On Using “Biblical” Counseling Only

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As for these four children, God gave them knowledge and skill in all learning and wisdom: and Daniel had understanding in all visions and dreams.

…And in all matters of wisdom and understanding, that the king inquired of them, he found them ten times better than all the magicians and astrologers that were in all his realm.

-Daniel 1:17, 20, KJV

Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah were not threatened and intimidated by the “greatest” secular knowledge of their day. They clearly learned it while remaining faithful to God.

I point out their examples in particular to those who are terrified of anything that psychology or family therapy might present as helpful for marriages, families, and faithful spouses. These fields of study are not a threat to God for God is true. And truth is always more powerful than a lie when everything is said and done.

One common concern coming out of the pastoral care department at Yale Divinity School was about fundamentalists using the Bible to brutalize hurting people seeking spiritual support. Beating with people with the Bible is neither loving or godly. Sadly, though, this is all too common in the world of evangelicalism and especially in the fundamentalism strains.

Certainly, I believe there is much junk in psychology and family systems theory as it comes to marriage counseling with infidelity survivors. That said, I am convinced of some good truth exists in those fields as well. I suspect such was true for Daniel and his friends when they were learning the “best” from their Babylonian teachers.

You don’t have to dispose of a whole field of study just because some of it is junk. Just be discerning.

I am committed to the Bible as wholly true and reliable word from God. True knowledge does not contradict this revelation. However, the Bible does not contain all knowledge as it is only one book, and God is bigger than any book.

When churches and denominations commit themselves to only referring people to “biblical”counselors–especially the in house volunteer kind–I get nervous. It smells of control to me. And that is not of the one true God.

As someone thoroughly committed biblical truth, I am not threatened by someone seeking a psychologist or other therapist to help them through a marriage crisis or dissolution following adultery. In fact, I would encourage folks to find such a professional provided that he or she is truly qualified and good at the job.

It is important to have a safe, judgment-free zone to dump our toxic emotions during the healing and grieving process. A good therapist can provide that. Also, a good therapist should be able to help you to strengthen your violated boundaries and not accept anymore abuse. Finally, a good therapist and psychologist ought to be able to give you a way to rebuild a marriage and a realistic prognosis if that is not in the cards with a cheater. Good psychologists and therapists might be able to help you specifically with the trauma as well as help you best support your children in the mess created by the cheater. I think good psychologists and therapists have lots to offer faithful spouses and their families.

But they need to be good therapists and psychologists…

Just as not all pastors are equipped to provide competent or healing care for faithful spouses, not all therapists and psychologists are good choices for support. Be discerning!

The “Biblical” label will not protect one from abuse or poor care. One has to use one’s brain and discernment even and especially with people claiming such a label. Is it really “Biblical” or is it really just their narrow interpretation of what is “Biblical?” Is it counsel based in fear–which is not of God (II Timothy 1:7)–or is it counsel based in security?

The truth is not threatened by false teachings. That is why I am not afraid of secular counselors. I know the truth is more powerful than a host of lies or worldly “wisdom.” Don’t ever forget that!


2 thoughts on “On Using “Biblical” Counseling Only”

  1. So interesting that you should post this. We were in Christian counseling for the majority of our 14-year marriage, and it was invariably about both of our roles (and I agreed!) The only problem was that when my ex-husband utilized physical abuse, the focus still turned to what I had done to trigger his behavior. I was willing to self-examine, but it felt like no one was drawing a line in the sand for me, and I was unable to do so for myself.

    Fast forward to disclosure of infidelities (not by him – he was outed, then tried to downplay it) and the discovery that he had been lying to me and the counselor for years. It took that revelation and more for me to finally leave the toxic marriage. In hindsight, I wish that our counselor had helped me set stronger boundaries instead of validating his behavior, and wonder if it’s because we chose a Christian counselor that she focused so much on salvaging the marriage instead. Then again, we stayed with her because my ex-husband “felt comfortable” with her (he avoided sessions with the previous two counselors), so perhaps that was the issue.

    1. The Love & Respect series is very popular with cheating husbands.
      It goes beyond the shared responsibility lie.

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