“Biblically” Counseling the Sexually Abused

This is Part 6 in my series on the Biblical Counseling Movement (BCM). Go here for all the posts in the series.

**Content Note: Victim blaming, ignorance of trauma and description of sexual abuse.**

If you’ve been following all the posts in this series, you’ve probably seen how Biblical Counseling would be damaging to people suffering from mental illness. Today, though, I want to show you how biblical counselors view sexual assault and abuse, and how this type of counseling is particularly devastating for sexual abuse survivors. Being a survivor myself, this issue is particularly close to my heart.

If you want something that will keep you awake at night and possibly cause you to hurl your electronic device across the room, reading the G.R.A.C.E. report on Bob Jones University should do the trick. For those unaware of the reference, BJU was recently investigated for their inappropriate ‘biblical’ counseling of sexual assault victims. For the really retch-inducing stuff, I suggest starting around page 70 and reading through page 100. The amount of ignorance and victim blaming these counselors have displayed over the years is almost beyond comprehension. And they have the gall to justify it. Continue reading

The Biblical Counseling Movement: Bad Theology

This is Part 5 in my series on Biblical Counseling. Go here for Parts 1, 2, 3 and 4.

**Content Note: Victim blaming and abusive theology**

Today, I want to highlight more of the theology and exegesis (biblical interpretation) of those leading the Biblical Counseling Movement. As you will see clearly in the next installment, these beliefs determine the method of counseling these leaders use, and it’s very often a damaging and unbiblical one.

Yes, I believe that much of the Biblical Counseling method is, in fact, unbiblical – and, as a result, emotionally and spiritually abusive as well. Let’s unpack.¬† Continue reading

Forgiveness and Reconciliation

Joseph is thrown into the well.

My next post on the Biblical Counseling Movement will address problems in the movement’s theology. But before I delve into that, another context post is called for. In this post, I want to talk about forgiveness and reconciliation.

Much like repentance, forgiveness and reconciliation are often deeply misunderstood terms. Many people, including some biblical counselors, don’t draw a distinction between forgiveness and reconciliation. They believe that reconciliation is proof that true forgiveness has occurred, and if you aren’t reconciled to the one who hurt you, you haven’t forgiven.

Which, according to the Bible itself, is totally inaccurate. Continue reading

The Biblical Counseling Movement: Bait and Switch

This post is part of a series. Go here for Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3

Content Note: Discussion of mental illness deniers and their philosophy.

With this post, I want to address some of the confusing and, sometimes, conflicting messages put out by the leaders of the Biblical Counseling Movement (BCM). I call this the “bait and switch” because I think it is being done on purpose with intent to mislead.

Make no mistake: Many of the leaders involved in this movement are outright mental illness deniers. First, they are operating from a 40-year-old biased understanding of psychiatry and mental health, so they are not fully aware (if at all) of modern advances in psychological understanding. (The movement actually discourages counselors from obtaining a comprehensive education in modern psychological theory and practice, lest they become ‘corrupted’ and unconsciously integrate that knowledge into their counseling practice.) Second, the BCM was founded on the idea that mental illness (classified in the BCM’s literature as “problems in living”) is the result of sin. This is the core of the movement’s theology.

But being forthright about that core belief in this day and age makes one look like an ignorant arse and doesn’t get many people in the door. So when addressing the public on blogs or in interviews, BCM leaders throw out some statements to make themselves appear¬†more open-minded than they really are. However, their true beliefs and methods of counseling stay exactly the same.

Let me show you what I mean. Continue reading

What is Repentance?

Because my series on biblical counseling has been so intense, I wanted to take a brief break to talk about repentance. Given some of the BCM material I will be covering in future posts, I think this topic fits in nicely.

The Church talks a lot about repentance, as well it should. It is one of Christianity’s cornerstones, recalling that Christ came “not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance” (Luke 5:32). However, whenever the word “repentance” is tossed around, I sometimes feel a bit like Indigo Montoya from Princess Bride:

“You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.”

So, today, I want to talk about what repentance means and what it looks like. Continue reading