Your Thoughts on Biblical Counseling vs. Licensed Counseling

by | Apr 12, 2022 | Abuse | 36 comments

Biblical Counseling vs. Licensed Counseling
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Yesterday I caused quite a stir by talking about some of the problems with how the biblical counseling movement started, and some of the problems with some places it’s currently being taught.

I want to stress that we don’t need to think of biblical counseling vs. secular counseling, because there’s a really good alternative: integrative counseling, where Christians learn all about psychology and evidence-based therapies for anxiety, depression, and trauma, and receive licensing to practice.

Many, many Christian counselors choose the licensing route, becoming Licensed Cliinical Psychologists, Licensed Marriage and Family Therapists, Licensed Social Workers, and more. With licensing comes ethical guidelines, including about confidentiality, that one must follow or risk losing one’s license.

Some Christians choose to go the biblical counseling route, which is founded on a belief that the Bible is all one needs to counsel, and is sufficient for handling issues that require counseling.

I understand there are some WONDERFUL biblical counselors, and I know many (Kyle Howard who was on the podcast recently is one). I know others in my personal life. And there is definitely a role for pastoral care and spiritual direction. I don’t want to discourage anyone. It’s just that because being evidence-based and grounded in research is such a strong value of me and my team, i do think that there are some issues with a counseling method which eschews modern psychological research and methods.

I’d like to think about this overnight and then write more about what I think tomorrow, but today I wanted to share some of the comments that came in yesterday across different social media platforms (and there were hundreds!). Some were very interesting, and we all had a great discussion.

First, though, I want to point you to Julie Roys’ most recent podcast about Master’s Seminary.

In her podcast, she played clips from John Street, the head of the Biblical Counseling program at Master’s Seminary (run by John MacArthur). Those clips included what we were talking about yesterday, where he said that a stepfather raped his four-year-old stepdaughter because the mother didn’t give him sexual fulfillment. It also includes clips saying that women should endure abuse unless she is about to be killed, because otherwise we’d be hypocritical about missionaries.

It’s an important one, and worth listening to (with major trigger warnings).

From a Biblical Counselor: It’s not like that anymore

Nope, this [about enduring abuse and blaming women for men’s abuse] is not still being taught. I’m currently studying to become a biblical counselor. It is stressed over and over again that every church needs to be prepared with multiple “safe house” families that can take in an abused woman and her children on the spur of the moment if necessary. It is stressed that abuse is against the law in America, so we are obligated to report it to the authorities instead of trying to handle it “in house.” It is stressed that a no-tolerance stance on abuse would be a huge deterrent if more churches would actually start to practice it.

We are taught that women can still grow and become more like Christ in the midst of abusive situations (as in the story of Joseph, what people intend for evil, God uses for good). So after everyone is safe, we work through any heart issues with her (bitterness, resentment, anxiety, fear, etc).

Jay Adams is considered “old school” and outdated by many in the current generation of teachers/counseling fellows. None of his books were on my required reading list for that reason.

My biblical counseling training lectures were actually the first place that I heard teaching from the church that sex is to be pleasurable for BOTH men and women, and that my husband’s one job in sex is to bring me pleasure. It was the first place I heard the “do not deprive” verse talked about for both men and women equally. And this was before your book was even released.


Well, I’ve taken many classes for biblical counseling and talked many times about topics like these. Every class where it has come up includes first, protecting the victim, calling the authorities, continued care and protection of the victim and their family…. Those who teach to keep it “in house” or practice that are straight up wrong.

That’s wonderful to hear that it’s getting better in many places.


Check Out Our Biblical Womanhood Merch!

Here are some other stories:

How Licensed Counseling Differs from Biblical Counseling


I’m a Licensed Professional Counselor, and I earned my Master’s degree at a secular state university. But I offer Christian Counseling, so after graduation I felt I needed more training in what it means to be a *Christian* Counselor. I read books on Biblical Counseling and a version of Biblical Counseling called Theophostic Counseling. As I read about it, I didn’t see how it would help my clients. But at first, I was intimidated by this and wondered if the problem was that I was such a bad Christian Counselor that I didn’t know how to use Biblical Counseling to help my clients. I think for many counselors or potential counselors, like myself, there’s trust that the “experts” teaching this stuff must know what they’re talking about, so if it doesn’t make sense to me or if I disagree, then the problem must be with me.

