religious." The reader is urged to test the evidence and see if the conclusion is justified.

First: the gospel teaches that the Christian is not to be concerned about the future, but live the best he can day by day. He is told to seek to serve God first, and promised that God will supply the necessities of life. The psychiatrist must admit that the absence of excessive worry and concern about the future, and an acceptance of the present is a sign of mental health.

"Take no thought for (don't worry about) your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on....Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you. Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof," Matthew 6:24-34.

What a blessed and comforting thought! The Christian need never go hungry or naked.

"Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you." I Peter 5:7.

Here is what the psychiatrist would prescribe for his patient: someone to share and even assume burdens. Who could be more qualified to do this than the Son of God? This is far from a 'frustrating" thought.

Along this line we may notice several other scriptures which will lead us to believe that Christianity is conducive to mental health. God teaches us to be content with what we have: ".... and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee." Heb. 13:5,

"Be careful for nothing; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests by made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus." Phil. 4:6-7. "....for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content." Phil. 4:11, Anxiety and frustration are often caused by striving for material goods beyond one's reach. The gospel teaches man to be satisfied with the possessions that he has.

To answer one of the misconceptions of the psychiatrist opposed to Christianity, we might point out that God never requires of his children above their ability or opportunity: "If any man minister (serve), let him do it as of the ability which God giveth." I Peter 4:11. "As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith." Gal. 6:10.

Although we're exhorted many places in the gospel to press on toward perfection, God does not expect us to become mature Christians overnight. We are to take our spiritual growth a step at a time: "Nevertheless, whereto we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule, let us mind the same thing." Phil. 3:16. Surely this is sound psychiatric advice.

Then attention must be called to the great spiritual blessing in Christ of peace. Peace resulting from a knowledge of fellowship with God plays an integral part in the life of the Christian. Peace of mind is indeed the most significant attribute of good mental health: "Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you." John 14:27.

"For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace." Romans 8:6.

"For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink: but righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost." Romani 14:17.

"But the fruit of the Spirit is....peace...." Gal. 5:22. "And let the peace of God rule in your hearts." Col. 3:15.

"Now the Lord of peace himself give you peace always by all means." II Thess. 3:16.

The gospel is anything but an escape from reality. The Christian is taught to face the situation, to accept his own responsibility (Gal. 6:5), for he must give account for all that he has done during this life: "For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that everyone may receive the things done in his body, according to that he bath done, whether it be good or bad." II Cor. 5:10. The psychiatrist often tells his patient that he needs to face reality and accept responsibility.

The gospel releases one from the rat race of society. The Christian is not concerned about popularity with the world, for he realizes that God and one man make a majority: "If God be for us, who can be against us?" Romans 8:31. The tension that accumulates in trying to maintain a position disappears.

The gospel provides significance and value to life. The Christian is not dismayed because physical life is transitory, like a vapor (James 4:14). Living the Christian life causes every moment to be precious and good. This is the abundant life. (John 10:10) The Christian is supplied with everything he needs to know, in order to serve God, in the gospel: II Peter 1:3, Col. 2:10, II Tim. 3:16-17.

Finally, the Christian is in possession of the hope of eternal life. This is by far the greatest of his blessings and the most conducive to mental health. The Christian knows that if "our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hand, eternal in the heavens." II Cor. 5:1. The Christian can say as did Paul: ".... for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day." II Tim. 1:12.

It seems to this writer almost incredible that an individual could maintain sound mental health without being a Christian.