Friday, December 15, 2006

"Psychology and the Bible"

Attention Deficit Disorder, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, Bi-Polar, Chemical Imbalance—we hear these words often. And they are disturbing. Why? Because, more and more, people are labeling their sin as a psychological/medical problem and using prescription drugs to "solve" their problem.

A few facts are in order.

First, no objective, scientific test currently exists that will determine if a person has one of these conditions. For example, if a person has a brain tumor, a CT scan or MRI will almost always reveal the presence of a physical problem---the tumor. Many people are surprised when they find out that the determination of a chemical imbalance in the brain is basically guesswork. No test exists to prove a chemical imbalance.

Second, if a person is seriously depressed, then that person should get a complete physical exam instead of quickly seeking medication to relieve his problem. Many physical disorders and illnesses may contribute to depression. Yet objective medical testing can determine if a person has a verifiable medical condition. But very few of those who are taking anti-depressants have received a thorough physical exam. Most of the time, someone prescribed medication based on a relatively brief visit to the doctor. If a person does not have a verifiable medical condition, then his problem is most likely not medical, but spiritual.

Third, scientists do not understand the human brain. True, we understand more now than we did 20 years ago, yet we do not understand as much as people think we do. Nor has anyone proven that some problems such as alcoholism or drug addiction are the result of genetic brain problems. Many would like for that to be true so that they can avoid responsibility for their sin.

The Bible teaches that repetitive sin will eventually have serious consequences [Proverbs 5:21-23; Galatians 6:7-8], even what we would call psychological problems. King Saul, the first king of Israel, had serious character flaws that he refused to change. As his indulgence in sin progressed, he became more paranoid and psychotic. What started out as a sin problem deteriorated into serious mental and emotional instability, making treatment of his "problems" more difficult.

Are there legitimate mental disorders for which medication could be used. Yes. The brain is an organ of the body just as the kidneys or heart are organs of the body. The brain can become sick and need medication for the problem. Yet our society and even Christians have too often turned to psychology and medication to solve what are fundamentally spiritual problems.

Facing your sin is humbling, hard work. Taking a pill avoids that hard work. Churches need to regain our rightful place in the treatment of people’s problems. Jesus Christ Is More Than Enough.