A Christian Organization, called G.R.A.C.E. [Godly Response To Abuse In The Christian Environment] finished their long-awaited Review of allegations from sexually-abused students at Bob Jones University [Greenville, SC].
The allegations [50 / 60 of them] date back to the 1960’s and seem to be focused on the response of Faculty Members, when presented by a student with either a case of sexual abuse prior to enrolling or while enrolled. The Report indicates a pattern of ‘counsel’ that was more detrimental than reparative: Students who were made to feel it was their fault; Students who were apparently encouraged NOT to report them as crimes; Students who were made to feel less than acceptable, in the larger Christian community.
The Report cited the pervasive philosophy of the school, which is reported to be ‘harmful’ to sexual abuse victims. A philosophy largely laid at the feet of a previous President, Dr. Bob Jones III. Several men were named as those who’s material should be removed from the school. In addition, G.R.A.C.E. recommends BJU reimburse students who felt they had to leave the school, for whatever it cost them to finish their degree program.
There will be an undercurrent of bias among the more loyal alumni, given that G.R.A.C.E. is founded by a grandson of Billy Graham. As a student, Billy Graham left BJU over a the school’s more strident fundamentalism. Fundamentalists have a reputation of being more ‘black-and-white’ than understanding. A reputation well-earned by many of the more vocal proponents, but not necessarily a philosophy shared by all who consider themselves fundamentalists.
It sounds like a University setting that has not kept pace with contemporary philosophies regarding sin and counseling. Of course, this is generally why parents send their children there. The world has evolved very much downward, over the last 50 years or so, nowhere more than in the realm of psychology and counseling. Everyone has a ‘Mental Disorder,’ and Feelings are more important than Responsibilities.
That being said, the School is wrong! The implication in the Report is that counselors at the school dealt with students as people who had broken the rules, not as victims of a crime. Case In Point: If a woman [or, these days, a man] is raped, the first thing a counselor does is tell them to report it as a crime! No Counselor can sit and listen to someone admit to a crime without being an accessory [after the fact] to that crime. If the victim doesn’t do so, in a reasonable time-frame, YOU DO! In the same way, No Counselor should be in a position of excusing the reality of criminal behavior, especially in the mind of one who has been the victim. That sort of counseling is doomed before it starts.
On The Other Hand: The world has changed! Sex has become normalized as recreation. Boys and girls are much more comfortable with overt sexual stimulation, in their everyday life. Fashions reflect this reality. Conversations reflect this reality. Behaviors reflect this reality. Young people are genuinely shocked when the ‘game’ gets real…especially girls. Our un-wed pregnancy rates speak for themselves, not to mention the rise in all sorts of abortive pills, devices and surgical techniques.
Bob Jones University has taken a lot of criticism, over the years, for their Social Standards. Boys and Girls were not to be alone, together, on campus; not permitted to be within 6 inches of each other when together, nor were they to hold hands, nor touch any part of each other’s bodies. Archaic? No! Safe!!! The Bible understands human nature to be depraved, sinful, dangerous. These rules reflected that evaluation and most of the graduates appreciated it….later.
But, times change. The culture has changed. Young people’s mores have changed. Parents have changed. It is rare to see a parent who is actively protecting their child against the dangers of societal decadence. We let our children do whatever they want [within some boundaries] and are then shocked when something happens. We communicate an acceptance of the world’s philosophy and are shocked when our children accept it.
Here’s The Sage Advice: “What You Allow In Moderation, Your Children Will Excuse In Excess!”
The Church [indeed The Christian Community] has transferred their responsibility to help people with social and behavior problems, to the world. The world is happy to pick up that slack, using it as another tool to re-craft our society and make us dependent upon medications or therapies. The reality is that a person can have the best [read: most expensive] professional therapy in the world, or simply share with a neighbor, or do nothing, and statistically the result will be largely the same.
The G.R.A.C.E. Report uses the words ‘hurtful,’ ‘insensitive,’ ‘abuse,’ ‘victim,’ and other often useful terms to describe what these women went through. However, there is danger in being too mushy and squishy. People who have been misused need others who are strong, not down in the hole with them. People who do counseling need to avoid the worldly idea that everyone is a victim. You may have been victimized, but you are NOT a victim! G.R.A.C.E. recommends a Memorial on campus to all who have suffered. This is a little Over The Top!
So, am I like those at Bob Jones? No! If anything, I am too sympathetic. I struggle with it all the time. People who are hurting need support, not a warm puppy. They need positive, practical, workable steps to get back on their feet, so to speak. They need someone standing on firm ground with a life-preserver, not someone in the pool thrashing around just like them…to make them feel understood.
BJU will get this straightened out, because…. Well, because they WANT TO. And all these victims will get their lives straightened out too! How? Because they WANT TO. Or Not! They need to know that God has The Answers to their questions and solutions to their problems. Those answers start Inside, where they hurt the most, but they also extend to the Outside where things can be seen and handled. I wish them God Speed!
