Tragedy and Callousness

Ever since hearing the news on Saturday afternoon that Rick Warren's son, Matthew took his own life I have been wrenched in my heart and have experienced heaviness upon my soul.  It has been difficult to sleep and to focus on things that, for the time being seem so insignificant compared to the deep mourning and sadness the Warren family must be experiencing during this time.  I have spoken many prayers, in silence and out loud for the Warren family and many others who have experienced (and continue to experience) this pain.

I also feel sick to my stomach, not only in hearing of this tragedy, but in witnessing the responses of many who claim to be brothers and sisters in Christ.  Not long after reading the news on Twitter and Facebook, I began reading responses from readers, many encouraging and uplifting as they offered prayers and virtual "hugs".  However, as I read further I began to see other comments that stank of judgment, callousness, darkness, and spewed hate-filled venom, all in the name of some god these people claim to follow.  I felt like vomiting.  I don't know where these "Christians" get their theology from, but I've got a pretty good idea that it's not from the God I follow.  

I follow Jesus Christ, the Son of the life-giving, ever-loving, always-reaching, grace-filled, second, third, fourth, one hundredth chance giving God who so loved the world that he gave of himself for me, and you, and the entire world.  And for Matthew Warren.  And for all the Matthew's out there who find themselves in the pangs and darkness of depression amid the sea of suicidal thoughts.  
In his blog post about the tragedy, Frank Viola shares 
"If you are a Christian and you’re heart doesn’t go out to this brother and his family, something is wrong with you spiritually.  I don’t care what you think about Warren’s theology, his books, or how he combs his hair. The fact is, he lost a child. Few things can be more painful and nightmarish in this life." - Frank Viola
"They will know we are Christians by our love..." The great hymn that we have sung thousands of times, is more than sentimentality.  It's a way of life.  When the world looks at Christians, what do they see?  Fighting among our ranks, devouring one another?  Or do we reflect the great love of our Savior as we extend that very same grace?

I highly recommend you read Viola's post as you offer prayer and support to the Warren family and so many others affected by suicide and mental illness.



  1. I haven't read any of the negative comments, but I will say this:
    Even though almost all churches have come to the conclusion that suicide does not = damnation, it is still a prevalent thought out there. So, I don't know if the comments have to do with that, but I'm always surprised how many people have contempt for those that commit suicide. It doesn't make what they are saying right, and I agree with your post, but the church for a long time taught that it was right to view those that committed suicide negatively. Luckily we have come to a place of more compassion.

    1. Thanks for the comment. Surprisingly, I have run into a number of church leaders who have said that they see suicide as sin (across denominational lines and including the UMC). In fact, I had an experience with a youth leader telling a group of about 200 teens that sometimes suicide is God's will. Needless to say, I was shocked and couldn't believe he would say such an asinine thing. However, as a whole, the Church has indeed come a long way in providing compassion rather than judgment and damnation. I think the next steps involve increasing awareness of mental health issues within the church and reducing the stigma so that we no longer hear things like this.

  2. I can't imagine anyone who has God's spirit ..offering anything but prayers of comfort at a time like this. Judy Sampson

    1. I agree completely, Judy. It makes me question, and wonder, if those who spew the hate are really connected with God through his Spirit when things like that are said. It seems to me like a tool of the evil one to cause division and pain rather than the uplifting and encouraging presence of God's Spirit. Peace to you!


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