Demonizing Illness…is it again, or is it still?

“Then on the following day, as they came down the hill-side, a great crowd met him. Suddenly a man from the crowd shouted out, “Master, please come and look at my son! He’s my only child, and without any warning some spirit gets hold of him and he calls out suddenly. Then it convulses him until he foams at the mouth, and only after a fearful struggle does it go away and leave him bruised all over. I begged your disciples to get rid of it, but they couldn’t.” 
“You really are an unbelieving and difficult people,” replied Jesus. “How long must I be with you, how long must I put up with you? Bring him here to me.”
But even while the boy was on his way, the spirit hurled him to the ground in a dreadful convulsion. Then Jesus reprimanded the evil spirit, healed the lad and handed him back to his father. And everybody present was amazed at this demonstration of the power of God. (Luke 9:40-44 MKJV)

There you have it, proof that Epilepsy is demonic in origin and taking someone to a medical professional for said condition will not cure the problem, only mask it and allow the demonic a greater hold. . In fact, saying it is anything other than being demonic in origin is misplaced grace that amounts to sin by allowing the  demonic to continue unabated. Put simply, it is the very spirit of the Antichrist manifest in our unwillingness to clearly and publicly call it what it is, demonic.

I am of the hope that what you just read sounded insane to you and that you were planning to reach through the screen and smack me. If this doesn’t sound insane to you, please seek pastoral care. As ignorant as this is, there are still similar stigma’s today in some circles. There are still those who, upon witnessing a seizure, immediately begin to pray, not that God might heal the suffering person, but that the demon  be sent out of them. You can find similar approaches to some with other illnesses, predominately mental disorders, in this day and age. There is a large section of the Christian community that has seemingly gone through the DSM-5 and chosen which mental disorders they want to label as demonic. It pains me for many reasons, but mostly because it comes predominately from “my tribe”, that is to say those who would normally be called traditionalists or evangelicals, occasionally conservatives. This is not to say that all who fit that type do, not even most (I hope), but that enough do that it is troubling.  

It was not that long ago that the prevailing idea with many traditionalists was that depression was a spiritual issue and that deliverance from God was the answer, not trained professionals. The same goes with PTSD. Pray that God will heal your mind and all will be well. Anxiety disorders were a result of a lack of faith, not a mental disorder. All these things, and more, were rooted in sin and the demonic and seeking treatment encouraged that, and did not lead to healing. I am 42. I have heard these things, and had them told to me, in my lifetime. My wife is 29, and so has she. Both of us by pastors as well as others. We are not talking about ancient ideas, but very contemporary ones.  Most churches have made some efforts to eliminate these stigmas and false ideas, but many of them still persist.

My struggles with PTSD have been revealed to me to be demonic by more than one religious individual, including several pastors. I prayed for deliverance, and prayed for healing, and prayed to be able to go out in public for more than twenty minutes at a time. When that didn’t work, I sought professional help, and low and behold, there was progress and management of the disorder. It is not because God doesn’t heal, He certainly does, but it is because I did not need delivered from some demon hiding cleverly in the deep recesses of my brain, but rather needed professional help to manage a condition and learn how to be able to function with it.  The same was done with my struggles with drug addiction. As recently as last month I was treated to  the “knowledge” that all addiction is a choice that you make and is rooted in the demonic. The person who told me this can’t go without their morning coffee, but that is a different matter it seems. Only “real addiction” is demonic, so my coffee is still safe.  Never mind that science has shown this is not the case, but hey, who needs science?

So, what brought this up you might ask? To be perfectly honest, it is a touchy subject, and one that the church is not overly clear on much of the time. Enter, Gender Dysphoria. 
“Gender dysphoria involves a conflict between a person’s physical or assigned gender and the gender with which he/she/they identify. People with gender dysphoria may be very uncomfortable with the gender they were assigned, sometimes described as being uncomfortable with their body (particularly developments during puberty) or being uncomfortable with the expected roles of their assigned gender.” (APA definition). This is sometimes referred to as transgender, and likely the term more familiar. If you should wish to look it up, there are varied treatments in the DSM, including gender reassignment surgery. These treatments are are dealt with by professionals in conjunction with those being treated to try and aid the disorder…you know, like any other ailment that a person might suffer with. Just today however, in a conversation, I was “blessed” with some amazing things. I was asked specifically if I endorsed the Church of England issuing guidance on remembering baptism for folks who have had sex reassignment surgery. I replied with the following: 
 “I endorse proper care for those individuals who struggle with any number of mental disorders. Like it or not, understand it or not, this is a treatment that is endorsed in some cases. 
I endorse the church being able to be in ministry to all people, including those who undergo treatment for a medical condition, be it physiological or mental.
If we would accept that a person who has had cancer and undergone treatment as a candidate for a service marking the remembrance of one’s baptism, then we should accept the same for treatments of other issues.” 

