Can A True Christian Be Depressed?

If you are a true Christian, will you ever despair? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

The church has been sorely lacking when it comes to issues of mental health, at least here in the West. It’s a subject that’s very relevant to my wife and I seeing as we both have Aspergers and she has Borderline Personality Disorder on top of that which comes with depression. We are sadly disappointed by how the Christian community usually handles the problems.

This isn’t to say that all of them are like that. My wife and I both attend a Celebrate Recovery program which is an excellent program when it comes to these issues. I encourage Christians struggling with things like pornography and such to go find a Celebrate Recovery.

Too many Christians instead start looking down on a Christian struggling with depression. We can ask if a Christian should be depressed and if they should be depressed over what they are depressed over, but to ask if a Christian should be depressed is a strange question. After all, our Lord was said to be a man of sorrows and familiar with suffering and you can go through the Pauline epistles and regularly find Paul talking about his pain for the churches and what he was going through.

Not only that, when they confess that they are depressed, then we don’t help them often. Instead, we say things that make them feel worse. What do I have in mind? Well….

“You must not have a lot of faith.”

“You must be dealing with some sin.”

“Have you repented of everything?”

“Christians are supposed to have joy.”

“Your prayer life must be lacking.”

“Go read the Bible and pray.”

“Maybe you need a demon cast out of you.”

“Good Christians don’t get depressed.”

I am sure I could add many more. The problem with these is they don’t really take the time to listen to what is going on with the person. The whole philosophy seems to be that we can’t have a depressed person in our midst. I mean, it would be absolutely awful if people realized people in the church have struggles and weaknesses.”

There could even be some truth sometimes to some of these. For instance, sometimes if someone is depressed, it could be because of sin. At that point, we need to work with them and see what it could be and once they ask forgiveness for it, leave it there. Many women can be depressed after getting an abortion and many men after encouraging the women to do so. When this comes out, let the church be the place of forgiveness and then bring it up no more.

We also need to realize that many times we can’t control our feelings as much as we would like. Feelings and emotions come and arise and sometimes we don’t have anything to do with them or know what causes them. Sometimes I can experience some sadness and I don’t know why. It just happens. I try to move on.

That being said, we have much more control over what we do than we realize. Getting depressed isn’t necessarily a choice, but choosing to engage in self-harm or isolation or something of that sort is. I’m not saying it is an easy choice, but it is a choice.

There have been some times where I have had to have my wife hospitalized due to depression and those are tragic times to me. When those times come, I really don’t want to do anything and I have to push myself to do the blog or any apologetics. Whenever I get the chance, I visit her in the hospital, and sometimes I have been very concerned.

There are hospitals out there that do not have good treatment for their patients and the cleanliness and such of the hospital is quite poor. I am left thinking that we wouldn’t put up with this for our physical hospitals. Why do we give our mental hospitals the sort of leftovers?

There are many organizations that people support for physical health such as cancer and other diseases, and we should. Mental health often seems to get the shaft. Many times when we think about mental health? People who do things like mass shootings. As soon as one of these takes place, mental health issues are brought up. It seems foreign to people that sometimes people do evil not because of mental problems, but because they’re, well, evil.

If someone comes to church and we hear that they have cancer, we have a prayer vigil and such, and we should. We don’t seem to treat mental health issues the same way. It’s okay to have cancer in the church. It’s not okay to have depression.

This is especially relevant since many who struggle with this can after some time possibly wrestle with suicide. How can it be we let this happen and yet people are scared to come to the church and talk about these issues? Can you imagine someone struggling with depression being scared to talk to Jesus about it in His earthly ministry? By the way, His earthly ministry hasn’t ended. We’re supposed to continue it, and if people don’t want to come to us when they would to Jesus, we are doing it wrong.

Part of the Christian life is ups and downs. We will all have them. If we want to ask about why someone doesn’t have joy when they have Jesus, let’s ask ourselves first. I sometimes wonder why I can seem to get excited about many more things in my life than about Jesus.

If we ask how a Christian can struggle with depression, let’s ask how they can struggle with pornography or gluttony or greed or anything else. All Christians have some sort of struggle. If you are reading this as a Christian, you have a struggle. The sin that seriously tempts you might be something I don’t get bothered by in the least. Perhaps you couldn’t walk past a bar without being tempted to drink alcohol. I have zero temptation there, but maybe you’re less tempted with pride than I am. We all have something.

I’m also definitely not opposed to Scripture and prayer, but there’s a danger in treating them like a magic charm. “Go and read Psalm X and you will feel just fine!” You can get great comfort and encouragement, but it doesn’t mean the problem goes away.

