Thursday, April 5, 2012

A gracious response to medication

I've benefited greatly from some of the books and articles by the lads at CCEF. However I've often had one major bone to pick with them: I felt they were a bit too simplistic at times. For instance, I had thought (and perhaps I was right) they were completely anti-medicine. Yet a recent post on the CCEF blog helped clear some stuff up for me and I want to pass it on to you.

Ed Welch lists two scenarios where medication can be seen as positive. The first scenario deals with   schizofrenia and bi-polar disorders. You can read about it here. Sometimes medications can help. The next is a decent segment of the church that may have at times been turned off by biblical counseling. This gracious response is encouraging to people like myself.

Group 2: Those who feel unsure, guilty or ashamed because either they are taking medication or their children are taking medication. I would like to think that we have not compounded your pain, but I suspect that this group has overheard some comments from biblical counseling that have made them feel worse. If medication is helping, even a little, here is what we would say.
“That’s great.”

If you feel like a spiritual failure because you are taking medication, we would say, “No way. Why do you even think that?” (Most of my colleagues would say something less abrupt.) Then we would try to reason how Scripture itself is not giving you a reason to feel like a failure.
If you feel like a failure because your child is taking psychiatric medication, our guess is that you have worked harder at your parenting than ten other parents combined. We hope you are not judging your parenting success against the parent whose child sits quietly, gets all A’s, does homework without supervision, rarely gets frustrated, and is compliant and obedient. Parenting probably had little to do with any of that!

Some kids are just hard. The strategies that worked for some parents will not necessarily work for you. To make matters worse, you will receive an endless stream of advice, which will leave you angry, because you feel like you should do everything you can for your child and the advice is often contradictory. We hope you will not add guilt over medication to that list. Rather, success is marked by “help me and my child, Lord Jesus.” It isn’t measured by having a medication-free zone in your home.

All this is to say that wisdom about these kinds of decisions can take different forms in different situations. A divine directive would be nice: “do this or take this and everything will be fine.” But our Father has a better way. We confess our neediness, consider relevant biblical teaching, seek the counsel of others, make the hard decisions, learn from what helps, avoid those things that hurt, and know God-with-us. For some of us, a positive decision for medication will be a wise consequence of this process.

I've benefited from some of Welch and the other CCEF lads. I'm glad that they've cleared this up, because it allows me to listen to them more clearly and hear the grace I need. Shame and guilt over medication have permeated Christian circles. But they shouldn't since there is now no condemnation for those in Christ (Romans 8:1). So if you've felt like a failure because of needing to go on medication, let this be a good reminder to you. There can be a place for medication in the church as long as we recognize it is not a replacement for a steady diet of the gospel.

No comments: