Tuesday night, in what Piers Morgan has called the "most inspiring interview I've ever done," Pastor Rick Warren and his wife Kay spoke with CNN, sharing for the first time details of their son's suicide, Christianity Today reports.
Their interview with CNN is just one of the many ways the Warrens are fulfilling their vow to help fight the stigma of mental illness in churches. In April of this year, their son, 27-year-old Matthew Warren, took his life after a life-long battle with mental illness.
The megachurch pastor repeated that there’s purpose to their pain, holding fast to his faith in the midst of their grief.
"I never questioned my faith in God. I questioned God's plan," Warren said. "There's a big difference. I know God is a good God. … But not everything that happens in the world is God's will. Everything that happens in the world God allows, he permits, because it couldn't happen without his permission. But we live in a world where there are free choices, so if I choose to do wrong, I can't blame God for that. So God isn't to blame for my son's death. My son took his own life. It was his choice."
But Kay Warren affirmed her son’s faith in God, saying, "Matthew's body was broken. That gun broke his body, and he was buried in brokenness. But he's going to be raised in glory," a reference to 1 Corinthians 15:43.
Warren shares on Pastors.com just how meaningful the interview experience was for him and the filming crew. "Several members of the tech/camera crew were in tears, hugged us, and told us that their lives had been profoundly impacted by the experience. Piers Morgan was unusually sensitive to the moment, allowing us all the time we needed without interruption. At lunch, Piers shared that it was the most moving interview he’s ever done."
This interview comes as the Warrens launch a sermon series on grief and a campaign to help churches address mental illness at their church, Saddleback. Erasing the stigma of mental illness, particularly in the church, means overcoming a lot of preconceived notions. Many Christians believe taking your life will keep you from eternity with God. Christianity Today sites studies that claim 48 percent of evangelical Christians believe that people with serious mental illness can overcome their condition through prayer and Bible study alone.
"Any other organ in my body can get broken and there's no shame, no stigma to it," Warren explained to Piers. "My liver stops working, my heart stops working, my lungs stop working. Well, I'll just say, 'Hey, I got diabetes. My pancreas or my adrenaline glands, or whatever,' but if my brain is broken, I'm supposed to feel bad about it. I'm supposed to feel shame. And so, a lot of people who should get help don’t."
For related articles on suicide and faith, check out:
- When Suicide Comes Close
- Does suicide bring condemnation?
- If a Christian commits suicide, do they still go to heaven?
Kelly Givens is the editor of iBelieve.com.