Final Thoughts on Mental illness and Justice

“I wish it need not have happened in my time," said Frodo.
"So do I," said Gandalf, "and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”   JRR Tolkien

Petunia (black) sleeping on her sleeping sister, Lilly

Well, I am going to sound like a broken record. Once again, I had another one of "those days." My son returned home from college with a lymph node the size of a small child's fist. Today we leaned that he tested positive for acute mononucleosis and needs some further testing. So, with family visiting and Christmas preparations, I, like all of you reading this,have been a bit busy.

I have been thinking about this post all day. Frankly the comments have been excellent. You all have said many things that I overlooked. So, I have decided to highlight some thoughts from Mr. Dee and our readers. All of them should spark discussion.

A horribly abused boy

In my former as a public health nurse, I knew of some children who were so severely abused, sexually, physically, and mentally that they have, as adults, lost touch with reality. Imagine a little 2 year old boy being sexually abused by his dad and his friends, given alcohol and drugs at the age of 5. Picture a medical chart that shows multiple, poorly healed fractures. The well meaning, yet overwhelmed Child Protective Services finally find out about him as a young teen because he shows up, having run from his abusive father, at an Emergency Room with a broken arm and two black eyes.

He is non-interactive, appears to hear voices and exhibits serious outbursts of anger. He is institutionalized for several weeks, given medication and dismissed into the care of social workers who place him in a foster home. His emotional state is so disruptive that his foster family refuse to continue caring for him. He is placed into a series of foster homes, and finally disappears to live on the streets.

He is later arrested because he killed another vagrant who was stealing his blanket. He appears in court, confused and zoned out. What do we do?  

Does he go into jail, just another evil sinner, who refuses to do what was right? Does he go to jail primarily to prevent him from hurting others? Should he receive psychiatric care?

My heart goes out to the little boy that he was-alone and horribly abused with little to no evidence of love. Is it any wonder his mind broke under the pain? Could it be that the real evil and sin is our refusal to deal with some of the root causes of mental illness? 


Five years ago, I decided to take in a little pug dog, Petunia, who, for 4 1/2 years lived through untold abuse. She was hit in her head which caused diminished sight in one eye. A number of her teeth were knocked out and her back leg was pulled out of joint. She had never had a bath and was skin and bones due to starvation. She made her way to my house by the courageous act of a woman who broke into her neighbor's backyard and removed her from her chain. She told the owner that she would call the police if he tried to stop her. Petunia came to my house about 5 days later after being surrendered to Pug Rescue.

She would run away from all of us. I would let her out into the back yard but she would run away from me when it was time to come in. I couldn't catch her. She would sit outside, in pouring rain, running away as I approached and howling pitifully. I had never heard a pug do that.I would stand there, in tears, trying to help her see that I loved her but she couldn't yet understand, I finally put a harness on her and a long lead. To get her to come in the house, I used to reel her in like a fish.

She would then run and hide in a corner of the house, whimpering. Slowly over time, she would approach us for food and then run away. Housebreaking did not go well. She had never been housebroken because she had lived outside, something that pugs are not supposed to do. If I even frowned and said "no" when she had an accident, it would cause her to run and hide for most of the day. 

So, we ripped up our carpets, put in wood floors (I wanted to do that anyway) and went with the flow, never expressing negativity  After 9 months she would go out the doggie door. By the end of 2 years, she would sit in the same room with us. By year 3 she would allow me to pat her. It took another 6 months for Mr Dee to be allowed to pat her. Her abuser had been a man. By year 5 she would take walks on a leash but was still afraid to leave the house.About 6 months ago, she put her paw on my leg and I bent down and she licked my face for the first time. Needless to say, I it was an emotional moment.

She now loves and trusts all people who come into our house> She is a happy dog who is now finally able to enjoy her life, sunning on the deck, playing with her pug sister and sleeping on her memory foam bed. But, she still does not like to leave the house. She may never fully trust the world outside.

5 years! That is a long time in dog years.

Mental illness is like that, it takes time, understanding, love, money and commitment.  Unfortunately, our society does not prioritize our mental health system and it is broken, despite the valiant efforts of many professionals. It is virtually impossible to commit someone against their will. Even when involuntary commission occurs, it is usually limited to a few days to a week.

So, as a society, are we so limited that we cannot intervene in the lives of disturbed individuals until they commit a horrendous crime? It sure seems so. I wish there was an easy solution but there is not.

Meantime, there is a movement within the evangelical church which rejects modern psychology and embraces  Nouthetic counseling link.This thinking is dangerous, especially when it comes to serious mental illness.

 It is a form of pastoral counseling that holds that counseling should be based solely upon the Bible and focused upon sin, and that repudiating mainstream psychology and psychiatry as humanistic, radically secular and fundamentally opposed to Christianity.

I want to reiterate something. I do NOT believe that a mentally ill person who commits a horrific act should be allowed to run free in society. The only solution, until we get serious about mental illness, appears to be incarceration. But, we should always remember that the madman who commits a horrific crime could once have been a little boy who was tortured beyond imagining. 

