Shame, vulnerability & faith

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Sara de Moor writes:

Shame: The intensely painful feeling or experience of believing that we are flawed and therefore unworthy of love and belonging.

As Christians we believe that we—and this world—are flawed. We see evidence of brokenness all around us. This is the reality of living in a fallen world. But the next step, after the “therefore” in the definition of shame, is what is most destructive—and untrue. Shame is the intensely painful feeling or experience of believing that we are flawed and therefore unworthy of love and belonging. This is a direct opposite of the way Paul follows his statement of the universality of sin in Romans 3:23-24: “… since all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God; they are now justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus…”.

Shame makes it tremendously difficult for us to live out our belief that we are God’s beloved children, and that He loves us just the way we are. We have worth not because of what we do or don’t do, but simply because God created us in his Image. We have been redeemed by God’s grace, through Christ’s death and resurrection while we were still sinners, and God partners with us in His plan of redemption. As Reformed folks, our covenant theology emphasizes that God acts first, and that we respond to His sovereign grace out of gratitude. It sounds simplistic, but we cannot love God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength and love our neighbors as ourselves if we don’t believe we are valuable, worthy of love and belonging, from God and from others. And this is not simply an individual, psychological concern; our shame and disconnection from God and others also inhibits our ability to embrace our callings as children of God, as co-workers in God’s Kingdom of reconciliation, because it stymies confidence and risk-taking. If we don’t believe we are worth anything and that we will fail at anything we attempt, why would we believe we could or should try to live obedient lives of service? I see this lack of confidence and resistance to following God’s call in our lives all the time in campus ministry, and it is destructive not only to individuals’ personal lives, but also to their ability to fully embrace their God-given gifts and use them for his Kingdom…

For the rest of the essay, here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Is it ethical for a Christian to treat depression with anti-depressants?

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Christians suffer in this life, not only because they live in a fallen world, but also because of their cross-bearing identity with Jesus Christ. Depression is one way that disciples of Christ suffer. With the advancement of medical technology, there is an ever-increasing range of psychotropic drugs available for treating the symptoms of depression. Arguably the most advanced are the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), of which Prozac is the most well known (and will be used as representative of this class of drug for the purposes of this essay). Since its release in 1986, Prozac has become the “most widely prescribed antidepressant in medical history.”  It has been known to elevate mood and even make some feel more than well. The medical community has been divided over biochemical changes in the brain relative to depression and Prozac. These facts have led many to raise concerns over whether laws, knowledge, and ethical practices are lagging behind in this new medical technology.

Is it ethical for a Christian to take Prozac for depression? In this essay I argue that, in specific circumstances, it is appropriate to incorporate Prozac into a holistic approach to treating depression, provided that sacred means inform the secular. In navigating the ethical path that advocates a cautious use of antidepressants in treating depression, this essay is divided into four parts. In the first place, depression is contextualized in light of the Fall. Secondly, the Christian is called to and benefits from a life of suffering. Thirdly, the Christian must guard against the therapeutic narcissism of our age. Finally, it is argued that godly wisdom for restoration can draw upon both sacred and secular means.

For the rest of the essay, go here.