Let me begin this post by asking a simple question…at the most difficult time in your life, who would you say helped you get through it the most? Most people will not answer, “My professional counselor helped me survive during that heart break.”
Let me preface this by simply stating that my wife has her Masters in counseling, and I have a minister on my staff that has his Masters in counseling. My life has been greatly shaped by people like Jay Adams, David Pawlison, Ed Welch and many others, so I believe there is a place for biblical counseling… but I believe it is to be the exception and not the rule. God set up His Church to be the perfect system to minister and help you in most situations, through the body of Christ.
Let me explain this in more detail: if God only used ‘experts’ to help us through our major difficulties, we could brag about their wisdom. But when He uses others, people like you and me, to take hurts, heartaches and tragedies and remind us of truths or to point out our sin and confront us, we display His grace at work in our lives. Too often we miss valuable opportunities for discipleship because we feel more secure in paying someone who knows little to nothing about us, than to let someone near us in this messy thing we call life. We are promised in John 16:33 that we will have tribulation. We are not promised a lot of money, we are not promised an easy life, but we are promised difficulty. We are going to be betrayed, hurt, lied to, marriages are going to become rough, divorce may be discussed but all of this as damaging as it is, doesn’t require an advanced degree in Psychology, but it does require truth. I contend that people running to counseling instead of running to the people you “do life with” on the daily basis has undercut discipleship and ministry. Not only does it keep people from being involved intimately in each other’s lives, but in turn keeps us from being able to confront major sin issues in each other’s lives, which causes the church to be less effective and causes the individual to miss major elements of discipleship.
Now hear me clearly, is going to a professional counselor wrong? NO. But there is a problem when you would rather turn to a counselor to avoid the discomfort of dealing with the people who know you “too well.” When the people who love you most, those you are most accountable to, the people you have made a commitment to and walk this pilgrimage by their side…when those people are trying to step into your life and speak truth to you, it is uncomfortable. Our tendency is to resist those who know us best and will confront the sin they see in our life, so we would rather go to a counselor who we can say is more “objective” but truly, we mean they don’t know what we don’t tell them. If you choose sources of counsel other than the body of Christ because it is uncomfortable, or you are hearing things that are too tough to accept, you are wrong. You are not only missing out on discipleship, you are doing damage to the body by pulling away.
When there is an issue of counsel, the basic question is: “Is Scripture sufficient to answer deal with this matter?” If your answer is “no” then there is a theological problem that you need to deal with on your part. The obvious answer should certainly be, “Scripture is sufficient.” Then, the next question is, “Do you believe the people in your church body handle Scripture accurately?” A couple of issue on this question: (1) If you have no confidence Scripture is being handled accurately, you need to determine if you are judging this matter wrong, or if the people in your faith family have not been taught to do this. If this is the case, meet with your leadership and discuss your concerns. (2) If you believe they handle Scripture well, but your conclusion is that they just don’t understand your situation, then many times the problem is they are giving truth in “your situation” you don’t like. Think about this, you have seen them handle the Word of God on multiple occasions, but on your particular issue everyone is missing it. That my friend, is often a pride and rebellion issue.
I am saying all of this because too many Christians seem to turn their brains off when they are dealing with problems or emotional situations and they would rather find someone to discuss their sin with than confront their sin. We have too often accepted the world’s answer of looking for a “fix” to the problem in an expert or a pill, rather than working through a messy difficulty with others we are “doing life with.” We too often miss one of the reasons Christ established the Body: we glorify Him as we give each other truth, even when it doesn’t seem convenient. Even when it is resisted, we are to keep speaking the truth love. This may not be palatable in the world of Christian Counseling, but I want to remind you that the issue in the Church of Corinth didn’t need a Family Counselor to come and deal with a strange enmeshed family problem…they needed Paul to give them biblical direction and the Body of Christ to confront and deal with them. This isn’t popular in an Oprah and Dr. Phil blame culture, but you will not find biblical evidence to disagree.