I never used Biblical counseling and I stuck to the Cognitive-Behavioral and Solution-Focused methods that I had learned in my secular university. It seemed to me that CBT and SFBT worked equally well with Christians and non-Christians, and Christians would naturally bring up faith while using these methods. So that’s what became “Christian Counseling” for me. And after being successful with these methods and growing more confident as I gained experience, I was able to see Biblical Counseling for harmful, unvalidated, snake oil.


I am not a therapist but went to an undergrad program for Christian counseling. Toward the end of my years there, they switched to the “biblical counseling” model and it was a drastic change to what I had been taught the first many years. In the beginning we were taught by professors who believed psychology and found a way to integrate that with Christian beliefs. They were all actual licensed therapists. When it switched to biblical counseling none of the professors were licensed or had really any credentials and the one class I had under the new program was a drastic and horrific change. I remember feeling sick during that class as the professor would blame everything on personal sin, even going as far as to say someone with schizophrenia just has unrepentant sin they need to repent of to be healed. I remember thinking this can’t be for real. I suffered through that class to get my degree and was glad to be done. I trashed that book as soon as I was done.

All that to say, I think it is important to understand there are two very different veins of Christian counseling. The very core and training of them are different, they are different methods and not at all the same. I saw first hand the drastic difference. One of my favorite professors who had been there for a decade was ousted for being too “liberal” and he was an amazing, humble man who was very intelligent and he wouldn’t fall in line with the changes to the program. This was 15 years ago and it grieves me that “biblical counseling” has such a hold and following and I know it must be hard to differentiate yourself when all Christian counselors get lumped in with them.

Amy Hilliard

I also received so many heartbreaking stories from people yesterday who were seriously hurt by biblical counseling.

It was actually quite a hard day. I normally get a lot of difficult DMs in a day, but yesterday there was a flood of them, with heartbreaking stories of being told that they had to forgive their cheating husband, put a line in the sand, and decide never to speak or think of it again or else they were in sin. Stories of being told they had to reconcile with their rapist. And more.

I am not saying that problems do not happen with licensed counselors, but when someone has a license, that means there is also a board where you can report them for malpractice, and they can potentially lose their license. There is no route like this for biblical counselors.

It’s just been a really heavy day processing so much trauma that so many people have been through. I need a day to figure out what I really want to say. I know that people go into counseling because they truly want to help, and like I said–I know some amazing biblical counselors.

But I also have to be evidence based, since that’s what my team and I are about. So I’ll be back tomorrow with more, but in the meantime, please listen to Julie Roys’ podcast to get an idea of the problems I’m talking about.

And now I’ll wrap it up with this about how we got into this mess with abuse.

I want to give commenter Sarah O the last word, because I thought this was so insightful, in answer to my question yesterday about how we got here where we blame victims for their own abuse. 

I’m going to try and put this gently and also to start off by saying that I have been guilty of this in examples unrelated to this post.

The problem is cowardice.

For abuse to occur, there must be at least two people: a victim and a perpetrator.

And honestly, both Christian and secular resources put 100% of their focus on the victim, because of cowardice.

The victim is far more likely to want help. The victim is far more likely to thank you for your involvement. The victim is far less dangerous to the interloper. You will probably get “cookies” from the victim if you offer compassion and care.

But more than this, abuse completely undermines our deep desire and need to feel that the world is inevitably just, that people are basically good and trying their best – things we HAVE to believe in order to navigate life.

You can almost see a grief process in the terrible abuse responses. “That can’t have happened, such a great person, such a great witness, mustn’t be, or at least can’t be THAT bad.” (denial) “Why are you trying to RUIN this person? Why are you tearing your house down with your own hands? Why won’t you take our advice and shut up?” (anger) “Have you tried not provoking? Not wearing that? Not going there? Giving more? Surely there’s something you can do apart from accountability to resolve this?” (bargaining) “I just don’t know what to do with this. I don’t even think anyone can do anything. I don’t want to hear any more about it.” (depression)

The reality is, if a wolf attacks a sheep, the ONLY thing you can do for the sheep is to fight the wolf. You can’t educate the sheep out of the attack. You can’t comfort the sheep while it’s under attack. You certainly can’t heal the wounds while the wolf is actively biting and clawing. But in fighting back, you aren’t guaranteed costless victory, or victory at all. Sometimes, both you and the sheep get killed. You might lose your job, or your church, or your friends, or your family. And the wolf runs loose anyway.

