Quotes about Medication
Psychiatric medications are not the answer; however, they may be useful for a limited time and limited purpose. Biblical counseling provides answers that psychiatric medications cannot. At best, medication can stabilize a person’s mind and mood for a season, but it cannot change the person.
Christians do not believe in medical non-interventionism. Instead, we believe in the moral legitimacy of medical treatment. A Christian worldview authorizes treatment—and we do so as an extension of the doctrine of creation and the dominion God has given to humanity as revealed in the opening chapter of Genesis. Pressing against disease and viruses is part of our mandate. Some might say, “I believe in the sovereignty of God, and if God wants me to have this virus then He will give me the virus. I don’t need medical intervention because I trust God.” That kind of logic, if pressed to its logical conclusion, however, is untenable—we wouldn’t treat any sickness, cancer, or injury. Medical treatment is an extension of God’s common grace and Christians have always understood this. That is why, throughout history, where you found Christians you found hospitals and the church treating the sick.
By itself, medicine is never a solution to spiritual darkness. All the fundamental issues of life remain to be brought into proper relation to Christ when the medicine has done its work. Antidepressants are not the decisive savior. Christ is. In fact, the almost automatic use of pills for child misbehavior and adult sorrows is probably going to hurt us as a society.
Ritalin affects a number of areas of the brain, but its mode of action is uncertain. One thing, however, is clear. Ritalin does not treat any known chemical deficiency in a child’s brain. No one needs Ritalin. Like most psychiatric drugs (including the antidepressants discussed earlier), the best analogy would be to say that Ritalin-type drugs act like aspirin: they suppress symptoms in some people, but they are not a cure.
It is imperative to stress that drugs cannot change a child’s heart. If a child seems more obedient when taking Ritalin, it is because an influence on the child’s life has changed. That is, in the same way that parents and peers can influence our hearts, so our bodies can influence us. Our bodies bring pleasure and pain, intellectual clarity and confusion. Such physical changes can act like a temptation to which some children respond sinfully. When the temptation is removed, these children might be less prone to certain kinds of sins.
What exactly does medication help? Medication cannot change the heart: it cannot remove our tendency toward sin, it cannot revive our faith, and it cannot make us more obedient to Christ. It can, however, alleviate some of the physical symptoms associated with some psychiatric problems.
Although it is not wrong to take these medications, they are rarely our first line of attack against personal suffering. Instead, we should first consider that God can bless us through our suffering, and we might also weigh the possibility that psychiatric medications could numb us to the refining benefits of suffering. There is a worthwhile point here. Although it may sound strange or even unloving to those who don’t share a biblical position, there can be real benefits from having our faith tested and strengthened through trials.
Whether a person takes psychiatric medication or not is not the most important issue. Scripture is especially interested in why someone is taking medication or why someone is not taking medication. And it is clear that medication is never the source of our hope. With these guidelines in mind, there is biblical freedom to try, or not try, psychiatric medication.
As a rule, I never advise or require counselees to stop medicating because I am not their physician. I don’t know their complete medical history, and it would be irresponsible for me to advise them out of ignorance. In many cases patients who stop taking their medication cold turkey will suffer severe withdrawal symptoms that make it even more challenging to think and act rightly.
Does medicine ultimately solve heart problems? No. But is God’s will ultimately going to be hindered by medicine or a lack of medicine? No. God will work His will in a counselee’s heart regardless of whether they are medicated. My goal and responsibility are to cultivate hope, to help people grow in Christlikeness, and to help them prosper in the freedom of the gospel and in God’s rich purpose for their lives.