We should also definitely be encouraging therapy for these people who struggle, but when they come to you with a struggle, they don’t really usually want you to do something about the problem. If you can, great, but one of the best things you can say is absolutely nothing. Just listen. Give a hug. (By the way, I encourage women to share with women and men with men. It’s way too easy for any emotional closeness like that to turn into sexual closeness that it shouldn’t.)

There’s also no sin in taking medication for this. If there is something going on with the brain, this isn’t wrong. Medication can’t be the cure-all and consistently, therapy does better than medication, but it can be an aid. Christians struggling with depression don’t need the added weight put on their shoulders of being told they’re deficient in Christianity due to having depression or taking medication.

Your church has people in it that are hurting greatly. Please always keep that in mind and be willing to be a listening ear and a friend. Do something simple for them. Just taking a friend in need out to lunch might seem small, but it could mean immensely more to the person who gets it.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Deeper Waters Podcast 12/1/2018: Hugh Ross

What’s coming up? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

A Christian is never off-duty. One never knows what challenges will await throughout the day. This is true of the apologist as well. If you are a Christian, you could go anywhere and see an attack on your faith.

There are plenty of books out there with the information you need. Very few are written about the life that that entails. What’s it like to live a life where you’re always ready? What programs can you get going in your church to help with the task of evangelism?

To discuss this, I brought on someone who has recently written a book with his wife about this very topic. The book is one quite different from his ordinary writings. Very little of this is direct apologetics information. Most of it is about his life and how he does ministry. I honestly thought it would be a boring and basic read. I was quite wrong. He’ll be on my show to talk about it. My guest is Dr. Hugh Ross of Reasons To Believe.

So who is he?

According to his bio:

Astronomer and best-selling author Hugh Ross travels the globe speaking on the compatibility of advancing scientific discoveries with the timeless truths of Christianity. His organization, Reasons to Believe, is dedicated to demonstrating, via a variety of resources and events, that science and biblical faith are allies, not enemies.

We’ll be talking about a lot of those travels but also about how he came to be a Christian. This is the most autobiographical of Dr. Ross’s books which includes his growing up, his coming to Christ, and how he met his wife. Naturally, I also liked that he talked some about what it’s like to be on the autism spectrum.

Dr. Ross also talks about working with his church to do an evangelism program and reaching people out in the neighborhood and about the many bizarre encounters he has had. These are so prevalent that you could expect that someone could make a TV series about the many adventures of Dr. Hugh Ross. He also includes that some people have been skeptical of these kinds of events until they actually travel with him and see them taking place.

If you want to know who Dr. Ross is some more, this will be a good show to listen to. If you check our archives, we have interviewed him on Autism/Aspergers, but we’ve also interviewed his wife on what it’s like having a marriage where one person is on the spectrum and one isn’t. This will be another great show to add to your list if you want to know someone like Hugh Ross even better.

Please be watching your podcast feed for the latest episode. Again, I apologize for all the trouble that we’ve had lately with producing a new episode. I really hope that this Saturday will be different and I am very confident at this point that it will be. As always also, please consider going on iTunes and leaving a positive review for the Deeper Waters Podcast.

In Christ,
Nick Peters


Deeper Waters Podcast 4/14/2018: Hugh And Kathy Ross

What’s coming up? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Marriage can be hard enough as it is sometimes. Just take a man and a woman and put them together and inevitably, some sparks will fly. Some will spark fires of passion, but some will spark fires of anger. Every relationship has difficulties, but some relationships could be more interesting than others.

Last week, one of the topics we covered was a marriage where both of the people involved have Aspergers, namely my wife and I. This week, we are going to cover a marriage where one person has it and the other doesn’t. To do this, we are bringing back one of our favorite guests and his wife.

My guest is the president of his own ministry. He is a highly successful astronomer who works on the intersection between Christianity and science. One of the great aids to what he is doing today is his wife who has never been on the show before but this time is joining us. He is Dr. Hugh Ross and his wife Kathy is joining us.

So who are they?

Astronomer and best-selling author Hugh Ross travels the globe speaking on the compatibility of advancing scientific discoveries with the timeless truths of Christianity. His organization, Reasons to Believe, is dedicated to demonstrating, via a variety of resources and events, that science and biblical faith are allies, not enemies.  

Working alongside Hugh is his wife, Kathy. She holds a master’s degree in English from the University of Southern California, worked in communications there, and later taught at Pasadena City College. In addition to editing Hugh’s books, Kathy serves as a vice president at RTB, overseeing multiple ministry departments.

What’s it like for a neurotypical person being married on the spectrum? Are there trials and challenges that neurotypical marriages do not have? How do couples work to overcome these challenges if they do exist?

How did the marriage even come about? Did Kathy and Hugh know about Hugh’s diagnosis before they got married? If not, what did it mean for them when the diagnosis came about? Do they view the condition as a good thing for Hugh or a bad thing?

