On Monday night, the news rocked the United States the comedian Robin Williams had committed suicide by hanging himself. Almost immediately the blog posts, the “authoritative” articles on depression and addiction began to get passed around, and now we are in the phase of everyone getting mad at one another for their opinions. Matt Walsh has received a lot of heat for stating that depression is not only chemical, but can be a spiritual issue too and consequently made a decision to kill himself – he is not a victim of an outside force, while others want to say that Williams was indeed a victim of an illness over which he had no control.
I will not chime in on the issue here. I have written on suicide before, evaluating its damnable nature, and have studied under some of the most respected Biblical counselors in the world. But what is grieving my spirit today is not the fact that the conversation is happening, but the nature of the conversation.
Consider a controversial topic: suicide, depression, homosexuality, gender roles in marriage, divorce, remarriage, atheism, whatever. Then go to your facebook page, where you can hide behind a screen and the solitude of your bedroom and write your opinion on the topic. What will happen? Immediately people will respond with their opinions, and that which they believe gives them authority on the topic is simply this: “My best friend killed himself”, “My sister suffers from depression”, “I have lots of gay friends”, “My parents are divorced” or “My buddy lost his mom in a tragic car accident and his dad is now dying of cancer and he has no reason to trust God because his life has been so terrible”.
“I know someone who” has now become the benchmark for authority and grounds to speak to a topic. Unless, of course, you yourself have walked through it. If you struggle with depression, homosexuality or have been divorced then no one can assert authority over your experience. Unless, perhaps, they have experienced it too. We are all reactionary to the world news around us, and we choose to process it based on our own experience and we demand that others listen to our opinions because we are so wise.
We are once again back to the conversation of absolute truth. A philosopher will read my blog and say, “She is doing exactly what she is condemning”. And in a way, yes, I am. However, my opinion is that I am incapable of determining the absolutes on any of these topics and I choose to look to God to see what He determines as the absolute, the Truth. I submit to an authority higher than myself.
If we can agree to allow the Bible to be our authority then we have a starting point. If you refuse the authority of God through the proclamation of His Truths through the Bible, then no common ground for conversation can be established. We will argue the nature of man; does he have a soul? Is there an eternity? Is there morality? And if so, how do we define it? These conversations are impossible without an agreed authority. Even if we happen to have a similar morality, we will differ on topics, nuances or preferences.
FOR THE EARTH IS THE LORD’S, AND ALL IT CONTAINS.
– 1 Cor 10.26
Not only does the Earth belong to God, He created the laws of science, laws of nature, moral laws and structures for how we are to live. Unfortunately, in evangelicalism today, we teach one another to shy away from that. “No one can refute your testimony” we praise one another when training Christians to share the Gospel. And while that is true, we must remember that the opposite is also true: we are incapable of refuting another’s story. What about those who have learned to distrust God because things did not go how they wanted? What about those who have experienced evil spirits? What about those who have experienced miracles in false religions? What about those who have witnessed the sinfulness of Christians and the church full of hypocrites? What then?
No friends. Your testimony is important. But it is not the Gospel and it will not save anyone. And your testimony cannot stand up as superior to another’s testimony of a false god. Only the Word of God can do that. Only the inspired Scriptures can, without a doubt, affirm that we are living a godly or sinful life. Only God’s direction can determine if we know Him and are forgiven. And since He is the author of human life, He gets to determine the morality of homosexuality, He gets to determine to cure for depression, He gets to exemplify Himself to the atheist, He alone is God. And one day, that friend or sister or parent will kneel before Him with the rest of creation.
For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus EVERY KNEE WILL BOW, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
– Phil 2.9-11
Has God done a mighty work in your life? Do you have a friend who suffers from depression or has committed suicide? Are your parents divorced? Or is your buddy homosexual? That person is not the authority on the topic. You may not dictate how culture handles the topic just because you know someone walking through it. God has written the book on each topic. Literally. And He has the say. And whomever is living in rebellion of what He has said about it will give an account for it one day. So whose side do you want to be on? The judge’s? Or the defendant’s?
Let’s get over ourselves. Let’s get over our “experiences”, and let’s learn to evaluate our experiences against the heart of God – which we can only know and learn through the Word of God, the Bible. Share your testimony, but lace it with Scripture, and remember that your testimony is fallible, but God’s Word is not.