A LifeWay Research Study has found most [66%] “Protestant Clergy” rarely, if ever, mention Mental Disorders from their pulpits. The tone of the article points to a deep concern that congregants aren’t being well served. “In a nation where one in four Americans have suffered with mental illness, Ed Stetzer, Exec. Dir. the research arm of LifeWay Christian Resources said, demonstrates a need for greater communication.”
Could it be a “Mental Disorder” is a psychological construct without biblical basis or application?
Society has come to accept the term without understanding it to be simply a catch-phrase, not a legitimate medical term; a diagnosis without much real substance.
We must ask ourselves ‘what is the mind?’ If the mind is disordered, what does that mean? In medical terms ‘disorder’ refers to a serious malfunction or dysfunction of a physical system or organ. What is it when the ‘mind’ malfunctions or is dysfunctional?
The psychological community is piggy-backing on the medical term in order to achieve a legitimacy it does not deserve, at least in the minds of ordinary people. When pushed, they will tell you the ‘mind’ is your brain. Note the commercials for medications that alter brain chemistry.
The Bible, however, defines the ‘mind,’ not as an organ but as a function of the heart. In this case, the heart is not that pump in your chest, but your non-material part. In Bible-language, your soul. The psychological community denies we have a soul. There is no ‘ghost in the machine.’ We are simply physical and electrical. [Note: some are admitting to a soul, out of necessity]
The division between psychology and theology begins with this definition. Scripture teaches us to “let this mind be in you, which was in Christ Jesus….” [Phil. 4] This ‘mind’ refers to an attitude, wherein Jesus willingly takes the role of a servant, in submission to The Father [something which was not the original condition], in order to be fashioned in the likeness of a human man and act out the eternal program of Redemption of the species.
If the ‘mind’ is that 7 lbs of grey matter sitting on top of your neck, NO ONE IS RESPONSIBLE FOR THEIR ACTIONS. This, of course, is exactly what psychology teaches and the foundation upon which social architects have built their house of cards.
That they are seeking to visit this upon The Church or Christian Doctrine is instructive. The purpose, here, is not to help people but to sensitize people to the terminology and the philosophy and recruit more paying ‘patients.’
They will obviously argue back, making all sorts of claims against me and those who resist this intrusion upon the Church. However, IF the solutions are God-oriented, they should not be For Sale. God’s Word is FREE to all. It doesn’t matter who does it or what you call it, if it’s a Fee-For-Service proposition it is NOT biblical! If it is not biblical, it is NOT from God.
If pastors and others use their pulpits to push this secular, atheistic, worldly view of humanity, it will hurry the demise of biblical solutions to life-problems, discrediting God’s Word in that area. I doubt that’s what Ed Stetzer or LifeWay has in mind. They are simply being duped. They are not thinking this thing, through.
When we talk of Mental Disorders, we’re largely referring to the way people think, how they respond to the life-situations, purposes, desires, attitudes and the ensuing habituations / addictions that result from their actions. This is all about the way people look at life and the idea of who is in charge. This is the prevue of religion, not science.
Is life about God or about what I desire / want? Does it really matter if I pursue sensual desires with abandon? Is it important how I view authority? Is this body, mine to do with as I see fit? Or am I accountable to Someone higher?
None of this is about brain chemistry or hatred of my mother! None of this is about how people have treated me or whether or not I know who I am!
Rick Warren’s wife, Kay, says it doesn’t matter what the surgeon believes as long as he is competent. “I want the best,” she declared (in this article). Her quote is a response to the idea that it matters what a counselor believes; his world-view shapes his approach to ‘therapy.’
Does a counselor’s world-view matter? Of course it does! There is a large and growing variety of psychological approaches to the same problems. Within a particular philosophy are a multitude of techniques and modalities. Success is not measured by being cured, but whether or not the ‘patient’ can cope.
Ex: You are not a drunk, you are an alcoholic. Drunkeness is YOUR fault. Alcoholism is a disease. If I’m a drunk, I need to stop. If I stop, I’m no longer a drunk. If, on the other hand, I’m an alcoholic, I’m sick. Learning not to be dependent upon alcohol doesn’t mean I’m cured, simply that I am a ‘recovering alcoholic.’
This is all about World-View; Life-View. So, yes, it does matter what a counselor believes. Is marriage a holy institution or a convenient pit-stop? Is abortion murder or simply birth control? Do we train up our children in the way they should go? Or let them decide for themselves because they are human beings, entitled to the same rights and privileges as any adult in that family?
It ALL about World-View; philosophy. Homosexuality was considered Abnormal until 1974. What changed? Nothing! There was only one factor that changed: Gay Activism. The historical record indicates the American Psychiatric Association’s Board recommended removing homosexuality as a pathological psychiatric condition from the Diagnostic Statistical Manual (DSM). The membership followed suit, the majority voting in favor.
This is how “Mental Disorders” are handled? Be thankful your pediatrician doesn’t do business this way.