The Rosses also have kids. Was that an issue? Were there concerns about the functionality of the children if they were born on the spectrum? How does parenting work on the spectrum? Does Dr. Ross have any advantages in the area or does he have any particular disadvantages?

Dr. Ross has often been one of my favorite guests to have on due to also being on the spectrum and someone I get along with very well. I’m thrilled to have him come on and talk about marriage, which is also one of my favorite topics, and to have him come on with his wife Kathy to discuss this important topic and give insights that could help other marriages that are mixed in this sense. I hope you’ll be watching for this episode and please go on iTunes and leave a positive review of the Deeper Waters Podcast.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Deeper Waters Podcast 4/7/2018: The Fairest Of Them All

What’s coming up? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

As the host of the Deeper Waters Podcast, I constantly get asked the question about who is my favorite guest I’ve had on. I’ve never been able to answer that question. I’ve had on so many great guests that I don’t think I could have easily pinpointed one and said, “Yes. This is my favorite guest.”

At least, that was the case, until now.

As you should know, this month is Autism Awareness Month. It’s a month that is near and dear to my heart. I always try to have guests on that know about Autism and have them speak on the subject. This Saturday I kick it off by having the best guest I can think of on to talk about Autism.

This is someone who knows about Autism from personal experience of having to live with it. Not only do they have to live with it, they have to live with someone who lives with it as they are married to someone with Aspergers. By the way, this guest that I am having on is someone who is incredibly awesome and is a real knockout to boot.

This Saturday, my wife has agreed to join me on the Deeper Waters Podcast. You all have heard me talk about Allie before many times. Now this time you’re going to get to hear from her yourselves.

My experience with Aspergers has been very different from Allie’s. We’re going to look into that. What was it like growing up? What was it that made her realize that she was different from everyone else? How is it that she came to be diagnosed with Aspergers? What did that mean for her? Was it good news or bad news?

As many of you know, Allie got a very different sort of traits than I did from Aspergers. She is actually incredibly high on the empathy scale. Her main language is also not logic but art. Believe it or not, while she does agree that apologetics is important and needed, she does not really enjoy talking about it. (Please remember that all my Facebook friends who think she shares a deep love for the field. She doesn’t.)

She doesn’t want to focus on this, but we will have to talk about married life some. What’s it like not only being on the spectrum yourself, but being married to someone on the spectrum? Are there any hurdles that you face that you think other couples don’t face?

What about church? Is there anything you wish churches knew about how to communicate with people with Aspergers? What are some steps that could be taken if there is room for improvement?

I am really looking forward to this interview. (Although Allie is a bit apprehensive about it) I can now say my favorite guest would be getting to have my wife on my show. Please be looking for this episode and please also go on iTunes and leave a positive review of the Deeper Waters Podcast.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Deeper Waters Podcast 4/1/2017: Steve Bedard

What’s coming up Saturday? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Pastoring is a hard job. I don’t speak from experience on this, but it must be if you are one who seeks to give it your all. You have to attend all these board meetings with a church, be available for counseling, be available for 3 A.M. phone calls if someone has a medical emergency, do your academic study for a sermon, be writing it out and preparing it and finding material to use for it, read Scripture for your own spiritual formation, and spend quality time with your family. This is a tough task you don’t want to take on lightly.

Now imagine another hurdle to all of that. You have to out there and be with the people and be interacting with them regularly. On top of that, you’re autistic.

How do you handle that? April is coming upon us and so we have our customary show for Autism Awareness Month. He has been on before to talk about his book How To Make Your Church Autism Friendly and now he’s back because since then, he has realized that he is on the spectrum. He is Steve Bedard, and he will be my guest.

So who is he?

Stephen Bedard is the pastor of Queen Street Baptist Church and is a sessional lecturer at Tyndale University College. He has MDiv, MTh and MA degrees from McMaster Divinity College and is a DMin candidate at Acadia Divinity College.

Steve Bedard has an active role in apologetics as well so this kind of work is no stranger to him, but he is no doubt having to learn about himself quite a bit and then how does the church respond? What do they think about having an autistic pastor? Is Steve able to connect with his congregation or not?

We can also now ask him what it’s like from a first-hand perspective instead of just through his kids to be on the spectrum. Has this changed his relationship with his children any? Does being an autistic pastor provide any benefits to the job? Are there any extra hurdles to it? Does he ever meet with other pastors who are surprised to learn that there is an autistic pastor?

Of course, those of us on the spectrum know that there are degrees on it and people are all different. There are some things many of us have in common, but there are many ways that we are all different. People like Steve I hope are an inspiration to others that are out there on the spectrum. (Just recently, I read an article by a professional answering that he thinks Aspies are capable of intimacy. I commented and said myself and my Aspie wife of nearly seven years would agree.)