The following came in reply: 
“Scott, they are using the rite as an excuse to condone and affirm their choice to be trans. In other words, they are conflating Christian baptism with celebration of ungodliness. The same would be true if homosexuals wanted to celebrate their decision to be homosexual by going through this rite, if a child molester wanted to celebrate their decision to do things with children by going through this rite, or if anyone wanted to do anything to celebrate their decision to live in sin and debauchery by going through this rite. It is fundamentally antichrist. If you cannot see that, then there is no reason to have this conversation.”
I love the end game comments such as if you can not see that, meaning that unless you see I am right, I won’t talk to you. How silly. Let’s start with the obvious, No person who is not already possessing a mental disorder of some sort, wakes up one morning and simply chooses to have one. Not only that, a person struggling with this is, according to this individual, ungodly if they choose to seek treatment. It is not conflating Christian baptism with ungodliness, unless reaffirming the vows made at your baptism, including the expressed belief of Christ as savior, is somehow ungodly. Of course homosexuals make that very same choice even though that science teaches us (again, the APA) that attraction, no matter who it is to, is a complex interplay between nature and nurture that is not fully understood. It is possible that this was meant to be the act of sex between two of the same gender, but even at that, such actions are not taken under medical guidance as a treatment for a mental disorder. Of course you have to throw in child molestation, one of the most repugnant things that anyone can think of, just to drive home the point how horrible and awful this is. Never mind that no credible medical professional is suggesting molesting children as a treatment. Talk about shameful and sick. Finally the real zinger though, it’s fundamentally Antichrist. No better way to welcome someone into the community of the church than to let them know that they, because they listened to their doctor, are fundamentally Antichrist, because they want to mark successful treatment of a debilitating disorder. Normally we’d clap for that sort of thing. 

This gem comes next:“comparing cancer to a mental disorder rooted in sin is beyond absurd, giving any kind of ritual endorsement whether intentional or misunderstood is not only insane it’s sinful.  Here’s a valid analogy.  Fred thinks he’s God, Jesus to be specific, (mental illness i.e. delusional or schizophrenic), the church then has a ceremony to accept this person’s “transition” into God’s family. Fred and others on some level construed this to mean the church is endorsing Fred’s condition rather than rejecting it’s absurdity.  Your “proper care” in is actually enabling, and aiding and abetting the disease, no care at all, it’s sinning against the individual.”  I want to point out the fallacy of this being a proper comparison. First off, have to love the idea presented that mental illness is simply being delusional or schizophrenic, ignoring the rather wide variety of mental illness that exists. Second, Fred, being a schizophrenic, is not undergoing any sort of proper professional care that acknowledges him to be God, or anyone else other than Fred. Not apples to apples at all, not even apples to oranges, more like apples to carp. I would also point out that this is not my thoughts on treatment of any disorder as I am not a medical professional, but rather one, of many accepted courses of treatment outlined in the DSM-5. 
It did not stop there however: “this misplaced expression of grace constitutes a tacit endorsement, silence is consent. 
In the midst of the culture wars which the church is currently losing, it is urgent, and essential to clearly demarcate a line between the encroachment of politically correct nonsense such as transgenderism which is a biological scientific hoax and a moral atom bomb.
Do a little research on the devastation to youth, higher suicide rates, permanent sterility do to hormone blockers, etc. 
I know the author of “Trading my Sorrows” who transitioned back to his birth sex. Tragic story. Read it please. This is by some estimations and argued cogently an issue of the daemonic realm. 
We are to avoid all appearance of evil, for the church to do anything but publicly condemn the insanity of transgenderism is to be abetting evil.”

Yes, you read that right, a call for the church to publicly condemn a recognized mental disorder. Not only that, but to not openly and publicly condemn such is abetting evil. Way to re-stigmatize mental disorders and those who struggle with them all over again. Way to push people further into their isolation and out of the community that they need. Good job. Where does it end? I try to reject slippery slope arguments, but in such cases, where is the line? Should we publicly condemn depression as it is obviously against the expressed will of God and Christ and the abundant life they desire for us. The answer to this question was as follows: “you asked a question. Answer: biochemical brain disorders, autism, depression, etc etc. I acknowledge that body dysmorphic syndrome like same sex attraction may have a genesis in sin only relative to fallen creation, the decision to act upon, normalize and affirm are where moral sin enters the picture, so I wasn’t clear about my view on that.”   So I am really confused now.  Some mental disorders can be treated, even though they are due to the fallen world we are born into, but not others? Acting to treat a mental disorder is sinful? My PTSD is not a biochemical brain disorder. Did I somehow sin because I acted on it and sought and followed treatment? It would appear so, though I am in the clear with my addiction struggles as there is a biochemical component to clinical addiction. That seems a very fine hair to split to me, especially as we can not say that there is not a biochemical component to gender dysphoria. As for the research into the above subjects, I have done it, and can not imagine having to make such a decision in consultation with a professional. The side effects are serious and long lasting, but so are the side effects of many treatments. “This is by some estimations and argued cogently an issue of the daemonic realm. ” You know, just like Epilepsy.  At this point I had bowed out of the conversation as it was not only pointless, but had begun to anger me. 

