On Christian Counselors Operating from Non-Christian Worldviews

I have a high respect for Christian counselors, especially when they are offering truly Godly advice to those in their care. What concerns me is when they start giving advice that is based upon non-Christian worldviews, and unfortunately it happens much too often. Recently I received an email from New Man Magazine. In the email newsletter it had a link to an article on dealing with lustful thoughts. Here is what I read on how to deal with inappropriate sexual thoughts…

“Unfortunately, many men have conditioned themselves in adolescence with airbrushed, fantasy babes who only look like real people. If you are lusting and objectifying women throughout the day, then you are more likely to also struggle in this area in the bedroom. You need to recondition your brain.

You can actually redirect your brain’s chemical pathways by placing a rubber band on your wrist and snapping it every time you objectify a woman. This way, you’ll stop “rewarding” your brain for lusting, and it will begin to connect the lustful thoughts with the “ouch” pain rather than pleasure. In my many years of counseling men in this area, I’ve seen this exercise successfully shut down more than 80 percent of lustful thoughts or fantasies within one month! “

What is disturbing about this answer is that it seems to be largely based on behaviorism, which is a theory that is built off of a naturalistic worldview, and at its core is anti-Christian. We are more than responses to stimuli, and the sinful nature will never be subdued by mere physiological conditioning. And even if it could, how do we know that the sexual thoughts mixed with pain would not begin to be linked, thus making the person slightly masochistic. Sin is much deeper than “brain chemical pathways,” and to treat it as such is a denial of Biblical truth, even if that denial is an unconscious one. If you are struggling with inappropriate sexual thoughts and this is the bulk of the response you receive, prepare to be disappointed.

Now I am not making a blanket judgment upon everything this counselor has written, especially since this is the only thing I’ve read from him. Nor do I think that this author would take it as far as I have. And I’m not even saying that behavior can’t be changed by linking it to something unpleasant. I am simply stating that speaking of it in entirely behovioristic terms is to operate from a non-Christian worldview. Our thoughts and desires are not merely physiological but spiritual.

We must be sure, in whichever discipline we are working to think like Christians and be a bit more careful with the answers we give. Because trying to promote Godly truth by leaning on worldviews, even mildly, that were built upon the suppression of His truth is like trying to lose weight by over-eating.

You can read the entire article here

Doug

4 thoughts on “On Christian Counselors Operating from Non-Christian Worldviews

  1. Wow. That “advice” was a great way to stifle INDWELLING sin.

    NOT.

    I believe it was Jesus who told us to cut off, pluck out, etc. whatever is the root cause of our sin. If that be the case, then we must start with the condition of our hearts, as they’re still dabbled with the residue of indwelling sin. No amount of outward self-flagellation, albeit with the best of intentions and strictest severity, will ever mortify the flesh. Just ask Luther.

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  2. Doug,

    I couldn’t agree with your assessment more.

    I always thought it odd that a discipline that attempts to plumb the mysteries of the human heart could be valid if based on a worldview that relegates the mind to chemical/electrical activity in the brain. The big white elephant in the room that no one talks about when talking about atheistic psychology is that without the “Theos” there is no explanation of the the “psyche” we would be trying to gain true knowledge of.

    I am sure I’ll come under fire for bringing it up as many of my associates are psychologists or sociologists (what Kreeft calls psychology’s ugly kid sister). But I’m not knocking all attempts to sound the human heart, just the ones that do it absent the one who alone can know the heart. Christian psychology is great when it’s Christian.

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  3. Doug,
    If the counselor suggested the man raise his hands in an effort to remind himself of God’s presence and glory, would you still say this was behaviorism?Just because a method is behavioral doesn’t mean its rooted in Behaviorism. If God made the human brain to respond to stimuli and even form patterned behavior from consistent stimuli then why should we attribute His work to humanism?

    I don’t understand why a non Christian can observe a characteristic of God’s creation and then that characteristic is automatically viewed as non Christian when God made it.

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  4. Mark,

    Thanks for the question and it is a good one. I figured sooner or later someone was going to come along and make me clarify this.

    You asked “If the counselor suggested the man raise his hands in an effort to remind himself of God’s presence and glory, would you still say this was behaviorism?”

    My answer would be no, because the couselor is asking the man to raise his hand to remind himself of God’s presence not merely redirect his brain’s chemical pathways. In your illustration reason and rationallity is taking place which is not merely physiological. In other words it involves the mind not merely the brain.

    This is a bit difficult to articulate because I actually think that snapping a rubberband around their wrists may actually help some guys, but it will be because it reminds us and causes us to think about the sinfulness of what we are doing, not merely because it will redirect our brain chemical pathways.

    If the stimuli works I do not believe it will be because of non-rational brain chemical redirection. So in this case the non-Christian has not observed a characteristic of God’s creation. He has made up a theory based off his naturalism and has misinterpreted the observation and when we as Christian use his misinterpetation we are operating from a non-Christian worldview.

    Hope this helps you see my reasoning,

    Doug

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