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  • Writer's pictureLogan MacLean

Psychiatric Medications: Do We Just Need More Faith?

Updated: Aug 3, 2023

Psychiatric Medications: Do We Just Need More Faith?

This may be a question that lurks in the minds of individuals struggling with mental illness. Or, perhaps, it is a discussion that some are all too familiar with having around family and friends.

We, as image bearers of God, are composed of both a physical body and nonphysical soul. Since the fall of Adam and Eve in the garden, both body and soul are wholly affected by sin. If we pause for a moment, we can easily reflect on the consequences of sin in our world and local communities. We can quickly identify sin’s tarnish in our local church, our friend circles, and our own family. However, we may most easily be able to detail sin’s stain when looking at our own thoughts, desires, and emotions.

In today’s world and culture of mental health and wellbeing, when thoughts of depression or anxiety reach a certain threshold, many potential answers are presented. One of these answers is psychiatric medication.

What is the right answer?

Are medications a secular answer to the pain and suffering of the world? Do you, in the act of taking these medications, deny God’s sovereignty? Does your taking medication mean that you lack faith?

I believe the answers to these questions rest in scripture, but to find these answers, we must first start with the fundamental truths and then apply these truths to our specific questions.

What do we know about God?

We know that God is the creator of all things, both material and immaterial. Genesis 1:1 tells us that God created the heavens and the earth and all that was within them. John 1 tells us that in the beginning, there was God and through Him, all things were made. Without Him, nothing would exist. We, and all creation, have life through God and it is only because of God that we exist.

We also know that we have a sovereign and gracious father who loves us dearly. Our God is in control of all things: every action, every atom, including every neuron and synapse in our brains. He not only ordains all things that occur, but He also ordains the means by which they are accomplished. The God of the Bible is not partially sovereign; He is completely sovereign. In fact, if it were possible for something to occur outside of God’s will, He would cease to be God. This has implications for us as well. R.C. Sproul says it well, “If there is one single molecule in this universe running around loose, totally free of God’s sovereignty, then we have no guarantee that a single promise of God will ever be fulfilled.”

What do we know about ourselves?

We know that Adam, as our representative, sinned against God. Romans 5 tells us that sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin. At the fall, Adam, in his disobedience, received upon himself the necessary consequence of violating the direct command of the one true sovereign God. Both sin and the consequences of sin spread to all people. We all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. Because of the fall, we are fallen spiritually and we fail physically as well as mentally.

Who is the giver of good things?

By no work or goodness in ourselves, God, in his kindness and mercy, has given both Christians and non-Christians common graces. Psalm 145 says that the Lord is good to all and His mercy is over all that He has made. Even to the nations that did not walk according to His ways, God still gave the rains from heaven and fruitful seasons to satisfy their needs (Acts 14:17). Each good and perfect gift to those in the Bible and to us today is given to us by our Father. Not only does God provide for our most simple needs of food and water, but each innovation produced through the study of science (the study of God’s creation) is likewise a gift from God.

What are the good things that God gives?

In Isaiah 28, we capture a glimpse of a skillful farmer. He knows the season to plant each of his crops. He understands the ground and how best to cultivate it. This farmer harvests his crop and shows great skill in refining his harvested grain to meet his desired outcome. He holds great wisdom in his craft. But, who is the author of this knowledge? Isaiah tells us that it is God who is the author of all knowledge and it is He, who is wonderful in counsel and excellent in wisdom, who rightly instructs the farmer.

Within this context, I believe that each scientific and medical advancement is a gift from God. It is a gift that we, like the farmer, must steward carefully and wisely. Psychiatric medications are common graces given to us that, in specific situations, and when used alongside counseling, can have tremendous benefit to our patients. Psychiatric medication, as a gift from God, is not the stand-alone “golden bullet” that cures all consequences of a fallen world. We do not mistakenly worship nor place our trust in the gift above the gift giver. Psychiatric medications are a good gift from God to be used with extreme care. While it is a good gift with significant benefits, it is not meant to supplant the need for careful consideration of the state of our faith, nor does it negate the need for pastoral care, prayer, reading of scripture, and involvement in our local church. Psychiatric medications, such as those used in Major Depressive Disorder (MDD), are used to treat the specific chemical and neuronal consequences of MDD that have occurred in the brain. It should be prescribed with caution and under the watchful supervision of an experienced medical provider.

How do we steward God’s good gifts to us?

God’s kindness and wisdom are shown to us in many forms. He gives us tools and resources for us to steward and tend to in humility and wisdom. He also gives us these gifts to build up and care for one another. Proverbs 3:27 tells us that we should not withhold good from those to whom it is due when it is in our power to do it. So we give, wisely, fully resting in God’s sovereignty and fully recognizing that in God’s hand rests the life of every creature and the breath of all people.

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