What does the Bible say about mentally handicapped people?

The question I will answer in this article refers to mentally handicapped people:

My question is about mentally handicapped people. I serve two groups of mentally handicapped people, one of which involves working with mothers and their children who are mentally defective. Here are my questions: I heard that some churches teach that these people are demon-possessed. Is it right? It seems to me that they are wonderful people, even if they are very different. It is true that some of them are very difficult to approach, but others bring you a lot of joy when you look at their achievements. Sometimes parents wonder why this happened to their children and I do not know how to answer them from the Scriptures. Where and what is written in the Bible about mentally ill people?

I am so glad the great ministry you are doing among the mentally handicapped people and I urge you to continue to minister to these people and to proclaim the message of the Gospel.

What words are used in the Bible?

In the Bible we will not find the word “mental handicap” but there are other words used and, depending on their context, we realize that they refer to this. Here’s an example when God spoke to the people of Israel and told them the curses that would befall on them if they did not obey Him:

The LORD will smite you with madness and with blindness and with bewilderment of heart;(Deuteronomy 28:28)(NASB)

The Bible distinguishes between possessed and mentally handicapped people

You need not wonder that people sometimes confuse with the possessed with the one who has a mental disability. Moreover, some said and believed the same about the Lord Jesus Christ after He had spoken about how He related to God the Father as Son:

A division occurred again among the Jews because of these words. Many of them were saying, “He has a demon and is insane. Why do you listen to Him?” (John 10:19-20)(NASB)

Moreover, the Bible says that even Jesus’ relatives thought at some point that he was mentally ill:

When His own people heard of this, they went out to take custody of Him; for they were saying, “He has lost His senses.” (Mark 3:21)(NASB)

How can you know if you are mentally healthy?

About mental health of a person one can judge by the way he takes decisions in life. In the Bible, the man  whom is not mentally healthy in some contexts is called a fool. Here is a criterion by which God judges about the mental health of a person

The fool has said in his heart, “There is no God,” They are corrupt, and have committed abominable injustice; There is no one who does good (Psalms 53:1)(NASB)

Some mentally ill people think and declare themselves the only ones who are wise

And within this context, Scripture says that the very men who say and believe to be the wisest, denying the existence of God, they just have serious mental problems:

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse. For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed animals and crawling creatures. (Romans 1:18-23)(NASB)

God qualifies mental health according to a man’s attitude towards the eternal destiny of his soul

What can you think about the mental faculties of a man who does not care about the future of his soul, whose soul is alive and at the same time denies the existence or eternal fate of his soul? Jesus called as fool the man from the following example:

“The land of a rich man was very productive. And he began reasoning to himself, saying, ‘What shall I do, since I have no place to store my crops?’ Then he said, ‘This is what I will do: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I will say to my soul, “Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years to come; take your ease, eat, drink and be merry.”’But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your soul is required of you; and now who will own what you have prepared?’ So is the man who stores up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.” (Luke 12 :16-21)(NASB)

Is it healthy the mind of a man if it led him to refuse the gift of salvation in Christ Jesus and chose to burn in the fire of the hell? My opinion is that according to this principle should be primarily judged if someone is healthy or not.

She lost her memory but did not forget Jesus

The Bishop of the Baptist Churches of Tajikistan, Alexander Verve, once told me about an old faithful woman of the church he leads, that her memory was severely affected, so she could no longer recognize anyone, neither her kids, nor anybody else. When he went to her to give her the Lord’s Supper, he asked her if she knew him and she said she didn’t. Then he asked: “But do you know Jesus?”.  At that question the old woman had tears in her eyes and nodded yes. The Bishop gladly gave her the Lord’s Supper, sharing with the body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ.

She thanked for the Gospel which was preached

During an evangelism in a village in southern Moldova more people came and heard the Gospel. When the preacher called to repentance, some of them made a covenant with the Lord Jesus. At the end of the program, a woman came on the stage with a bouquet of flowers for the preacher. The woman’s appearance, and how she come made me believe (and not only me) that the woman had a mental disability. But, the preacher gladly took the flowers. The woman was the only one who gave the preacher flowers. When leaving, I thought once again in my mind ‘Wait a minute, but by what this woman has done, doesn’t this prove a healthier mind than other people? She was the only one who came to thank in a nice way for message of the Gospel that she had heard.”

They prayed and God healed their mental handicap

When teaching in Asia, the students told me the following case. A Christian widow had a mentally handicapped boy who behaved aggressively, and at a certain age he began to show his unhealthy sexual desires. Seeing the danger he can bring to society, and being advised by others, this widow had chosen to give her son to a hospital for mentally ill. Once there, the boy started to pray systematically to recover and to be able to return home. There were two other boys with him who had the same disease and all these three guys were praying together for healing. God made a miracle and the boys began to recover and the workers there noticed that these three young were healthy. They called the widow of whom I wrote at the beginning and she took her son home. He is now of sound mind, a good son and an exemplary Christian in the Church. The parents of those two guys also took them home, although the mother of one of them had brought him there since he was a child and did not come even to see him. God heard their prayers and healed them giving everyone a healthy mind.

If we know mentally handicapped people we should not despise them, but tell them about the Lord Jesus Christ, urge them to receive the Gospel, pray for their healing and help them with what we can. God help us so!