Karen C., MMT Staff Writer
Christian counselors and secular counselors both share a desire, in their own ways, to help people overcome challenges in their lives, find purpose and joy, and become healthy and well-adjusted individuals. There is a noteworthy difference between the two camps, however, that sets the Christian perspective far apart from the secular perspective. That divide, so to speak, lies with the methodologies utilized within each approach.
Secular Counseling vs. Christian Counseling:
Secular counselors are trained in the field of psychology and utilize humanistic approaches to life’s challenges. Secularism, as it applies to therapy, centers around each person becoming a more illuminated, effective problem solver by gaining insight on how to detangle one’s own personal difficulties. In essence, a person becomes the master of his own destiny. Through his learning, his choices and his behaviors, the details of his life are considered to be under his control. Here, the spiritual dimension is not discussed or explored nor is it intended to be. God is not part of the equation and has no influence on the issues at hand or the solutions that may discussed or attempted.
Christian counselors, on the other hand, base their knowledge on the teachings of the Bible and the unyielding belief in God as the Creator of all things. With God as the all-knowing Creator, He and only He, fully understands how man thinks and operates. Because man is God’s creation, man is to rely upon God’s wisdom and teachings to tackle life’s trials, instead of depending on any wisdom or teachings of someone who holds a degree in human psychology. This brings us to some very important benefits of Christian counseling over secular psychotherapies.
Benefit #1—Root Causes Are Addressed!
All problems associated with the human race can be traced back to man’s sinful nature. Sin is the root of man’s struggles in his day-to-day grind. Any dysfunction one might be facing at work, at home or within oneself that results in turmoil, suffering or destruction is due to one or more people committing some sort of sin or sins—either against themselves or against someone else or both.
All too often, secular intervention focuses on the symptoms of the problems and will attempt to place a bandage over the ‘wound’. Though prescriptive medications have their place, all too often medications are quickly arranged as an efficient way to deal with the issues, at least on the surface. This is a temporary cover-up.
Christian intervention, however, isn’t interested in dealing with superficiality—Christian counseling focuses on the root cause of the dysfunction. Christian counseling is a truly comprehensive approach which, once the sinful origin is unveiled, a biblical prescription, not a drug prescription, can be applied that is relevant to the person’s situation.
Secular approaches very often look at the wound and cover it while Christian approaches look at the wound and determine the “infection” and then honestly deal with it. The actual infection, or sin, is not addressed through the use of a ‘bandage’ or a pill. The ‘sin cause’ is dealt with; and the client must have an open, teachable heart and be willing to embrace God’s provisions and promises. The client must truly believe God knows his plight and has every capability of cleansing and remedying the rot within the wound.
The Bible reminds us that it is the heart that is in need of a cure: “The heart is wicked and deceitful, who can understand it?” Jeremiah 17:9
Scripture, also, warns us that unless a person fully understands his sinfulness and deals with the sin-cause, he will return to his original sin or other sins that can take its place: “As a dog returns to his vomit, so a fool returns to his sin.” Proverbs 26:11
Benefit #2—Accountability Is Stressed!
Secular approaches have the option of choosing the path of least resistance when it comes to solving or just coping with dysfunction in one’s life. And I say that with absolute conviction because there was a time, years ago, when my, then, husband and I sought secular counseling as non-Christians, dealing with an infidelity issue. The secular counselor took my emotional, guilt-ridden husband aside in another room and told him, “You know Jeff, you’re really beating yourself up way too much. We just don’t live in a monogamous society.” Fast forward to today with my being a Christian, I can clearly see the intentional absence of God and an ignoring of Biblical truth with that single situation. True, not all secular counselors would have taken such a blatantly irresponsible approach, but the truth is, one has to wonder how many do.
That statement from the counselor was allowing my husband to embrace permission to feel no guilt, accept no accountability for his actions and assume the position that if he chose infidelity again, the culture would be to blame since it adopts that kind of behavior as “normal”.
Any Christian counselor would be quick to point out that the Bible, on the other hand, presents a view that holds man entirely accountable for his behaviors: “So then, each of us shall give account of himself to God.” Romans 14:12
Hebrews 4:13 provides a reminder to all of us concerning our behaviors: “…but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account.” This verse and the one from Romans use the word account—that is, man is accountable! Perhaps not to man, but most certainly to God!
How refreshing that Christian counselors would point out God’s truth to expose the sinfulness of sin and how it violates God’s commands, and not embrace society’s man-made ‘truth’ to simply cover it up, sometimes ignore it, bandage it and call it ‘acceptable’. Christian counseling does not compromise the truth, but instead, helps the client delve deeper to the eternal consequences of whatever issues they are dealing with.
Benefit #3– Spiritual Growth Can Strengthen!
Through Christian-based therapy, clients have an opportunity to examine the condition of their hearts, not their heads. Through Christian counseling, clients can take their focus off physical matters and be guided by the Word of God and concentrate on the spiritual aspect of who they truly are.
Christian therapists guide individuals towards God’s ways, not man’s ways; and Christian-based approaches will stress that man’s ways will fail since man is so inept at understanding what makes himself ‘tick’. Clients learn to trust God since they become aware that God’s ways are perfect, while man’s ways are endlessly flawed. Isaiah 55:8 points that out: “My ways are not your ways and My thoughts are not your thoughts. As higher than the heavens are from the earth, that much higher are My thoughts from your thoughts and My ways from your ways.”
If we are going to serve God effectively and live our lives with an inner peace that we all strive for, we must seek and receive a genuine understanding o f what is wrong within our hearts as well the hearts of those we are dealing with. On top of that, those who seek Christian counsel will be more able to begin to understand God’s wisdom, promises and provisions. Christian counselors like those at Heartfelt Christian Counseling, will use the Bible as their text, not a psychology book written by those who profess to understand man’s ego, but fall pathetically short with understanding the wickedness of man’s heart and soul.
God is the source of wisdom for every problem known to man!