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.