10 Reasons Christian couples should NOT see marriage counselors

Reasons not to see a marriage counselor? I know it sounds crazy by our modern understanding of marriage. If marriage is a partnership of equals and in any partnership there will be disagreements why would counseling ever not be a good idea?

In an article from GotQuestions.com (http://www.gotquestions.org/Christian-marriage-counseling.html) they list these 10 reasons that Christian couples should seek marriage counseling:

1. Inability to resolve conflict in a healthy way.
2. One partner dominating the relationship so that the needs of the other are not met.
3. Inability to compromise.
4. Either partner stepping outside the marriage to “fix” the problems.
5. Breakdown in communication.
6. Confusion about the roles of each spouse in the marriage.
7. Pornography.
8. Deceit.
9. Disagreement about parenting styles.
10. Addictions.

These are actually NOT reasons for a Christian couple to seek marriage counseling. But to understand why these are not reasons to seek couples counseling we first need to understand four principles regarding Biblical marriage.

Four Biblical principles that should be considered before marriage counseling is pursued

The first principle of Biblical Marriage

The wife is to submit to her husband as her head in everything(Ephesians 5:23-24)

The second principle of Biblical Marriage

The wife is to reverence her husband as her master (Ephesians 5:33 & I Peter 3:5-6)

The third principle of Biblical Marriage

A husband is to love his wife as Christ loves his Church and as he loves his own body (Ephesians 5:25-31 & 33)

The fourth principle of Biblical Marriage

A husband is to know and honor his wife (I Peter 3:7)

So as we can clearly see from the Scriptures – marriage as God designed it is not a partnership of equals but it is instead a patriarchy (male lead hierarchy).

Some people might ask – why are the first two principles referring to women submitting to and reverencing their husbands?

I address a woman’s obligation to submit to and reverence her husband first because in the Bible God always addresses those under authority to obey and respect their authority first. Then God addresses those in authority and their treatment of those under their authority. So these principles are actually in the Biblical order that God addresses husbands and wives.

Biblical Principles regarding counseling

In my guide “When should a Christian couple seek a marriage counselor?” I discuss from a Biblical perspective the pros and cons of modern marriage counseling.

In that guide I discuss that while the Bible exhorts us to seek wise counsel, it also tells us that it unwise to allow ourselves to either hear counsel that undermines God’s law and his design of marriage or even if that counsel is wise if it is given in the wrong venue then it can still be wrong.

We need make sure that both WHAT counsel we receive and HOW we receive are right.

For instance there are things that a man needs to learn from another man in private about how to properly treat his wife and children. But it would be inappropriate in most cases for a man to be being corrected by another man in front of his wife and children. It undermines his Biblical authority over them, even if the advice is Biblically based. One of the few cases where it would be ok for a man to be corrected and stopped in front his wife and children is if he were physically abusing them.

See my post “When should a Christian couple seek a marriage counselor?” for more guidelines on when Christian couples should actually seek counseling and how they should seek it in various scenarios.

Now we will apply these Biblical principles about marriage and counsel to GotQuestions.com’s list.

Application of Biblical principles regarding marriage and counseling to GotQuestions.com’s 10 reasons for marriage counseling

“1. Inability to resolve conflict in a healthy way.”

Ok if this has to do with physical abuse by either spouse then I would agree the counseling needs to be sought and in some cases the civil authorities may need to be involved.   But often this issue of resolving conflict in a “healthy way” refers to couples yelling at one another.

A husband should not be yelling at his wife all the time, while there may be some cause for husband to raise his voice to his wife if she acting in a rebellious way. But even if a husband does yell at his wife more than he should – this is not something for a marriage counselor to solve. This is not something where a wife gets to run to a counselor and say “he yells at me too much”. He is her authority, she is to reverence him, obey him and serve him as his wife despite his flaws. This does not mean she cannot bring her concerns to him gently – but there is no cause for a third party in the form of a marriage counselor to come in and undermine his spiritual authority.