Science and medicine are not contrary to scripture, the are in conjunction with scripture. Admittedly, science and medicine is not always right. New discoveries are made, new treatments developed, etc. We have the best that is available to us, and that is what we must then work with. Are there medical treatments that are simply against scripture? Yes, of course. In some places euthanasia is a recognized medical procedure, and I stand opposed to it. There is a clear and simple prohibition that taking life in general is sin. I believe that elective abortion is sinful as well. What is missing from calling this procedure sinful is anything even resembling a clear Biblical mandate against it as a treatment. When I want commentary on scripture, I go to the church, when I want a medical opinion, I go to a doctor. That is the way it should be. By and large, the church should not involve itself in medicine any more than medicine should involve itself with the church. The best understandings of medicine involving this particular disorder includes the allowance for gender reassignment surgery, yet many claim, in the ways demonstrated above, that merely having this disorder is a sign of the demonic apparently leaving the only possible treatment being exorcism it seems. You know, like we did with Epilepsy and numerous  mental disorders at varying times.  Absent a clear prohibition against a treatment, the church, and Christians, should not be so condemning of it, and should certainly not be calling it demonic or Antichrist. 

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7 Replies to “Demonizing Illness…is it again, or is it still?”

  1. Scott, I regular enjoy reading your posts and the challenges they offer me. I am aware that Gender Dysphoria is in the DSM & is still technically recognized as a mental disorder. However, I sense a great deal of the struggle within society is that Transgenderism is presented as another “God designed” orientation. It is not understood by many who support LGBTQ+ agenda and others in our world as a ‘disease’ or an ‘illness.’ Hence a “sex change” operation is not recognized as a treatment (as you referred to it); rather, it is a way to expressed one’s ‘true self.’ In fact, it seems that many “supports” would find your post quite offensive because you refer to being Transgender as having a mental disorder in need of treatment.

  2. So let me clarify a couple of things, I do not refer to gender reassignment therapy as a treatment, the DSM does. That is the best medical science that we have on the matter, so that is what I will work with. Any offense is unintentional and a result of the best medical science currently available on the subject. Suffering from PTSD and the associated symptoms that go with it, I can assure you that I think of myself in the same way as I do my wife who struggles with OCD, and PTSD and all that goes with it, and those suffering from gender dysphoria. That is to say that we are people who struggle. At the worst, I assure you that I think of everyone about the same. We are all living the hardest life we have had to live. In my case, that means that I struggle with a mental disorder in the same way that an individual who struggles with gender dysphoria does. If it is offensive that I think of us the same, then I guess that is the way it is. In the end, we have two choices. We can look to the best and take things in the best possible light, or we can look for offense and find that too. If someone finds this offensive, so be it, but it is not purposefully so, and their offense lies with the DSM and not with me.
    As an aside, I prefer disorder, as the DSM uses. Their definition is as follows: “”A mental disorder is a syndrome characterized by clinically significant disturbance in an individual’s cognition, emotion regulation, or behavior that reflects a dysfunction in the psychological, biological, or developmental processes underlying mental functioning. Mental disorders are usually associated with significant distress in social, occupational, or other important activities. An expectable or culturally approved response to a common stressor or loss, such as the death of a loved one, is not a mental disorder. Socially deviant behavior (e.g., political, religious, or sexual) and conflicts that are primarily between the individual and society are not mental disorders unless the deviance or conflict results from a dysfunction in the individual, as described above.” MY PTSD fits this definition, and the individuals that I have met who struggled with gender dysphoria, also relayed experiences that fit this definition. Much of what I have read, insofar as the struggles described, fit this also. An illness or disease is something very different I would think. At the end of the day however, I will go with the professionals since that is their field and the best science that we have.
    On the theological end of things, since you brought up God and orientation, it’s interesting to be sure. There are two very different and competing views of creation theology at play. One states that there was a perfect creation plan (this does not mean the necessity of young earth creationism, etc) that was corrupted by sin entering into the world. Thus the world, and everything in it, including all of us, while possessing the Image of God within us, are deeply in need of restoration so that the new heaven and earth promised can be the paradise originally intended through the poetry of Eden in the Old Testament. This is affirmed several times and hinges upon Jesus restating God’s original intent in the gospels. From this understanding of creation theology, attraction and desire, no matter if it is for a member of the same gender, the opposite gender, a dog, or a toaster for that matter, has to be filtered through God’s original intent to find if it is a reflection of holy living that will please God. To be perfectly honest, it has very little to do with emotional attachments and the like and more to do with what is the expectation of holy living and how we can accomplish that. It is a dry view that nearly dismisses emotion as a motivating factor in attraction, and becomes a matter of what attractions are appropriate to act upon and which are not. I am not explaining it terribly well to be sure, but I trust you can get the basic idea.
    The second idea uses, it seems to me, the emotional attachment as a justifying factor for the attraction, in the case of a same sex couple of course. Because a strong emotional attachment can be formed (IE love) it is acceptable. This, combined with varying understandings of the prohibitions on sexual immorality and what they are, and what they apply to, leads one to believe that this manner of variety was intentional, thus ordained by God as a part of His plan. I know there is much more to this of course, but again, a nut shell explanation.
    Who is right and who is wrong? Well, of course I think I am right, otherwise I would not think such a thing lol. The challenge is two fold in how we interact then. I can do my best to use accurate information and terms regarding science, medicine, and when it comes up theology. The reader or listener then has the responsibility of how they choose to hear/read them. They can believe that I intend no offense and am simply using the best available (to me) science, math, and theology, or they can choose to find offense where none is intended. I can accept, and am willing to accept, that those I disagree with believe they are just as correct as I believe I am. If they can do the same, there can be a fun chat. If not, there will be unpleasant conflict. Of course I will occasionally fail, as will others, but the principal is sound.
    To address “true self”, the only place that I believe our true self is found is in the only identity that is acceptable to God, that of a Christian. Scripture only recognizes two identities, and neither of them has anything to do with whom we are attracted to sexually. Others will disagree with that I am aware.
    At the end of this way to long response, is that people will find what they are looking for. I am unconcerned with how a thing, anything, is presented by single interest advocacy groups. They are always slanted toward their goals and eventually become so large that they exist to continue existing, and no longer for their original purpose, no matter how noble it is. What I am concerned with is the best science, faith, and medicine has to offer, and I would hope that those honestly engaging in conversation would do so also. Worth noting is that this will likely make those on “my side” just as angry because I am part of the LGBTQ agenda or whatever they call it in their conspiracy theories.

