This post is from 2005, and refers specifically to a discussion on another blog which unfortunately is no longer available. Without reference to those earlier posts, my comments here are easily misunderstood, as I was dealing with specific questions they raised. If you want a more thorough and more helpful answer to the question Tim Chester examines “Is depression a sin?” far better than I did here.
This posting has been sparked by two posts on Steve Leher’s blog (1, 2). Specifically, Steve states that depression is a sin, a position on which he is later challenged by a reader (whom he calls ‘Bob’). Bob helpfully summarises the disagreement like this:
The basic point of disagreement we have is whether depression or manic depression are illnesses. Maybe I’m overlooking something but I didn’t notice where you said they were not that you were able to support that Biblically or otherwise to my satisfaction. It’s basically your opinion which you can have but which I can also disagree with.
Unfortunately, this discussion (like so many) boils down to definitions. In his article (PDF link) Steve borrows Robert Smith’s defininition of depression as:
a debilitating mood, feeling, or attitude of hopelessness (despair or joylessness), which becomes a person’s reason for not handling the most important issues of life.
Now it doesn’t take a genius to work out that that is sinful. Simply not handling the “most important issues of life” is (by definition) sinful. It’s also a somewhat pejorative definition. Had it read “which means a person is unable to handle the most important issues” then perhaps Bob would be able to agree with it. As it stands the definition deliberately implies that depression is not a genuine reason, it is only given as a reason.