“2. One partner dominating the relationship so that the needs of the other are not met.”

Ok let’s be honest – they are prettying much targeting men with this “dominating the relationship” comment.

But first what does “dominate” mean?

These are some definitions of “dominate” as given by Webster’s online dictionary:

“rule or control”

“to exert the supreme determining or guiding influence on”

“to have or exert mastery, control, or preeminence”

“to occupy a more elevated or superior position”

Did we not just see in the Scriptures that the husband is the wife’s head and she is to regard him as her master in all things? Is the husband not to occupy the superior position in marriage if he is to follow God’s design and model for marriage?

So a man “dominating” this marriage in this regard is not only not wrong, but it commanded by God.

But if by dominating that means he is selfish and cares nothing about meeting his wife’s needs that God has commanded him to do then this is indeed a problem.

God defines what a wife’s needs are and how a husband must meet them. He must provide food, clothing, shelter and sex to his wife. He must know her (talk to her and spend time with her) and honor her position as his wife. But how he goes about these tasks is at HIS discretion. It is not the place of the wife to seek out a marriage counselor for her husband’s failures in these types of things.

“3. Inability to compromise.”

What compromise? The husband is to be the decider and the wife is to be the follower. A husband is to hear his wife’s concerns about various issues but ultimately the decisions are his to make whether it be in what church they attend, financial areas, what they teach their children regarding morality and the disciplining of the children and other areas of their marriage.

“4. Either partner stepping outside the marriage to “fix” the problems.”

If this is referring to a wife bad mouthing her husband or husband bad mouthing his wife to others then yes this is wrong – but again this is something that can and should be handled by the couple themselves.

“5. Breakdown in communication.”

Yes couples need to talk (I Peter 3:7 husbands need to know their wives, and Titus 2:4 wives are to show affection for their husbands).

Let’s first tackle the silent husband. If the husband is not talking to his wife this usually is for one of two reasons. The first has to do with her behavior regarding issues such as sexual neglect, neglect of her home, neglect of her children or disrespectful speech or behavior. The second reasons husbands may be silent is simply a selfish neglect toward their wife.

In either case a husband does not have the right to give his wife the silent treatment but neither does his wife have the right to seek out a marriage counselor in order to “tell on him” for his neglect. She needs to work within the marriage to find ways to encourage him to talk to her and to continue loving him, respecting him and submitting to him despite his neglect in this area.

But what about the silent wife? A wife giving her husband the silent treatment is more than just neglect to her duty to be affectionate toward him. It is an act of rebellion. It does not call for marriage counseling. It calls for Biblical discipline by her husband.

“6. Confusion about the roles of each spouse in the marriage.”

What confusion? The Bible is clear – the husband is the head of the wife and the wife is to submit to her husband in everything. The husband is to lead, provide and protect and the wife is to be the keeper of his home and bear and care for his children. No confusion, no counseling needed. Only an acceptance of the four Biblical principles of marriage that I outlined is required.

“7. Pornography.”

Again let’s not kid ourselves – this targeted at men. Your husband looking at a picture of a naked woman may be offensive to you but again what Biblical right do you have to go and “tell” on your husband to a counselor (or anybody else for that matter)? Is he accountable to you or is he accountable to God?

“8. Deceit.”

If a wife hides things from her husband say in regard to spending or is secretly undermining his directions for the children this is a sin against his authority as she is accountable to him. But he should not take her to marriage counselor over this, but rather he should exercise Biblical discipline toward her (e.g. cut up her credit cards).

If a husband hides things from his wife we must really look at what he is hiding. If he is hiding an affair or the fact that he is a drug dealer then these extreme situations would warrant a wife seeking outside help from his authorities in the church or civil government depending on what it was. But other than these big ticket items if he is hiding spending or hiding other things from her – HE is not accountable to her. He is her authority, she is not his.

“9. Disagreement about parenting styles.”