Mr Dee

In the wake of the senseless massacre of innocent young children in Newtown, Connecticut, the Church struggles to make sense of what occurred. No question that it was an incredibly “evil” act.  This dark occurrence has led certain well-meaning Christians to attempt to console the families of the dead children, saying that “Jesus is the answer”.

While that statement is certainly true, if the likely cause for the murderer’s rage ends up being serious mental illness, simply saying “Jesus is the answer” may not do much good. It would be like telling someone with angina that the cause of their chest pain was spiritual. While the spiritual well-being of the person with angina is important, a stent and/or medicines would likely be the best treatment to remedy the angina.

If the murderer’s problem is medical (serious mental illness with psychosis) rather than spiritual (demonic possession or the like), we Christians may need to come to better grips with the problem of serious mental illness in America and its potentially lethal consequences.

As a Christian cardiologist, I would caution against over-emphasizing the problem of evil, particularly if mental illness turns out to be the root cause. We offer the love of Christ to those who have been deeply hurt by this incident.  We offer to show compassion, and to weep with those who are weeping, just as Jesus would do. By such actions we demonstrate the love of Christ, and in that sense, Jesus is, through His body, providing an “answer” to the grieving families.

Assuming that serious mental illness is the cause of this horrific occurrence, Jesus may also be providing to us Christians “answers” in the form of a heightened awareness of the problem of mental illness, and the importance of early detection, accurate diagnosis, treatment, and prevention. These “answers” may help us as Christians to better cope with the harsh reality of living in a fallen world.

Linda said

Who decides when someone is ill enough to commit?

Realistically we found our own physician thought so, a panel appointed by the state thought so, and STILL the courts would not move.

Only after a crime was committed was this person “committed” but still was in our care because a bed was not available.

Make no mistake–serious mental illness requiring commitment is usually pretty obvious to the people around.

There is a huge difference between sadness and bi-polar depression.

There is a huge difference between being a little selfish and being psychopathic.

There is a huge difference in being on top of the world and mania.

There is a huge difference between being shy and becoming so withdrawn you cannot be reached or respond to another person as Adam Lanza did.

So yes, when a person of any age has a history of psychotic breaks, or of threatening to harm themselves or others, or of being strongly delusional or suffering from hallucinations either visual or aural, the professionals can judge this and we should be able to commit them.

Example: not all mentally ill hear voices telling them to harm another person. But if a woman comes to her dr telling him she is hearing voices telling her to kill her baby, it is time to take action.

Not every kid that has problems with relating to peers will hurt someone. But a kid who either withdraws into such a place that they do not respond to others at all, or who repeatedly expresses a desire to hurt the other people, or who posts messages that he or she dreams of killing them all is letting us know it time to act.

Our courts indeed are to hold people innocent until proven guilty. But we are not talking innocence or guilt here. We are talking seriously disordered thinking or capable of rational thought and responsible action.

There is pretty good evidence James Holme’s dr knew he was dangerous, hence his banishment from campus. Had she been able to interact meaningfully with the court system, he could have been held, evaluated, treated, and the Aurora theater shooting would not have happened.

So which is better? LISTEN to the DOCTORS and protect the life and freedom of the people at the theater, or ignore them and clean up the carnage?

Rest assured commitment will never be an easy process and will probably always require the judgment of a panel of psychiatrists.

But we do need to revamp the privacy laws enough that when there is danger there is action.

Jeff S said

Alright, I wanted to get an answer to why we punished before I answered, but I’m going to go ahead because I don’t have a great deal of time in the next few hours.

In “Generous Justice” Tim Keller defines the word used in the Old Testament for “Justice” (Mishpat) as “giving people what they are due, whether punishment or protection or care”. So the idea of “justice” means not just punishing the wicked, but elevating the oppressed, SACRIFICIALLY if necessary (God wasn’t kidding when he told his people to aid widows and orphans).

So when it comes to justice for someone with a mental disorder, what are we talking about? Is this an individual who is “due” punishment, protection, or care? Well, would you not agree it is all three? And if we were offering proper protection and care, would in some cases punishment not ever be necessary?

And this is why it is different than dealing with a non mentally ill person. The non mentally ill person is not “due” protection or care because those things are not necessary, at least not to the extent of the mentally ill person.

And before some Calvinist jumps in and says we are all “due” hell before breakfast (remember, I AM a Calvinist), we are talking about how we treat one another as image bearers of God. The scripture commands over and over again that we give people their “due” (whenever the word Mishpat appears, which is a lot)- if all of humanity were only ever “due” hell, then God wouldn’t have commanded it. We aren’t to treat others as “all have sinned and fall short of the Glory of God”- that description is between us and him. When it comes to how we treat our fellow man, justice is about our status as image bearers of God.

The only argument for treating a mentally ill person and a non mentally ill person the same is if we believe that mental illness is not an oppressive state. If we believe that mental illness is oppressive, it is our duty as people of God to work to protect and care for those who have it.

I don’t think that mental illness or a need for care negates punishment, but it certainly must play a part in the process of our mission to individuals as the body of Christ.

Bob Cleveland makes a sad but convincing point.

Plain fact is there isn’t any “good answer” to all the collateral damage that the sin of Adam has sent through the human race. Man may think he’s up to the task of solving all the problems that stem therefrom, but as was true with the penalty for sin, man is simply not.

