We both love how Matthew has taken the concept of sin and given a breath of fresh air to the topic. You must read this book because in its pages you will finally gain a biblical perspective on sin and what it takes to free yourself from the bonds that so easily entangle!

Gary and Michael Smalley
Smalley Relationship Center
When mental illness afflicts a loved one, how can we understand what is happening and respond appropriately? This biblically-literate and scientifically-informed book offers helpful insight, encouragement, and practical advice. For pastors and for those who hurt for those who hurt, Matthew Stanford offers sensitive and welcome guidance.

David G. Myers, Ph.D.
Professor of Psychology, Hope College and author of Psychology Through the Eyes of Faith.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

The Biology of Sin is Now Available

My second book The Biology of Sin: Grace, Hope and Healing For Those Who Feel Trapped was released last week. Here is some advanced praise for the book:

Sin doesn’t occur in a vacuum. We sin by choice, but our choices are often guided by inclinations that we often don’t understand. Dr. Stanford has provided a valuable resource to the church by integrating a wide range of research on the biological conditions associated with various kinds of sins together with Scriptural teaching on these problems and how to address them. Avoiding the extremes of moralism and determinism, he takes seriously both human responsibility and biological vulnerabilities. Peppered with case studies, this book will be helpful to pastors, laypeople, and counselors seeking a better understanding of this complex area of human life.

Eric L. Johnson, Ph.D.
Lawrence and Charlotte Hoover Professor of Pastoral Care, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and author of Foundations for Soul Care: A Christian Psychology Proposal

In The Biology of Sin Matthew Stanford probes the fascinating interface between the spirit and the brain in ways that are sure to intrigue and stimulate those who are interested in how Christian faith can inform our understanding of a fallen corporal nature. I enthusiastically recommend this book to all Christians who are curious about science.

Jeffrey M. Schwartz, M.D.
Research psychiatrist, UCLA School of Medicine and author of The Mind and the Brain: Neuroplasticity and the Power of Mental Force

In years of trying to help people through the complex issues of their brokenness I’ve longed for resources to help explain the power of innate sin in a person’s life. Thank you Matt for integrating biology and brokenness so we can help set people free from the pains and struggles of their lives.

Jimmy Seibert
Pastor, Antioch Community Church (Waco, TX) and author of The Church Can Change the World: Living from the Inside Out

Friday, August 13, 2010

A Call to Action

I am often asked by pastors and people of faith if mental illness occurs at the same rates in the church as it does outside the church. An estimated 26.2% of Americans (57.7 million people) ages eighteen and older (one in four adults) suffer from a diagnosable mental disorder in a given year. In our most recent study of mental illness and the church we found that in a sample of 5,899 congregants, representing 24 different protestant churches, 27.1% reported that they or a member of their family suffered with a mental illness during the previous year. Clearly, mental illness is occurring at the same rates both inside and outside the church.

Those families struggling with mental illness also reported that they had significantly greater relational conflict, more financial problems and increased difficulty connecting with both God and the church when compared to families who did not deal with mental illness in the previous year. A quarter of our families in the church are struggling to survive on a daily basis. It’s time that the church stopped abdicating its role in mental health and started leading.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Do Men and Women Sin Differently?

If we look at sins such as violence, lust, addiction and criminality we find that men are more frequently involved than women in these behaviors. So the question must be asked, “Do men and women sin differently?” I believe that they do, and I suggest that this is just one more piece of evidence that sin has biological roots.

Physiologically men and women are very different. It is often extremes (both highs and lows) in the same hormonal and biochemical systems that differ between the sexes, which predispose us to sinful behavior. God made the sexes different but complimentary (Genesis 2:20-25). He instilled certain drives and desires in the man, so that he might fulfill his divinely determined masculine role. A different set of female specific drives and desires was created in the woman so that she might accomplish her God ordained purposes. The complementary nature of these physiological drives and desires changed when sin entered the world. Mankind became selfish and independent with each individual now relying only on him or herself to fulfill his/her natural desires and physical appetites.

The gender differences observed in sinful behavior are foreshadowed in the curse that God pronounced upon Adam and Eve in the garden (Genesis 3:16-19). The man is told that he will have great difficulty in providing for himself and his family, so the sins most often committed by men tend to focus on obtaining immediate pleasure or gratification (e.g., lust). The curse upon the women was that she would no longer be in an equivalent relationship with the man and he would rule over her. So the sins of women tend to be about relational status, privilege or position (e.g., envy). A recent Catholic survey supports this idea that men and women sin differently. The study was based on the confessions heard by 95 year-old, Jesuit priest Fr. Roberto Busa and focused on the traditional seven deadly sins (pride, envy, gluttony, lust, anger, greed, sloth). The most common sins for men were lust, gluttony and slothfulness, while women were more likely to struggle with pride, envy and anger.

God created us as embodied spirits, having both physical and spiritual aspects to our being. Deeply stained and scarred by original sin, both spiritually and physically, we are at birth separated from God and incomplete. Because God created men and women as physically different it is understandable that the effect of original sin on our bodies and minds varies between the sexes. Through faith in Christ, we are transformed spiritually, but like all the physical creation, our bodies still long to be redeemed and made new (Romans 8:20-23). While salvation occurs in an instance, sanctification (the process by which our bodies and minds are formed into Christ’s likeliness) is a lifelong process that will only be fully realized at Christ’s second coming.