On Sunday, I talked about the issues of depression and anxiety in our culture. I didn’t talk about those things to make anyone feel ashamed. Far from it. If someone is depressed and/or anxious, it is important to be able to admit that condition and then get the best help for it.
I referred to those widespread experiences for a reason. I’ll take a short detour before I come back to the issues of anxiety and depression.
DETOUR BEGINS NOW:
I believe in the Christian faith because I believe it is TRUE. I believe some things are right and other things are wrong. I believe some things are good and other things are bad. I believe some things are helpful and healing and other things are hurtful and harmful.
And I believe this is the state of objective reality and not just my subjective perception of reality.
For example, I believe adultery is objectively bad. Adultery is not bad because of my subjective opinion, it is bad because God (the author of reality) says it is bad. And adultery remains bad, even if my subjective opinion believes otherwise. I am using this particular example because a large percentage of Americans still believe adultery is wrong. They don’t believe premarital sexual encounters are wrong, but once you are married, sexual experiences outside the marriage commitment are wrong.
My framework for believing adultery is wrong is the existence of God (the real existence of God and not just my subjective desire that he exists) and that the real God has told us what is real, true, and good (and what is false, bad, and evil). Faithfulness in marriage is good. Unfaithfulness in marriage is bad.
Now, watch this next thought. I believe the Christian faith, but not simply because it works. I believe the Christian faith works because it is real, true, and good. By works, I mean it generates results that are real, true, and good … results that are beneficial … results that can be described by the word flourishing.
I also believe that bad and wrong things work as well, but they work in the opposite direction. Because they are bad and wrong, they result in pain, hurt, harm, disappointment, frustration, confusion, depression, and anxiety (and much more).
THE DETOUR JUST ENDED!
In other words, depression and anxiety have reasons behind them—usually a collage of reasons, not just ONE cause. I believe that one of the reasons behind these experiences is brain chemistry that gets out of kilter, and that medication can be helpful for the brain to recalibrate.
But I also believe there are other reasons for the painful emotional experiences of life. Life is hard. Bad things happen. We experience painful reality, and when we do, painful emotions are the natural results of brutal encounters with a painful reality (like adultery or the experience of betrayal by someone you trusted).
We now live in a time when God has been largely removed from our cultural experience. With that removal, help from God has also been removed from our personal experience. But wait, there’s more bad news. Because God is removed, the norms God gave us about what is good and true have also been pushed to the periphery and, in many cases, just eliminated. Other “values” have been exalted in their place.
We’ll wrap up today’s post here. But don’t despair! Tomorrow we’ll continue unpacking this topic and look at the solution—the Way of Jesus.