I hope you’ll be listening to this show as we talk with Steve Bedard and find out what his ministry is like for him. We will also be asking about how his relationships have changed since then. Please consider going on ITunes also and leaving a positive review of the Deeper Waters Podcast. I love to read them.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Book Plunge: The Life We Never Expected

What do I think of Andrew and Rachel Wilson’s book published by Crossway? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Andrew and Rachel Wilson are just living their lives. It’s the way that most people would expect. You grow up, go to school, graduate, get married, and then the next step is having children. You bring those children home and watch them grow up and then get married and have their own children and their own careers and such.

Well, that is the way the story is normally supposed to go.

Yet often times, life doesn’t follow the script we’ve written out.

The Wilsons had two kids and both of them were born with autism. On my reading of the book, the autism seemed severe, but then they said there are changes so I do not know for sure where they are now, but at the time of writing, it was a time of stress. Andrew and Rachel often found themselves at their wit’s end.

For me, this is something that’s near and personal to my heart. It’s not because I’m a parent, but because I have Aspergers and not only do I have it, but my wife has it as well. Stories about autism are always important to me and I am all about raising awareness for those on the spectrum.

The book itself has five sections that are also divided into five sections. The subdivisions of each section are weeping, worshiping, waiting, witnessing, and breathe. The Wilsons go through each on their journey. The chapter heading will also tell you which one it is that is writing the chapter, with one chapter being a friend interviewing them.

The book will not tell you much on how to raise autistic children. My guess is the Wilsons are learning on the journey and don’t want to give that advice as if they have it all together. Instead, it’s about the internal struggles that take place and especially when Andrew is on board, about dealing with the theological ramifications of what is going on.

Still, the Wilsons are indeed thankful for their children. They have a unique joy and appreciation for them even though there are many times the children are exceptionally stressful to them. This isn’t the life that they expected, but perhaps it is the life that they needed and were meant for. We cannot say that for sure this side of eternity, but who knows?

I would have liked to have seen something more about autism for people who do not know much about it. It’s also important to point out that there are levels on the spectrum. My wife and I are both quite high functioning for instance and I know many other people on the spectrum who are, such as Hugh Ross and Stephen Bedard. The spectrum is wide and contains them all, but all of them are also contained by another spectrum. That is the spectrum of people who are made in the image of God and that He loves.

The Wilsons’s book is a good and short read and I think would be quite helpful to parents going through this. In fact, if your child has any major disability, this could be a good read. The Wilsons are thoroughly Christian in their treatment and both humorous and sensitive.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Book Plunge: A Parent’s Guide To Autism

What do I think of Ron Sandison’s book published by Siloam? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

I was very pleased when Ron Sandison sent me a copy of his book on Autism. He and I are both on the spectrum as is my wife. It’s always interesting to read about the perspectives of others. While the book is a guide for parents, non-parents, like myself, will receive great benefit from it. The book is also written from a Biblical worldview.

I found myself being struck by how different our stories were. Ron grew up with a great interest in sports, such as running track. I did not. I could watch baseball, but other than that, I just didn’t care. I was more into video games than that kind of stuff.

Ron was also I found more outgoing than I would normally be. He talked about going on about 300 dates. I came nowhere near that. I frankly don’t remember much social interaction from my growing up. I tended to be a loner with a few isolated friends.

Our theological stories are also quite different. I do not particularly care for many of the people Ron would see as heroes on his journey, but that also caused me to consider looking a bit differently. After all, on the spectrum, it can be hard to really step outside yourself. Seeing a more personal side to some of these people did change matters for me.

Also surprising at times was the way I could see Ron behave, particularly when he talked about four guys at one point in the book he’d given nicknames for. I read that and thought “Wow. Ron was a jerk there.” In fact, he’d probably agree and it took his wife pointing it out to him.

I would also differ from Ron in many ways in that it looked like much of what he did theologically was oriented by experience. I am still thankful that it all worked out. A lot of the struggles he spoke about with employment and such I could relate to.

Still, despite our differences, this is certainly a valuable book to own! Ron has done meticulous research in the area and has the stories of many people who are on the spectrum or have interacted with them. These success stories should give anyone with concern an idea of hope. The main message I think you’d get is to never get up. Autism does not have to be a death sentence.

Ron will talk about the therapies and approaches that are used and give advice to parents. He will have people on the spectrum describe what life is like in their own words and he will have the parents of people on the spectrum sharing the same. This is a book of hope.

And yet still, I would like to see more, and maybe Ron can work on that. We tend to get some of Ron’s story up to marriage, but I would like to see what happens then as this is an area not touched on often, and I say that as one in an Aspie marriage myself. (Ron’s wife is not on the spectrum so that would be one difference.)

