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Posted (edited)

I just got word of another pastor who is now in trouble for sexual impropriety, resulting from a series of "counseling" sessions. Can someone show me where/how that pastoral "counseling" (as practiced today) is even mentioned in the New Testament?

Edited by heartstrings
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1 hour ago, heartstrings said:

I just got word of another pastor who is now in trouble for sexual impropriety, resulting from a series of "counseling" sessions. Can someone show me where/how that pastoral "counseling" (as practiced today) is even mentioned in the New Testament?

I don't believe it is mentioned anywhere. And, to be honest, I believe it's a very dangerous practice for pastors to get into. I've seen far too many end up in trouble, not just with things of a sexual nature, but with other things like just giving the wrong advice. They can be held liable for this. Even if the pastor has a psychology degree, this is not his main function as a pastor, and he shouldn't be doing this, but should rather be referring folks to sound, Christian counsellors, preferably licensed and bonded professionals.

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Read the book Wolves Among Lambs by Stacey Shiflett. It is a very well written book about sexual abuse and things like counseling...he sets out some ideas in how to avoid the pitfalls of it. One of those is something that my husband and I have already discussed: never be alone with someone of the opposite sex. ESPECIALLY behind closed doors. And in a counseling situation? When the emotions are involved? Alarm bells! Anyone who thinks they can withstand temptation is simply deluding him/herself ("Let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall"). 

I see no problem with pastors counseling folks. And, really, just because the Bible doesn't say something like "thou shalt counsel" does not make it wrong to do so. However, biblical principle needs to be applied in that area as well. Wisdom as to just how much counsel the pastor (or pastor's wife) can/should give needs to be sought from the Lord. Heart, I think your caveat "as it is practiced today" is important...there are changes that must be made.

I've known folks who've gone to Christian counselors - licensed, "professional" - whose lives were ruined as a result. So there is no guarantee there, either. Bluntly, I would rather receive counsel from someone who is immersed in the Word of God and not the world's view of psychology (and, yes, I do know that's what Christian counselors study...I was on that path myself, so I am aware of the things they need to learn). I'm not saying that it's not a good idea to know how the human mind works; it is dangerous to take the world's philosophies and "Christianize" them, which is what many Christian psychologists (not all, so no attack) do. There are some good ones out there, but they do need to be carefully vetted before going to them for counsel. And one must realize that, no matter how "professional" any counselor is, the possibility of temptation is still there. While it is not as popular, currently, to talk about the abuse perpetrated on patients by counselors, it is there. When counseling is involved, the emotions are involved, and that is where the temptation can begin. (again, not saying Christian psychologists are bad, just saying one must be as careful of them as any other counselor)

Is it any wonder that Christ asked if He would find faith on the earth when He returns? Woe to the pastors that scatter my sheep, God says. And there's an awful lot of scattering going on. 😟 

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I believe all the counselling a child of God needs should be based on the Bible - not on the world's philosophies (which psychology and psychology are - and usually what is often included in the general title "Christian counsellor" when it is referring to someone with a degree or a title). Also, Psalms 1 deals with not following the counsel of the ungodly - of which both psychology and psychiatry come from.

That being said, I do believe Christians that do counsel based upon the Word of God should take whatever steps are appropriate and necessary to protect themselves and those they counsel. Men should counsel men and women should counsel women - or at least the men who counsel women (ie. like a pastor counselling a member of his flock) should have another woman present at all times to prevent any problems - perhaps a husband and wife could counsel the female member together, if the issue was such that the pastor's perspective was needed.

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Posted (edited)
9 hours ago, HappyChristian said:

Read the book Wolves Among Lambs by Stacey Shiflett. It is a very well written book about sexual abuse and things like counseling...he sets out some ideas in how to avoid the pitfalls of it. One of those is something that my husband and I have already discussed: never be alone with someone of the opposite sex. ESPECIALLY behind closed doors. And in a counseling situation? When the emotions are involved? Alarm bells! Anyone who thinks they can withstand temptation is simply deluding him/herself ("Let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall"). 

I see no problem with pastors counseling folks. And, really, just because the Bible doesn't say something like "thou shalt counsel" does not make it wrong to do so. However, biblical principle needs to be applied in that area as well. Wisdom as to just how much counsel the pastor (or pastor's wife) can/should give needs to be sought from the Lord. Heart, I think your caveat "as it is practiced today" is important...there are changes that must be made.

