I had to hold my tongue…

but I can’t help but blog about it.

I encountered a woman recently whose (adult, unmarried) daughter is pregnant (by accident) with her third child. The daughter has a long history of poor life choices, including obviously her choice in men. The daughter also lives with the mother and the mother takes care of the other two kids while the daughter works and (apparently) makes more bad life choices. I feel for her. This is a difficult thing for a senior citizen who would probably like to be doing other things with her life than constantly mopping up the messes made by her daughter. I offered my sympathy and prayers and suggested perhaps her daughter would benefit from counseling. It’s obvious she has some deep seated issues that need to be dealt with before she can take responsibility for her life and her actions.

The response was all too typical of “Bible-believing” Christians. She is suspicious of counselors and their “psychological mumbo-jumbo.” She believes the pastors at her church who have known the daughter her whole life are best suited to the task. Of course, the question that lingers in my mind is if they’re best suited why didn’t they help after child #1 or child #2? What’s so different now? Pastors are excellent confidants and counselors for people going through trying times. They are not (unless they’ve had the training) excellent at helping people deal with emotional and psychological problems. Do a little Googling and you’ll find cases where pastors have been sued after giving inappropriate and uninformed advice to people who need more mental help than pastors are equipped to give. Pastors and churches who insist on handling all problems themselves (using “Bible-based” counseling) are doing their members a disservice and potentially endangering the life of the distressed person.

I’m not saying all counselors are equal. There are certainly a bunch of quacks out there. But pastors who insist on acting as psychological experts are engaging in the most damaging quackery of all.