We’ll struggle with this clear through the next coming of Jesus. Count on it.

Lydia's Corner: Numbers 8:1-9:23 Mark 13:14-37 Psalm 50:1-23 Proverbs 10:29-30



Final Thoughts on Mental illness and Justice — 63 Comments

  1. Our efforts as a society to cope with the mentally ill have been less than. Less than just, less than effective, less than loving, less than protective of society and of the mentally ill.

    And budget cutters seem to like to cut out the treatment programs, both residential and outpatient. An example is a program we used to have in Texas where a small group of MHMR people would monitor whether medication was being properly taken by the outpatient population, and would intervene to get them back on meds when necessary. Cost was not great, less than the cost of the meds, and much less than the cost of putting mentally ill people in jail at $50 per day. (BTW the cost of the meds is irrelevant, since if not provided before incarceration, they are generally provided and paid for during incarceration.) And of course, the cost was less than the agony of families (of both the mentally ill and the victims) when a person off meds becomes the perpetrator of violence.

  2. 1. “My son returned home from college with a lymph node the size of a small child’s fist. Today we leaned that he tested positive for acute mononucleosis and needs some further testing.”

    I know this is probably obvious to you, but make sure he rests! My mom’s childhood dance teacher died at 22 of complications of mono because she refused to slow down. The mono morphed into some kind of hepatitis/liver complication.

    2. “Meantime, there is a movement within the evangelical church which rejects modern psychology and embraces Nouthetic counseling.”

    Semi-related tangent to this thought. My mom has access to a national homeschool leaders’ message board. A message was posted a few days ago asking what to do if approached by someone who wants to homeschool but has obvious problems (alcoholism, mental illness, homelessness, etc.). The first response to this question (posted by a NATIONALLY KNOWN AND RESPECTED homeschool leader) was that if the woman (big assumption) is a Christian, she should be “accountable” to her local church in her homeschooling. The second response (from somebody else) was, “So, DID she have these problems or DOES she have these problems?” He then went on about not wanting to discourage someone in their repentance, blah blah blah.

    So what I glean from these answers is, it’s perfectly acceptable for children to be put at risk as long as their parents are putting them at risk under the supervision of a local church…or have spoken the magic words “I’m sorry” before putting them at risk. This sounds like SGM desperately wanting the authorities kept out of pedophilia cases. This IS the enabling, big-eyed innocent trusting attitude that causes abuse in the church. They just CANNOT bring themselves to say that some people SHOULD NOT homeschool!

    Whether these guys know it or not, they are enabling abuse. But this question – should problems like mental illness or alcoholism keep a parent from homeschooling – is a can of worms you can’t open. You might as well roll yourself in tar and feathers pre-emptively. I see it as related to the nouthetic counseling thing because they are refusing to listen to the diagnosis of the psychiatrist – as long as the person has “repented,” the issue is solved and they are good to go.

    (Of course, said nationally known and respected homeschool leader has also quoted R. J. Rushdoony and InfoWars, the wacked-out evidence-free right-wing conspiracy center of the internet universe…so hardly a reliable source on any topic. It really is quite illuminating.)

  3. Arce

    As a public health nurse, years ago, in Massachusetts, we would be called to find people who were allowed to live in the community so long as they took their medication. Now, back in those days, the numbers of meds available were not many.These days, there are more but still not enough.

    Funny story, I was told to find a guy who was a memeber of a biker gang and give him a shot of his antipsychotic. So, here I was, a naive young nurse, barely out of my teens. I found him at an apartment filled with a bunch of bikers. I explained about his agreement and, right in the middle of the room full of bikers, he dropped his britches. All the guys started laughing. So, as I drew up the meds, unbeknownst to me, he was afarid of needles.As I leaned over, he took a swing at me. I ducked and ran out of the aprtment, leaving behind my nursing bag. Got to a pay phone and called the police.

    I then marched back to my office and told them we needed to have some escorts for these situations. Never did find out what happened to the bag.


  4. Hester

    I plan to convey your story to him. He has a group of friends that he grew up with. All the guys are into exercise and weight lifting and do it together.  The other night, they had their annual carolling night. The guys dress up in their mother’s tacky Christmas sweaters, put on all sorts of Santa hats and go to houses of their extended friends and sing carols.I informed him to stop the exercising immediately. He is not pleased. Your story will help reinforce my words. Thank you.

    I am deeply concerned with the rise of nouthetic counseling in the church. The naivete of Christians who believe that it is merely a simple sin issue will result in some serious outcomes. 

  5. Another passing thought..

    If each professed Christian in the world (2.2b), spends a total of 3 hours each week in prayer, in church or reading their Bible, then after 1 year they will have collectively wasted 39 million years!!

  6. Dee: “I am deeply concerned with the rise of nouthetic counseling in the church. The naivete of Christians who believe that it is merely a simple sin issue will result in some serious outcomes.”

    I believe it already has, as I’m sure you do as well.

