C.S. Lewis’ Words

Psychoanalysis was not always seen as incompatible with Christianity.  No less a thinker than C. S. Lewis, the great writer on Christianity, said that Christianity takes up where psychotherapy leaves off.  In his book, Mere Christianity, Lewis makes a distinction between Freud’s treatment methods and his theories, saying that the theories were in direct opposition to Christianity but the practice was not.  The job of psychotherapy was seen as identifying what was in a person’s way of becoming the person they wanted to be: irrational thoughts, fears, complexes, etc.  Lewis writes, “The bad psychological material is not a sin, but a disease.  It does not need to be repented of, but to be cured.”  And many churches do offer counseling services now with licensed social workers or therapists in recognition that Christians can benefit from psychotherapy from an explicitly Christian standpoint.

I’m not saying that my church was unsupportive.  My Sunday School class has been nothing but supportive and understanding of my condition, checking on me when I was in the hospital and praying for me whenever I requested it. My pastors have been faithful to pray with me whenever I’ve requested it during an altar call and individual consultations. Those who did not understand I have forgiven and feel no malice towards. I just pray that the church can continue to make progress in learning about mental illness and how to minister to those who have it.

4 thoughts on “C.S. Lewis’ Words

  1. Very important observations. I love C.S. Lewis!

    The last church I attended (for 20 years), ran me off about 5 years ago…I’m not exactly clear on the reason. Even though I’ve had my diagnosis for about 20 years, they were never supportive. My pastor was argumentative with me. The bits of reasons I can discern why I was ostracized is that I stared at someone too much.

    The staring seems to be part of me that puzzles everyone, including me. Growing up, my mom berated me for it. But to me, it feels a little like a petit mal seizure. Some call it “going into a brown study”. I am aware while I’m in it, but peripherally. My thoughts go off on a tangent and apparently I look intense. It’s never been addressed by doctors, and it doesn’t seem to interfere with driving. I can shake out of it once I’m aware of it.

    Anyway, this person I was “staring at” was someone I was praying for. He is a family friend for whom I was praying because he was going through painful divorce. I saw him go through the stages of grief, literally. I prayed for him each time I saw him in church. He is aware of my condition, as was the pastor.

    No one confronted me to accuse me of a “sin”. I was just quietly frozen out. Since I’m usually clueless to social clues, I didn’t notice for quite a few years. That part is kind of funny, looking back on it now. Anyway, one day I asked my daughter if she’d heard some gossip. She had. A couple older ladies who obviously didn’t know she was my daughter were talking among themselves. Apparently, they had created an entire scenario about me. When I found this out, I felt such rage and hurt! I have never gone back.

    They are what I would call a toxic church. That was nearly 5 years ago. I am just now to the point where I can think about the situation without feeling angry. In the meantime, my husband and I are still looking for a new home church.

    My point in all this rattling about is that if you find a supportive church (even if only partially), then be thankful. It’s a real blessing. For anyone looking for a supportive church family, look at the prayer request list. If they include mental health concerns with the more tangible requests, that’s a good sign of awareness and acceptance. I should have taken a clue from our own lists years ago. Requests for mental illness or distress never made it to the bulletin. Frank and I noticed that years before the “incident”. That included my prayer requests.


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