Promises Christians Can’t Keep: Jesus Cures Depression

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When I went to my last therapy appointment, I noticed a billboard near the mental health clinic. In pretty clear terms, it made the promise that Jesus could help everyone with feeling hopeless. I didn’t think much of it, except that its proximity to the clinic made it in very poor taste. Sadly, where I live, it was probably put there deliberately.

There’s no shortage of these promises online, either. Many Christians have promised me (expressed and implied) that Jesus will take away my depression. It either worked for them, someone they know, or someone they saw in a video. Lots of testimony is out there bragging about how the Christian deity, belief in Christianity, or Jesus himself will reach a mighty hand out of the sky and wipe away those ugly depressions.

But they’re empty promises.
Regardless of the existence of the divine, nobody promising a divine cure is on the hook for it. Those terms and conditions never get mentioned in the promise. Don’t get healed? It’s YOUR fault, not the deity or the person making the promise. Try it out in a different context, and it would be called fraud.

Promising a cure for depression is especially in poor taste. Depression doesn’t affect people in the same way. Some people feel hopeless to the point of not being able to get out of bed. Others might feel waves of intense feeling that come and go at awkward times. My own particular depression stew consists of beliefs that being dead is better than being alive for everyone involved, and that I should go do something to make it happen. Regardless of the particular variety, some cases involve matters of life and death.

For these reasons, there frequently isn’t one cause or cure for a case of severe depression. Severe depression, by its very nature, does not miraculously go away overnight. Coping with it can be a lifetime’s work that might even end in succumbing to its effects.

Promising a divine cure for depression isn’t okay.
To me, it resembles an offer of free candy if I’ll just hop in the creepy church van. Moreover, it’s pretty irresponsible and predatory. Whenever someone offers this to me, I can’t help but be dismayed by the sheer audacity of someone trying to use my mental illness to pander to me.

Not everyone shares my perspective, though. I’m actually fortunate to be a former Christian. If I didn’t grow up and get educated in the faith, I might not know that these promises aren’t even fully endorsed in many church teachings. I might not know about all the hoops and requirements that get tacked on to such promises. I probably even might not know that there are a lot of Christians out there who will say anything to convert someone and let other members of the faith deal with the consequences.

Regardless, I think it’s important to point out that these are promises Christians don’t have to keep. There’s just an assumption that some third party will swoop in and cure someone of a major depressive disorder; delivery is a whole other matter entirely. If that deity doesn’t deliver, the person who made the promise isn’t to blame.

Miraculously, that’s between you and their deity.

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14 thoughts on “Promises Christians Can’t Keep: Jesus Cures Depression

  1. I disagree with you somewhat, SB. If the make a promise they have an obligation to fulfill it. No matter what. My beef is with making the promise in the first place. I’m sure many people have found comfort in the church, but I’m convinced it’s the support provided by the group and not any supernatural intervention.

    Liked by 2 people

    • That’s a fair point, Barry, and one I’m in agreement with.

      However, the problem I’m illustrating here is the lack of holding any Christian accountable for such promises. Online and locally, I’ve had people make all kinds of promises if they’d just turn to Jesus. None of them ask themselves whether they should be doing it at all, or whether they need to deliver on anything else.

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      • I guess that’s where your experience, and perhaps the experience of most Americans differs from what I am familiar with where the belief is that someone will “come to Jesus” as a result of the support they receive from the group/church. In other words, proselytization is by example rather than by words. Perhaps one reason for the difference between here and the US is that Christians make up about forty percent of the population, and liberal and nontheist Christians make up a significant proportion of those. They need to use different techniques to attract new members.

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  2. To promise something requiring someone else to do then not be sure you can even get that other person to do it really is sh*tty. As no one can compel an action from anyone unless they are the employer of the person required to do the actions, do the people promising god will cure someone think they are gods boss? Just a thought. Hugs

    Liked by 1 person

    • I think they’d be the first people to piously try to explain that they don’t think they’re bossing their deity around, but you’re right. They’d have to show at least how a deity would be compelled to cure something.

      Once again, that goes into the hidden terms and conditions. Because if a person isn’t cured, then an excuse must be found that absolves the deity from what it was supposed to do.

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  3. That’s the problem I have with church and Christianity in general. It’s the mentality that you just “pray” your way out of depression and you’re suddenly “cured.” If you suffer from clinical depression…um…prayer doesn’t necessarily cure everything. Now faith and going to church for a “positive feeling” might give us all a boost. I’ll be honest, I’ve gone just to get a “pick me up” almost in the same way the main character in “Fight Club” went to all the meetings just to feel better about himself.

    There is some research out there that states having “some type of faith” helps people during serious medical situations. That people who have faith in “something” survive better and live longer…etc. But, when it comes to depression…something most people can’t “see” usually with the naked eye…

    Depression is a personal battle of mine and one that I don’t take lightly. I don’t blame people for going to church to for some relief. But, it’s not a “cure-all.” Whatever works for the individual and sometimes it’s a combination of stuff. But, ultimately it’s a support system that a depressed person needs. That support system can be a “church” or a bunch of atheist friends.

    At the end of the day, I wouldn’t wish depression on my worst enemy. There is no one solution that fits everyone.

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  4. I am Christian and have previously suffered with depression. If people are out there promising that God will heal you of it they are being ridiculous. I’m not saying that God won’t, maybe he will, I don’t know because I’m not God and its not a promise that I can make. Being a Christian doesn’t mean that all of your problems and struggles are magically removed. It also doesn’t mean that all of a sudden you become a perfect little angel (We are saved by grace and not by actions because we are still people that mess up A LOT). When I went through it I prayed and I was encouraged by God but I still went through it. I know of some people that God has healed but God doesn’t heal everyone. I don’t know why, but I think one of the first things I’ll ask God in heaven is why bad things happen. Depression and Mental Illness are diseases with physiological causes that you cannot think or will your way out of. I encourage everyone suffering with this to seek help and not fight it out on your own. There are many treatment options and many people out there to help you. Also, to be clear I’m not trying to preach or convert anyone, I wanted to share because I struggled on my own with depression for a long time and there are medications and people that can help.

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