Friday, April 12, 2013

Disgusting Attacks Upon the Family of Rick Warren After His Son's Death

This past week, Matthew Warren, 27 year old son of popular minister Rick Warren (he is best known for being the author of "The Purpose Driven Life") decided to end his own life after a nearly lifelong battle with depression.

My heart goes out to this family during this time of tragedy, and I find it incredible that Rick Warren said that he forgives the person who illegally sold a gun to his son, the very gun that he used to end his life.

What I find disturbing about this whole matter though is that some fundamentalists can't seem to take a break from their hatred of Rick Warren over theological issues, or their belief that Rick Warren's books and teaches are watered down Christianity (despite the fact that he is an evangelical like many of them). Some of the comments made on public websites are rather disgusting, and here's a taste of the hate thrown at the family, it really shows the depth of hate and ignorance about mental illness often found in fundamentalism:
Train up your children in the way, live a godly example with right priorities, care enough to home-school despite the great sacrifice involved, don’t let them date unchaperoned, have daily family devotions, turn off the 1-eyed idiot, TRULY HAVE A PURPOSE-DRIVEN LIFE, and your children WILL NOT COMMIT SUICIDE, nor will they be involved in homosexuality, nor fornication.
Suicide happens soon after your stupid enough to read “The Purpose Driven Life”. 
He could not save his own because Mr. Warren does not truly understand how his own heart works, how it is broken and the mechanism by which Jesus laid out the example of how to fix it. Matthew killed himself because he did not understand either. He was a victim of his own ignorance and the ignorance of his family, friends, society and Christians around him — presently! 
What ignorant, hateful cowards.....

I haven't seen personally anything quite this bad as these comments, but I have experienced attitudes towards mental illness that have been almost as bad. I've been open about the nervous breakdown I had several years ago, and the reaction from family that it was the result of "guilt" or "not having a right relationship with god"  I've talked about how I heard people and pastors saying that worry and anxiety are a "sin", because they show a lack of trust in god. It could have been worse, I suppose, my family could have been followers of someone like cult leader Bill Gothard, who thinks that mental illness is either demon possession, or "irresponsibility" .

This kind of ignorance leads to a lot of self-blame, and self-hatred, and a feeling that you are a flawed person, that there's something wrong with your character, you don't measure up, you're a failure in the eyes of god. It's a destructive, hopeless cycle, and for a while, I actually believed it all, burying myself into the Bible, praying like crazy, begging god to forgive me. It got to the point where I was becoming very suicidal.

Clark Bridge, Alton, Illinois,
Clark Bridge (Alton, Illinois)
This is something that I have never told anyone before, but I can remember sitting in a parking lot, one winter day, in a van that I owned at the time, thinking of how I should end my life. I had thought of jumping from the Clark Bridge into the Mississippi River. It was about 20 degrees that day, and I knew that if the jump and the water didn't kill me, then the hypothermia that would set in would.


I pondered this for some time, but then I came to think that if I end my life, then I would be giving some people in my life exactly what they wanted: Control over me for my entire life. I may have been extremely depressed and full of despair (as well as lacking in any hope for the future), but I was stubborn too, and that idea didn't exactly sit well with me. I knew I had to keep fighting, that hope had to be somewhere out there.

Thinking about this time in my life is kind of depressing, but it's a sign of how far I've come. I ditched the self-blame and ignorance, and began to realize that I was probably born with this depression, and that it was a real disorder. I started to build my life back up, and now, I'm probably about a year from coming out as agnostic (if all goes according to plan). It's been over 4 years since that cold winter day, and much of the emotional symptoms have gone down (now that I'm no longer hating myself for something that wasn't my fault), but the physical symptoms still persist. Life is slowly improving.

My personal experience with mental illness is what makes me angry when I see so much ignorance and hate directed at the mentally ill and in the case of Matthew Warren, the family left behind. Maybe if the people directing their hate at the Warren family had some first hand experience of what it's like to live life with depression, they wouldn't feel the same way anymore. Experiencing that kind of hopeless despair might enlighten a few people in this world.

Then again, maybe they have, but they are just as deluded and self hating as I was......

At least some people in Christianity are saying enough is enough, here's what the writers at The Wartburg Watch had to say:
When tragedy strikes, that is NOT the time to critique someone's theological beliefs.  A discerning Christian should know when to argue about theology and when to let just it go.  When someone is down, it is dishonoring to God to make callous comments such as those cited above.  Shame on them!  That is not how we show a watching world our Christian love!  What would compel a brother or sister in Christ to write such horrendous comments?  Are they genuine Christians?  May God have mercy on their souls!
Please join Dee and me in praying for the Warren family as well as for those who have displayed to the world their hearts of stone. 
The readers of The Wartburg Watch also tend to be more enlightened about mental illness, and more accepting of people they disagree with,  as I found out firsthand. I'm glad to know there are some people within Christianity who are more enlightened and have much better character than what I have seen from people in the past.


6 comments:

  1. I'm glad you were stubborn enough to stick around. I've had bouts of depression, and I hung on because I'm also stubborn. I guess stubbornness can be a good thing. I can't imagine ever saying things like this to someone who just lost a child. I may not be a person of faith like Rick Warren, but that dissimilarity in no way changes the fact that as a parent myself, I cannot begin to imagine the pain he's going through. How could anyone see that pain in a fellow human being and feel compelled to pile on more? These comments display a level of ignorance and callousness that the world could do without.

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    1. It's one of many reasons why I want fundamentalism to end. It speaks volumes about a belief system that so many people would lash out at him and his family like this in their time of grief.

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  2. Fundamentalism of any sort feeds off of ignorance. It's no surprise that if the writer of those horrible comments grew up in a veal pen, then he or she will act accordingly.

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    1. It does feed off of ignorance for sure...

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  3. wth? they wren't conservative enough? Have they not heard how many homeschoolers have nervous breakdowns too? baloney. Matthew had a mental illness. Its time to break down the mental illness stigma.

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    1. It is time for it to end. I've faced a lot of stigma from the outside world, but nothing compared to what I faced in fundamentalism

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