Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Prolonged Depression is Not Compatible with Fullness of Joy

I have been confronted time and again with the issue on whether Christians can suffer prolonged and lingering depression which has to be reined in by drugs. The theological question is, "Is depression compatible with the Christian life and walk?".

This is really a tough question on a practical level. Especially because I have close friends and immediate relatives who are victims of this condition. However, is it right to compromise theological truth and principles to accomodate what happens in the real world?  Or should we at least attempt to synthesize correct principle into real life such that there is no contradiction to principle?

I maintain that without principle, the people perish.  And perhaps, that is the problem with prolonged depression. Those who propose that the person cannot help it but deal with what is perhaps a chemical imbalance are those who confine disease to ONLY the physical realm. This is one of the great fallacies of most of modern conventional medicine.

I actually subscribe to the Five Levels of Healing proposed by Dr. Dietrich Klinghardt of Virginia and promoted by Dr. Mercola of Illinois. It has eastern metaphysical origins but it is peculiarly Biblical. Perhaps there are less levels, perhaps there are more.  The point being that we cannot confine disease and its cure only to the physical or psychiatric levels (the only levels conventional medicine sees). Here are the links:

Of course, I do not subscribe to literally every detail of what they are talking about but the principles have a scriptural basis. Let me summarize the five levels:
  1. Physical Body - "your physical structure and your biochemistry. You can perceive this first level with your five senses"
  2. Energy Body - "surrounds your physical body and where the forces of physics play out. Your energy body helps regulate your physical body". Comprised of electromagnetic fields, Gravity, other energy forces.
  3. Mental Body - "the biophotons field surrounding your body. This biophotons field records all your life's events, and stores your long-term memory." Neuroscience confirms that long-term memory can be temporarily restored by hypnosis, which is outside the physical realm. Biophotons or light fields also regulate the body's metabolic enzymes.
  4. Intuitive Body - "the realm of ... the spiritual, and your metaphysical experiences. Dr. Klinghardt explains how certain diseases stemming from this level -- such as autism [and traumas], for example -- can be treated and healed"
  5. Spirit Body - "your individual connection to the divine".
Having mentioned all that, the healing principle here is that "when you treat an illness on a level other than where the origin is, you CANNOT heal it".

With that background, I wish to advance two issues for discussion.  The first has to do with whether or not depression is being addressed at the correct level of healing.  The second issue regards the compatibility of this so-called "disease" with a Christian who abides in Christ as a branch abides (and finds nourishment) in the Vine.

Conventional medicine treats almost anything with drugs much less depression. This assumption is based on the theory that every disease has a physical basis and this is faulty and easily disproven by experience and the Bible.  Psychosomatic illnesses, for example, is not physical and to address just the physical in healing is like putting a band-aid on appendicitis.

There are diseases of the Intuitive Body in scripture and is most commonly exemplified by demon possession especially by the Great Physician.  Of course, modern conventional medicine simply houses these patients in mental institutions, again under the assumptions that every disease has a physical or biochemical basis... again which is utterly faulty.

Then there are diseases that result from the curse of God upon individual men because of disobedience or rebellion. This is where I disagree with Dr. Klinghardt who has eastern metaphysical influences. Although one's connection to the Divine may be a private matter between man and God, diseased that arise on this level nevertheless can be addressed by the prayer of others in behalf of the afflicted.

What level does depression lie? Many from the medical field talk about biochemical or hormonal conditions.  However, which really came first? The depression or the biochemical reaction.  This is something that modern medicine is at a loss to address effectively simply because of non-Divine related assumptions, that everything has a physical basis. Suppose depression is really a lack of faith that God is the source of fullness of joy? This possibility will be laughed at in medical circles but that is not the problem.  The big problem is that most Christians in the medical field wholeheartedly subscribe to this non-Biblical concept.

I personally have experienced short periods of anxiety and depression.  Each time this happens to me, I am FULLY aware that I am utterly distanced from God! To overcome this, I have to get down on my knees and find my way back into the arms of God or under the shadow of His wings.  Jesus told us to abide in Him that our joy may be full.  Jesus told us to ask ANYTHING in His name and the Father will grant it so that OUR joy may be full.  Where do these promises fall in the light of depression?

Even Paul in Philippians 4:8 has admonished us to dwell (mentally fix our minds and hearts) on positive things and issues. "Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report, if there be any virtue and if there be any praise, think on these things."  Failure to dwell on positive things is SIN, PLAIN AND SIMPLE.  And a Christian who is defeated by prolonged depression may deserve exactly what he is experiencing.

Of course, there is still the possibility of demonic influence or demon possession.  However, all of this are addressed at the spiritual levels.  Recall how many times King Saul was overcome by a "distressing spirit FROM GOD (1 Samuel 18:10)".  There you go, even the depression spirit could come from God as a result of God applying a curse on a disobedient or rebellious person.

I am aware of St. Paul's "thorn in the flesh". This means that Christians can have diseases which the Lord God in His infinite wisdom AND love has decided not to heal. Depression, however, CANNOT be a thorn in the flesh simply because it contradicts Biblical principles and destroys the testimony of the afflicted Christian.  A man can have cancer and be an effective witness for Christ.  One can have heart disease or even be quadraplegic like Joni Erickson Tada but such a condition has nothing to do with the joy of the Lord and the afflicted Christian's witness to the world.

A constantly depressed Christian is therefore declaring to the world one or all of the following:
  1. God's promise of joy in all its fulness is NOT true.
  2. God does not heal.
  3. God cannot heal.
  4. Christ (the Great Physician) is NOT the same yesterday, today, and forever.
  5. Christianity does not work.  There seems to be either no significant value difference between the walk of a Christian vs. the non-Christian.
  6. A Christian can be a martyr but cannot handle depression.
  7. The Christian faith is all talk but does not work for depression
Recall also the experience of Job. That was depression at its worst bar none. But Job recognized that he had a relationship with the one who can dispense anything. Oh yes, he said, "Why me". But he also declared, "The Lord gives, the Lord takes away. Blessed be the name of the Lord" where his depression drowned in the spirit of reverence and worship.  Remarkably, Job was aware that his affliction had nothing to do with his behavior nor disobedience.  Hence, he had the peace that God was not sleeping despite the fact that his humanity urged him to question his circumstances.  Job, at his worst, was simply confused that a loving God would allow a righteous man to suffer. One thing he did was NOT bother his friends with his affliction, something that most depressed Christians do the exact opposite.  In fact, it was his friends that came to him to commiserate with him.

The OTHER thing that Job did was MAINTAIN HIS TESTIMONY to the greatness, glory and love of God. This is why God finally rewards him several-fold and restores everything and then some.  Many modern day depressed Christians, however, would not hesitate to go to support groups, doctors, psychiatrists, medicine and bother their closest friends with self-pity.

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