So that’s what we’re trying to avoid doing so desperately. We do “enough” on abuse so we can say “well, I didn’t do NOTHING”…but we never actually fight the wolf. Because wolves hunt in packs. Wolves are dangerous. And we are hired hands who don’t love the sheep and don’t see them as our own. We love our own selves and our comfortable lives and our secure (but inaccurate) world view far more.

This avoidance comes in a variety of flavors that are the result of other beliefs (Calvinism, misogyny, power-worship, celebrity culture, etc.), but at the end of the day, here’s the test: “what does your organization/program/church do to abusers?”

Most will pivot immediately to the victims and “investigative process” and never actually answer the question (these are looking for cookies, not justice). Others will recommend counsel, support and care (these are protecting their worldview, holding onto faith that the abuser is basically a good, reasonable person and no one would choose to harm someone else because they like to). The upper crust will actually offer real safety and support to the victims.

And a bare, bare few shining examples will recommend transparency and accountability for an abuser. “We report them to the police” “We excommunicate them” “We publicly censure them” All of which, weirdly, churches have absolutely done to victims with no fear of the dreaded law suits. Just not abusers.

Solving for cowardice is hard, but simple. We have to love someone else more than we love ourselves, and to do that we have to be lavishly loved by God. I am not where I used to be, but not where I wish I was on this virtue. For those who are vocationally in the path of victims, let us all pray for them to have great love and great courage.

Sarah O

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Sheila Wray Gregoire

Author at Bare Marriage

Sheila is determined to help Christians find biblical, healthy, evidence-based help for their marriages. And in doing so, she's turning the evangelical world on its head, challenging many of the toxic teachings, especially in her newest book The Great Sex Rescue. She’s an award-winning author of 8 books and a sought-after speaker. With her humorous, no-nonsense approach, Sheila works with her husband Keith and daughter Rebecca to create podcasts and courses to help couples find true intimacy. Plus she knits. All the time. ENTJ, straight 8

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  1. Ray

    I think Biblical Counseling could be helpful in many situations, especially spiritual care . I’m sure there are many stories of people who have benefitted from it as well. Most of the time pastors are providing impromptu counseling, fielding phone calls, and responding to situations and this type of training can help in those situations. My pastor has been a huge support to me when life throws me curve balls or we are so burnt out and need some encouragement or perspective.

    However, when it comes to counseling people with significant trauma, hoarding, borderline personality disorder, schizophrenia, any type of abuse, the list goes on it really needs to be someone licensed and specifically trained in those areas. I don’t know why a pastor would even want to take on that type of responsibility. It’s like going from someone with good base knowledge in the medical field to performing surgery on a specific tendon. It’s just way over anyone’s head that doesn’t study and practice it regularly.

    • Sarah

      Yes. Everyone in a caring capacity should know emotional first aid, but also know when and how to refer people to the professionals.

  2. Jenn

    I love the comparison to wolves and sheep! I would love to have a more nuanced discussion about how you verify abuse to determine the perpetrator is truly a “wolf”. I’m thinking specifically of emotional/mental abuse where there is no physical evidence to point to. I remember my therapist telling me I presented with all the symptoms, reaction patterns, etc of someone who was severely abused but nothing I said lined up with that (he didn’t hit me, scream at me, etc). Is there any way to quantify the unseen abuse in order to then involve others to report/excommunicate/hold accountable?

    • A2bbethany

      My verbally abusive sister didn’t actually yell, hardly at all. No yelling or screaming would’ve been too attention drawing for my parents. Her verbal abuse was constantly telling me what was wrong with me and how I’d be fat someday(like a trickle of acid). That she was their favorite and I always knew how happy she was, anytime I was in trouble. And if she ever was punished for something, she’d complain loudly that I was their favorite now, and how unfair it was. (They never said anything either way about favorites. But because they never corrected her….I easily believed she was.)

      Not all abuse is outright and easily spotted. But after I cut her abuse cycle out of my life as a teenager, I felt the difference! I found my self worth after she’d spent years destroying it.
      Her abuse cycle was: attempt to reconcile and forgive each other (usually a letter back an forth), a few weeks(max) of hanging out and trying to get something in common, her blowing up about something, and I’d either confront and ask for an apology or just leave off talking. No apologies ever, it was always blamed on me in some form. At the end I learned about the word narcissist. She’d accuse me of being one…which I agreed that one of us was! (But until I was out, I didn’t completely see it was her. Even though that cycle is literally with everyone in her life. They simply excuse what I no longer tolerate.)