Yes husband and wives are going to disagree about parenting styles. The husband should hear his wife and truly consider her position. But at the end of the discussion it is ultimately his decision as to what parenting style will be applied. The Bible does not allow for a wife to drag her husband to a marriage counselor to convince him that her style is the better one to use.

“10. Addictions.”

A drug addiction or alcohol addiction may be a reason for a wife to seek help from her husband’s authorities as these can directly affect the safety of her and her children. A gambling addiction may be a reason to seek outside help IF this addiction is causing the family not to have food or shelter which a husband is required to provide.

But other than these types of addictions if a husband is say “addicted” his job, to watching sports, watching regular movies, watching porn on his computer or playing video games it is not the place of a wife to seek outside help for these things for her husband. Remember she is not responsible for him and his behavior. Only those things which can cause a real danger to the family or are cause for Biblical divorce would allow a wife to seek outside help.

Conclusion

As we can see in most cases except for extreme conditions none of these 10 reasons for seeking couples counseling would be Biblically valid when we apply the four principles of Biblical marriage to these situations.

Five Reasons Josh Duggar and Other Christian men fall into sexual immorality

JoshDuggar2

In my first post on Josh Duggar and his sexually immoral behavior, we talked about how God can forgive him and restore him if he has truly confessed his sin and sought the Lord’s forgiveness. We as the body of Christ need to be ready to receive him. In this post though I want to go back and look at what may have been the sources for Josh Duggar’s wrong decisions and ultimately sinful behavior.

This is in NO WAY meant as a judgment on Josh Duggar – God is his judge I am not.   I think if you read this post in its entirety you will see I am not approaching this in some “holier than thou” attitude, but rather I am approaching this with the attitude that all of us a Christian men could fall into this sin if we don’t learn from the mistakes of Josh Duggar.

God hold’s every person accountable for the decisions they make, even if those decisions may have been influenced by the actions or teachings of others. Having said that – nothing happens in a vacuum and I want to look at some things that may have influenced Josh Duggar’s wrong thought processes that ultimately lead him into the sinful situation in which he found himself.

Josh Duggar’s parents had a huge impact on his thought processes about sex

It is good and right for the Duggars and other Christians to stand up for marriage, and to stand against things that God calls immoral like sex outside of marriage and gay marriage. It is also good for Christian parents to try and protect their children from having sex outside of marriage by making sure when they are courting or dating that there are always other people around.

But where the Duggars and so many other Christians fail their children is in the fact that they teach their children to suppress their God given sexuality, rather than channel it in healthy ways that do not violate God’s law.

I use this illustration a lot. Let’s say you have a river running through the middle of a small town. Sometimes when you have bad rains, or in high water years it spills over into the town causing damage to the surrounding structures.

You could build some river walls along the river to the highest height it might go or perhaps you could even build a dam further upstream to control the water level of the river running through your town. But even a dam has to have release valves or eventually the water will overflow the damn and destroy the town.

The water is symbolic of our sexuality. The sea walls and the dam are symbolic of God’s law. Our sexuality is like water, it is a wonderful gift from God. But just as water can be a blessing in measured amounts but a curse when it is uncontrolled, so too our sexuality can be a blessing when channeled, but a curse when it is unbridled. God’s laws about how we may exercise our sexuality are for our own protection and also to fulfill his spiritual and temporal purposes for sex.

I realize both men and women come to sexuality from different positions, but for this conversation we are going to tackle this from the perspective of male sexuality.

As Christian parents we should never tell our sons that they are wrong for having sexual thoughts about girls or wondering what girls look like naked. This is NOT part of their sin nature, but rather by the design of God.

We should not be discouraging our sons from using the natural release valve that God has given them for their sexuality – which is masturbation. Just like that dam needs to release pressure, so too young people need to release sexual tension through masturbation.