In the 1970’s, the concept of Self Esteem began to make its way into The Church. As with most “new” concepts, the issue of the human self was a little confusing. My first encounter was a Seminary President, researching a book on The Self and asking pastors what they thought it was. No one had a cogent answer.
The Self is The Stuff of psychology and The Church was not into psychology….not as much as it is today. The Self is the sum total of man’s immaterial being. Secular psychology generally denies this reality, which begs the question. Regardless of what psychology is built upon, it has begrudgingly accepted the idea of a ‘ghost in the machine,’ even if it continues to deny that reality.
Is psychology schizophrenic? Sadly, the idea of Self and Self-Esteem has invaded the Church and moved to the Head of The Line, so to speak. With the likes of secular-trained psychologists, Dr. Clyde Narramore, Dr. Gary Collins, Dr. James Dobson and Dr’s Minirth and Meier, Christians were introduced to secular philosophies and techniques to solve human problems. These concepts (and their solutions) are now imbedded in the Christian psyche [that’s ‘soul’ for you non-professionals], so much that it is being preached in pulpits on Sunday Mornings! Your remember Worship Services, don’t you?
Perhaps not. The Bible has a lot to say about the soul and it’s not all good. The Bible’s message is that only God can cure a soul. All the pills, therapies and techniques in the world will not compensate for a diseased soul. In fact, the Bible declares that soul ‘desperately wicked and deceitful above all things.’ [Jer. 17:9] This is a reference to mans’ heart — his immaterial being.
Knowing the only Hope a sinful being has is Redemption, why would Christians seek to help struggling men and women by emphasizing the r Rehabilitation of ‘the Self,’ and not the Rescue? Answer? They have been trained in secular theory and practice. They have bought into those principles. They are not sufficiently educated, spiritually, to understand the huge differences that exist between these philosophies.
One the most influential psychologists, today, is Dr. James Dobson [PhD, Psychology, Univ. Southern California]. Dr. Dobson has emphasized this idea of a healthy Self, in book-after-book, pointing it out as The Problem. I’m not sure where ‘sin’ enters the picture, but I’m certain it’s in there, somewhere.
For Dobson, a lack of self-esteem seems to be at the heart of the problem, it creating all the other problems of life that aren’t physiological or chemical. He writes in terms of “symptoms of psychiatric disorders,” which points to the attitudes, actions and motivations we view as abnormal [not good] and therefore problematic.
This philosophy, however, creates more questions than it resolves. For example: Are my behaviors ‘The Problem?’ or are is it the motivations behind them? Is it my psyche [soul] that’s disordered [impaired or diseased], or am I a sinner at heart; morally corrupted by sin? You can see that this philosophy creates as many questions as it answers.
In his book: “What Wives Wish Their Husbands Knew About Women,” Dobson writes: “If I could write a prescription for women of the world, I would provide each one of them with a healthy does of Self-Esteem and Personal Worth (taken 3 times a day until the symptoms disappeared). I have no doubt this is their greatest need.” I know Dobson is speaking from a balanced view-point, but look at the extreme Feminist Movement.
What you see is Self-Esteem being exerted over anyone and everyone who criticizes or limits them in their quest for equality. What is a “healthy dose?” How do you regulate it, once it gets revved up? Who is it that’s throwing cold water on a woman’s sense of worth? Why are we not focused on them?
If you were reading the works of Carl Jung (pronounced Young), father of The New Age Philosophy and Analytical Psychology, you wouldn’t notice enough difference to matter. Jung believed he secret to a good life consisted of a ‘journey of transformation,’ to find the true self and bring it into harmony with the Divine. His view of the Divine was not yours. His book: “Septem Sermones,” (The 7 Sermons to the Dead) was dictated by spirits.
Other than his internal motivation, terminology and desire, Dobson is not saying much more or less than did Jung. In reflecting on the same core issues and solutions, Dobson is deceiving the Christian Community and the world, at large.
The Bible defines, describes man’s problem as sin! This sin is the corruption of thought, desire and feelings, that result in destructive behaviors and confused emotions. To begin with the destructive behaviors and confused emotions is to miss The Point! Certainly, the ‘pointy stick that poking someone in the eye,’ must be dealt with, before anything else of value can occur. But, just because the stick is no longer poking you in the eye, doesn’t mean The Problem is solved!
Human Beings Love Talk Therapy. They will seek it out on a weekly basis, for years [at $80.00 an hour — a 45 min hour]. It makes them feel good. It makes them feel they are making progress. It makes them feel they are important. It gives them hope (although 3 years of ‘therapy’ should be telling you something).
Human Beings Hate Biblical Counsel. The first time you tell someone they are a sinner and that’s why thy are what they are do what they do, they’re gone!
Can you see it now? Don’t be confused. Biblical Counsel is much more that simply pointing out the obvious. But, that’s a discussion in another place, for another time. The Bottom Line is: Unless You Are What God Made You To Be, You Will Not Be Able To Do What God Intended You Do. That failure will produce all sorts of emotional, psychological and physical responses.