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I have lost count of how many times I have been asked about the proper use and perspective on medications for problems that the Bible describes (anxiety, depression, etc.). The position of the elders has been OFTEN misrepresented by others. So, having received a link to some very excellent treatments of this controversial issue, I thought it would be good and helpful to document for the church family through the blog how we think and how we try to approach these sensitive issues.
Let me say first of all, that no one believes (or should ever say) that it is always wrong to take medications. Neither you, or I, are medical professionals and should never be giving advice or counsel regarding when it is right or wrong, necessary or unnecessary, to be taking medication of any kind. I arrived at CCC with this clear position in my mind, and have never once violated this principle. At the same time, I have encouraged people to consider potential side effects, evaluate the certainty of presumed causes of their condition, understand the science of such medications, and give prayerful thought to their motivations and goals for taking medication. This, I am convinced, is a necessary process. Asking those tough questions has, on a few occasions, been interpreted as saying “it is wrong.” But I do not think that, nor have I ever said that.
What is clear, both practically and medically speaking, is that there are uncertainties, limitations, and risks involved in taking many medications. Those prescribed for the problems above are not exempt from these concerns.
Here are two links to a couple of articles that articulate fairly well our beliefs and philosophy regarding the use of psychotropic medications.
The first article, by Ed Welch, entitled “Why Do We Seem Negative about Psychiatric Medications?” highlights why it is a necessary exercise of spiritual wisdom to carefully consider the limitations of these types of medications. It is brief and to the point, and offers a helpful balanced perspective that does not minimize the pain of emotional distress.
The second article (link here), by Dr. Michael Emlet (M.D.), is from the Journal of Biblical Counseling (published by the Christian Counseling and Education Foundation). It is much more detailed, and is referenced in the shorter summary above. It will familiarize you with the different classes of psychoactive medications, the conditions that they are typically prescribed for, and an analysis of how these medications presumably work. More importantly, there is a detailed biblical evaluation of this information. He covers issues of suffering, motives, and the interaction between moral, spiritual, and physical issues. He concludes, “I hope you have seen there is not a clear-cut ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ answer. There is no universal ‘rule’ we can apply to all people at all times. There is no simple algorithm. Rather, the use of these medications is a wisdom issue, to be addressed individually with counselees. There will always be a mix of pros and cons, costs and beneﬁts to carefully consider. We must ask, ‘What seems wisest for this particular person with these particular struggles at this particular time?’”
I have considered for a long time writing an article like these, and am thankful that my views have been adequately expressed by these articles so that I don’t have to.
I have counseled people in the past who were on so much medication that I had to suspend counseling (they were so altered by the medication, that I did not feel they were mentally sharp enough to continue). I have also counseled people who I believe were suffering more from the side effects of their medication than they would have been suffering with the original weakness (whether physical, emotional or spiritual). Unfortunately, simply asking questions about sensitive issues like these can easily be interpreted as being “against” medications. I am not “against” medication, per se. Nor do I think the conditions for which they are prescribed “do not really exist.” Rather, I am FOR the exercise of biblically informed wisdom to find true and lasting solutions for the weaknesses (spiritual and physical) that cause our suffering. God’s Spirit, and God’s Word, is powerful enough for us to have spiritual victory over every weakness caused or magnified by the presence of sin in our lives. The extent to which our weaknesses are physical must be addressed through physical or medical means.
I hope this is a helpful matter to address. I am always happy to address any specific questions you might have. Let me know personally, or by posting a comment or question here.
Exodus 12:14 ‘Now this day will be a memorial to you, and you shall celebrate it as a feast to the LORD; throughout your generations you are to celebrate it as a permanent ordinance.
For thousands of years, food has been a focus of our times of celebration and remembrances. Kings display their wealth by declaring great feasts. I love how the beginning of Esther describes the great banquet of King Ahasuerus’s which lasted 180 days. What wealth! Things haven’t changed much since King Ahasuerus day, except maybe the length of the feast is not quite as long. When countries host ambassadors, they have elaborate State dinners with lavish servings of all kinds of good food. In our home, we have a tradition of letting the person celebrating their birthday pick the food for the meal we eat as a family. Everybody I know enjoys Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter meals as well as a good ole 4th of July barbecue. Basically, when people gather, food is present.
