News » Religion

Controversial Pastor Rick Warren’s Son’s Suicide Made Public

Saturday Apr 6, 2013

The Southern California church headed by popular evangelical Pastor Rick Warren said his 27-year-old son committed suicide on Saturday.

Warren's Saddleback Valley Community Church near Los Angeles said in a statement that Matthew Warren had struggled with mental illness and deep depression.

"Matthew was an incredibly kind, gentle and compassionate young man whose sweet spirit was encouragement and comfort to many," the church's statement said. "Unfortunately, he also suffered from mental illness resulting in deep depression and suicidal thoughts. Despite the best health care available, this was an illness that was never fully controlled and the emotional pain resulted in his decision to take his life."

Warren, the author of "The Purpose Driven Life," said in an email to church staff that he and his wife had enjoyed a fun Friday evening with their son. But Matthew Warren took his life Saturday after "a momentary wave of despair at his home."

Over the years, Matthew Warren had been treated by America?s best doctors, medication, counselors and prayers for healing, Warren said.

"You who watched Matthew grow up knew he was an incredibly kind, gentle, and compassionate man," he wrote. "He had a brilliant intellect and a gift for sensing who was most in pain or most uncomfortable in a room. He?d then make a bee-line to that person to engage and encourage them."

Saddleback's website says that about 20,000 people attend weekend services at the church.

In 2008, the church sponsored a presidential forum with Barack Obama and Republican John McCain. Obama and Republican nominee Mitt Romney had been invited to a similar forum last fall, but Warren canceled it, saying the campaign had become too uncivil.

EDGE adds: Barack Obama's choice of Rick Warren to give the invocation at his first presidential inauguration in 2009 caused widespread criticism among LGBT organizations, gay activists and their allies. Just before the inauguration, 100 LGBT-supportive protesters marched outside Saddleback Church.

A few months after the inauguration, Warren appeared to be backtracking on his anti marriage-equality stand when he told CNN's Larry King ""During the whole Proposition 8 thing, I never once went to a meeting, never once issued a statement, never-never once even gave an endorsement in the two years Prop 8 was going."

He relegated LGBT issues as "very low" on his list of national moral priorities and told King he was working with LGBT groups on issues "that we care about." Traditional marriage groups immediately lit into his remarks.

Then late last year, in the very same venue, this time presided over by King's successor Piers Morgan, Warren appeared to backtrack. When asked if being gay was an inherent characteristic, he responded that just because one has feelings doesn't mean one acts on them.

"Sometimes I get angry and I feel like punching a guy in the nose," he said "It doesn't mean I act on it."

Earlier that same day, on CBS, he said he subscribed to biblical views on marriage. "I am not in favor of redefining marriage," he said. "It's not illegal to have a gay relationship, so it's not a big issue to me."

Copyright Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.


  • WayGay, 2013-04-06 19:59:42

    How sad for this boy. "Kind and gentle" is usually shorthand for uncomfortable parents to refer to a gay son. His father killed him. I hope God is watching.

  • WayGay, 2013-04-06 20:02:02

    It’s probably because thisKid was gay and had to live in a house full of judgement and anti gay bias.

  • WayGay, 2013-04-06 20:02:32

    Well you see how effective prayers for healing worked.

  • WayGay, 2013-04-06 20:04:32

    If his son was in fact gay then his father should be up on charges for wrongful death. His fantastical religious bullshit probably tormented this kid his entire life. I read they took him to many medical doctors. I would bet that’s code for conversion therapists. It’s so sad this kid could only free himself from his father by suicide.

  • , 2013-04-06 23:16:58

    Why do I get the feeling this is more about Rick Warren than his son?

  • gdhamf, 2013-04-06 23:36:58

    We will never know the why of suicide. I have no opinion on gay or str8. I only hope that he finds the piece he never had in life.

  • Oh Jed said:, 2013-04-07 16:20:00

    Very sad situation. I see another best seller for daddy dearest.

  • WayGay, 2013-04-08 04:23:51

    When a parent is a right wing ultra conservative there is no room for any other opinion. That is why it has become about Rick Warren. And he calls himself a man of God.