    In talking with some people I know who would subscribe to the nouthetic counseling, I try to challenge them on why is it then, they would seek medical help for disease, or financial advice for taxes, estate planning, or attorneys for legal matters and so on. Asking why they would not confine those issues to the spiritual domain, as they do in,
    marital/family/societal matters.

    Also, I’ve wondered when reading the various posts on mental health issues what damage the abuse of drugs in utero (meth/cocaine/heroin) has done to children? We have at least 20/30 years now of children being born to mothers’ who have severely abused all sorts of lethal drugs. Where do these children fit into the mental health scene and do we have any data on their outcomes?

  7. Fendrel wrote:

    Another passing thought..
    If each professed Christian in the world (2.2b), spends a total of 3 hours each week in prayer, in church or reading their Bible, then after 1 year they will have collectively wasted 39 million years!!

    . Only if they are wrong. But if they are wrong and no God exists, then 24 hours a day for every person who has ever lived is wasted.

    Yes, I know you don’t agree that nihilism is the natural outcome to atheism, but I also don’t agree with you that time spent serving God is wasted. So let’s call it a draw?

  8. Fendrel

    Nah-when you see the error of your ways and come back to the fold, it will be all worth it for all 2.2 billion of us. 

    Besides, there is physical value to prayer. Lower bllod pressure, sense of well-being etc. BTW, I know you will choose studies that negate it but I can find good studies, including some at Duke that support it. Now, we can debate the mechanism involved but there is a benefit- no matter the mechanism and physical outcome.

    Keeping you in my prayers. 🙂

  9. Lin

    I know a number of kids that have now reached their majority who were victims of fetal alcohol syndrome. The long term consequences are serious, particualrly when it comes to behavior. So, kids who had their infant brains marinated in alchol are to be considered evil and sinners when they have erratic behavior? That, to me, is evil thinking since it shows not understanding of the mercy of a loving Father.

  10. My son was born addicted to painkillers and they had to detox him in ICU. It was very difficult as a parent to watch. At the time I understood that the specific drugs were not supposed to affect him (specialists were involved to pick which medications she could be on), but I really think there’s so much they don’t know and it is scary. So far he appears to be a happy and bright child so I remain hopefully that the long term effects will be negligible,

  11. “If the murderer’s problem is medical (serious mental illness with psychosis) rather than spiritual (demonic possession or the like), we Christians may need to come to better grips with the problem of serious mental illness in America and its potentially lethal consequences.”

    It appears to be a bit too easy for those of us who hold to a Christian world view to talk about “sin and evil”, and to respond quickly to horrible criminal behavior with simple comments like “Jesus is the answer”. It is far more difficult for us Christians to have a serious conversation about “severe mental illness”, and to respond respectfully with the love of Christ. Could Jesus be asking us to do something that significant?

  12. Jeff S……hopefully they know what the effects of pain killers are and you can trust their expertise of your son probably being ok.

    FAS definetly presents itself in learning disabilities.I am thinking the damage from meth and other junk drugs is catastrophic.

    We had a family come to church with generations of alcohol, drug abuse, developmental issues in the children…grossly dysfunctional family, extended family. And while much improvement took place as they engaged in the faith…..problems remained because of the damage already done. Our old pastor rejoiced in the progress the family made and had compassion / empathy for the fallout of their generational dysfunctional. New calvinista pastor has no sympathy, tolerance of their complicated family relationships….it’s conform or get out. So sad the church only wants the “healthy ” so it looks good to the outside world.

  13. Thanks Lin- problem ended up being that I heard dissenting opinions from the doctors after the fact, but I can’t change it now (really, I couldn’t have changed it then, to be honest).

    You like to think of the medical community as having all the answers and medicine being a sure thing, but there’s just so much we are still learning. 🙁

  14. @ dee:
    I have to wonder if just writing encouraging letters to those in need wouldn’t provide the same physical benefits AND actually help another person.

    Prayer: The art of talking to yourself and imagining that someone intelligent is listening.

  15. Dee I completely second/ third whatever about mino & rest… I had mono 3 times. That & my type A personality ensured I totally overdid it the third time & I paid with 22 years of ME/ post viral fatigue syndrome. I spent my 21st birthdayin a chair, too weak to stand & my 20’s in the twilight zone. Please learn from my mistakes.

  16. Wouldn’t it be a bizarre twist, if Adam did this because he believed that if these children were allowed to grow up, they would likely turn away from God and end up in Hell, whereas if he intervened and took their earthly life from them now, he could guarantee them a place forever in paradise with Jesus.

  17. Just a point of info: when our loved one was diagnosed bi-polar in addition (in his thirties) to f.a.s. and fragile x, and had been horribly abused before placement with us, he was in the state prison in another state.

    Meds helped him tremendously the 3 months the state provided them. But after that it was up to him or us to come up with the money for the meds.

    So no, they are not necessarily provided for prisoners.

    And re justice: confining the dangerous portion of the mentally ill may not seem like justice.

    But what about justice for their victims? Didn’t Adam Lanza’s victims also have a right to their freedom, taken completely when they died?

    And as our loved one said while we were waiting for meaningful treatment to be available when he was in his teens: “they know I will do this. They know I can’t stop. They know you can’t control me. Why won’t they help me?”

