What does God do with mentally ill people?

Comment: I saw your post on reddit a little while ago and hope this is the proper channel for communication.

I’m hoping to follow the path you’re going in college, however taking it to vocational ministry, and so naturally I answer a lot of peoples’ questions at my school.

In a discussion today two questions came up that I couldn’t answer: “does God judge people with mental illness if they do something considered sinful?” and “how do Christians reconcile people that only want to do bad?”

As far as clearing up my second question, it was asked by a guy who wanted nothing to do with the gospel for one reason or another. Really I think what he was asking was why believe in God at all? This guy is a little more edgy than most I’ve met, and so he wasn’t really concerned about his fellow man, just what he wanted to do. His position is that if he doesn’t care about what is moral or good, why even try to appease God?

Both of these questions are important in the aspect of objective morality, and so I (humbly, due to inability to provide an adequate answer) wanted to ask what you would say.

Thank you for providing resources to laymen like me and God bless

Name: Landon

My response is below:

It sounds like you’ve got a great plan!  It is a bit counter-intuitive, but an apologetics degree is more suited for pastoral ministry than it is cultural apologetics (shaping the discussion in the culture).  If one wanted to go into cultural apologetics then an advanced degree in a field that interests them may better equip them to do so.  With such a degree one can get a job at a university and be a greater influence in the culture at large.

That being said, as the United States becomes increasingly post-Christian there is a greater and greater need for apologetics within the church in pastoral ministry.  There are some concerning statistics available from the Barna Group that suggest churches are losing our young people due to things like inappropriately handled doubt and a seeming antagonism to science.

You asked about whether God judges people with mental illness if they do something considered sinful.  God judges everyone, but he may judge someone as not guilty or not accountable for their actions.  Perhaps they mean to ask if God will condemn mentally ill people should they commit a sin?  I suspect that the “mentally ill” qualifier is used in order to suggest that they are not capable of understanding the morality of their actions.  Although scripture does not directly speak to mentally ill people as far as I know, God did suggest to Jonah that there were people who “did not know their right hand from their left” in the city of Nineveh.  Most interpreters take this to mean that they were not morally accountable for any of their actions and were therefore not guilty of sin.  God was appealing to Jonah’s sense of justice in inappropriately calling for the destruction of such people, strongly suggesting that God did not hold them accountable for sin.  This principle seems to apply if mentally ill people are similarly incapable of understanding the morality of their actions.

Unfortunately, I am not sure what you can do for your friend.  If he doesn’t care about the very issue the gospel is meant to address (moral guilt and reconciliation to God) then it just isn’t an offer he wants to accept.  At that point I am not sure that there is more you can do than to pray for him.

Sincerely,

Matt Bilyeu


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