      I hope that might help you see a kind of abuse that’s not technically physical or loud even. Just a constant drip of negative input and being erased as a person having worth

      • Marie

        I’m so sorry that you went through that with your sister. Truly heartbreaking 💔

        I agreed with your final comment as well, people need to realize that abuse isn’t always loud and physical.

        There is psychological and emotional abuse too which is insidious and horrifyingly life-altering to those who go through it.
        And it takes someone with licensed training to help people heal from that.

    • Kristen Shields

      There may not be anything you can do to hold accountable (depends on what happened), but you can at least treat yourself. Your therapist is probably right, and the fact that you are both willing to explore it is a positive sign. It also might be that something happened earlier than you are currently dealing with, and that person’s behavior triggered all the same alarm bells … this happened to me, and was my first awareness that my reaction patterns were way off kilter. He didn’t actually do anything (though we weren’t right for each other), but my reactions to him were as if he were downright abusive … because others in my life with similar cues actually had been. Try looking into that?

    • R

      “Is It Abuse” by Darby Strickland. Excellent book that shines light on how to uncover abuse.

    • EOF

      Have you read The Verbally Abusive Relationship by Patricia Evans? This book opened my eyes.

      Early on in my marriage, I was desperate for help. I begged and pleaded for help from church, but did not get it. No amount of submitting would make him stop, so I did the only thing I could — looked for marriage help outside the church and church books.

      I told my story in online forums. People accused me of lying, saying that nobody would EVER react the way I claimed my husband was treating me if I was only doing the things I claimed I was doing. (I was desperately telling the truth in all my posts, pleading for help.)

      Then some kind soul stepped in and called out the truth. She said I was being abused, which I didn’t believe. My husband hardly ever laid a hand on me, it was so rare it couldn’t count as abuse. But then that same person said I needed to read The Verbally Abusive Relationship. This was before kindle e-readers, so I had to take the bold move of buying the paperback. Then I highlighted most of that book. I felt seen and understood.

      However, I was still stuck because I didn’t believe I had any right to leave or stand up for myself or follow any of the advice in the book because it was so unsubmissive. If only I’d had Sheila’s books and blog back then. But my many tear-filled prayers were answered and my husband eventually changed his ways.

      I hate that many churches still refuse to call out the husbands, demanding that the victims change. Jesus would never do that.

  3. Jen

    I’m a believer in inner healing and deliverance. Renewing the mind with His Word but also getting proper help.
    I am someone who believes in what Sarah O said what about the abuser? They need healing too. Not in all cases will they want it but some don’t know why they are like that due to their own past and unresolved issues or unhealed wounds. They learn to react a certain way and continue the vicous cycle they never wanted to repeat in the first place.
    Women can abuse men too. My husband’s ex wife abused him emotionally/mentally/sexually. Yes sexually. I know you are more focused on women being abused but the opposite happens to. I’ve known women to use sex to control or manipulate their husband’s and that is just as wrong. Sorry went on a rabbit trail there. A little off topic but been wanting to mention this for quite some time.
    Anyway I wish more counselors were trained in inner healing and deliverance. I was healed quicker with that approach than just counseling which seemed like a never ending set of talk with no solution.

    • exwifeofasexaddict

      Abusers CAN change, but they almost never do. Only 1-2% of abusers do the hard work to change. Because they like their life the way it is.
      Yes, God can do miracles. But He never forces people to change. God can, but doesn’t, save all cancer patients, car accident victims, etc. Miracles are miracles because they are out of the ordinary.

      • Laura

        I agree that abusers can change, but they usually don’t. Years after my divorce from my abusive ex, a pastor’s wife told me if I had received “godly” counseling, my marriage could have survived. I don’t remember if I specifically told her about the abuse I experienced. It would not have done any good anyway because this pastor’s wife, though I love her dearly, I feel that she was misguided because her husband often preached about husbands being the heads of their households and that wives need to be submissive. Even though he was not a licensed counselor and I don’t think he got formal training as a pastor, he did lots of marriage counseling. People claimed he saved their marriages. I would like to think that to be true, but I don’t know if that was ever the case.

        What I do know for myself was that going to church counseling to save my marriage would have been useless anyway, because my ex thought he didn’t need to change. It was all up to me to make the marriage work. “Godly” counseling would have probably told me to submit more and stick it out in my marriage. I’m glad I went to a licensed counselor and with her help, I gained the courage to leave. I’ve been happily free for nearly 20 years now.

