Seeing Mental Illness As Sin

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I stumbled across this video on YouTube the other day. It’s a video essay by Trevor Poelman, about the difficulties that people in churches have with seeking and getting treatment for mental illness. The video contains many clips of preachers and sermons talking about various mental health topics. It might be difficult for some viewers. However, I think the video is worth a watch for anyone who wants to see some of the more extreme things preachers and ministers might say to a congregation.

I’m happy these clips were put in one place.

Over the years, I’ve been told that what I experienced wasn’t the right version or correct version of Christianity. With the clips in the video, I hope it can express the ubiquity of how these allegedly incorrect versions of a faith get around. It helps, because it shows that what I’m talking about actually exists. In a clear format. Without ambiguity.

To be clear, nothing in Mr. Poelman’s video was new to me. I heard sermons on the radio and on Sundays about how magical Jesus will cure all my ills. If I’m not sure, I’m the one who’s wrong and broken and the barrier to getting better. To be a good Christian, I had to believe that my only chance at happiness was with the invisible overlord.

Yeah, every ministerial item in that video was something I was exposed to when I was young, except the purity ball stuff. It’s weird now to see it going on, to hear evangelicals talking like Scientologists about psychology and its evils. But it happened. All of it. And it still goes on.

The real good news: mental illness isn’t a sin.

Mental illness doesn’t have to be any of what those pastors, ministers, and con artists said it would be. Churches do not have a monopoly on mental health – no matter how hard they try to sell it. Help and hope can be found outside the church.