I’ve had enough of the “depression = demons” argument.
There is this gross over-simplification of the roots of mental illness & disorders that is still prevalent amongst Christian leaders. They are using their platforms to perpetuate stigma & demonize the very people they claim to be wanting to help.
I say this as a Christian, by the way.
Let me get these points out of the way:
- Yes, we need to watch what we listen to or watch because certain things can effect our spiritual & mental wellbeing.
- Yes, there are things that have been created with evil intentions that, if we are not mindful, can influence us negatively & even contribute to our demise. We need to resist those things.
- No, I will never endorse or defend any artist, influencer, or person in general who creates media or anything for human consumption that has demonic origins.
That being said, these Christian leaders need to get enough of saying, “And you wonder why you’re depressed,” in the context of spirituality while having next to zero knowledge or consideration of why that is actually the case.
The general argument as of late has been against certain music & music artists in particular, with the focus being Beyonce more than anyone else. & while you won’t see me defending Beyonce (especially as someone who doesn’t listen to her music) I have to admit that she does, through her music, speak to injustices that are likely roots of mental distresses that can lead to disorders – when the church is generally too afraid to lose their 501c3 statuses or conservative followers to speak to those things. If & when we are bold enough to speak out against injustice & oppression in the same way Christ did, that is when people will be more drawn to Christ than they are to secular artists.
Additionally, this argument begs so many questions:
- Why won’t the church (at large) work with experts in the mental health field to better understand mental health in general & to better serve those they are called to serve?
- Is it really that difficult to just read the Bible & see that even believers in Christ, who were set apart, experienced mental distress & even suicidal ideation? Submission to & belief in God, unfortunately, does not exempt anyone from hardship.
- Is the name of Jesus not greater than Beyonce’s (& whoever else’s) name?
The road to better mental health is much more than watching & being mindful of what you consume. It’s more than resisting demonic influences (said knowing this is not easy in the slightest). It includes those things but is not limited to them.
For example, 30-year-old Jordan Neely was homeless, hungry, & in the midst of a mental health crisis when he was choked to death, murdered, on a New York subway as onlookers watched & recorded.
He was a Michael Jackson impersonator, so should we assume that because he listened to/admired Michael Jackson that the mental disorder he suffered from was demonically inflicted? Does homelessness & hunger not cause mental distress? We also know through this story that his mother was murdered when he was younger – another traumatic event that likely contributed to the state of his mental health.
Mental health crises, homelessness, past traumas, & basic human need should NEVER warrant a death sentence. EVER. What an evil tragedy.
A tragedy that I should hear Christians speak to just as loudly & boldly as they speak against Beyonce & them.
The consideration of environmental, systemic, & previous traumas/oppression makes the depression = demons argument one that needs significant context. We live in an incredibly broken & unjust world, one in which, again, Christians are not exempt from difficult times. No one is.
But it’s much easier to over-simplify & demonize than it is to sympathize.
“And you wonder why you’re depressed” is a slap in the face for those who, usually, know exactly why they are depressed. & more often than not, it’s easier to find those who understand why in secular circles than it is in Christian ones.
This is why You’re Not Finished exists in the first place, but even then, there are still limits on what I can do to help decrease stigma & offer support.
Regardless, I want to share a resource I recently published: “You’re Not Finished: Using Stories of Survival to Save Lives.” It’s the name & tagline of this website but it’s also the title of an 8-day devotional that details how God responds to his people as they experienced mental distress & suicidal ideation. It also shows how we can expect God to respond to us – writing it saved my life & I can only pray that it encourages those who read it.
You can pay what you want (even $0) & it’s exclusively on Gumroad for now.
But we need to do better.
I’ve had enough.
If you need additional resources for mental health, addiction, and suicide prevention, head over to the “get help” section.
If you want to share your experience or tell your story or journey as someone with a diagnosed mental health or mood disorder in order to connect with & encourage others, & you’re OK with that being shared on the YNF website, shoot an email to email@example.com or contact me through the site.
Anonymous submissions are welcome.