Sin or Mental Illness?

This is what I said to myself: You don’t divorce someone for being mentally ill!! You promised to be with him in sickness and health! Maybe he doesn’t mean to be abusive! Maybe God needs me to wait a little longer, so He can work His healing! But maybe he does it on purpose, just because he can! Maybe God wants me make a stand (in love, of course) against his sin. What say you, God? I’m listening the best I can!!!

If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.  But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do. (James 1:5-8)

“I do believe; help me with my unbelief ” (Mark 9:24).

Etc. Etc. Etc.

With permission I quote my amazingly articulate fellow blogger, Kina, aka Human in Recovery (

Many people consider risk factors for people diagnosed with behavior and personality disorders to be mere excuses for people who don’t care about anyone other than themselves. So they turn away from them, ostracize them and vilify them. All very easy things to do if you’ve been flattened by their personality tornado or psychologically and emotionally gutted by desperate grasping interspersed with their porcupine offensiveness.

Sometimes, it becomes necessary to distance yourself and those in your care from someone like this.  Do what you need to do to take care of yourself and your loved ones, but, please try to do it with compassion, understanding, and forgiveness, because more than likely the one who harmed you is hurting tremendously living with the knowledge he or she caused you pain and pushed you away, against his or her inclination and will.

I commented on Kina’s post and she responded back:

The ways that undiagnosed and untreated mental illnesses and disorders play into and exacerbate the very real effects of domestic violence is inestimable. Alternatively, to have all these kinds of symptomatic issues and behaviors written off and masked as “simple” domestic violence further invalidates and stigmatizes people who need help and can benefit from actual psychiatric evaluation and treatment modalities beyond anger management and counseling.

ILLUMINATING. NOT COMFORTABLY SIMPLE.  Worth learning. Worth remembering.

The wisdom I am hearing from other bloggers is BLOWING MY MIND! And feeding my soul!

You know what?

It has taken me 12 years to realize that blame is POINTLESS. I gave my abusive ex-husband, “Peter,”  the benefit of the doubt in every way possible. I didn’t show myself nearly as much mercy.  I waited on God and used every means I knew to discern His will. I did the best I, me, myself could do, assuming the best of God, Peter, and others. Nothing wrong with that.  Blaming Peter,  MYSELF, God, the victim, the perpetrator, Christians, pastors, scripture, society? Pointless.

My daughters tell me that their dad is crazy (but they love him), and that he still thinks he did nothing wrong. That’s OK. It’s not my deal. I wish him well. But I am ABSOLUTELY DONE with his abuse (or anyone else’s), whether done helplessly or intentionally. And, I don’t need the anger to protect me anymore. Just done. Big peaceful sigh of relief.

And you know what else?

Just recently compassion and forgiveness have taken residence, I hope to stay. For Peter AND for myself. And everyone else. They are very welcome, peaceful, companions!

These books helped:

In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts, by Gabor Mate, a Canadian M.D. who works with absolute down and out addicts. My daughter gave me this (huge) book, full of facts and insight, which morphed to compassion for Peter (and me).

Forgive For Good, by Dr. Fred Luskin, a long-time forgiveness researcher and therapist (whose work includes parents of murdered children and families of victims in Northern Ireland). Practical, simple steps to bridge the gap between my WILL to forgive and ABILITY to forgive.

So, the title question. Sin or mental illness?  Should those who care about sin, Christians and the Church, deal with SIN and MENTAL ILLNESS differently? How do they tell the difference? DOES IT MATTER? Interesting.  People have been burned as witches, devil worshipers, due to misunderstood mental illness. The punishment for abuse isn’t nearly as severe, it seems. Isn’t that odd? Why? Another book:

Why Do Christians Shoot Their Wounded? Helping (Not Hurting) Those with Emotional Difficulties, by Dwight L. Carlson, M.D. This is copyrighted 1994, and thank goodness there have been some improvements, but society and, especially the church, have a long way to go. It is really enlightening!

I welcome your insights!


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6 thoughts on “Sin or Mental Illness?

  1. barbarastanley February 23, 2013 at 12:12 pm Reply

    One thing we all must remember is this: The world is cursed and everything on it. Because it is cursed, there is nothing perfect, nothing worthy of honor and no one without imperfections. There are diseases, mental illness, sexual abuse, murder, adultery and so on. God knows we have to deal with all that is wrong in this world. The only thing he asks is that we love and trust him. Does God want us to be happy? Of course. But we all make choices and decisions that negatively impact our lives. Would God force us to live with bad decisions? No. The only thing that truly matters to God is that we love Him with our whole hearts and being. Whatever decisions we make in life should glorify Christ. Enabling an abuser does not glorify Christ. Neither does divorce, but you only had two choices since your husband refused treatment. Despite what your husband proclaimed, I seriously doubt his salvation. God says we must obey a Godly husband, one who loves his wife as the church. God’s law comes before man’s law. When your husband expected things of you that were ungodly, you were released from the law of obeying him.

  2. jumpingonclouds November 29, 2012 at 3:34 pm Reply

    How funny…I agree. There would be way more interpretations. 🙂

    The struggle is where we transition from theory to personal faith. It must be experienced real-time. It can’t be force-fed through someone else’s filter if we’re ever going to call it personal faith. That’s simply puppeting, which I used to do.

    I’ve tried so hard to eliminate and/or numb my struggle that I missed the lessons that were lying right in front of me. Learning to struggle well and productively is my current work.

    Strength and continued positivity for your journey.

    • ranthegauntlet November 30, 2012 at 12:56 pm Reply

      Yes, YES!!!! YES! This resonates truth from start to finish! Thank you so much! It’s beyond words how much this relieves and encourages me today!!!

  3. jumpingonclouds November 28, 2012 at 4:58 pm Reply

    You’ve entered into one of the deepest areas of faith with such an incrediby open spirit and boldness. You are asking all the right questions and are seeking truth in scripture. It’s clear that you truly care about your faith, a sincere faith.

    When mental illness crosses over the line into abuse, I think all parties need to take a time out. I don’t see how being abused could ever lead to anything good and Godly, but that is my lay-man’s way of looking at it. I suppose you could poll 1,000 people, including Bible scholars, preachers, and the like, and you’d hear at least 200 different interpretations and advice. What I love about YOU is you are searching for wisdom. You’re not copping out or putting your choices onto anyone else. You’re living your life with a keen awareness of personal responsibility, and I respect that.

    God will lead your heart. He’ll lead you to His word. He’ll lead you to the people who will lighten your way and show you the path.

    Thanks for sharing your story with us. I think it’s SO important to delve into this area of life.

    Blessings to you!

    • ranthegauntlet November 28, 2012 at 5:41 pm Reply

      You have honored me with such a kind response!!! Thank you for seeing my positive motivation. I have to laugh when you say there would be at least 200 different interpretations. I was thinking more like 2005 – two for each of the 1000 people (depending on their current views), plus at least 5 more for me! And thank you for your encouragement! Blessings to you also!

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