The Israelite people have many feasts; Passover, Pentecost (also called the feast of weeks), the Day of Atonement, Feast of Tabernacles (Booths), Rosh Hashanah, Purim, and more. What is interesting is that God commanded His people to celebrate with food. Specifically, God instituted the Jewish Passover feast to remember and celebrate their deliverance from bondage. The feasts were very much a part of the Old Covenant.
It is by the grand design of God that in the same way, as part of the New Covenant, we participate in the ordinance of communion to remember our deliverance from the bondage of sin. The Apostle Paul tells us that whenever we participate in the Lord’s Supper, we proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes back. Eating bread and drinking the wine of communion are ways to remember and celebrate our salvation. In the scheme of life, is there anything that should have more cause to remember than what Christ has done for us?
How interesting that God has chosen eating food as a way to celebrate the Lord’s death.
Jesus said (Luke 14:15), “Blessed is everyone who shall eat bread in the kingdom of God!” The Angel told John, (Revelation 19:9), “Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.”
Genesis 2:9 And out of the ground the LORD God caused to grow every tree that is pleasing to the sight and good for food …
Thank you, God, that food tastes good. Food is delicious, scrumptious, tasty, yummy, and mouthwatering. Everything God made is good. Food is very good. I have yet to meet a person that doesn’t enjoy a good meal. All of us have seen the look of bliss in someone’s face when they bite into something they love; sheer joy! We are born with an appetite and a hankering for good-tasting, lip-smacking food. Around 99% of the time, I look forward to eating, and 100% of the time I look forward to eating when I know it is one of my favorite foods. We eagerly share our eating experiences with others.
God’s goodness gives us the ability to experience favorable things. Food teaches us that God cares about appealing to our senses. Things in the world are “sensational.” God wants us to observe and find that what He has made is good. He has given us tools and abilities to make observations and to evaluate the world around us and how He made it to be good. Food is one of those good things God made, and taste buds are what He gave us to realize that food is good. God made food good to eat. Imagine if food had no taste, and it all looked the same. Taste is known to have the ability to become an obsession. Ever have a craving for chocolate? Some of you reading this just did. People often overeat just for the taste. Even the mention of a food may cause the mouth to begin to salivate. People with the loss of taste have to force themselves to eat as the sense of taste is related to our appetite. People spend extra money on items that taste good. A real-estate investor from Hong Kong reportedly paid over $160,000 for a gigantic Italian White Alba truffle. Oh my!
God’s goodness has endless variety and imagination. When God made food, He made more variety than we could imagine. There is the rich delicacy of sevruga caviar and the New England favorite of baked beans and franks. I recall that my grandfather enjoyed eating pickled pig’s feet. God made such a variety of foods that it is impossible to taste all the different types of food that the world has to offer in our lifetime. There is variety in taste, color, shape, and size. In one meal you can have blueberries and an orange accompanied by black-eyed peas and yellow squash with green beans. We can eat tiny grains of wild rice or a large watermelon. Food can be a highly fattening donut or be tasteless and without calories. We can have an oblong eggplant, a flat tortilla, or a wedge of cheese. It is amazing to think of all the different types of food and recipes available to us.
It happened that my recent devotional reading took me through the book of Nehemiah. Toward the end of the book, the people were repentant for their sins which were drastically contrasted and highlighted by the backdrop of the goodness of God and His helping them rebuild Jerusalem, their great city. In their repentance, the Levites testified and praised God before the Israelite people. In their proclamation of praise, they told of how God had been with them throughout their history. When they recall the time period when the people of Israel entered and dwelt in the promised land and basked in the bountiful produce, they said this, “So they ate, were filled, and grew fat, and reveled in Thy great goodness (Nehemiah 9:25).“ In this sentence, I was struck by just exactly how the goodness of God was measured; by the abundance of good food.
God is good. His goodness is to be praised for its variety, plenty, beauty, and enjoyment. Taste and see that the Lord is good!