I've known folks who've gone to Christian counselors - licensed, "professional" - whose lives were ruined as a result. So there is no guarantee there, either. Bluntly, I would rather receive counsel from someone who is immersed in the Word of God and not the world's view of psychology (and, yes, I do know that's what Christian counselors study...I was on that path myself, so I am aware of the things they need to learn). I'm not saying that it's not a good idea to know how the human mind works; it is dangerous to take the world's philosophies and "Christianize" them, which is what many Christian psychologists (not all, so no attack) do. There are some good ones out there, but they do need to be carefully vetted before going to them for counsel. And one must realize that, no matter how "professional" any counselor is, the possibility of temptation is still there. While it is not as popular, currently, to talk about the abuse perpetrated on patients by counselors, it is there. When counseling is involved, the emotions are involved, and that is where the temptation can begin. (again, not saying Christian psychologists are bad, just saying one must be as careful of them as any other counselor)

Is it any wonder that Christ asked if He would find faith on the earth when He returns? Woe to the pastors that scatter my sheep, God says. And there's an awful lot of scattering going on. 😟 

I have met Stacey Shiflett. He was at our church many years ago.

Edited by heartstrings
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Posted (edited)

I recently read of a pastor of a KJV Only church in Missouri who shot and killed a man because he thought his wife was cheating with him. She was recklessly galavanting around with the man but no evidence she was sleeping with him.

"Abstain from all appearance of evil"

Edited by SureWord
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Posted (edited)
2 hours ago, SureWord said:

I recently read of a pastor of a KJV Only church in Missouri killing his wife because he thought she was cheating on him. She was recklessly galavanting around with another man but no evidence she was sleeping with him.

"Abstain from all appearance of evil"

If this was the pastor from Ozark, Missouri, he shot and killed the man he thought was having an affair with his wife. If it was a different pastor, then there were two this recently, it's quite the coincidence. 

Edited by Rebecca
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8 hours ago, Rebecca said:

If this was the pastor from Ozark, Missouri, he shot and killed the man he thought was having an affair with his wife. If it was a different pastor, then there were two this recently, it's quite the coincidence. 

Yes, same pastor. I meant to say he killed the man not his wife.

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Through the years, I have given Biblical counsel, even during my time as a supervisor at the Gospel Mission. There was never a "you need to do this" approach, but always "here is what the Bible says on this issue, these doctrines, etc." - attempting to show them where certain principles, precepts, etc. were in the Bible, and to exhort a person to apply them. Then there is no line crossed as far as what is said goes - I just taught Bible principles, and showed them where to find them themselves, as well as encouraged them to seek the Lord and dig further into the Bible for guidance. I do agree that any pastor or "Christian counsellor" that uses psychological methods or tells those they are counselling how to live (ie. as a kind of dictator in their lives) is doing wrong. A pastor (and any other minister in a similar situation needing counselling) is a shepherd, who is to guide, lead, teach.

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On 6/8/2022 at 11:11 AM, Rebecca said:

A pastor can give advice, or counsel, but I believe there is a limit in what he can or should do within the confines of a pastorate. 

I'm not a pastor, but I do work in ministry with ladies and children. Several years ago I was teaching a ladies Bible study when a lady privately asked for counsel. I quickly learned that what she needed was a doctor, and I was not and am not qualified to counsel someone with that level of needs. Unfortunately the situation ended sadly. This taught me to always be very careful with the advice I give and to understand when I am at my limit and the person needs professional help, not spiritual help. I would hope every pastor knows their limits and to know when to advise the person seek a medical professional. 

This is true, and I wish all pastor knew their limits. So many Christians don't even believe that mental illness is a real thing, and the results can be very dangerous.

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Galatians 6:2   Bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.

This can be done in a simi-private location (just out of ear shot but not out of eyesight).

Proverbs 15:22   Without counsel purposes are disappointed: but in the multitude of counsellors they are established.

More than one counselor present idea is sound advice.

Our "counselor" example is Christ. I can't think of one time when He was in private with a person giving truth or performing a miracle; unless it was Nicodemus in John 3:2, but, scripture does not say that they alone. But this counseling was, of course Man to man.

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