Tags: Rick | Warren | Son | Forgive

Rick Warren: I 'Forgive' Person Who Sold Illegal Gun to Mentally-Ill Son

By Greg Richter   |   Wednesday, 18 Sep 2013 12:40 AM

Megachurch pastor Rick Warren and his wife, Kay, have become crusaders for helping the mentally ill since their 27-year-old son Matthew committed suicide in April.

The couple told CNN's Piers Morgan in an interview that aired Tuesday they always feared their son one day would take his own life, but felt powerless to prevent it.

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Matthew Warren bought a gun illegally over the Internet and used it to shoot himself in April 2013.

"We're devastated, but we're not destroyed," Kay told Morgan.

"I have cried every single day since Matthew died," Rick added. "But that's actually a good thing. Grief is a good thing; it's the way we get through the transitions of life."

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Rick had planned a sermon titled "What to do on the worst day of your life" for the upcoming Sunday, not knowing he would experience the worst day of his own life before he would have the chance to deliver it.

"The day that I had feared might happen one day since he'd been born, and the day that I'd prayed would never happen, happened," Rick said.

The Warrens knew their youngest child had a mental illness from childhood. He was eventually diagnosed with borderline personality.

He struggled for years with emotional pain, his parents said, and tried to kill himself with a drug overdose twice. He wrestled with suicidal thoughts for years.

Matthew told his parents about the gun he bought, but warned them if they called the police he would use it on himself before police could reach him.

Matthew didn't want to die violently, and tried to buy poison over the Internet to make a more peaceful transition, Kay said. He spent thousands of dollars, but online dealers never sent him the poisons.

"It's the world's loss that he's not here," Rick said, describing his son as a loving, funny person who could go into a room and find the person in the most pain and cheer him up.

The Warrens said they are grateful that California's tough gun laws kept weapons out of Matthew's hands for as long as they did. One of the hardest things they had to do was forgive the person who sold him the gun, Rick said, "because I didn't want to forgive him."

"He preyed on a desperate person," Kay said of the online gun dealer.

Rick said he has to forgive the dealer, not for the dealer's sake, but for his own.

"I forgive, first, because I've been forgiven by God. Second, unforgiveness makes me miserable. And third, I'm going to need more forgiveness in the future."

"I don't want to be tied emotionally to that person for the rest of my life," Kay said.

Still, Kay says she doesn't have problem with the Second Amendment.

"I'm not saying guns should be outlawed completely," she said. "I do believe our Constitution has that there for a reason."

But she believes in laws that protect the innocent and vulnerable. She would like to see guns come with warning labels about the dangers of suicide and instructions to keep them away from family members with mental illnesses.

The Warrens said they want to help others who have gone through what they have, and they want to help prevent future tragedies. Current laws, Rick said, give so much liberty to people suffering from mental illness that their families are often powerless to help them.

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And while he is glad God can use his family's loss to help others, it doesn't completely ease the pain.

"You say, are you happy it's making a difference? Of course I am," Rick said. "I still want my son back."

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