  4. Craig

    I, as a Pastor, am careful to let people know that I can offer short term Biblical Counsel – but I AM NOT a counselor. We have several licensed Christian firms in our community that I refer to. People need to understand that there is a big difference. We agree on much of what you wrote here. My first seminary counseling class the first word the teacher wrote on the board is REFER. “You are pastors, not trained counselors – refer early and refer often. I will teach you how to better provide short term pastoral care, not to be a counselor.” A good word to be sure.

    I will say that because of the nature of facebook your posts often become off as bull in a china shop. In an effort to be seen and shake things up things that maybe you didnt mean to get broken. People who you didnt mean to offend feel targeted. I, frankly, am ok with that method. But it may be wise to add a few disclaimers, as you did in this article, before you post something you know is gonna stir the pot and potentially hurt people that shouldnt be. Its not softening your stance, its an act of love and an expression of what is already in your heart.

    • Angharad

      I love the distinction you make between offering counsel and being a counsellor!

      We have recently set up a drop in at our church. It is open to anyone, but we put emphasis on the fact that anyone struggling with their mental health is particularly welcome. But we ALSO put emphasis on the fact that we are not a mental health service – anyone who needs help beyond a cuppa and a friendly chat gets signposted to the relevant professional support. In fact, one of the first things we did before setting up was to make contact with local charities, our local mental health service and other groups, so that we have literature available for those who need help we are not able to provide ourselves.

    • Nessie

      I love the REFER part of this! It encourages me to see pastors such as yourself share this. A pastor, biblical counselor, or teacher that realizes when a situation is beyond their ability and communicates that displays a Christ-like humility imo.

      I participated as a Stephen Minister for a time at my previous church. We had someone with a degree in psychological fields who “triaged” those wishing to receive care so if someone’s problems were beyond what we were trained for, they insisted they get in with a professional counselor before receiving our scriptural help to supplement that. We were never presented as a main solution to real problems though. Scripture helps in many ways but it is meant to guide us to godlier ways of living, not be a hard and fast rule book with no allowances outside of what is already in there exactly as it reads. That didn’t work so well for the Pharisees.

      There is a pridefulness in thinking that we can do it all, that we are capable to handle all situations on our own. Even well-trained professionals reach out to others to gain insight, ideas, etc.

      My worry is that those seeking help from biblical counselors often have been in situations that limit their ability to discern if their counselor is healthy or not… particularly when they have been gaslit, it can be incredibly difficult to see truth as s/he will doubt oneself even if they feel something is off. (Being raised by a narcissist, it took years to learn to hear/know myself/Holy Spirit much less trust that.) I don’t know of a solution, but I wish there was a way to make this aspect better everywhere. Thank you for being a pastor that tries to help with that!

  5. Evelyn Pseudonym

    Sarah O’s closing comment is amazing.

    I was sexually harassed by someone in campus ministry in college, and the way leadership handled it was to drive us to a Christian counseling office *together*! 90 miles each way in the same vehicle! He would process his sessions out loud on the way back. Apparently he was a victim because his grandfather was a bad guy. And my “counselor” focused on ways to jokingly brush off his comments about my body. Never did she ever state that what he was doing was sin and it should stop. And then before a mission trip, when I informed some people (who needed to know!) about his predatory behavior and my concerns about that on the trip, I was forced to apologize publicly for bringing it up, because it was more than a year ago and apparently that meant that everything was okay?

    I started a masters in biblical counseling at Dallas Theological Seminary when I graduated college, and I was shocked when I got there and they were super open about teaching only enough secular psychology to pass the licensing exam so that we could get through that door and then use our biblical counseling. Having already experienced this kind of counseling first hand, I bailed after two semesters and got the degree from a public university.

    And then for my third strike, I spent 15 years at a church that taught along the same lines and was worse than nothing when I married an abuser. They referred us to a biblical counselor who wanted to assign me homework to spend lots of one on one time with the abuser to invest in the relationship. NOPE.

    I am so glad to know that this is hopefully getting better and moving out of mainstream evangelicalism. I had to leave evangelicalism, so I’m not in touch with that as much anymore, but I still hear the horror stories from time to time.

    • CMT

      Evelyn, your story just shows the problem from so many sides, thanks for sharing it. I’m startled to hear that DTS was basically teaching people to “fake it” for their licensing exams back in the day. That sounds unethical to say the least. Apparently even being licensed isn’t a guarantee that the counselor you’re seeing got an adequate education or follows evidence based guidelines.