    I submit to you the thought NOT locking him up then cost him his freedom for the rest of his life.

  18. And JeffS I winced when I read about your son, poor little lad. I wish all good things for him. Many of those with fas & born addicted do badly because the environment they are born into then provides nothing in the way of nurture to make up for deficits in the baby brain, or their mothers took such a heavy load of substances it’s a wonder their pregnancies were viable.

    I remember my Mum seeing a young man on the news who’d killed someone in his 20’s…she realised she’d had him on the ward as a toddler after he’d been pushed in a fire & badly disfigured. She always wondered if that early injury & the change it made in his appearance had earned him severe bullying or something that had contributed to his later crime. I akways ask about childhood head injury if I get a

  19. kid in with impulse problems…more common than you think.
    I love the pugs Dee…love that you got licked, brought a little tear to my eye. I wondered if you love Onslow due to his resemblence…

  20. Dee – I contracted mono in 1989 and, like beakerj, spent the next 10 years in a very similar “twilight zone” – ended up with an ME (CFS) diagnosis. Thankfully the viral symptoms finally stopped – or at least, became less severe – after about 7-8 years, but I still feel the long-term effects of mono.

    I know it will be hard for your son to rest (unless he starts craving it, which may well happen), but it’s vital to his recovery. (As I’m sure you know already!)

    Your stories brought more than a few tears when i read them last night…

  21. Numo

    I am so sorry about hte prolonged illness that is very much related to mono. He gave me a hardtime but I told him to lay down for a minute yesterday. He woke up 3 hours later. He slept about 14 hours last night. 

    I cried again over those stories. Then I made the mistake of looking at one of the funderals for a young boy at newtown. he always wanted to be a fireman. The fire fighters, dressed in their fire fighting gear, lined up and as his hearse went by, they saluted. I am still recovering.

  22. Dee – your animal stories are always wonderful, and reading about the love and patience and kindness you and Mr. Dee have given to Petunia just makes me cry in a happy way. (Though the details of the abuse are horrific.)

  23. Maybe your son will get the idea that his body *really* needs sleep for the duration? I so hear you on the 3-hour nap and 14-hour overnight sleeping…

  24. Dee,
    Petunia and Lilly are just too precious!! Several years back, Mrs. Muff brought home a sweet little girl from a rescue organization in our area. She too was abused and does not like men (except for Muff). Mrs. Muff named her ‘Fancy’. She’s an Italian Greyhound/Chihuahua mix with the most beautiful brindled coat I’ve ever seen. Whenever I read about children and animals being abused [including this post] it makes me cry.

  25. Fendrel – I agree with Gavin – your last comment was ‘off’ – like the egg I cracked straight into my toad in the hole breakfast last week.

  26. Mr. Dee wrote:

    It is far more difficult for us Christians to have a serious conversation about “severe mental illness”, and to respond respectfully with the love of Christ. Could Jesus be asking us to do something that significant?

    Mr.Dee I still remain grateful for the weekly visitor who saw my family member with schizophrenia/bipolar. The visitor was an educated Christian gentleman who could provide the intellectual challenge through conversation that my family member craved and so looked forward to. He probably had no idea how respected he was and the difference he made. I’m also grateful to the staff in the local coffee shop who provided caring and connection through their service for many years. Similarly, the neighbours who all kept a kind and caring eye out. It all adds up and makes a difference in the lives of others.

  27. Dee, I’m still cracking up at the story about the guy who dropped his daks. All nurses have fabulous stories !

    Also what you shared about ‘hunting’ for your patients on the reservation. That was special.

  28. @ Dee & Eagle:

    “I second Hester. Isn’t Mono common among young people in college?”

    Mom had a classmate in college who also got mono but didn’t die. She was a concert oboist and got the liver complications like mom’s dance teacher, but had to take a year off college to fully recover. Make him rest!!!!!

  29. Gavin, Haitch,

    It is a legitimate possibility, it even has some rationality associated with it from a theological perspective. I didn’t send the question to those who have lost family members, that would have just been cruel. But I think it is a valid idea to discuss here when looking for reasons.

    I you agree than an innocent child goes immediately to heave for all eternity when they die, and also the commonly help position that only a minority of adults overall become Christians and go to heaven. Then, especially in a twisted mind, that reason could “make sense”, in other an ill person could easily use that argument to justify their actions and believe that they are actually doing a good thing, ensuring those children a life of bliss at Jesus side that they might not otherwise have.

    I am not trying to be cruel or insensitive, but if you are going to look for answers or possible reasons then no idea should be automatically excluded.

  30. Ignore above…way too many typos…let me try again (my bad)

    Gavin & Haitch,

    It is a legitimate possibility, it even has some rationality associated with it from a theological perspective. I didn’t send the question to those who have lost family members, that would have just been cruel. But I think it is a valid idea to discuss here when looking for reasons.

    If you agree than an innocent child goes immediately to heaven for all eternity when they die, and you also agree with the commonly held position that only a minority of adults become Christians and make it to heaven, then, especially in an unbalanced mind, that could justify killing children. An ill individual could easily believe that they are actually doing a good thing, ensuring that those children receive a life of bliss at Jesus side that they might not otherwise have.