  • Unbreakable1, 2013-04-08 17:12:41

    I pray that these young kids stop killing themselves and just leave their parents home if they’re depressed because of them. Killing yourself will only make those that make you feel bad about yourself believe that your suicide was because of your life choices. I’m not saying that this young man was gay because I have no way of knowing that. My comment is directed at those young people who are gay. But regardless of your reason for being depressed there is plenty of help out there.

  • , 2013-04-08 19:26:37

    Oh gereat, got a bunch of heathens bashing and judging another Christian again. Dont we get enough of this overseas, do we have to self destruct here too. i don’t know if this kid was gay who cares, but Here is the truth, God hates the sin of homosexuality (1 Tim 1:10), but He loves the sinner! That is not an opinion, its the Truth in the Bible, the Word of God, The final authority in Heaven and on earth. you’ll find it out someday when you die and you’re standing before the Lord Jesus. It doesnt make any difference if you don’t believe it, that still doenst change the FACT that its SO and it’s going to happen to you and me. You dont even know this man yet you choose to judge him and show your ignorance. i feel sorry for you, Lastly, prayer works everytime, it just doesnt happen the way we always want it to, but its for the best,(Rom 8:28) Thats a testimony not an opinion, and the Word of God. I’m out!

  • gdhamf, 2013-04-09 05:26:43

    It is also the word of God That ALL suicides go to hell with no chance of forgiveness or repentance. I am sure that Rev. Warren will take solace in that fact.

  • Wayne M., 2013-04-09 20:16:25

    I feel sad for the Warren family. To lose a loved one is always painful. When suicide is involved, there is a wound that can never be healed. Regardless of Rick Warren’s negative stands on the rights and equality of LGBT people, I cannot wish this kind of tragedy on him, his wife and other family members. The best we can do is pray that Matthew can now find the peace that clearly eluded him in life.

  • , 2013-04-18 12:54:43

    Christian people r to lead with LOVE and end with LOVE.Thats when u know ur on the right track. GOD still loves that Gay person but Hates the sin. The same as he Hates straight peoples sin!

  • , 2013-07-27 23:31:27

    What is wrong with humanity. You know nothing about this man or his family. Do you know the pain of losing a child? Can you honestly say such foolish things in light of this families pain and sleep at night? PEOPLE MATTER! THE THINGS YOU SAY ABOUT SOMEONE YOU DON’T KNOW MATTERS! Have you listened to a sermon from Rick? I can’t imagine that he didn’t love his son with all his heart and did everything he could to help him. Do you have a family member who has struggled with mental illness and thoughts of suicide. Think about what you say. There are so many people in this world broken and hurting... There is comfort and peace that can only come from the Prince of peace. Father forgive them for they do not know what they do. I pray for all the people who do not know him.

  • , 2013-09-19 00:57:17

    Those so caleed liberals do not care about the religous freedoms of christians, theyy praise islam for 9/11 and condemn christians, thats the lefts meeaning of toleerrance. Diver is persity

  • , 2013-09-20 21:34:00

    Someone just stated prayer always works, that’s akin to saying you always win the lottery. I grew up in a fundamentalist Christian setting, good people who went to church every week, we prayed for the people who had cancer, they still died, three women, and their lives ended in a short misery. Where was your so called fairy tale magical prayer? I’ve seen rare coincidental circumstances that may have fallen under the veil of some prayer, that’s it. God is not there, because he doesn’t exist,and no I won’t be meeting your god in the end, just as Santa won’t be coming down my chimney this year.

  • , 2013-09-21 00:16:41

    I didn’t grow up in church, but did get mixed up with Christians who believed that God always heals if you pray hard enough/believe hard enough/have enough faith. It ended badly for me. I learned after that the Bible doesn’t actually tell Christians to pray like that.

  • , 2014-01-13 05:59:49

    Yes, it is sad for the Warrens to lose a child, but Rick’s homophobic workshops in Uganda are partly responsible for the death of a gay activist, David Kato. Even when Kato’s parents were burying their sons, the paid pastors of American evangelicals were shouting homophobic scripture as he was laid to rest. Some Christianity?

Add New Comment

Comments on Facebook