  6. R

    What’s so ironic about the perspective Sarah O raises is that it doesn’t even match the theology of most churches that espouse biblical counseling. We believe in original sin, right? We believe that sin is insidious, right? So why would we insist that everyone is basically good — why wouldn’t we be able to believe that a person who LOOKS like a good Christian could actually be an abuser behind closed doors? I don’t understand how Christians have gotten this so, so wrong.

  7. Kari Joly

    One of my favorite lines in the whole world is D’Artangnan’s in The Man in the Iron Mask: “When drawing our sword, we must not ask only what we are killing, but also what we are allowing to live.”

    We must remember that both hang in the balance every time and have the courage to allow life to live by ending destruction. It’s how to be Godly.

  8. Rose

    I think another thing that has to be addressed is that even in evangelical (non-fundamentalist) churches, people are raised taught to AVOID liscensed therapists. When I had domestic violence issues in my marriage, I was told it was safer to go to my pastors (who minimized my concerns and never followed up) over seeing a mainstream therapist, because the licensed practitioner might “get social workers involved.” When I had severe postpartum depression (made worse by the amount of postpartum healing I had to go through and my husband’s drinking), my parents were concerned that I was seeing an in-home social worker that specialized in CBT. They said I needed to clean the house top to bottom before she showed up so she wouldn’t report me for being a bad mom (my house was not that messy, just normal level of “I got two kids in diapers and I’m exhausted” mess.)

    • Amy

      That message to avoid licensed therapists and go to the church/pastor for help can come in sneaky forms. I specifically remember reading a section in a book by Tim LaHaye where he advised going to the pastor who conducted your wedding ceremony if you were having marriage troubles because that specific pastor was already invested in the success or failure of your marriage. No mention of situations that were beyond the counsel of a pastor, no mention of safety – just save the marriage with an undercurrent that the pastor won’t want a divorce resulting from a ceremony he officiated. It really is a selfish, sickening message.

      • Angharad

        That is super weird – surely ANY pastor should be wanting to help those he encounters to have healthy, thriving marriages, whether he was the one who married them or not. I find it quite odd that he suggests the pastor who marries you is somehow going to put more effort into supporting your marriage than any other pastor! What about those who get married in one area or country and then relocate? What about my friends, who were married by an elderly minister who died shortly after? Do they somehow have ‘less support’ in their marriage?!!!

  9. Melanie

    I appreciate the perspectives in this post because it is all of the things my husband and I have seen and thought about and observed. I’ve seen the hideous stories of abuse victims blamed and excommunicated. Many stories are from many years ago. But not all of them. There’s still evidence of some of this going on.

    So then how is a victim, in the middle of their crisis, going to know how to tell the difference between a good resource and a bad one? They are already overwhelmed and confused, ready to offer “cookies for compassion” and often unable to afford the kind of help they truly need.

    The ethics that the licensed counselors are held to are not even without problems, honestly, but it’s currently better than the alternative.

    Licensed or not, I agree that the last commenter was very insightful. Love must lead the intervenor to fight for the sheep, even at the risk of personal harm. My husband is currently studying to become a licensed therapist/ crisis counselor and if anyone will have courage to stand up to a wolf, it will be him. The world needs more of this, because the wolves are rampant and rabid. So I echo this to all in the counseling field. Let God’s love spur you to fearless action on behalf of the sheep. Do not fear the government. Do not fear the church. Do not fear the wolf. Trust God and fight for the sheep.

  10. Brittany

    I think, at its core, it just shows how much evangelicals largely hate women. I know that’s a controversial statement but I can’t think of any other explanation. In these circles, women are not valued AT ALL and it shows in the way people respond to their wounds. If you truly love someone, not only will you provide care after the fact, but you will ADVOCATE for them and seek to eliminate any and all threats to their well-being. We see a shining example of this in the abortion debate. Those on the pro-life side are full-on warriors because the believe in the value and worth of the unborn. They seek to protect them and they will tear down anyone or anything in their way to do so. I rarely EVER see this type of commitment and passion when women are abused. Instead, they shrug thejr shoulders, give the women a nice pat on the back, and tell them they hope it doesn’t happen again so they can get back to what they REALLY care about. I also think it’s about evade accountability. The awful loophole about biblical counseling is that with no overarching board or organization to report to, churches can act independently as they see no fit with no outside counsel or responsibility. With this framework, abusers get away unscathed and men still get to wield the power. If abusers were held accountable, that would mean men don’t get to pull all the strings. They’d have to answer to somebody. And God forbid men don’t get to operate as gods on Earth 🤧

  11. EOF

    “It also includes clips saying that women should endure abuse unless she is about to be killed, because otherwise we’d be hypocritical about missionaries.”

