God (the Christian God, and one and only as far as I am concerned) is a three in one being know as the 'trinity' ; Father, Son and Holy Spirit. He is triune and we as humans, who are made in His image are also tripartite in nature; we are body - which is flesh and blood, soul - which is mind will and emotion, plus spirit - which is our conscience and the part of us which communes with (and accommodates) God.
At the fall of mankind, back in the garden of Eden at the beginning of the world's creation, when Adam and Eve went against God's rule and ways, stepped out of relationship with Him, sinned and ate of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, their relationship with God, with one another, with the animals, creation and within themselves was forever changed for the worse and they were immediately opened up to the consequences of their disobedience and they had to leave the garden.
Since Adam and Eve left the garden mankind has been subject to Satan's wiles; sin, sickness, depravity and all kinds of terrible consequences of mans evil ways such as poverty, war, famine,; sickness and many more such results of mankind deciding to go against God's ways and going our own way.
One of the results of the fall that I want to address in particular in this article today is illness and in particular 'mental illness', psychological sickness and disorder of the soul.
According to the tripartite nature of humanity, that I believe much of Christendom would ascribe to, we are body, soul and spirit and since the fall of man when sin and sickness entered the world each of these characteristics of man have been marred by sin, sickness, evil and depravity.
There are two bible verses that describe this triune nature;
I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ (1 Thessalonians 5:23).
For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow (body), and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart (Hebrews 4:12).
The other aspect of the fall of man that is important to note is the cumulative or generational effect of sin on mankind. As time has marched forward since the fall man has become generationally in his tripartite being, more sinful, more sick, more depraved and more evil.
Exodus 34:7 speaks about the sins of the father affecting children to the 3rd and 4th generation
Keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, but who will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children and the children's children, to the third and the fourth generation.”
In looking at the body for example, in spite of science and exponential medical advances the human race, are becoming sicker and sicker, although we are living longer and longer, when looking at the soul and in particular the mind we see more depression, anxiety and other psychological disorder than ever before, the emotions are allowed to run rampant and the will seems to be more self centred than ever. As for the Spirit, the majority of mankind have almost fully cut off communion with the living God through the worship of other gods, secular humanism, atheism and other worldviews and idols.
So in terms of the tripartite nature of man, many centuries after the fall, leading to the cumulative effect of generational sin, I would have to say that humankind at this point in history is in a pretty sad state of affairs, as can be seen all the world over, in all kinds of issues like those mentioned earlier plus many more.
Which brings me to mental illness or psychological disorder. The secular would as a general rule see psychological disorder primarily in terms of science, there is the medical model which would see mental illness as some kind of chemical imbalance in need of balancing via the use of medication and would work primarily on the tripartite part of humankind which is the body, then there is the therapeutic model, which would see mental illness as being more to do with the soul of the person and would use tools such as cognitive behavioural therapy, the aim of psychotherapy or other forms of therapy (most holistic forms of therapy would include looking at things like diet and exercise and lifestyle factors which of course have a huge impact on the whole person) is to try and bring the person back into balance, often these days the medical and therapeutic models are used hand in hand as both have been scientifically proven in effectiveness to treat various forms of psychological imbalance.
Then there are the theological and spiritual parts of the person, which the secular model often (though not always) fails to incorporate, which would include within the Christian context, getting the psychologically imbalanced person into healthier connection and relationship with God l (through Lordship and Salvation in Christ) and into healthier connection with their fellow humankind again (plus healthier connection with reality and truth) and would use tools such as prayer, deliverance, repentance, forgiveness and sanctification plus the healing power of the Holy Spirit.
In my opinion particularly for complex cases, none of these models alone would see the person completely healed (apart from a miracle healing by God, which has been known to happen in some cases, but this type of healing at this point in history seems to be exception rather than the rule, although with God we know that all that can change in a second ).
So that leaves us in this current climate as Christians hoping that we are one of the few whom God in His love, mercy and infinite grace chooses to heal immediately and/or miraculously, it leaves us humbly and repentantly praying for revival, courageously persevering and living the excellent and victorious Christian life to the best of our abilities and with great passion, but in the meantime being realistic about our human condition and limitations, using wisdom and discernment and all the tools available to us in each one of the models, the medicinal, the therapeutic and the Christian theo/spiritual.
Sadly there are many atheist Dr's who will see medicine as the entire answer, then there are some psychologists, counsellors and talk therapists who may see their type of therapy as the only solution, then there are many secularists who would completely disregard the the spiritual aspects of humankind and finally and shamefully far too many Christians who will out of hand say that only a certain type of prayer and deliverance will work.
But in my opinion when we are working with human beings with such complexities, such fallen tripartite individuals with their dreadful experiences and generational sins, I think we need not rule any of these models out and that we need great wisdom and discernment when working with the fragile human psyche and as much available to us as we can possibly get our hands on (as long as it is Godly of course and does not go against the Word of God).
It would be so lovely and so much easier if there was just a one size fits all approach to the major issue of mental illness that is currently plaguing our world, but I don't think that there are many who could really say with surety that their way is only way for every sick individual that walks through the door. (Although of course I believe without question that Jesus is the only way to the Father and that he heals today,I also believe that he uses scientific method and the hands of Godly men and women, to work through, in His time)
Sure, there are psychiatrists that misdiagnose and over medicate their patients, just as there are talk therapists that keep their clients in an unhealthy limbo for years and there are also many unwise and gung ho uneducated Christians out there who have made serious blunders in the area's of spiritual warfare and deliverance in their foolish enthusiasm.
That is why I strongly believe in ernestly seeking Christ's wisdom and discernment when seeking help for ourselves or our loved ones with these types of matters and in taking a Godly tailor made, balanced approach to tackling the complexities of the tripartite human being, and I honestly don't believe that we as Christians can discount the medical or therapeutic models out of hand as 'evil.' or irrelevant I know from experience and empirical evidence that God can use these models hand in hand with the theo/spiritual model in Christ.
Finally, having worked as a nurse, a welfare worker, a counsellor, a teacher and a leader in the church I can tell you that there are some VERY broken people out there, broken almost beyond repair some of them and unable to comprehend the gospel or anything else they are so sick.
I have worked in palliative care with dying people, in nursing home with dementia patients, at a rehab hospital where the most disabled people in our land were housed and with the lost and broken in the church and on the streets, I have seen plainly that life is not simple and there are no pat or easy answers when faced with such extreme suffering and pain as one sometimes sees in this life.
I know our God is a God of miracles who can and will use every good and Godly thing in these times including medicine, therapy, spiritual warfare and deliverance ministry and I strongly believe that we as Christians must not rule out any approach for an individual unless the Lord specifically closes that door in His wisdom and discernment.
So often I have heard Christians give this one size fits all approach to these kinds of issues like; if I just had enough faith, if they just had enough faith, if I was just Godly enough, if they just had this key or that key or they just had deliverance at this place, well I'm sorry Christians, but after seeing what I've seen, the lowest of low of human suffering, I just son't buy the one size fits all sales pitch.
Choose carefully, choose prayerfully, choose wisely choose with discernment, research and investigate. God will have exactly the right people to work with you in exactly His way if you let Him. Sometimes you will get the on the spot miracle (it dies happen) and sometimes God for His own reasons will make you wait. Choose humbly and not in pride and tread carefully with the broken bruised reeds around you of whom some will have lives that you could not possibly begin to comprehend even in your worst nightmares
You don't know everything.
Go with God.