Addressing Mental Health with Medicine AND the Bible

I’m excited to formally begin work on a project that my friend Brad and I have been talking about for awhile. Brad Zehring is a doctor early in his career with a passion for mental illness, body image, and eating disorders. As most of you know, I’m a pastor at a local church in Arizona. From very different vantage points, Brad and I have both seen the need for a bigger discussion in helping people work through various aspects of the effects of mental illness. Often times, people err on the side of ONLY seeking medical help or ONLY seeking spiritual help. The assumption is that you have to choose as they probably contradict one another. This usually isn’t the case but most people aren’t well-versed enough in both areas to know how to apply them together. Brad and I believe that a combination of both is the healthiest response.

These ideas will eventually make their way into a book that we will write together. In the meantime, we are going to co-blog on issues and each speak into it from our perspectives. I’m excited for this discussion as it will offer you two views that while different, will build on top of each other and present a cohesive way of addressing very real problems that we often have no idea how to handle. Even if you are not personally affected by this you likely know someone who is.

We want to start this by opening up a dialogue to see what immediate questions come to your mind with this topic. Consider this a formal invitation to leave a question in the comments on this post and then Brad and I will select different questions to answer together. Brad is also asking the readers on his blog to do the same thing. We have no delusions of solving these huge problems or arguing something that no one has ever thought of before. Rather, we want to make space for a much needed (and much neglected) conversation by allowing for the depth of perspective needed.

Question: What do you want to know about dealing with any type of mental disorder (i.e. depression, bipolar, anxiety, addiction, etc.) that we could address from both a medical and spiritual point of view? (leave your question in the comments below)

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Jeremy Jernigan

This is the personal blog of Jeremy Jernigan husband, father, executive pastor, and student of truth

23 Comments

Leanne

about 4 months ago

Although not a question I wanted to commend you on tackling mental health issues in the Christian community. Our church here in Ohio has been doing a sermon series in Psalms and our pastor did a wonderful job, for two or three weeks, talking about depression. My only complaint is there weren't enough kleenex in the pews. It touched me deeply and I did write a quick blog on it. (Writing is great therapy for me.) Good luck on your endeavors. I think a holistic approach for those that struggle with depression is exactly what people in a relationship with Christ need.

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Jeremy Jernigan

about 4 months ago

Thanks Leanne!

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Earl Ricker

about 4 months ago

Hi Jeremy – This is a good subject to explore and I commend you for tackling it. I know a young couple who look up to me for guidance. They are both non-believers. The husband suffers from depression. Naturally I am gently guiding them toward The Good News, but it may take some time and some life experience for them to embrace Faith. What is an effective approach to planting the seed that embracing Faith could be a part of an approach to reducing his depression? Is there any correlation between depression and a lack of faith, or does depression occur as frequently in believers as in non-believers? How should a person whose spouse gets depressed behave? What resources should they share with their spouse? What behaviors should they avoid? Thank you.

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Blake Small

about 4 months ago

Piggy backing on Earl's question about a spouse's depression...how should we approach depression, or mental illness in general, within a dating context?

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Jeremy Jernigan

about 4 months ago

Thanks for the questions Earl!

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Blake Small

about 4 months ago

This is great Jeremy, there is such a stigma associated with mental illnesses, and yet it does affect each of us in one way or another. Thank you for talking about real issues. Here are some questions to ponder: Q-Where do mental illnesses and demons intersect, if at all? What can we learn through the Gospels in particular, about demon possession, healing and/or mental health? Q-Is there any level of personal/individual responsibility with mental illness? In other words, is mental illness out of our control?

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Jeremy Jernigan

about 4 months ago

Those are great questions, thanks Blake!

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Sue

about 4 months ago

Excellent project ahead! My question for you is upon addressressing & researching mental health issues, will you tackle the relationship with God on the seperate levels that affect types of mental illness, specifically chemical imbalances vs emotional imbalances? I have seen those with chemical imbalances have little fluctuation in their beliefs, faith & trust in God, whereas trauma victims who suffer mental illness appear to struggle more with internal trust and understanding of their faith and God. Blessings on this journey! Sue

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Jeremy Jernigan

about 4 months ago

Thanks Sue!