    In other words, they’re giving husbands permission to abuse their wives to the point of almost-death! Just as long as they don’t die, it’s all good. 😳

    And how can one compare marriage to missionaries? Missionaries put their lives in danger by entering into potentially dangerous situations at the hands of people who likely don’t have the same standards.

    Are they saying a Christian husband has the right to act like a murderous nonbeliever? That’s the standard?

  12. Jane Eyre

    If the theory behind Biblical counseling is that the Bible has all the answers (and no other study of psychotherapy is warranted), I sincerely hope that these people walk to and from their church offices – after all, the Bible makes no mention of the internal combustion engine nor the chemistry involved therein.

    Somewhat tongue in cheek, but I firmly believe that God gave us brains for a reason. The Bible tells us how to use them – we orient our gifts for good, not evil. Everything in the Bible is accurate, and it tells us how to learn, but it doesn’t limit what we learn. What we learn will confirm to the Bible because God told us the truth about how He made the world.

    People who aren’t trained and licensed really need to keep out of the arena of therapy. The licensure matters; attorneys, doctors, and CPAs get to sign off on all sorts of nonsense that has huge repercussions, with little oversight, because the threat of having your license suspended is that strong. It’s not “just” a doctor’s signature on a prescription or “just” an attorney signature on a subpoena; it is a professional stating that they will give up their ability to earn a living if they have misused this power.

    I’m not sure how you can really perform therapy without that. Everything that makes therapy work – which is a safe place for the person receiving therapy – goes out the window when there is no oversight.

    On that vein, a counselor (Ph.D. or LCSW) who cannot treat, say, a psychiatric condition (requires an MD) will refer to another specialist. They have areas that they don’t touch because even if a LCSW could handle eating disorders, they don’t have that particular knowledge. Doctors and lawyers do this too: an aviation lawyer will send you a referral for a family law attorney, not handle it herself. It’s that pesky “license” thing again.

    What does a Biblical counselor do if the subject is beyond his expertise, the person needs medication, or even if EMDR would be helpful? Are they obligated to do continuing education, maintain insurance, and report to a governing body?

    Sorry if this is long, but “not having a license” isn’t a small matter.

    • exwifeofasexaddict

      “What does a Biblical counselor do if the subject is beyond his expertise, the person needs medication, or even if EMDR would be helpful? Are they obligated to do continuing education, maintain insurance, and report to a governing body?”

      Well, nothing is beyond a “biblical counselor’s” expertise, because everything they need to know is in the Bible. And EMDR is never needed because it’s probably from the devil. And it isn’t in the Bible. So.

      I’m being sarcastic, but some of these folks really do think like that. It’s unbelievable levels of hubris.

    • Marie

      Everything you said! Yes!

      This here:

      “It’s not “just” a doctor’s signature on a prescription or “just” an attorney signature on a subpoena; it is a professional stating that they will give up their ability to earn a living if they have misused this power.”

      My psychologist answers to a psychologist over them and they will lose their license of there is mispractice.
      They have to stay up to date to keep their license and they are constantly learning.

      Biblical counseling for mental illness is truly the “snake oil” of prescriptions

  13. Nessie

    In thinking on the premise that biblical counselors seek to help the counselees see where they have sinned, I thought about Job and his friends. In that sense, after the time of wordless mourning, they acted as biblical counselors and sought to “help” him see how he brought such calamities upon himself. I think they truly felt they were helping him by trying to keep more bad things from happening to him in future (or perhaps were more motivated/afraid that they might be damaged by associating with a man for whom so much had gone wrong?) by helping him see how he had brought it upon himself.

    I think there are plenty of biblical counselors that have a good heart and good intuition that guides them well- but as you explained, they do not have the training nor checks and balances licensed professionals have. Good intentions do not mean a good- nor even biblical- outcome. Besides, “biblical” does not necessarily equate godly. We can learn much about how to deceive someone using satan’s techniques in Eden, in Jesus’ time in the wilderness, etc., none of which are of Jesus.

  14. Marie

    As someone with c-PTSD, major depressive disorder, OCD, and Anxiety disorder, biblical counseling would not cut it for me.