  3. My main complaint about all these issues, is liberal activists pushing their political agenda down other people’s throats, to get free stuff. Irrelevant of sin, religion, or theology. Be careful of associating sex reassignment surgery with PTSD or drug addiction. Treatment of PTSD and drug addiction requires psychological help to manage the condition. Sex reassignment surgery, if an analogy exists to PTSD, would require a brain transplant for PTSD treatment. The military is being pushed by crazy activists, to allow free sex reassignment surgery to military, even though the case of the disfunction, unlike PTSD and drug addiction, has absolutely nothing to do with service in the military, and doing their job. Unlike PTSD. Plus, the sex reassignment surgery causes the individual to NOT be able to perform their duties for a long time. Plus maybe $100K out of tax payers money. The crazy people (activists), will push for totally irrational isldeas, then tell us we are bigots, if we disagree.

    1. And then the traitor gets pardoned, again because of liberal, crazy, political activists. PTSD, drug addiction, have nothing to do with sex reassignment surgery, and shouldn’t be compared.

    2. Gender dysphoria requires psychological help and/or medication as well, even with gender reassignment surgery. I will continue to compare them for two reason. The first is that they are mental disorders, so that is the best apples to apples comparison. Treatments vary of course, but their classification as mental disorders do not. The second reason is that surgery for some mental disorders is not uncommon and has a long history. Most recently the use of Deep Brain Stimulation for Addiction, Depression, and Tourette syndrome. While it is not as complicated a surgery to be sure, it is a surgical solution to a mental disorder, so it is not as uncommon as we might think.

      1. I mis-spoke. I should have said, “the treatment for PTSD and drug addiction shouldn’t be compared to the treatment for gender dysphoria, when the treatment includes gender reassignment surgery.”

        I think also, the issue of being baptized because someone had that surgery, I assume because they are a new person, is missing the point of baptism. People are being baptized to be re-born in Jesus, not to be re-born with new sex equipment. If it is because of a new name – same thing. If a person gets re-baptized, it’s not because of a new name (like a woman getting married, changed her name- she usually I assume would not be re-baptized.)

        It’s an example of liberal political activists pushing the envelope. Got new sex equipment – let’s celebrate! The UMC would be on cruise control, and have no split problems, if the political left wing activists weren’t trying to “In Your Face” jam things down other people’s throat.

      2. BTW, I enjoy your posts (as well as Joel’s), but find it odd that we all are talking about these issues – but are also now all detached from UMC involvement.

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