So what happens then? People on the spectrum can be closed up. How does a spouse reach inside? Many people on the spectrum can tend to not like touch. How does this work with sex? Ron has just become a father recently. How does that work for him? Does he have concerns about his daughter having the same condition? Does he see any ways he really needs to grow to be a good parent?

Ron’s book overall is still an excellent one. I found myself looking up some of the people that he mentioned and wanting to contact them. I happen to love my life every day and enjoy life on the spectrum and I hope people who read Ron’s book will learn a little bit more about the fascinating world we live in.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Deeper Waters Podcast 4/9/2016: Ron Sandison

What’s coming up on the Deeper Waters Podcast? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

April is Autism Awareness Month and I prefer to do a shout out to those on the spectrum, like my wife and I, when that time comes. This year is no exception. My thanks goes to Stephen Bedard for the inspiration this year as I saw that he had interviewed a professor at a Seminary who is on the spectrum. I immediately went about contacting this professor and arranging an interview for the show so this Saturday, I will be talking with Ron Sandison. Who is he?


Ron Sandison works full time in the medical field and is a professor of theology at Destiny School of Ministry. He is an advisory board member of Autism Society Faith Initiative of Autism Society of American. Sandison has a Master of Divinity from Oral Roberts University and is the author of A Parent’s Guide to Autism: Practical Advice. Biblical Wisdom published by Charisma House. He has memorized over 10,000 Scriptures including 22 complete books of the New Testament and over 5,000 quotes.

Ron has published articles in Autism Speaks, Autism Society of America, Autism File Magazine, Autism Parenting Magazine, Not Alone, the Mighty, the Detroit News, the Oakland Press, and many more. He frequently guest speaks at colleges, conferences, autism centers, and churches. Ron and his wife, Kristen, reside in Rochester Hills, MI, with a baby daughter, Makayla Marie born on March 20, 2016. You can contact Ron at his website or email him at


All of this gives us a lot that we can talk about. Something I always want to ask my fellow Aspies on the spectrum who are also married is how that happened. After all, most of us are just terrified of talking to people. I understand that it’s hard enough to talk to someone of the opposite sex without Aspergers so it is even harder with Aspergers. I know in my case, having a mutual friend helped and we began our relationship with internet communication.

Ron has more than that. He’s also got a daughter so what is it like being a parent on the spectrum? It is often thought that Aspies don’t make the best parents. True, he has limited experience at this point, but what does he think about this? What challenges does he face?

Then of course, we can talk about being a professor at a Seminary. Does he have any benefits from his Aspergers that help him with the job? Does he have any negatives that can make the job more difficult? Is having Aspergers an important part of his interaction with students?

Finally, we can talk about his spiritual life as well. Sometimes it is hard for us to relate to ordinary people. How much harder is it to relate to divine persons? How do you worship God to the best of your ability as an Aspie? Can it be difficult to do Christian disciplines like prayer? What advice would be given to fellow Aspies? What overall would be said to parents or other people related to Aspies?

I hope you’ll be joining me this Saturday for this!

In Christ,
Nick Peters

On Mental Illness

Is there an elephant in the room? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

What kinds of questions would an apologist most want to answer? Wouldn’t it be the questions that people are asking the most? Who wants to bother answering a question no one is answering? That makes sense, so why are we not answering the questions people are asking the most? What questions are those? Is it the question of creation vs. evolution? No. Is it the question of if the Bible is reliable? No. It is the question of did Jesus rise from the dead? No. Is it the question of just evil in general and why a good God allows that? No. If Jeremiah Johnston’s ministry is any gauge of questions, the #1 area of questioning that comes into his ministry of the Christian Thinkers Society is the question about mental illness and all that it entails. He has some fascinating information this in his book Unanswered.

And do you remember the last time you heard a sermon from the pulpit about reaching and helping those with mental illnesses and understanding them?

I can’t either.

It’s really quite sad how we treat these kinds of conditions. If we learn that brother Jim has come down with cancer, we’ll have the church put him on our prayer chain and we’ll bring some food over to his house so his wife doesn’t have to do all the cooking and we’ll visit him in the hospital and we’ll remind him that God is with him no matter what. If brother Jim instead had depression, we’d be more prone to tell him that he should just be reading his Bible more and to have a bit more faith and oh yeah, he also doesn’t need to worry about taking any of those strange medications for depression. He just needs to rely on Jesus. (I know that not all Christians would take this approach, but too many would)

There’s a reason that mental illness isn’t talked about much in the church and that’s one of them.