    My upbringing and the insidious emotional, psychological & “justified-cuz-were-christians” physical abuse made for a human who didn’t know how to take care of myself and now has layers upon layers of trauma.
    Biblical counselors simply are not trained nor trauma informed to be giving life-altering advice to people.

    To sit down when I was burnout and in deep depression across from someone and be told it was my sin that was the problem would have pushed me over the edge.
    I was already suicidal.

    The real problem was so much more involved, and complicated, going back to childhood, that it took completely stepping away from abusive unsafe places and learning to live within my window of tolerance again.

    The arrogance of Christian’s to live with such a backwords outdated mindset about our brains and how they work is unreal.

    I think much is wrong with the church but the fracture of the soul, body, and spirit is one of the things that contributes to this very backwards and harmful thinking that the Bible cures all.
    (except of course its somehow still okay to go to the doctor, but shhhhh let’s not think about that. *insert gentle eye roll here*)

    Funnily enough, the average christian is okay relying on science for their medical needs. Perhaps they should apply their twisted logic to this area as well?
    Pray away the cancer?
    Trust God to remove tumors?
    Goodness gracious, it’s a wonder they even deign to go to a dentist.

    Mental illness has physical symptoms. Physical illness have mental symptoms. All intertwined parts of one body.
    Praying will not in and of itself fix the chemical imbalances and trauma responses in my brain.

    I dunno, a long ramble pondering but I feel very strongly on this subject 😂

  15. anxious2nothing

    I could write a book over the past 3 decades of what Biblical counseling has done to my life. I was married not once, but twice to a very covert emotionally, spiritually and sexually abusive man. The trauma started to affect my health, not to mention my emotional state. I am in the process of divorcing him a second time and I will not allow the church to shame and guilt me into ever going back to him again! I always looked to pastors and other spiritual leaders for help. I read all the latest and greatest evangelical marriage books I could get my hands on and even lead studies for woman, hoping I could fix my marriage by being better. I have since thrown them all away. I never read ‘Love and Respect’, because that title sent shivers up my spine. My first thought after reading that title, don’t we both desire that? Now I am reading healthier christian authors who teach me about a loving creator who loves me. Shelia is one of those wonderful people I am learning so much from! This has been very healing, but I have a long way to go. Going through my divorce now and coming forward with the abuse, the church has swept me aside and embraced my abuser. I now look back on all my years of counseling and see where the work load was always placed on my shoulders (I have been counseled by more then 10 people in the evangelical church. No one ever saw the abuse, so I thought I was broken). I was the problem and never held my husband accountable for anything. Even his porn use was my fault (I made pictures and tapes for my husband out of obligation to his desires). I was told that I should be flattered that he lusted after me. That his jealousy was warranted because I was so pretty. All the men lusting after me were somehow my fault. Even talking to a man was flirting, so I became very insecure in public. I did not use make up or do my hair, yet they still lusted after me I was told, so my husbands jealousy was acceptable (he even took a gun and threatened one of my coworkers who was able to talk him out of killing him). I quit my job so he could protect me at home. I was told to cleave to my man. I not only carried my sin and shame, but my husbands as well. My husband always acted like a man who was over powered by this woman while at church (I have a strong presence). He would act like a feeble man who had to defer to his wife. At home, that was so different. Counselors heaped me with things to do to make him happy. He was never happy. If only I prayed harder. I prayed so hard I thought I would cry tears of blood. Then after praying, my marriage was getting worse and more lonely, I thought God did not love me. My prayers turned into petitions for death, which I was not spiritually relying on God anymore. Seeking help from church is horrific and I have been yelled at, shamed and pushed aside. My husband has been prayed over, welcomed and given a shoulder to cry on. Even more since I filed for divorce. They see him as an innocent victim of an out spoken woman who needs to get back into her position as a slave to do this mans biding. After all, he needs sex, meals and a mother to tend to his home. What else was I made for? A lot more than that!!!! I am no longer burying the life that God entrusted to me to glorify him with. I am free from the bondage of my marriage and the church. I can not step foot in a church anymore. My God is bigger and is not abusive! I have a great counselor and I am apart of an online support group for woman in emotionally and spiritually abusive marriages. No church could ever see the truth! God did answer my prayers and pulled me out of darkness into the light!

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      I’m so glad you’re safe now! And I’m so sorry for what you endured, and even more sorry that people, in the name of Christ, told you it was okay.


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