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Apr 7, 2013 at 10:25 am
Matthew Warren, the youngest son of controversial Evangelical minister Rick Warren, committed suicide Friday. He was 27.
In a letter to members of his church — Saddleback Church in Lake River, California — Warren said his son had suffered lifelong bouts of depression and suicidal thoughts:
To my dear Saddleback family,
Over the past 33 years we’ve been together through every kind of crisis. Kay and I’ve been privileged to hold your hands as you faced a crisis or loss, stand with you at gravesides, and prayed for you when ill. Today, we need your prayer for us.
No words can express the anguished grief we feel right now. Our youngest son, Matthew, age 27, and a lifelong member of Saddle bvack, died today.
You who watched Matthew grow up knew he was an incredibly kind, gentle, and compassionate man. He had a brilliant intellect and a gift for sensing who was most in pain or most uncomfortable in a room. He’s then make a beeline to that person to engage and encourage them.
But only those closest knew that he struggled from birth with mental illness, dark holes of depression, and even suicidal thoughts. In spite of America’s best doctors, meds, counsellors, and prayers for healing, the torture of mental illness never subsided. Today, after a fun evening with Kay and me, in a momentary wave of despair at his home, he took his life.
Kay and I often marveled at his courage to keep moving forward in spite of relentless pain. 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.
Thank you for your love and prayers. We love you back.
Warren is known as a vocal opponent to gay marriage, having equated it with pedophilia and incest. The pastor has also had ties to supporters of Uganda’s so-called “Kill the Gays” bill, though he later denounced it after facing mounting pressure. Recently, Warren compared homosexuality to a simple temptation like “punching a guy in the nose.”
The coroner has declined to release the cause and manner of Matthew Warren’s death pending an autopsy. Another pastor will preach in Pastor Warren’s place on Sunday as part of a previously planned sermon series, said Saddleback spokeswoman Kristin Cole.