    I am not trying to be cruel or insensitive, but if you are going to look for answers or possible reasons then no idea should be automatically excluded because it is unpleasant.

  31. Mostly off topic– but in what world would the following be considered “sane”? I’m worried these Facebook foes will soon break out the mail bombs, anthrax, or AK47s. highly edited

    Dec 16 a Martian FB friend commented on his beloved Pastor Mark Driscoll:
    I am so blessed to have my wife and I under a pastor, under a ministry that is not afraid to preach truth and declare it how it is – how the God has had it declared in His own Word – PRAISE GOD 🙂  
    Arminian:  Mark does not preach truth!
    Editor:  About 50 comments trying to resolve predestination/free will follow–until today, when we have:
    Calvinist:  Since you refuse to deal with counter-evidence and insist that man is saved by obedience, not grace, I reject you as a heretic who is anthema. Sorry.
    Editor: Numerous dueling scripture words are exchanged, as Name-calling escalates.
    Calvinist:  It is always funny when fools add to scripture to justify their theology…
    Calvinist: It is funny how these fools claim to believe obedience saves and yet none of them are perfect as the Father is perfect. This means by their own standard, they are going to hell. Good ridence.
    Calvinist:  By God’s standard fools like Arminian are going to hell and by Arminian’s standard fools like Arminian are going to hell. Interesting. Either way, they are going to hell.
    Arminian: You are adhering to a gnostic, Augustinian, Calvinistic (murderer), illuminati, and overall satanic doctrine!
    Calvinist: Funny that when you quote the Bible to hell-bound fools, they think you are quoting a Satanic doctrine. This confirms this fool is reprobate.
    Martian: We are ALL murderers! But if singling one sinner out makes you feel better then by all means –
    Arminian:  Matthew 5:22 but I say unto you, that every one who is angry with his brother shall be in danger of the judgment; and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council; and whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of the hell of fire.
    Calvinist: Why do children of the devil claim to be my brother when I am an adopted child of the King of kings? It is very insulting.
    Arminian: What sin do you love that you continue to hold on to the doctrine of demons?
    Calvinist:  Jesus said they would slander us. Even in their reprobation, pagans prove Jesus right about them. How ironic.

  32. Dear Dee
    Rest and a loving environment will go a long way to helping your son’s recovery and I am sure that he has that with you and Mr Dee. Sometimes the world seems too big for our children. I know.

  33. Fendrel wrote:

    Wouldn’t it be a bizarre twist, if Adam did this because he believed that if these children were allowed to grow up, they would likely turn away from God and end up in Hell, whereas if he intervened and took their earthly life from them now, he could guarantee them a place forever in paradise with Jesus.

    Sounds like a variant of the “Kill Them All, God Will Know His Own” of the Crusades or the later version of “Kill Them All, God Will Sort Them Out”.

    And I’m pretty sure it’s been used as justification for atrocities; it makes just enough sense to be very very dangerous. Even if it is just a rationalization of something a “man of sin” was going to do in any case.

    It’s crazy talk, but no matter how crazy you can imagine, there’s probably somebody, somewhere, sometime, who was even crazier along the same lines. Especially in an age of extremes like today.

  34. Dave A A wrote:

    Mostly off topic– but in what world would the following be considered “sane”?

    The magical land of Equestria during the Day of Discord?

  35. Mental relief : breaching bandaids beyond belief?


           As every federal debt dollar printed by the U.S. treasury, forty-three cents is underfunded by federal tax receipts, further decline in American mental health is considered a no-brainier in some circles.

    “Those who know your name trust in you, for you, Lord, have never forsaken those who seek you.” (Psalm 9:10, NIV)

    Consider Carefully?

    You Decide.


  36. @ Headless Unicorn Guy:
    I guess I’ll need to brush up on my diminutive horses to learn about the Day of Discord.
    I must say I side with Arminian in a several ways. 1:Driscoll does not truth! 2: A has sanity on his side– he’s trying to convince C to change his mind, and believes this to be possible, and that he can and should influence this change. C is trying to convince A to change his mind, which he believes is impossible.
    3: Notice the subtle way C gets around the command of Jesus in Matt 5: Aha! He says don’t be angry with your BROTHER or call him Raca. You are not my brother, since you are a child of the devil. Therefore I can call you anything I choose to–uh–er– god forces me to– call you, you heretical anathemized reprobate hell-bound fool! This can be expanded to the murder passage with the help of “We are ALL murderers” to justify any sort of atrocity. “Lef them all grow up together– my Angels will sort them out”–Jesus

  37. Fendrel – What Muff said.

    And – just my thought – might we be able to have a Christmas truce here?

  38. Fendrel,

    Two things in response.

    The first is this: By murdering children in order to compel them to heaven makes their existence functionally irrelevant. Self-awareness and reason is the paragon of the meaning of human existence. The reason that God demands that no man murder another is precisely because of this; by violating the right of individuals to own themselves, you make existence moot. Through murder you claim the right to possess another human being; to commit larceny of himself; this makes existence, again moot, thus it is immoral at its root, because the entire point of God Creating is for Creation to EXIST and to BE itself; and it can thus never be a “loving” thing–or anything in accordance with God’s rational purpose–to murder anyone.

