Are youth pastors too young? Is your counsellor safe? Are the “do not deprive” verses used in the wrong way?

It’s time for a new episode of the To Love, Honor and Vacuum podcast!

I hope you all will listen, but if you don’t have time, I’ll have some links and rabbit trails below so you can read all you want as well!

And consider this podcast “extras”. If you want to go deeper into what I talked about in the podcast, here are some more things to help you.

But first, here’s the podcast:

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Main Segment: Can We Please Get a More Biblical View of Sex?

Last week on the podcast I was talking about how women’s sexual pleasure matters, and how orgasm actually matters. This week I decided to take a step back and ask, “what is it that God designed sex for?”

Because quite frankly, often the only message that we hear about sex is that men need physical release (that’s what Love & Respect said), and that women should not deprive them.

But what if sex is so much more?

In this segment I give a little bit of background that’s also in The Good Girl’s Guide to Great Sex about how God designed sex to be physically intimate, yes, but also to be emotionally and spiritually intimate. It’s supposed to be a deep “knowing” of each other. And that means that it has to be mutual at its core! If we’re going to talk about what the Bible says about sex, we can’t ignore intimacy, and we can’t ignore women. So let’s start a new conversation! I started that yesterday, in my post on how the do not deprive verses are used wrong. Here are two posts about that:

I’m going to be spending a lot of time this month talking about how we can start viewing sex in a healthier way. If you’re struggling with this, the best place to start is The Good Girl’s Guide to Great Sex!

God made sex to be AWESOME!

It’s supposed to be great physically, emotionally, and spiritually.

Feel like something’s missing?

Millennial Marriage: Are Youth Pastors Just Too Young?

Rebecca and I were talking about this article by Tony Jones asking if we’re missing one of the bigger issues behind the sexual abuse crisis in the church: are we hiring youth pastors based on the wrong criteria?

Think about it: we generally hire young men in their very early twenties, who don’t have life experience or maturity, and we choose guys that have great “charisma” and are “cool”. And then we turn our teens over to these guys, largely unsupervised, in a very segregated area of church life. Considering that teens are leaving the church in droves when they hit college age (Rebecca and I talked about this in previous podcasts), shouldn’t the teens be getting our most experienced and best?

We’re not saying no youth pastors are good, or that young youth pastors CAN’T be good. Just that we need to take a better look at this.

And if you’ve missed some of the discussion about sexual abuse in the church, you can read these two posts I wrote this week about how to handle it when it hits close to home:

I also have another post where I talked about whether youth group was really safe or not. That’s worth a perusal, too!

Reader Question: How Do We Get Good Counselling?

Well, actually that wasn’t really the reader question. The ACTUAL question was this:

My husband was involved in an emotional affair. At the time I was pregnant. My husband has recommitted to our marriage, but it’s still been very difficult. We began counselling together, but now my husband is going to individual counselling, as I am with a biblical counsellor. Still, I have felt hopeless for how to trust him again and become comfortable feeling physically intimate. My husband struggled with porn, and he got accountability and community. But incidents still occurred. Just when I thought we were getting better the emotional affair hit. It seems like we’re back to ground zero, and I’ve always struggled with low libido too. It feels like we have so much against us. What do I do?

What concerned me a little in this question was the comment about the biblical counsellor, so I invited Rebecca back on for this segment to explain the issue. Rebecca has her undergrad in psychology, and she was intending to go on for her clinical doctorate until she realized she didn’t want that kind of stress and she and Connor wanted a different kind of family life. But Connor will likely go on to become a licensed counsellor. And I don’t think people realize that not all counsellors are the same.

As Rebecca explained, there are different levels of education and certification:

  • Psychiatrist: a trained specialist physician who can diagnose, prescribe drugs, and do therapy
  • Clinical Psychologist: a trained psychologist, often with a Ph.D. (so that’s 5 years of schooling after the 4 year undergrad) who can diagnose and treat, but not prescribe
  • Licensed Counsellor: A counsellor who has had two years of specialty training after an undergraduate degree, who has done about 1000 hours of internship under another licensed counsellor, and who is licensed by the state (and thus has credentials which can be rescinded if they do something wrong)
  • Biblical Counsellor: Someone who has undergone some sort of training, which sometimes is just a weekend course, and who has no certification or accountability

I am not saying that biblical counsellors are all bad; I am simply saying that there is a world of difference between someone who is licensed and has potential accountability and someone who is not. And many licensed counsellors are also Christians.