There is absolutely no scriptural prohibition against masturbation and contrary to popular belief the Bible is not silent on masturbation. The Bible actually recognizes that masturbation will need to occur at certain points and it regulates the cleanup of masturbation in the cleanliness laws of Israel.   Check out Leviticus 15:16 – 18 where the first part is talking about a man having an emission of semen (and it’s not limited to a nocturnal emission as in Deuteronomy 23:10), then it talks about a man having an emission of semen in the act of sexual intercourse as a separate act.

Besides the fact that there is really no difference between nocturnal emissions and masturbation. A man has a nocturnal emission when he sleeps and has sexual dream. Many Christian’s have falsely taught that nocturnal emissions happen with no sexual dreaming and that is patently false. We as men will dream sexual thoughts whether we want to or not – it is by the design of God.

Josh Duggar like many Christian young people today was taught that he had to suppress his sexuality until he was married, rather than channeling it healthy ways such as masturbation. When people suppress their emotions eventually they end up acting on them in unhealthy ways and sometimes sinful ways. It no different when it comes to someone attempting to suppress their sexuality – eventually they will end up acting on it in unhealthy and sinful ways.

What will Josh be taught in rehab?

Josh Duggar has checked himself into a Reformers Unanimous Christian facility. This is actually a nationwide program that many churches use to help people deal with all types of addictions – including sexual addiction. But I am not confident that this program will work Josh, as it has not always worked for other men. I am familiar with some of their teachings as some of the Churches in the area I live host some of their programs.

This is what Josh Duggar will be taught in this program:

“If you look at any woman beside your wife and find yourself becoming aroused by her beauty or you begin to wonder what she looks like naked you need to quickly turn away or the pleasure you receive from looking at her becomes a sinful and lustful thought.

If you find yourself having any sexual imagination or sexual fantasy about any other woman than your wife you are having lustful thoughts – you need to immediately confess that sin to God and turn from those thoughts.”

Josh will be taught that God’s original intention for man in the Garden of Eden was for him to only have sexual thoughts toward a woman once he was married to her. He will be taught that God originally designed men to have a monogamous sexual nature and that their sexual desire was intended to be focused on one woman for the entirety of their lives.

He will be taught that because sin entered the world – man’s sexual nature was corrupted from a monogamous nature into a polygamous nature. He will be taught that it is the corruption of his sinful nature that causes him to desire to look at any other woman, or have sexual fantasies about any other woman than his wife.

These are two common verse of Scripture that are used in these types of Christian sexual addiction programs:

“Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery: But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.” – Matthew 5:27-28 (KJV)

“But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.” – James 1:14-15 (KJV)

Josh will be taught that the root of his problem was his own lustful desire to look at other women and take pleasure from their feminine form. Then that lead to him having sexual fantasies. His sexual fantasies then lead to him going online looking to meet up with women to have sex and eventually he found some women and had sex with them.

He will be taught that the root of all his sin was him not learning to suppress his sinful desire to look at any other woman but his wife.

Lust is not sexual arousal or sexual fantasy

The first mistake that almost every Church and Christian sexual recovery program makes is in teaching an unbiblical (yet traditional) definition of lust. They define lust as a man having sexual thoughts about a woman, instead of the letting the Bible define what it is. In fact in most Christian Churches and sexual recovery programs they will give every verse on lust except this one:

“What shall we say then? Is the law sin? God forbid. Nay, I had not known sin, but by the law: for I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet.” – Romans 7:7 (KJV)

This verse is conveniently left out, because the Church wants to make lust into a separate category than covetousness. Covetousness is the desire to actually take possession of something or someone that you have not right to possess. God addresses this in the Ten Commandments:

“Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbour’s.” – Exodus 20:10 (KJV)

The Pharisees only looked at outward actions and not the thoughts of the heart that proceeded those actions.   This is why Christ was reminding them that covetous thoughts can proceed adultery, just as in other passages Christ shows that hateful thoughts can proceed murder. God does not just condemn sinful actions – he condemns the sinful thoughts that may or may not proceed sinful actions.

