What does the Bible say about people with mental disabilities?

The question I will answer in this article refers to people with mental disabilities:

My question is about people with mental disabilities. I serve two groups of mentally handicapped people, one of which involves working with mothers and their children with mental disabilities. Here are my questions: I have heard that some churches teach that these people are demon-possessed. Is that so? 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 ask why this happened to their children and I do not know how to answer them from the Holy Scriptures. Where and what is written in the Bible about the mentally ill?

I rejoice in the beautiful work you do among the mentally handicapped, and I urge you to continue to serve these people and to preach the gospel to them.

What terms are used in the Bible?

We will not find the term “mental disability” in the Bible, but other terms are used, and depending on their context, we can see that this is what they mean. Here is an example from God when he told the people of Israel the curses that would come upon them if they did not obey Him:

The Lord will strike you with insanity, blindness, and with confusion of mind. (Deuteronomy 28:28 NASB)

The Bible distinguishes between the demon-possessed and the mentally handicapped

It should come as no surprise that people sometimes confuse the devil with the mentally handicapped. In fact, this is what some said and believed about the Lord Jesus Christ after He spoke to them about how He relates as a Son to God the Father:

Dissension 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 believed at one point that He was mentally ill:

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

How do you know if you are mentally healthy?

You can judge a person’s mental health by the way he makes decisions in life. In the Bible, the man who is not mentally healthy is also called crazy in some contexts. Here is a criterion by which God judges human mental health:

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. (Psalm 53:1 NASB)

Some mentally ill people believe themselves and declare themselves the only wise people

And also in this context, Scripture also says that it is precisely the people who declare themselves and believe themselves to be the wisest denying the existence of God, it is they who have serious mental problems:

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of people 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, that is, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, being understood by 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 reasonings, and their senseless hearts were darkened.  Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and they exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible mankind, of birds, four-footed animals, and crawling creatures. (Romans 1:18-23 NASB)

God qualifies mental health according to man’s attitude toward the eternal fate of his soul

What can you believe about the mental faculties of a man who does not care about the future of his soul, who has a living soul and at the same time denies the existence or eternal fate of his soul? This person was also called crazy by the Lord Jesus when he told the following parable:

And He told them a parable, saying, “The land of a rich man was very productive. And he began thinking to himself, saying, ‘What shall I do, since I have no place to store my crops?’  And he said, ‘This is what I will do: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and I will store all my grain and my goods there.  And I will say to myself, “You have many goods stored up for many years to come; relax, eat, drink, and enjoy yourself!”’  But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your soul is demanded of you; and as for all that you have prepared, who will own it now?’  Such is the one who stores up treasure for himself, and is not rich in relation to God.” (Luke 12:16-21 NASB)

Is a man’s whole mind sound and healthy if it has made him refuse the gift of salvation which is in Christ Jesus and he has chosen to burn in the fire of hell? My opinion is that according to this principle, one must first judge whether one is sane or not.

She lost her memory but did not forget Jesus

The Bishop of the Baptist Churches of Tajikistan, Alexandru Vervai, once told me about a faithful old woman in the church he pastors, how her memory was severely affected in his old age, so that she no longer recognized anyone, not even children, no one. When he went to her to serve communion, he asked her if she knew him and she kept saying no. Then he asked, “Do you know the Lord Jesus?” At this question the old woman shed a tear in her eye and nodded. The bishop joyfully shared with her the body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ.

He thanked for the gospel that was preached to him

Many people came to an evangelistic service in a village in the south of Moldova and listened to the Gospel. When the preacher called them to repentance, some of them entered into a covenant with the Lord Jesus. At the end of the program, a woman came on stage with a bouquet of flowers to give to the preacher. The woman’s appearance and the way she came made me believe (and not just me) that she had a mental disability. But the preacher gladly received the flowers. This woman was the only one who gave flowers to the preacher. Leaving there, I thought to myself once more and said to myself, “Wait a minute, but didn’t this woman, by the way she acted, show a healthier mind than the rest of the people? She is the only one who came to thank in such a beautiful way for the gospel that was preached to her. ”

They prayed and God healed their mental disability

When I was 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 express his sexual desires unhealthily. Seeing the danger this could bring to society, and being advised by others, this widow chose to send her son to a hospital for the mentally ill. Once there, the boy began to pray systematically so that he would get well and be able to return home. Two other boys suffering from the same disease began to pray with him. God performed a miracle, and for some time the workers noticed that these three young men were in their right minds. They called the widow I wrote about at first, and she took her son home. He is now whole-minded, a good son and an exemplary Christian in the Church. In the same way, the other two parents came later and took their sons home, although the mother of one of them had brought him as a child and had never even come to see him. God listened to their prayers and healed them, giving them a healthy mind.

If we know mentally handicapped people, let us 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. So help us God.

Translated by Aliona Soltan