I also have three concerns with biblical counsellors (who often work out of a church setting):

There is no guarantee of confidentiality

Indeed, I was looking at the consent forms you have to sign at one Harvest Bible Chapel affiliate that uses biblical counsellors, and it specifically said that if the counsellor had concerns, they could talk to an elder. Now, all licensed therapists must report if someone is a danger to herself/himself or others, but that is not what is necessarily meant here. In addition, it said that if you have a disagreement with the counsellor, you agree that mediation will be with the elders and the pastor. So if the counsellor does something unethical, you don’t have a neutral third party. You have the church. And that can be a problem, because of the next two items:

Many “biblical counsellors” aim to preserve the marriage at all costs

Many of those trained in biblical counselling believe that there is no acceptable reason to divorce. They also treat abuse like it’s a communication issue, and don’t always recognize narcissism. True Christian counselling is focused at promoting healing and pointing people to Christ, not just keeping an abusive marriage together.

Many “biblical counsellors” do not believe mental illness, as a physical condition, exists

Instead, depression should not be treated by drugs, but should be seen as a spiritual weakness. Not all biblical counsellors believe this, of course, but if you Google biblical counselling or nouthetic counselling, this is what you will often see.

Just last night, Grant Higbee, who was on staff at Harvest Bible Chapel as a counsellor and who was involved in the whole mess that led to James MacDonald being fired issued a statement for ignoring spiritual abuse for too long. Part of his statement is as follows:

You can read the whole thing here. But at a time of rising awareness of sexual and spiritual abuse in the church, the fact that biblical counsellors often are not trained in this is concerning.

Again, I’m not saying that biblical counsellors can’t be helpful. I know many are very gifted. I’m just saying that it could be dangerous if you’re not careful, because the training and accountability are not there in the way that they are for other counsellors. If people are interested, I may write a post on 10 questions to ask your biblical counsellor to make sure he or she is safe. If you want me to, just tell me in the comments!

Comment: I guess my husband will never be interested in making sex feel good for me

This comment came out of a discussion we were having on last week’s podcast post about sexual health. She had said that her husband wasn’t interested in making sex feel good for her, and I suggested that she say something like this to him:

“I would love to have an exciting sex life with you. I want to make love frequently. But I am no longer willing to do that if you do not consider my experience to be important. Sex is supposed to be about both of us, not just you. If you don’t want to make me feel good, then I’m going to have to step back sexually for a while. Again, I am more than willing and eager to make love. But it can no longer be just about you if our marriage is going to be strong.”

She replied that she didn’t think she could do that, since that would cause him to withdraw, and so she was going to focus on what was good in the relationship and give up her hopes of sex feeling good for her.

Now, I think she’s being incredibly selfless, and more of us do need to do that.

But there is one thing I also need to say. Being nicer rarely inspires change in cases like this. Yes, God may do a major work on their heart. But this is the truth about human behaviour:

People don’t change until the pain of staying the same becomes greater than the pain of change.

I talked about this at length in my posts about what to do if your husband won’t change:

When you are nice, you actually make it easier for your husband to stay as he is. You make the status quo nicer.

So the bigger question is: What does God want in this situation? Does God want me to just live with it and accept it? Or is God calling my husband to something more–to learn how to be more intimate?

I can’t answer that for you, but I will say that often the way that God wants to change a situation is by changing how we act, not just changing our husband’s heart. God wants us to learn to be good, not just nice. That’s really the theme of 9 Thoughts That Can Change Your Marriage, and if you’re struggling with this, I hope this can help you!

Are you GOOD or are you NICE?

Because the difference matters!

God calls us to be GOOD, yet too often we’re busy being nice. And sometimes, in marriage, that can actually cause problems to be even more entrenched.

What if there’s a better way?

That’s it for today! Thanks for listening, and please remember to give the podcast a 5 star rating wherever you’re listening, and leave a review! I appreciate it.

Did anything stand out for you this week? Let’s talk about it in the comments!