You can’t fight sexual addiction without targeting the real enemy

So where these Christian programs often fail, and even many secular programs fail is in attacking the wrong source of sexual sin.

Make no mistake, sexual addiction and sexual promiscuity are problems that we must tackle as Christians.

But the enemy is NOT our sexuality, but rather it is our addictive and compulsive behavior.

We don’t tell food addicts that food is their enemy, but rather their addictive and compulsive behavior toward food and the same concept applies to our God given sexuality.

Men have visual and polygynous sexual natures whether we want to admit it or not

Josh Duggar like many other men has a very high sex drive and natural need for variety. And by variety I mean a variety of women.

“the average man’s brain is sexually stimulated by visual cues and is built for variety…

Using functional MRI scans, researchers examined the brains of young men as they looked at pictures of beautiful women. They found that feminine beauty affects a man’s brain at a very primal level – similar to what a hungry person gets from a good meal or addict gets from a fix. One of the researchers said, “This is hard core circuitry. This is not a conditioned response.” Another concluded, “Men apparently cannot do anything about their pleasurable feelings [in the presence of beauty]”

Dr. Walt Larimore, MD – pg. 99 “His Brain, Her Brain”

Dr. Walt Lairmore (a Christian physician) stopped short of coming to the conclusion that we know is true from looking at the Bible as well as men from a mental and physical perspective. Men are wired to seek out a variety of women, men are wired to be polygynous (to be a husband to multiple wives).

But because the Roman Empire passed laws that over several centuries greatly diminished the practice of polygamy and enshrined monogamous marriage in Western culture we have the situation where we force polygynous men into monogamous marriages.

In essence when we ask a man to vow to only love one woman, and only have sex with one woman we are asking him to vow to suppress his natural God given desire to have multiple wives. Most men except for the few that have the gift of celibacy have polygynous natures whether they consciously realize it or not.

Some Christian husbands will take offense at what I just said and say “I only love my wife and I have and have never had any desire to take another wife”. But the truth is in most cases these husbands are simply lying to themselves and they have spent so many years telling themselves this because this is what their church and the female side of our society expects from men.

Other Christian men recognize their polygynous desires but they dismiss these desires as a corruption of their God given male nature – in essence they are convinced this is part of their sinful nature or they are trained to by Christian sexual recovery programs like the one Josh Duggar is currently attending to believe this. So they spend their entire lives asking God to forgive them anytime they are aroused by another woman or wonder what another woman beside their wife looks like naked. Every time they have a sexual fantasy or dream they are asking God to forgive them, in essence they live in a perpetual state of war not with their sinful nature, but with their God given sexual nature.

Five reasons Josh Duggar could have fell into sexual immorality

Josh Duggar is not the first Christian husband to watch porn and masturbate and then get on dating sites and finally meet up with women to have sex. To say this same scenario has occurred with thousands of other men or even more would be an understatement.

Here are five reasons Josh Duggar and so many others Christian husbands fall into this type of sexual immorality.

They allowed their sexuality to dominate and overpower their lives, rather than controlling and channeling their sexuality within the bounds of God’s law and design.

“All things are lawful unto me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any.” – I Corinthians 6:12 (KJV)

Many Christian men rather than controlling and channeling their God given male sexuality – have allowed it to overpower them and control their life. The results of unbridled and uncontrolled sexuality are on display before us in what happened to Josh Duggar.

They allowed their normal visual sexual arousal and imagination to turn into covetousness

Again there is not one passage of the Bible that condemns a man’s visual arousal or sexual imagination. Not one. But what can happen is men can allow that natural visual arousal and imagination to turn into covetous thoughts as we see happened with Josh Duggar.

They allowed their faulty view of their own sexuality to rationalize their sin

I can’t tell you how often I get accused by my fellow conservative Christians of rationalizing sin because of my teachings (based on the Bible) about polygamy, lust and sexuality. But the real rationalizing of sexual sin goes something like this.