    The idea behind the greatest commandments (love God, love human beings) is to affirm the relevancy of existence. If we are to assume that murdering children leads to salvation for them, and is a “loving” thing to do, the inevitable outcome is instead, in reality, a destruction of all humanity. NO ONE is saved, is the logical conclusion of your proposition, therefore. At the end of the string of murders is no one left but the adults, and they have forsaken Christ and their moral innocence by renouncing God’s purpose for Creation: to exist.

    I’ll elaborate.

    Since it is morally and metaphysically impossible to murder out of love, it is also inevitable that this scheme designed to “make sure all the little ones go to heaven” is doomed before it even starts. There is only one way to get to heaven, and that is be morally innocent. Through murder, we renounce our moral innocence we obtained through Christ…and really, who is willing to condemn themselves to hell in order to send a child, who may or may not accept Christ, to heaven? If he or she (the child) were to choose Christ, then the murderer would have renounced Christ for nothing. No…no rational Christian could ever consider what you suggest for many, many reasons of faith and reason.

    Don’t you think that it is better that those who will choose Him are saved, rather than EVERYONE go to hell? Rather than man condemn the entirety of his race to hell by rendering his very existence moot? This is really the logical conclusion of your proposition. As with the Calvinists that I still maintain you have much more in common with than you realize, metaphysical inconsistency forms the basis of your ideology.

    And second, in an appeal to rank logic: If we kill all the children, who then grows up to be adults? Simple sense renders your proposition untenable.

  39. Fendrel

    I would very much like to discuss the issue you raised with the children. In light of current events, could we backburner this question for a couple of weeks? Please bring it up in a couple of weeks. I hope you understand.

  40. And a Merry Christmas to you too Fendrel! Enjoy good things this season! Good things we can all relish as humans, sans religion, theology and politics.

  41. “Jesus: I am Thy Rest”

    HowDee YaAll,

    The morally correct action is to love mercy, do justice, and walk humbly with the God of the universe, the most holy one, my hiding place, my refuge, the anointed One, the prince of peace!

    I will exult You!
    I will exult You!
    I will exult You!

    Oh! Joy!

    Jesus, You are my God!

    Because you are with me,
    Because you are with me,
    Because you are with me,

    I will not fail!

    Merry Christmas,



  42. Argo wrote:

    And second, in an appeal to rank logic: If we kill all the children, who then grows up to be adults?

    That just means somebody didn’t think things through.

    Though I’ve seen similar gaps of logic on my side of the Tiber, primarily dealing with the Three Days of Darkness end-of-the-world choreography, where after the TDoD everybody becomes Catholic, attends mass only in Latin, and every couple has fifty kids who all become priests and monks and nuns.

  43. Per the shooting…did anybody see this?

    I like this comment from AnyBeth:

    “Might break her brain: baking is chemistry. I’ve no doubt she thinks chemistry (and other hard sciences, at least) are for men and she thinks baking (if not all cooking) is for women. But baking is a particular kind of chemistry that usually ends with at least one edible product. Baking is a kind of chemistry. Chemistry is a science. So is baking for men, women, both or neither? Even taking gendered activities as a given, the answer isn’t so clear.”

  44. In response to the things that happened to Petunia, as it bears relating to the current massacre… though I am a HUGE lover of dogs, and have had numerous in my life, even a rescued mutt..and I understand what you are saying in regards to abuse – what would you do if your dog was perhaps a rottweiler and it killed 26 dogs in your neighborhood? Or, even more direct, 26 people?

  45. Came across this poem, and thought it was cute, well at least creative!

    Virgin Mary, O contrary, How does your fetus grow?
    Only chromosome X, means female sex
    And that’s not the messiah we know.

  46. Anybody listen to “A pastoral response to the Newtown massacre” by John Mac Arthur? What I didn’t like about it is when he brought up the abortion thing. What he said may be true but totally inappropriate.The family members are grieving and to me he was insensitive (nothing new there).

  47. Stormy wrote:

    Anybody listen to “A pastoral response to the Newtown massacre” by John Mac Arthur? What I didn’t like about it is when he brought up the abortion thing.

    The Newtown Massacre is like a mirror to Activists of all kinds. You look into it and see your own Pet Agenda and Pet Fears and Pet Cause in the reflection. For James Dobson and Fred Phelps, it’s homosexuals. For Mike Huckabee, it’s taking prayer out of schools. For half the Federal Government, it’s Semi Automatic Assault Type Weapons. For Ken Ham, it’s teaching evolution instead of Young Earth Creationism. And to John MacArthur, it’s abortion.

  48. And every Activist sees total confirmation of their Agenda. Once their Agenda is rammed down the throats of the sheeple, it’s all Unicorns Farting Rainbows and Free Ice Cream for Everybody!

    Except that different Activists have mutually-exclusive agendas, and the Jihad is on…

  49. I think the general problem in American Christianity is a lack of compassion, period. There is an unwillingness to ‘weep with those who are weeping’ (unless the weeping meet particular criteria).

