Well, the time is drawing near! A truck-load of books arrived here at my house this week. The official launch date of The Wisdom Of Your Heart is September 1st. Just 14 days away! As a part of that, I’m going to be doing interviews here and there all over the internet. Here’s the first of those. Aaron J. Smith blogs at CulturalSavage.com. He’s a Christian writer who also lives with bipolar, so he’s highly invested in the conversation around emotional wellness. His writing is worth following. This past week he interviewed me, and I’d like to share it with you.
Here’s a excerpt.
The church, by and large, has really failed us when it comes to emotional maturity. For centuries the western church has looked down on emotions. This is part of our platonic heritage. Emotions are a part of the life of the body, and that old dualistic world-view (which we inherited from Greek philosophy, not from our Hebrew scriptures) saw everything having to do with the body as weak, flawed, and even sinful. We have a perfect soul that is our spiritual being that will one day go to heaven, and we have this oozy, stinky, aching body that we will slough off when we are made new. The consequence of that view is that the church, when it has explicitly talked about emotions, has nearly always talked about them as something to overcome, something to control, something to avoid, something really elevated spiritual people just don’t have.
So, when I, as a child of Western Christianity, was living in a place of deep denial and numbness, I looked exactly like a Good Christian. What was really emotional brokenness was credited to me as spiritual maturity. I looked like I had a lot of faith and peace in my life. In reality, I was not feeling anything. And then, when my life started falling apart and I was awash in painful emotions that seemed out of control, the church had nothing to offer me beyond encouragement to pray hard so that God could help me overcome.
So how is the church helping people grow emotionally? Many churches don’t talk about emotions or mental health at all because it’s just not on their radar as important. Some churches talk about them in terms of deliverance and healing, and while I have seen some amazing healing happen, even those churches don’t offer much in helping people become capable of handling their normal emotions in a mature manner. Worse of all, there are still a few churches actively telling people that their emotions are bad, depression isn’t a real thing, and if they would just get their sin forgiven and read the Bible more, everything would be fine.