“Steve” attended a church where my dad preached when I was in my early teens. His appearance was unusual. Dark bushy hair and full, wild beard in the eighties when that wasn’t the fashion. His grooming was not great, and he was pale with wild eyes. His voice sounded high, nasal and slightly whiny most of the time.
Every now and then he became hopeful to the point of becoming extremely excited and irrational. During these times he became convinced God had divinely appointed him to become President of the USA–but if he failed the whole world would go to Hell. And he–Steve–would be to blame.
Steve had been diagnosed with bipolar. Out of concern for Steve’s welfare Dad contacted his psychiatrist. (With Steve’s permission.”) According to the soul-doctor, all Steve had to do was take his pills exactly as prescribed. If he did that, stuff like being unemployed, deserted by his wife, and shunned by humanity would quit bothering him. And, more importantly, he would quit bothering us.
Dad was perhaps the only person there who saw Steve as a suffering human being. Everyone else treated him like something they scraped off their shoe bottom.
Psychiatry may have not helped Steve feel better, but it helped the rest of us immensely. It’s okay to treat “crazies” like pieces of garbage as long as we keep yelling at them to shut up and take their pills. If they bug us too much, get them locked up.
They have mental illnesses instead of feelings or thoughts after all. Why do they go to church when they really don’t have souls–just defective brains and mental illnesses? The yuppies at my church did a great job freezing Steve out I can tell you.
Though the pills addled his thinking–they really are about rendering patients docile rather than restoring cognitive abilities–Steve could still tell everyone wanted him gone. Soon enough he left.
Jesus came to our door looking for love and friendship. We told him to take his medicines and leave us alone. “If you want to talk to someone, talk to a professional. We aren’t ‘equipped’ to deal with people like you.”
“If you did it not for the least of these, you did it not for Me.”
Weep for shame American Christians!