I am also in a unique position to write about this. Johnston in his book writes that most people you meet with mental illness will look and seem to act just like you. I know this well because I am one of them. Mental illness does not mean you’re stupid. Many of us can be very bright. It does not mean you don’t love Jesus. Many of us have a great love of Jesus. It does not mean you lack faith. Many of us strive to walk a life of faith just like the rest of you do. It just means we have something different in our brains that affects how we act much like someone with a physical disorder has something different in their body. You would not tell someone in a wheelchair that they have a lack of faith. (Okay. Again some would, but I hope most of you wouldn’t.) They just have something in some part of their body that prevents them from moving like normal. Why say the same to someone with a mental illness?

For those who haven’t been around my blog enough, the mental condition I have as well as my wife is Aspergers, which is a form of autism. It’s my understanding that the term Aspergers is being cycled out now, but I still prefer to use it. Force of habit maybe. What does it mean to be an “Aspie” as we call ourselves and not a “neurotypical” as we call you? Well we’re all quite different, but there are a number on the spectrum who are non-verbal and incapable of speaking much if any. That’s not my wife and I. It does mean we don’t understand social situations well and can have difficulty with eye contact and we can have fixations and get obsessed with matters easily. We do not have a mild interest in anything. We usually have an all-out interest in it. When you speak to us, chances are, we will not look you in the eye. I have found for me that if my schoolwork does not have some order or structure to it, I find it difficult to do it. We are also quite prone to taking terms literally when we shouldn’t. (Amusing since I am an orthodox Preterist who does not take many passages of the Bible in the “wooden literal” sense.)

What are the statistics on this? According to the CDC:

About 1 in 68 children has been identified with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) according to estimates from CDC’s Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring (ADDM) Network. [Read summary] [Read article]
ASD is reported to occur in all racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic groups. [Read summary] [Read article]
ASD is almost 5 times more common among boys (1 in 42) than among girls (1 in 189). [Read article]
Studies in Asia, Europe, and North America have identified individuals with ASD with an average prevalence of about 1%. A study in South Korea reported a prevalence of 2.6%. [Data table] [Read article]
About 1 in 6 children in the United States had a developmental disability in 2006-2008, ranging from mild disabilities such as speech and language impairments to serious developmental disabilities, such as intellectual disabilities, cerebral palsy, and autism. [Read summary]

Chances are someone in your church is on the spectrum and in fact, while I would consider myself a Christian speaker who is on the spectrum and someone with some degree of authority in the field, I am not the only one. My friend Stephen Bedard announced that he was recently diagnosed with autism here. He has a number of books available on Amazon including one he wrote with Stanley Porter. He and I discussed how to make a church more autism friendly on my show here.

Another prominent figure who is on the spectrum is in fact Hugh Ross of Reasons To Believe. Dr. Ross has an incredibly encyclopedic memory of the things that he has read, which is something a number of people on the spectrum have and has been an advocate for awareness of autism. He also came on my show during Autism Awareness Month to talk about his life with autism and that can be found in the second hour of my interview with him here.

Of course, autism isn’t the only disorder, but before I move on to another one, I want to say something. Many times when I read someone saying something about me, they will say that I suffer with Autism or Aspergers. This is inaccurate. I live with a condition. I have some extra burdens from the condition from time to time. I do not suffer because suffering is a choice. I in fact choose to thrive with my condition and I like some of the advantages I think my different brain wiring gives me. Frankly, if there came out a cure for autism disorders tomorrow and I could be given it for free, I doubt that I would take it. This does not mean that some people do not suffer, but it does mean that suffering is not a term that should be put on someone immediately.

How about depression? We can often think that this is surely a spiritual malady. After all, aren’t we to have joy in all things? Indeed, we are, and to be fair, there are a number of things someone with depression can do to improve their mood, but at the same time, there are medications that can help as well. We could tell someone recovering from a surgery that they need to do some exercises in order to get their body back into good condition again, but that does not mean we won’t give them pain medication. I have been in the hospital before for scoliosis surgery, which means I have a degree of curvature to my spine. It was corrected by strapping a steel rod onto my spine. (I tell Allie she’s married to the man of steel.) When I got out of the hospital, I was increasingly given limited exercises to do to learn how to simply walk again, but I was also given medication because I was in a heck of a lot of pain. Why should my back condition be seen as something it’s okay to take medication for and yet depression isn’t?

So let’s get some facts clear of some things to NOT say to a depressed person.

Do NOT say anything to increase their guilt, such as saying “If you loved Jesus more, you’d feel better.” “If you prayed more, God would deliver you.” “If you read your Bible more, you’d get over this.” Now I do think all of those are good but the reality is we can ALL improve on them. I think if we love Jesus more we will do better in life. If we pray more and read our Bibles more, we will be stronger in life, but that does not mean that we will have deliverance from depression. Am I saying God cannot heal? No. Am I saying miracles cannot happen? No. I am saying that we are not guaranteed these things and it could be sometimes God does not do a miracle because He wants to show the world what He can do through flawed creatures, like we all are.

