Christianity Needs Counseling

I'm not afraid to admit it: I've been through counseling. No, I'm not just talking about the obligatory pre-marital counseling that all good evangelicals get. I'm talking about the uncomfortable-even-though-you're-lying-down-on-a-sofa kind of counseling.

Devotees will recall that I've battled depression for a number of years. And there will be some that I'm sure will say that I must not have enough faith. The good news for them is first they're probably right because none of us do, and second I'm not addressing that issue here. But just for fun I'll say that those people should reconsider popping that second Tylenol--they clearly don't have enough faith that God will relieve that burden for them.

Counseling was a good experience for me and I highly recommend it to anyone who needs help sorting out their life. Why? Because counseling isn't what most people think:

Yet this is what we often think of when we think of counseling, isn't it? Someone who tells you what's wrong with you. Someone who analyzes you and comes up with a solution. Well thankfully, many counselors have all but abandoned Freud's methods. So if you get counseling today, you're more likely to get someone who will listen to you and just ask probing questions. The idea isn't that they simply solve your problems; it's that they help you solve your own. And there's some wisdom there that the church would do well to take a seat on a sofa and hear.

Most sermons or teaching programs you hear today have a common, if not subtle, theme. Let's see if you can find it:
Do you spend most of your nights getting drunk at the local bar? The Bible commands...
Did you cheat on your taxes this year? The Bible tell us to render...
Are you struggling with pornography? The Bible says that even looking...
photo credit: foka kytutr via photopin cc
Did you catch it? All of those things are behaviors, not motives. And this is the continuing effect of modernism on Christianity and the church. I've talked about how objectivity has effected our relationships, particularly with God. But this is where it effects our earthly interactions.

Modernism is all about metrics and measurements. All of life is quantifiable. Thus, human behavior is conveniently observable and, for the church's purposes, easy to address. "Are you engaging in ____ behavior? Stop doing that." This has been Christianity's mantra for centuries. But what if we viewed behaviors the same way psychologists do, as symptoms? Why is that young woman at the bar every night? Maybe it's because her husband beats her. Maybe the guy cheating on his taxes is doing so because his divorce left him penniless. And maybe that teenager surfing for porn is doing so because he's never experienced true love and intimacy in his life.

These aren't excuses. But they are reasons. And as anyone with sense will tell you, addressing the symptoms alone will never solve the root of the problem. So if your goal is to influence as many people as possible with the gospel message (as has been that of the modern church), you may not be able to help this unfortunate side effect. But if your goal is to disciple someone one-on-one in the knowledge of the love of Jesus, then you just might have a chance. Because in this scenario, you can get to know them, their struggles, and their motives for doing what they do. And only here can you know what they need to hear--not what you think they do. Now that's good counsel.