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Marc Dewease

about 4 months ago

Jeremy, It isn't so much WHICH disorder needs to be addressed, but all of them, and not from either a medical or spiritual background. I am almost through with school, next semester being my last, and majoring in Christian Ministry/Counseling. The instructors have done a great job of bringing both the medical and spiritual into focus, but there are still many who refuse to recognize how the one can benefit the other. If anything, I hope you emphasize the importance of how science has benefited people with the truths found in the Bible. My instructors have stressed that if God is truth, then all truth is God's truth, regardless of how it is revealed and who reveals it. Too many people "give it to God" and then cannot understand why their issues do not get any better; we are not instructed to "give it to God" but to surrender our lives to God, and use those methods He has provided to enable us to improve. We are told to confess our sin, share our problems with those we trust, seek God's guidance through His word AND to use those methods that have been tested and found to work to improve our mental and physical health. However, we as people can only do so much on our own, and when we have done all we can, all we are left with is our problem. That is why we need the spiritual element as a foundation for our health. The Bible provides examples of how to live, but when life becomes overwhelming, "we" can only do so much, and then we need a Savior. We need a Savior, and we need to make use of those tools God has graced us with for our health.

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Dan Treichel

about 4 months ago

Jeremy; The best person in the church that I have listened to on this subject is Gary Kinnaman. He was my Pastor for the 18 years that I attended Word / City of Grace. He understands the problem first hand. Please try to interview him. It will be a great investment of time. Thanks for all you do ! Dan Treichel

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Jeremy Jernigan

about 4 months ago

Thanks Dan, I've known Gary for many years. I'll definitely reach out to him for this!

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Heather

about 4 months ago

As a mother of a bi polar child when do I draw the line between medicine and faith? My conscious and heart says she needs medication my heart says have faith??? I do both but not sure if it is equal or the right percentage!

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Kyle

about 4 months ago

Jeremy, I cannot tell you how glad I am that this project is coming to fruition, and I think you know why. Too often the church can be responsible for people who are truly hurting hiding their pain, and not being real about what is happening in their lives. We need to wipe out the stigma that mental illness is a sin, or lack of faith, weak belief, etc. Thank you for doing this.

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Ray Branton

about 4 months ago

Thanks for having the courage and dedication to tackle this topic Jeremy - such an important topic for the Christian community to discuss in an open and honest way. I look forward to the dialogue.

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Kristi Gifford

about 4 months ago

As someone who deals with bi-polar and depression I look forward to seeing both sides of this discussion. My question is hard to put into words, but basically when does faith need to intersect with medicine? Can you not have enough faith?

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Hedrick

about 4 months ago

I'm reading a good book about a Pastor who struggled for years with being bi-polar. It's really eye opening...look him up...Dr James T Stout. Cheers from the OC

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Caroline

about 4 months ago

Too often, mental illness is considered to be a sign of weakness in the Christian Community. You hear all sorts of stuff like "well, if you had more faith"...I have depression, PTSD, Asperger's and ADHD. I have plenty of faith but my brain is wired strangely and I am who I am. It is sad that those of us with problems like that are sort of looked down upon. Thanks for tackling this!

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kendywooden

about 4 months ago

I have read so many book on this subject and sure you have explain it a batter way.

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Meladie

about 4 months ago

Definitely looking forward to seeing more on this matter. Thank you Jeremy and Brad for putting yourselves out there and looking to open more doors.

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Art Dudlets

about 4 months ago

I was injured at work had severe pain for 6yrs was on narcotics for over 5yrs, after the last of 5 surgeries on neck and shoulders my wife divorced me after I gave her power of attorney and she bankrupt me. I still feel it's myfault because I abandoned her when I was on meds. I'm still in pain and now have MS, how do you get over the depression and loss. My Dr. said my chemical balance was messed up during the meds and surgeries all the prayer and. drugs can't touch the hurt , how do I fix this ?

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Jenny Heafey

about 4 months ago

Fantastic Topic! The Diagnosis of Mental Illness / Depression/ Anxiety and other Psychiatric Disorders continue to rise in this country. While taking my Faith and Health Ambassador Course I was exposed to several resources that further revealed the link between faith and health. One book particular I thoroughly enjoyed and found a deep connection with is " God , Medicine, and Miracles" by Daniel Fountain. This book helps connect the spiritual factor in healing all illnesses rather than curing a disease. Understanding that a cure can be found for an illness through a treatment or maintenance routine, and much of that is very necessary, however there is a brutal truth that this books speaks of, and that simply is the healing of illness through biblical and spiritual principals. Just a great read. Im very much look forward to yoru findings and your insight!

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Fred Altstadt

about 2 months ago

Jeremy: I got a lot from your message at Worship Night. I struggle with depression and bipolar. I do worship my failures every day. How can I break this cycle? I know I am meant for more but I can't seem to give myself a break.

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