Also, do not please say such nonsense as casting a demon out of someone who has depression. It’s very easy to blame a lot of problems on demons. If all of our sin was due to demonic activity, that would mean we are not responsible for any of it. We often talk in the church about how the devil is tempting us to do XYZ. Frankly friends, the devil doesn’t have to do anything to have me be tempted to sin. It’s pretty easy to find temptation all on my own. This is indeed an area where we all, depressed or not, have to learn to practice the spiritual disciplines. That is also a battle that ultimately never ends because we are all always continuing in sanctification.

And also, do not try to help the person seriously if you are not trained in doing so. The reality is those who try to “fix” someone with a mental condition can be more prone to doing a whole lot more harm than good, despite what their intentions may be. Of course, you should seek to help someone who is struggling with this and one of the best ways that you can do this is in fact by listening to such a person. You don’t necessarily have to offer advice. If the person is okay with it, you can give them a hug or something and you can offer to pray with them. Many of these people would just like someone to listen to them and they can know they’re not alone. They don’t have to carry the burden alone.

According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH):

Major depressive disorder is one of the most common mental disorders in the United States. Each year about 6.7% of U.S adults experience major depressive disorder. Women are 70 % more likely than men to experience depression during their lifetime. Non-Hispanic blacks are 40% less likely than non-Hispanic whites to experience depression during their lifetime. The average age of onset is 32 years old. Additionally, 3.3% of 13 to 18 year olds have experienced a seriously debilitating depressive disorder.

Depression is much more common than you realize and with it we could include other conditions like bipolar disorder. Having depression or a condition like it does not mean you are a bad Christian. It does not mean God is angry with you. It does not mean that God is punishing you. We would not say this is the case immediately if someone had cancer. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with evaluating your life when pain strikes and seeing if there is anything you need to work on, but that does not mean we should jump to the idea that all suffering you have is because God does not care about you or is actively angry with you.

If you want to help someone like this, be in it for the long haul. There are no quick fixes save a miracle of God and you cannot bring that about on your own. Be prepared to walk and talk with the person who is suffering from depression and mainly be a friend and just listen to them. Of course, you can give advice from time to time, but make sure the person is really open to the advice. Fortunately, more churches are starting to open up to this kind of thing. This is especially the case since so many churches have groups now such as Celebrate Recovery to help people overcome any problems that they have.

Also, people might not necessarily get over something like this. It can be a lifelong battle. One time I took my wife to a Weight Watchers meeting to help her in her dieting. I know about the organization that everyone who is a teacher in the program or a leader in some capacity has been through the program. Many of them you would never guess by looking at them and I asked a lady at the counter “So you all struggled with weight loss?” She immediately corrected me “struggle with weight loss.” This is why you don’t go to an AA meeting and hear someone say “I used to be an alcoholic.” Instead, they say “I have been sober for X years.”

With this, we must go down a darker path still and realize that many times, someone with depression will be prone to committing suicide. Let’s not hold back at one area here. Suicide is a sin. It is wrong and it is condemned by Scripture since Scripture prohibits murder. Still, there is no Scripture that says suicide is the unpardonable sin. There is no Scripture that says that if you commit suicide, you are bound for Hell. That does not at all mean that we should take suicide lightly. We should realize that like any other sin, we should seek to prevent it from taking place and the reality is, we can do that.

For those struggling with this, this is never the answer. In fact, someone who sees a loved one commit suicide never fully recovers. Most of us remember the news about Robin Williams committing suicide. When my wife and I were dating, I brought over the movie Patch Adams for us to watch and laugh over together. Now we suspect we will never be able to watch it again. Closer to the Christian community was the fact that a couple of years ago Pastor Rick Warren’s son committed suicide. Some of you may disagree with Rick Warren on some theological issues but this is not the place to discuss those. Rick and Kay Warren wrote about their struggles here and there is a fund to help fight mental illness here.

The effects of suicide never go away. I heard of a man in his 60’s whose Dad died by suicide when he was 8 and to that day, the man still asked everyday why his Dad did that. He didn’t understand. Why did his Dad not want to be a part of his life? You can learn to go on living after a loved one commits suicide, but you never really get over it. In fact, if a person commits suicide, they will increase the chances that a loved one of theirs will commit suicide. Please. If you are struggling with this, contact a health care professional immediately or call the National Suicide hotline: 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255). Please go and like their page. They somehow use Facebook to pinpoint locations to better help people. Their page can be found here.

Also included in this could be cutters. These are people who struggle with depression and relieve it by giving themselves bodily injury with things like knives, scissors, etc. This is also something that we should not accept in the church. Still, while we do not approve of the action, we should have compassion on those who struggle. Some of you might be hearing about cutting and think that that doesn’t make much sense. It doesn’t have to make sense to you. It is just the way that it is.