Because most Christian Churches and sexual addiction programs teach that a man is committing mental adultery by watching porn or being sexually aroused by any kind of female imagery many Christian men rationalize – “If I am already committing adultery by viewing porn, I might as well do the real thing and have sex with an actual woman instead of just imagining it”.

So in essence the false interpretation of Matthew 5:28 that they have been taught actually promotes sin rather than discouraging it. Christ was saying in Matthew 5:28 if a man looks on a woman “to lust after her” – to covet her (to think about how he would might take possession of her) then he has committed adultery with her in his heart. He was not condemning sexual arousal and sexual imagination as these are part of his natural design of male sexuality.

They allowed their natural polygynous nature to be corrupted into a promiscuous nature

As I mentioned previously God has created men as naturally polygynous creatures, but our sin nature wants to corrupt our God given polygynous nature into a promiscuous nature.

Even in the ancient times of the Bible not every man was able to act on his polygynous nature. For the most part only wealthier men were able to act on their polygynous natures by having more than one wife. Many less wealthy men were fortunate if they could have even one wife. Often poor men or men that were slaves were not able to have wives at all.

But what happens often is when men find themselves frustrated by not being able to find a wife, or even men that have wives desiring more wives they turn to promiscuous activities like going to prostitutes or whorish women.

Because their wives have sexually denied them

Some men because their wives sexually deny, or severely restrict how often or what ways they may have sex feel justified in seeking sex with other women. In their hurt and frustration they act out in sinful ways. But one sin never justifies another. Just as a woman does not have the right to deny her husband sex because of sinful things he might be doing, in the same way a husband does not have the right to go out and have sex with other women because his wife is sexually denying him or not fully giving herself sexually to him. We don’t know if Josh’s wife was sexually denying him, but even she was this does not justify him going out and having sex with other women.

So what is the answer for Christian men like Josh Duggar?

Let me just reiterate when I say “Christian men like Josh Duggar” I am not singling him out in any way trying to say he is some rare case – the only difference is that he was public figure.   All of us as Christian men should have the sixteenth century reformer John Bradford’s attitude toward Josh Duggar’s sin – “there but for the grace of God go I”.

Here are six ways we as Christian men can avoid falling into the same sexual immorality that Josh Duggar did:

We must hide God’s Word in our heart

“Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee.” – Psalm 119:11 (KJV)

We can’t distinguish between our sinful nature and the nature God designed us with without knowing God’s Word. God’s Word is the “Cannon” or measure by which we must judge our actions.

We must take every thought captive to Christ

“Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;” – II Corinthians 10:5 (KJV)

Any thought that we have we run through the filter of Christ and his Word.   Oh and for those who always ask me “Would Christ allow himself to have sexual thoughts about a woman” – Christ had the gift of celibacy rather than the gift of sexuality. It would have gone against his mission from God to be married (despite conspiracy theories to the contrary).

Accept our male sexual nature

As Christian men we must accept our male nature (including our sexual nature) as God designed it. Our fight is against our sin nature, not our male nature.

We must fight against sexual excess

We cannot allow ourselves to be over-powered by our own male sexuality.  Satan wants to take a good thing God created – our sexuality – and turn it against us to destroy our families and our lives. We should not suppress our sexuality, but at the same time we must channel it to experience it within the bounds of God’s law.

We must fight against covetousness

We must fight against our flesh that wants to take our normal sexual desires, our visual sexual arousal and our imagination(all which are gifts from God) and turn them into covetous thoughts which eventually could lead us into fornication or adultery.

We must depend on God’s strength

We cannot fight against the sinful desires of flesh in our own strength or will power we can only fight our flesh with the help of the power of God.

“But be not thou far from me, O Lord: O my strength, haste thee to help me.” – Psalm 22:19 (KJV)

Josh Duggar PhotoSource: https://www.flickr.com/photos/96024429@N00/17781684170/in/photostream/

JimBob and Michelle Duggar PhotoSource: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/3/3c/Jim_Bob_%26_Michelle_Duggar.jpg