Biblical Manhood & Mental Illness by David Lee Chu Sarchet
“Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong.” -1 Corinthians 16:13
This Scripture has increasingly become more unpopular today. These days our culture likes to attempt to blur the lines between what is a man and what is a woman. If you try to tell people that there are clear distinctions between the two genders, and that there indeed is only two genders, you will be met with much open hostility. However, the Bible does make it clear that there are clear defining markers that separate men from women and we must acknowledge these biblical distinctions.
When discussing Biblical manhood it is vitally important that we keep in mind that our model for manhood is Jesus Christ. This is important because so many people assume that certain characters we see on TV (like John Wayne or Rambo) are the image of manhood we must emulate. However, often what we see on television and in the culture is a distorted image of what manhood is.
Jesus Christ was the perfect model of what a man is.
Also, when discussing Biblical manhood in the light of mental illness, the picture of manhood may look a little different than the traditional model. Jesus is still the model for men with mental illness, but because of our illness, being a biblical man may be difficult in some areas.
In this blog, I will outline what biblical manhood for a man with mental illness may look like. From the perspective of Scripture, there really is five main characteristics of what is called Biblical Manhood:
- 1) Leader
- 2) Provider
- 3) Protector
- 4) Servant
- 5) Intercessor.
I intend to explain how each of these look in the life of men who struggle with mental illness. I hope that by the type you finish this you will have a deeper understanding of the reality of mental illness in the lives of men all over the world.
As Christian men, we are called to be leaders regardless of whether or not we are married. God created Adam first and then He created Eve as Adam’s helper. Furthermore, Paul tells Timothy in 1 Timothy 2:12, “I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet” and in context He grounds this command in creation because he goes on to say that that Adam was formed first and the Eve.
Also in 1 Peter 3:7, we read,
“Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered.”
This is why it is so very important for us men to be grounded in Scripture so that we can guide women towards the truth of the Gospel. I know in today’s culture to say that women are weaker than men is very unpopular, but it is true and because it is true this means that in a sense women depend on us men to lead them the way Christ would.
This is a huge task before us especially for us who struggle with mental illness.
I know that my Schizoaffective Disorder makes it to where I cannot always trust my perceptions and thought processes. This make it difficult for me to focus on God’s word and thus it is a real struggle for me to behave in a leadership role. Sometimes I must submit to a woman’s better judgement especially when she notices that my symptoms are off before I do, which is often the case. It takes great courage and humility to admit that I am not always the best that I can be and that sometimes a woman has more sense than I do.
I admit that this role has been the most toughest for me to realize.
As Christian men who are called to have authority over women and who are consider the stronger sex, it is our duty to provide for the families that God has put in our lives. As a matter of fact, Paul tells us in 1 Timothy 5:8 that,
“If anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his own household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.“
I know this is true, however, often my mental illness makes this almost impossible. For most people with a mental illness, it is very debilitating. This means that can be pretty much impossible for us to work a traditional job. As a result, we either end up homeless, in the care of the state or a loved one, or living independently on Social Security Disability.
In my case, I currently collect an SSDI check every month. However, the amount that I collect is barely enough to pay our bills. So, this causes me to attempt to be extra vigilant in how I deal with the money that has been entrusted to me. But, even in this area of finances my illness makes it difficult because when I am hypomanic I do tend to overspend. It is because of this that I must recognize the signs of hypomania and then give my debit cards and access to my Amazon to my wife temporarily.
There is no shame in doing this because just like an alcoholic may abstain from all alcohol, I sometime have abstain from all shopping. This is a huge blow to my natural pride to admit this because every fiber in my being wants to cover this up and make it seem like I have everything under control. But, the truth is, often I do not have everything under control and this make it increasingly difficult to be the sole provider of my household. Regardless, I know that this scripture still holds true and authoritative in my life, but sometimes my wife may have to take the wheel and be the temporary provider or our bills will not get paid.
Here is another role of Biblical manhood that has really been a thorn in my side for quite some time now. As Christian men, we are called to defend our wives, children, the needy, and the downtrodden. We are not to be timid in our dealings with the unbelieving world.
However, my Schizoaffective Disorder does frequently make it increasingly difficult to be courageous. Often I feel paranoia which causes me to become timid. I know that according to 1 Timothy 1:7, God has not given me a spirit of fear but of a sound mind and power. I know this intellectually, but so often I do not realize this reality.
Actually, on most days, this truth is far from my mind, I need to understand that for every command that God gives He also gives us the ability to follow them by the power of the Holy Spirit. This means that I must completely depend on the Holy Spirit in order to be a proper protector that I am called to be.
I believe that this role is not just about protection from physical attacks, but I believe that this is also about spiritual attacks too. As I have stated earlier, women are considered the weaker sex. It is because of this that it is imperative for us men to be grounded in the Word so that we can properly teach the women and the other dependents in our lives. The world is constantly bombarding us and the people in our care with lies from the devil and it is up to us use the authority we have in Jesus’ name to correct those lies with the Truth.
This role may seem like a contradiction to the first role that I mentioned earlier. However, being a Servant and being a Leader are not necessarily exclusive terms. I believe that we are called to be Servant-Leaders. The perfect example we have this type of leadership is found in John 13 and Philippians 2.
In John 13, Jesus voluntarily washes the feet of His disciples, which was something that teachers in His day never did. The teachers disciples would wash the teacher’s feet, but Jesus turns this paradigm on its head. According to Philippians 2, Jesus came as a servant, not as a king.
This should have a profound impact on the way we treat the women and children in our lives. We are called to follow in the footsteps of Jesus, which means since He came to serve people, we must serve people. too. This is really tough for those of us who struggle with mental illness because our illnesses often cause us to feel very selfish. We tend to think of ourselves a lot and this in turn makes the desire to serve disappear.
If we try to muster up our own strength to be able to serve people then we will fail because we were never able to do anything on our own. Jesus tells us in the Gospel of John that apart from Him we can do nothing and Paul also tells us elsewhere that it is Him who works in us to do His will. I take this to mean that if we want to properly serve people we must rely solely on His strength in order to do so.
This is very important in the lives of literally every believer because we all should live to intercede in prayer for all people.
In 1 Timothy 2:1-3 it reads, “First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way” and if we are called to pray for “all people” and for “kings and all who are in high places”, how much more should we be in prayer for the women and children in our lives?
Ephesians 5 also tells husbands that we should be presenting our brides before the Lord. I know this truth intellectually too, but unfortunately in my personal life I have failed to remain constantly in prayer like the Apostle Paul commands. All to frequently my illness causes me to be selfish and thus I am not really thinking of others and at other times my hallucinations and delusions distract me from remaining in prayer.
In order to overcome my bent towards selfishness, I must continuously remind myself that Jesus commands me to die to myself and live for Him which means serving others. This goes against our natural urges. In order for me to overcome my hallucinations and delusions, I realize my need to stay focused on scripture because God’s word has been proven to be reliable and true in my life. I cannot rely on my own thoughts and perceptions but I can always rely on God’s objective word.
-David Lee Chu Sarchet
Christian Mental Health Advocate
For 24 hour peer support, please call the Christ-Centered Mental Health ministry line at 567-343-3727 or email me at email@example.com
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