When American Sniper came out, PTSD became a major topic. It’s a shame that so many people who go and fight for our country come home and do not get the treatment they need when they start having flashbacks of a war they fought in. They can have night terrors where they wake up screaming and could even in a moment of panic hurt someone around them. This isn’t just veterans. Anyone who goes through a major trauma of some sorts could come down with PTSD. There can also be a localized PTSD. As a small child I went to the beach with my parents and while out in the ocean, suddenly found myself underwater thanks to the undertow. To this day, I am terrified of water, much to my wife’s chagrin, and as logical as I try to be elsewhere, I start screaming and panicking in a swimming pool. One time she asked me to walk from one end of the pool to the other with her and even near the edge. The greatest depth I’d get to was about 5 feet. I’m about 5 foot 7. Three times on the walk down there I asked her if she’d taken out a life insurance policy on me recently. Is it embarrassing? Yep. Do I look forward to a day when I can enjoy the water with my wife? Yep. It’s a localized PTSD I have though where I panic about drowning. It was only a few years ago I was able to wash my face in the shower. That’s how severe it is.

I can only imagine it’s worse for far more traumatic events, such as being a child and witnessing a school shooting, or being a soldier and watching your buddies die in a horrible event. This kind of situation can be treated. Of course, barring a miracle, it will take time and it does not mean a person will ever be completely over it.

The great tragedy in all of this is that the church is not seen as a place where people with mental illness feel safe. In fact, the church can shun people who have a mental illness and when we do that, we cut away from the body some of the people who can best show us the power of Christ. Many of us think it can be hard to face reality when we have bills to pay, unemployment, health problems, etc. Imagine facing reality where your own brain many times can be your enemy and you live with that constant enemy. People who are able to keep fighting on in the midst of this should be our heroes and receive our support.

This is especially worse since we are supposed to be Jesus to everyone and in no way can I picture Jesus shunning someone because they have a mental illness. How can we truly show the love of Christ if we are shunning someone for something they cannot help? Now of course, we can certainly agree they can do something about their problems, such as learning a good coping skill, but that does not mean we blame them for their problems or tell them they have a lack of faith. Maybe, just maybe, if the church can start being the church we can end the stigma against mental illness and give the people of the world a safe place that they can go to.

Please consider helping those with mental illness today.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Deeper Waters Podcast 4/25/2015: Paul Compton

What’s coming up Saturday on the Deeper Waters Podcast. Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Friendship is something special and some friends last a very long time. One such friendship I have is with Paul Compton who I met when I was in Bible College. Later when I went to Seminary, Paul Compton was right there. He helped me and my roommate move in and get situated. Paul afterwards got a job at a church in New Hampshire and took the position up there, but we did stay in touch. In fact, Paul was one of the people that came to Charlotte for my wedding. Knowing about my having Aspergers, when he found out his son Timothy was diagnosed with Aspergers, he made sure to give me a call to see what I had to say. Since he’s such a good friend and has a great interest in both apologetics and in autism, then I figured he’d be great to have come on the show to discuss fatherhood and apologetics.

So who is Paul?


And according to his own bio.

Paul A. Compton is a pastor and apologist at Riverside Christian Church in Merrimack, NH. He received his B.A. in Bible from Johnson University (2002) and Master of Arts in Religion from Southern Evangelical Seminary in Charlotte, NC (2008). He is an active member of the Evangelical Philosophical Society and the International Society of Christian Apologetics. Paul is also a founding and active board member of iHope International Ministries. In 2012, he was elected to the Town Ethics Committee where he served as Chairman. Paul is blessed with a lovely wife, Elizabeth, and two children (Timothy and Andrew) who encourage and support his service in ministry.

Paul has also been doing some work, though I understand it has been slowed down, on starting his own organization to raise awareness about autism called “Autism Shouts.” Paul is an enjoyable guy to be around who knows his Scripture and philosophy well and he has a sense of humor that you’ll thoroughly enjoy, especially if you love puns.

So what is it like being the father of someone on the spectrum? How does it change the marriage dynamic? If you’re someone skilled in philosophy, how does that change your outlook on life? Do you see Aspergers as a hindrance or a blessing or is it some of both? How does Timothy interact with his friends? How does he interact with family? What’s it like taking a child with Aspergers to church? What do you think the church could do differently for people who are on the autism spectrum? What advice would you give to parents who just found out that there child is on the Autism spectrum or suspect that their child is on the Autism spectrum?

I am looking forward to this show. Paul is a good friend who has a good heart for Christ and has been a great friend to Deeper Waters throughout the years. I hope you’ll enjoy his company just as much as I do and benefit from what he has to say.

In Christ,
Nick Peters