Charles Stanley Kind of Blows it on Suicide Sermon – and Anxiety
(Edited to add: I was writing this blog page as I was watching the sermon on television)
(Another edit:, dated Jan 2015: There is another edit below where I briefly discuss Stanley’s awful sermon about Anxiety.)
Edit 2. // Dec 27, 2014.
Tonight, Charles Stanley’s show is re-running an older sermon on suicide. It might be the same one I critique below, and it’s called “The Impact of Suicide on Believers.”
Stanley’s show aired a few snippets from the episode before the sermon itself airs in full, and it sounds rather victim-blaming.
Stanley tells people on this episode that if they take their own life, they “short circuit” God’s plan for their life, and they may therefore not get whatever rewards in the afterlife that God had intended for them.
Listen, someone whose depression is at such a low point they are contemplating suicide are in such emotional pain, the are not going to care AT ALL about heavenly rewards, or if they are disappointing God. Stanley just doesn’t get it.
Stanley’s sermon on TV tonight is about suicide. You can probably find video of this sermon on You Tube (aired August 3, 2013, “In Touch” program – if it’s not on You Tube now, wait a few weeks, you can probably find it later; EDIT, Sept 2013: I think I have found the episode, I have embedded it below, please scroll down to view that video). I am blogging this as I am watching the show.
Stanley said suicide is ingratitude towards God and it is usurping God’s authority in the person’s life – both interpretations sound pretty insensitive to me.
But then, Stanley has been an insensitive butthead towards Christians who suffer from anxiety, too, so I guess I should not be surprised his views on suicide are similarly insensitive.
Stanley is saying God permits times of pain and loneliness in your life to teach you lessons. A person who is suicidal is not going to find that a reason to go on, but to end things quicker.
Oh no. Stanley is quoting one of my most disliked Bible verses: Romans 8:28. One of the most over-used Bible verses parroted at hurting Christians. It has become an empty cliche’.
Stanley says taking your life is an expression of selfishness.
News flash: when someone is in such deep pain they are toying with killing themselves, they don’t much frame it in terms of “how is my death going to affect person A, B, C,” which is in part what Stanley means by it “being selfish.”
Oh please. Stanley just said if you are a Christian and kill yourself, this hurts your testimony to Non Christians because they will think, “If Jesus could not help you, what makes you think he could help me?”
That is insensitive of Stanley. He’s showing more concern for regular people than the person watching his show who may be suicidal right now.
Stanley said, “without Jesus as your Savior, you’re not going to make it.” I’m not sure what he meant by that; if he meant is in regards to suicide: he is wrong.
Even Christians commit suicide. I had a Christian friend who committed suicide several years ago. “Knowing Jesus” is not a guarantee that a person can, or will, be able to resist suicide.
Jesus does not magically heal or help every single person with a problem. Prayers go unanswered. It’s wrong to shame Christians out of suicide by telling them, “Think about what kind of witness you’re giving to Non Christians with that.”
I think Stanley is at the end of the sermon and will be answering viewer e-mails in a minute.
All in all, that was a downer sermon. I can’t imagine many suicidal Christians finding solace or hope in it.
I can only assume Stanley gave this sermon because Rick Warren’s son killed himself a few months ago, and the SBC has been putting pressure on SBs to speak out about mental health.
Southern Baptists SUCK at stuff like this. SBs totally SUCK at offering comfort and hope to people. Their standard, automatic response is to condemn, judge and be legalistic. The less SBs say about suicide and other sensitive topics the better, since they are usually incapable of showing compassion.
—–Edit 4, Jan 3, 2015.—–
Tonight, TBN is re-airing a Charles Stanley sermon about anxiety. I don’t wish to spend very long on this.
Stanley’s sermon on anxiety is just as insensitive and victim-blaming as his one on depression and suicide. (By the way, it’s quite common for people who have depression to also have anxiety.)
One thing he said is that “anxiety is a choice.” No, it’s not – not for all people in all situations. Some people who have anxiety have it due to biological reasons, not due to “choice” or a lack of faith in Jesus.
Some people, both Christian and Non, have to take medication to cope with anxiety. To shame people for having anxiety or attribute it to lack of faith is very insensitive and is not helpful, nor is it even always accurate.
If you are a Christian struggling with depression or anxiety, please seek professional, medical help – do not be guilt tripped or shamed out of seeing a secular pyschologist, or a psychiatrist or from taking anti-depressant or anti-anxiety medications by Charles Stanley or any other preacher, church, denomination or well-meaning Christian lay person!
You are no more a spiritual failure for taking doctor prescribed medications for anxiety or depression than you are when you take Tylenol for a headache, Visine eye drops for itchy eyes, or Pepto Bismol for an upset stomach.
You deserve to be treated with compassion for your struggle with anxiety, not condemned over it or told you’re not trusting God hard enough or whatever. Part of that compassion means acknowledging that faith alone cannot always conquer conditions such as depression, anxiety, etc, and sometimes these things need medications or therapy.
VIDEO: In Touch episode where Charles Stanley discusses suicide:
I found parts of this sermon insensitive, and it does not truly understand the emotional pain people with depression and suicidal ideation are in.
Stanley attempts to shame or guilt those with suicidal ideation into staying alive. That is not compassionate and completely misunderstands how depressed people think.
(Edit 2. The original video about suicide was removed from You Tube. I am not sure if this one I replaced it with is the same exact one; he has given two or three sermons about suicide before. I assume this is the same one, but it might not be. Should this video be pulled, simply go to You Tube and type in “Charles Stanley suicide” and you should be able to find another copy):
(Edit 3, July 2014. Good gravy. This is the second or third Charles Stanley video on sucide that has been removed due to “copyright violation.” Does Stanley’s church run around ordering people to yank his videos? Let me see if I can find another copy – again, I am not sure if this is the same exact sermon I was reviewing above, because he has done two or three sermons on suicide, if I am not mistaken):
From The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention:
If you are in crisis, call 1-800-273-TALK (8255)
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
Or visit their page if you are having thoughts of suicide:
(Link): I Am Struggling
(Link): National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
Related posts this blog:
(Link): How Laypersons Can Minister to Depressed / Suicidal People
(Link): Over 50 Percent of Christians Believe Prayer, Bible Reading Alone Can Cure Mental Illness (article) – In Other Words Half of Christians are Ignorant Idiots Regarding Mental Illness
(Link): Bayless Conley and Depression – Sorry, dude, but depression can’t be cured by will power & sometimes not even by faith
(Link): The Gospel Doesn’t Deliver People From Depression – brief critique of Chris Rosebrough’s comments / Chuck Collins blog