I read a blog the other day written by a Christian counselor admonishing a pastor for writing a book giving counsel on marriage and sex. She claimed that he was ill qualified to give such counsel without proper training and a proper degree. The educated elite feel they have the corner on wisdom. They are some of the oppressive, arrogant popes of our age and I defy them. They are wrong on two accounts: They rest their knowledge on a humanistic theory and thry have forgotten that Pastors are directed by Biblical principles to counsel.
It is well know that paid professional counselors are trained. They begin that man is inherently good and aren’t acting within the norms for a reason. If given everything properly they would be “normal.” Their explanation of the fact that people act in destructive ways is that they are simply in an imperfect world. They are affected and controlled by environment, biology and responses to circumstances. They begin their tinkering here.
We pastors begin with the principle that people are inherently self-interested. We recognize the aforementioned factors that affect how one behaves. These are real but it is self interest that drive the car whether there is a flat or not.
The environment is formed by the culture, family, and trauma. The cultural construct covers from slavery to work. The culture defines right and wrong along with how things are done. Sometimes this is beneficial to the human experience and other times it isn’t. The other is family life. Each one has its own set of peculiarities, values and malignancies.
Many have had trauma. These are dramatic events that are judged by the receiver that many times reform ones reality. These events help form what we perceive as true. This is from rape to car wrecks. These shocks to reality have effects. Each person responds differently. Each one develops their own grid for safety and stability. For example after your house is broken into you buy a security system. And of course there are a myriad of experiences and responses.
We know humans are the same and different in many ways. Physiologically we have the same DNA but there are variables. The psychology is affected by the organs and glands and visa-versa. Many of these differences are diagnosable I.e. measurable. These can affect behavior from depression to being happy.
Responses to life are variable and not always predictable. For example some people suffer under shame and others have developed the ability to compartmentalize. Many are ridden with unnatural fear or guilt. We all have propensities. These are all too complex to separate and isolate for scientific analysis.
All this being said through psychological/medical analysis the professionals prescribe counseling and/or medication. This is done to the damaged person to help approximate normalcy. The imperfect person, not ideal, is given help to be brought to who some idealist believes they should be.
We bring healing, but we do it differently. We understand all these factors and differences in people as they do. We can’t change cultural and familial experiences. We are all given biological tendencies and are affected by our physiological chemistry. We cannot change these and we cannot undo the past.
Our solutions are more powerful. While a certain reality is formed outside of redemption another is reformed in redemption; a New Creation. What is this healing power? It isn’t the prayer of Salvation although for many it was a start.
It is this new Kingdom. This new reality is formed not ignoring the past our current reality. This Gopsel shows us how to live. It tells us of our Creator, the fallen world, heaven and Hell. It shows how to live in this fallen world under the rule of this King and His ways. He shows us the way to healing is His love, first to us and then through us. Our healing is found in bringing healing and help to others.
In the 12th step of the AA program, as their other principles, is taken from the Bible, “Step 12. Having had a spiritual experience as the result of this course of action, we tried to carry this message to others, especially alcoholics, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.”
Isa 58:6-8 “Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke? 7 Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter — when you see the naked, to clothe him, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?
8 Then your light will break forth like the dawn, and your healing will quickly appear; then your righteousness will go before you, and the glory of the Lord will be your rear guard.” NIV
Healing in service! Why is this a strange concept? If the problem is essentially self-interest then the solution is obvious. Service heals.
Now the Gospel is the beginning and then the application of its principles: forgiveness, freedom from guilt and shame, not judging etc. which all can be summed up under “Love thy neighbor.”
Another gift for healing is the Body which includes community for care and correction. When we are in close proximity and with each other often, this can happen. A lot of destructive hang-ups are solved here in community. It is a big family with Kingdom norms that are lived out, exalted, and impressed.
Now back to pastors being qualified. I cannot think of anyone more qualified. This would include elders and mature Christians. They own the principles and practice them. Remember Paul asking the rhetorical question in 1 Cor 6:5 “I say this to shame you. Is it possible that there is nobody among you wise enough to judge a dispute between believers?” The answer is “Yes” of course. We have the wisdom found in Jesus and His Word.
We have seen many healings by real everyday Christians. People have been healed from drugs, alcohol, mental illness, social anxiety, poor self-image, relational problems, anger, laziness, traumas, lying, perversity, behavioral problems, socio-cultural norm dysfunction etc.
Those who have not regained wholeness are those who have not grasped the principles in practice or do not care to engage in their healing. But guess what, the Institutions don’t have success with these ones either.
Some might say I’m not qualified to write this, yet I believe we heal through His power, His principles, His community, and His people. I see it and so do you. People need God’s people not professionals. At best the Pro is with you an hour a week and doesn’t care if your healed. You are simply a paycheck. Harsh? Then here is a question: Would they invite their clients home, golfing or to a family event etc.? Heck, they won’t even give their home phone number or address.
In closing the admonishment of the writer mentioned at the start of this blog is wrong to say the Pastor is unqualified to right a book on Marriage and Sex. I personally want to hear it from him, guided by the Bible and his experience. But his counsel is only a small part of what we have been given in Christ.
We will not be moved by the god’s of this age.