When we are discussing various diagnoses it is easy to forget that there is always an active-choosing person. Even when there is clearly an “it” to discuss (a literal, physical disease), “it” still needs a host and the choices of this person will have a great impact on the intensity, duration, social impact, and possible elimination of the struggle.
In terms of counseling (a conversation between two people aimed at improving life), this person-making-choices and person-giving-meaning-to-experiences is the focal point of interaction. Environment cannot always be changed. Medications cannot eliminate symptoms. But there are always lifestyle choices and personal beliefs that can be changed which will have a significant impact on one’s mental health.
What are the gospel-implications for volitional causes or influences on mental illness?
- Each individual must bear the responsibility for any choice he/she made (Ezek. 18:19-20).
- There is forgiveness available for the guilt and shame associated with any destructive choice (Rom. 3:1-39).
- There is an identity available as a “child of God” that is stronger than the shame of any choice (Eph. 5:1-2).
- God empowers every Christian to be able to make healthy, righteous choices in any circumstance (Deut. 30:15-20).
- We are never tempted beyond what we are able to resist by the grace of God (I Cor. 10:13).