This article is not suggesting that if one believes in an angry God h/she "must be" mentally ill. It is merely stating that enough evidence has come forth to prove that there is, indeed much correlation, a link, between the God we worship and our mental health. Further studies are underway.
By: Madeleine “Maddie” Jomolca
I often come across individuals who are incredibly scared of God. They allow confounding negative thoughts about God to enter their mind, and consume them with the notion that God will suddenly strike them down with some illness, kill their family and/or burn their house down around their ears, before sending them off to an eternal hell.
While it is true, that an obedient believer is a God-fearing believer, being scared of God because He may angrily or maliciously- like some villain outta hell, even harm us, and fearing God, as you would a loving parent, cautiously not wanting to disappoint them, are two entirely different things.
I was raised in an authoritarian Catholic home, and attended Sunday school (Catechism) and Catholic schools for several years. I remember my final two years in high school, an all-girls Catholic school, were especially grueling. We were required to “stop in” to the chapel and pray the rosary with the attending sister (Josephite sisters). There was, and is, great emphasis, as is doctrinal of Catholicism, on disciplining and “laws”, and the concept of ‘actions before grace”, meaning that we are judged, or worse, forgiven based on our actions and not by repentance and Gods saving grace. Ironically, this same religion also teaches that despite your beliefs, and actions (or lack thereof) you and I get a free ticket to heaven—“irregardless”!
I remember flying out my school bus, (on the rare mornings I didn’t miss the bus!), then speed-walking across the parking lot, past the uniform assessing eyes of the “nuns” and slowly, and quietly (as if I would go unnoticed) throw myself to my knees behind a pew, as I fumbled through my purse in search of my rosary. My heart raced every single morning, as my thoughts were that of doom and gloom, as you might imagine.
Some, if not all of the people I’ve spoken to have had similar experiences. They are so scared, they cannot eat, they cannot sleep, they cannot think. They tell me about physical problems, emotional problems, relational problems, and all sort of other problems they are experiencing because they are so afraid that God is out to get them because of something bad they said or thought about God, primarily because this is what and how they were taught to think. A lot can (and is) be said about “learned behavior”, indeed.
The bottom line is, that while, yes, God loves, accepts and forgives us, there is, in fact some action required of us. We need to accept Christ as our Lord and Savior, receive Gods saving grace, invite the Holy Spirit to dwell in us and transform us into being and living more Christ-like…. In a nutshell. It wasn’t until I relinquished my former dogmas and identity in Christ, that I was able to truly view our God as a Father… a Savior.
Though I never truly attributed my own occasional anxiety with any of this, (until now), my heart truly goes out to these inividuals’ who more often than not after conversing with them, some would admit to being burdened with behavioral disorders.
An Angry God and Mental Illness
So it was with great interest that I recently read that belief in an angry God is linked to mental illness. Here is the article I read:
“Professor Nava Silton of the Marymount Manhattan College and her colleagues have reached these conclusions following their analyzing data collected during the 2010 Baylor Religion Survey of US Adults.
Thus, Professor Nava Silton focused on three different categories of people: those who believe in an angry God, those who believe in a loving deity and those who work on the assumption that God is a neutral entity.
“Three beliefs about God were tested separately in ordinary least squares regression models to predict five classes of psychiatric symptoms: general anxiety, social anxiety, paranoia, obsession, and compulsion,” reads the abstract for this paper.
Furthermore, “Belief in a punitive God was positively associated with four psychiatric symptoms, while belief in a benevolent God was negatively associated with four psychiatric symptoms, controlling for demographic characteristics, religiousness, and strength of belief in God. Belief in a deistic God and one’s overall belief in God were not significantly related to any psychiatric symptoms.”
The link between the belief in an angry God and mental illness was studied in the context of the Evolutionary Threat Assessment System Theory, which states that anxiety disorders are mainly the result of the brain’s not properly interpreting threats.
Professor Nava Silton wished to stress the fact that her research does not establish causation between the belief in an angry deity and anxiety disorders.
Quite the contrary, the study merely pins down a correlation between the two.
That means we’re not saying belief caused psychiatric symptoms, but we see relationships between beliefs and these psychiatric symptoms,” the Professor emphasized.”
The disclaimer there at the end is interesting, but I think this was more of a copout by the Professor to avoid becoming the target of angry religious people who feel he might be blaming God for mental illness.
Ironically, those who hold to a belief in an angry God also believe that God strikes people with mental illness because of their sin and disobedience.
In any event, and in conclusion, I believe it is safe to say that there is a clear correlation between belief in an angry God and mental problems. I further believe that we become like the God we worship. We become like the God we believe in. So if we believe in an angry, vengeful deity, we are likely to behave in angry, vengeful ways. And of course, if we believe that God’s anger could be directed at us, life will be filled with fear and dread.
Maddie is a Christian conservative writer whose purpose for writing is to inform, inspire, and unite “We the People.” Maddie’s special areas of journalism include Middle Eastern affairs, Islam, and Christianity, and the inspiring come-to-Jesus testimonials of others. As a former “diversion” junkie, turned avid health & fitness enthusiast; creator of “Firm Believers” group and Personal Trainer -Maddie Jomolca combines clean eating, good exercise habits, and godly behavior. (1 Corin. 6:19-20)
“Life is delicious!!… I am blessed to have an all-loving God who, despite my own negligence, has preserved my body (health, and mind) and restored my soul by His grace, so that I can, in turn bring others to the same place.” ~Maddie