Let me get this straight. I’m not exactly a fan of Rick Warren, his theological and social views, and his ministries.
However, that does not and should not impact my own compassion and respect for the Warren family as they grieve. Nor should it yours.
That’s why I was pissed when I heard that people were hating on Rick Warren. “Celebrating his pain” as he described it yesterday.
Grieving is hard.Grieving as public figures,harder.Grieving while haters celebrate your pain,hardest.Your notes sustained us.
Why the hate?
I know some people are familiar with religious fundamentalists who “pray for healing” instead of going to doctors, or who view depression as a sin, an affront to God. I know some people have heard of or are familiar with suicides by closeted LGBTQ individuals in a family that would not welcome such “deviant and sinful” revelation. I know some people are familiar with just plain old assholery parents who refuse to understand the seriousness of depression.
These people are rightfully extra-aware of these sort of cases, but it does not sound like that is the case in the Warren family. As they said in their letter to the Saddleback church,
In spite of America’s best doctors, meds, counselors, and prayers for healing, the torture of mental illness never subsided.
Sure, they prayed for his healing, but they also took him to the doctor. Instead of denying his pain, they strove to find the right treatment, medicine, and counseling for him, even as they failed.
I’ll never forget how, many years ago, after another approach had failed to give relief, Matthew said “ Dad, I know I’m going to heaven. Why can’t I just die and end this pain?” but he kept going for another decade.
I wish had gotten that kind of treatment in my senior year of high school, when I finally plucked up the courage to talk to my parents after struggling with depression for a couple of years. (I was punished, instead.)
Not only did they provide treatment, but they also protected his privacy even though they are a very public family. That is not easy to do at all, especially when they could have capitalized on i with another popular book deal. I very much respect them for that.
It seems to me that the Warren family, should he have come out as gay (if he was even gay at all, which I kind of doubt), would probably have show their love and support of him anyway. I honestly don’t know for sure, though.
Then there are the people who don’t understand the difference between disagreeing (even vehemently) against a person’s views, and ad hominem attacks. Disagree with Rick Warren all you want. Rage about how you think his opinions are all wrong. But do not, absolutely do not attack him verbally or take delight in his pain. How would that make you somehow more superior to Rick Warren? Kicking someone while he is down?
Prayers of comfort for the Warren family during this extraordinarily sad time.