    Whether we’re talking about how most Christians treat those with mental health problems; those of us who remain unmarried past the age of 30; and, as also happened to me, lack of compassion for someone who is in grieving.

    And, also, as this blog specializes in, the spiritual and physical abuse of church attendees.

    With one exception: most American Christians ooze compassion and sympathy from every pore of their body for certain classes of the suffering, such as orphans; abused women in domestic shelters; strung out, homeless drug addicts; or kids caught in sex trafficking in other nations.

    Of course, it’s good and right to show compassion and help to people in those situations.

    However, as has been my experience, and from having seen how American Christians treat other American Christians who fall into other categories of pain, they have no compassion, or almost none.

    The thinking seems to be you are whining, having a pity party, and just need to “suck it up” and be tough if you are facing some other sort of problem in life (that does not involve being orphaned/ homeless/ in a domestic shelter / being sold into sex slavery).

    If you don’t get chastisement, you will be given religious platitudes, such as “read your Bible more” or “have more faith in God.”

    In other words, if you’re an average, middle-class American, who say, for instance, just got fired from your job; or your pet cat just died; or you broke a leg and are in physical pain; or your husband of 25 years just dumped you for someone else-

    When you go to another typical Christian for love and a shoulder to cry on over any of that, instead of receiving practical help or empathy from those Christians, you will more than likely receive judgement, criticism, or a stern talking to.

    You will be told that homeless drug addicts/ orphaned children in Africa have life worse than you do, so stop your complaining or crying over your soured marriage/ dead pet/ dead grandma/ broken leg (whatever).

    I actually got those sorts of comments from other Christians in the first few years after my loved one died, and I had turned to them for comfort.

    There is a very strange attitude among many American Christians that only specific types of suffering are worthy of compassion, and if your particular type of suffering does not fall into those permitted slots, too bad for you.

    I’ve seen Christian women who shed tears over merely thinking about homeless people in a shelter who would chide me for being in pain over missing my dead loved one.

    It’s not just me. I’ve seen American Christians criticize other hurting Christians, who they know personally, over similar things, yet five minutes later, cry in heart break just thinking about all the orphans in Africa who they don’t know personally, will go to bed hungry tonight.

    I’m not faulting people for caring about orphans, but rather, for being inconsistent about their compassion, for showing compassion for “Group A” but none for “Group B.”

  50. Daisy – Not all Christians here in the US act in the ways you’re describing, which is something I found out *after* I got kicked out of That Church.

    I am so sorry for the hurt you’ve experienced… but you know, it sounds like it might be helpful for you to consider other kinds of churches. (Mainline denominations, for example – they have their own problems, but it’s not likely that you’ll get slammed with the kinds of behaviors and attitudes you’ve experienced – that so many of us have experienced.)

    With hope,

  51. Numo, I’m not saying all Christians are like that, but there are plenty, and I don’t think denominations necessarily matter.

    Some of the behavior to which I am referring I have seen on blogs and forums, from all sorts of Christians, and some don’t specify which denominations they belong to.

    I also see this sort of thing on Christian television shows, where the hosts (some of whom are fundamentalist, or evangelical, or non denominational, or charismatic, or Baptist, or Pentecostal, and who knows what else) frequently take up offers, or make appeals for, African orphans or homeless people, but then accuse ‘everyday,’ regular American Christians who have their own sorts of suffering that they are being selfish or whiny.

    I think this is a problem of American Christianity overall, not just one sort of church (Baptist, Methodist, Pentecostal etc).

    It might get into cultural aspects, such as most Americans believe in “rugged individualism” and self-reliance, and that’s why I see the mentality pop up all over the place; I don’t know.

  52. Daisy – I do hear what you’re saying, but the world of churches that aren’t part of evangelical/charismatic culture is both highly diverse and quite different to what you’re talking about.

  53. better late than never, i hope! i want to thank you dee, for this thoughtful, sensitive and well-informed post on mental illness. every time i see one of these mass shootings, my heart breaks for all involved, but especially for those that the media doesn’t really report about: the loved ones of the person that committed the crime, and the person, because to suffer from mental illness is a horrible thing, and so is watching someone you love suffer because of it.

    all the gun control in the world isn’t going to stop these horrible mass shootings if our society still dismisses or stigmatizes mental illness and if adults cannot get access to quality mental health treatment. and that means spending money. which is why we stopped committing people in the first place. it was too expensive.

    due to my illness, i’ve had to go to part-time, low stress work. i went from being an executive earning over $50k per year, to a part time barista making less than $8k last year, working to pay for my health insurance and health care costs even with insurance. and i’m lucky. i’m getting treated, it’s working and my illness is mild compared to many others.

    thanks for bringing attention to this.

  54. Rachel

    Thank you for your comment and your willingness to share your story. Mental illness is the last frontier in medicine.Until we get serious about it and throw as much money at researchfor mental illness as we do at other diseases, we will still be in the dark ages in terms of treatment modalities. My prayers are with you.

    BTW, the most encouraging people that I know are baristas! May you be a blessing to all those tired people that you meet!

  55. Rachel

    Just looked at your blog. I am going to link to it in our blog roll. What a ministry you have!