Tag Archives: pastors

My Response to “The Sins of Psychotherapism” by Bruce Davidson, PsychoHeresy Ministries.

Compassionate Love Blog: Displaying compassion for those who fight mental illness, addiction, and abuse  (c)2018  Nancy Virden, Always the Fight Ministries

The Sins of Psychotherapism by Bruce Davidson of PsychoHeresy Ministries, is an opinion piece (link is below) outlining serious charges against the world of psychological study and therapists who work within it.  I respect Davidson for his thoughtful work,  and his efforts and desire to help people. We just disagree. This blog is my answer to his claims.

Terminology matters

About 2 years ago, a LinkedIn self-described BIble teacher, began to call me names and undermine my character simply because of my terminology. Yes, he was rude, but was he right?

He made an assumption about me, whom he had never met, based on my ministry title of “advocate.” That is,  because I advocate for recovery, he thought I was steering people away from the message of repentance.

My point at the time was that “recovery” is a process. Repentance may stop a behavior, but even if your problem is not addiction, recovery is involved. God gives us insight into who he is so we can turn to him and repent of sin. After that, changing how we think takes time. Isaiah 1:16,17 supports this concept of the recovery process. “…Stop doing wrong. Learn to do right.”

Terminology matters, however readers and writers alike must know what words mean. In the world of stigma, some words are defined in black and white instead of in the open concept they deserve.

Motives are not worn on our sleeves

Today, I stumbled across the Davidson article. He is strong on a few points as he takes flawed psychological notions to task. I noticed however, that he claims psychotherapy promotes false assumptions. He writes, “Furthermore, psychotherapism has encouraged the trend of judging people’s motives and speculating on their secret thoughts rather than looking at their explicit views and outward behavior.”

I believe his article does just that – judges people’s motives and speculates. Anytime a ministry is formed around shouldn’ts, there will be problems. For example, he builds his arguments against the historic roots of modern psychotherapy “instituted by Freud, Jung, and others.” He seems to completely disregard current fields of study that oppose those original theories and styles.

The traditional idea of psychotherapy is the patient lying on a couch and talking on and on while the therapist says little to nothing. I am in full agreement this is likely not going to get the job done. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and other forms of psychotherapy do not look like that old model.

Personally, my life changed when CBT taught me it was possible to think differently.  It helped to renew my mind by challenging old thought patterns. Eventually, my eyes opened to God’s love and to many false beliefs about the world and how to fit in it.  I learned how to take thoughts captive as taught in 2 Corinthians 10:5.*

No one preached at me, or forced a greater faith. Instead, because my goal was already to honor God, and I was Biblically literate, talk therapy served as a catalyst for applying Biblical truth.  With a broad sweep, Davidson and others who agree with his assertions,  shove talk therapy into the trash. They do not know me (or you) or how God wants to work in our  lives.  Hence, miscalculation of their assumptions.

Not everything fits in one box

Davidson used this quote as partial evidence for his point. “In One Nation Under Therapy, Satel and Hoff-Sommers define [psychotherapy] as ‘pathologizing normal human emotion, promoting the illusion that we are very fragile beings, and urging grand emotional displays as the prescription for coping.’ To that they add the belief that ‘psychology can and should take the place of ethics and religion.'”

Let’s be clear. Not all psychologists, psychiatrists, and therapists have pulled their own heads out of the ground. Some have twisted beliefs, others have twisted personalities. Unfortunately, not all professionals are “professional.”

In my years of seeking mental healthcare, with some success and some not-so-great experiences, not once has any provider encouraged fragility or “grand emotional displays.”  On the contrary, they taught strength and mood control.

I learned that hiding emotion kills people, not that every emotion needs expression. It makes little sense to refuse an entire field of study because of the wrong or misguided ideas of some. Plenty of both secular and Christian therapists help clients uncover root issues, that if left unfaced, would continue to steer their lives toward self-destruction.

We make choices

It is the responsibility of both client and provider in any realm of interaction, to submit to or ignore God’s wisdom. The world-at-large will choose to ignore. If you are a Christian, and struggling with your thoughts and emotions, wise counsel is part of what the Great Physician prescribes.  Proverbs 12: 6, 15, 18  tell us the value of such advice.  “… the speech of the upright rescues… the wise listen to advice… the tongue of the wise brings healing.”

Davidson’s statement that focusing on childhood wounds “naturally” breeds resentment of one’s parents, is flat-out wrong. Like people who choose to abuse, we choose to resent or not.  Awareness of childhood wounds and the roles of all concerned brings closure. I could begin to forgive others and myself, directly due to taking the time to understand.

Davidson claims pastors have turned from preaching salvation to extolling self-realization. If the definition is as Webster’s says, “fulfillment by oneself of the possibilities of one’s character or personality” (italics mine), then yes, it can be a prideful endeavor. None of us is capable as fallible beings to wholly fulfill anything without God or even human support.

What I suggest Davidson does not seem to appreciate is that lack of self-awareness is the cornerstone of denial. When our identity is lost in the temporal, we cannot live the life God has planned for us. Introspection unveils poisonous roots, God’s Word casts light where understanding is dark.  By teaching our possibilities under God’s authority, pastors can help us realize lives of purpose that bring God honor.

The 10-letter four-letter word

As for “self-esteem,” that word so demeaned in some Christian circles, I believe lack of it undermines appreciation of God’s glory. If I feel less-than, what does my testimony say about God’s creative power? No, my view of self-worth does not change the Great I AM.  By learning to fully appreciate God’s design choices, I have confidence to credit him without drawing attention to myself.

I do not want to throw the proverbial baby out with the bath water.  Common terms familiar to the study of human behavior, such as recovery and self, among others, are useful and meaningful when applied with truth and understanding of how they can work in real-life application. To refuse to accept them at all, we spread the stigma that treatment is bad. Sick people stay sick, and despairing people die.

Terms, motives, choices… Let me know what you think.  Read Davidson’s entire article at http://www.americanthinker.com/2014/07/the_sins_of_psychotherapism.html

 

Female Student Talking To High School CounselorToday’s Helpful Word

Proverbs 1:5 

“…let the wise listen and add to their learning, and let the discerning get guidance…”

 

***** COMMENTS ALWAYS WELCOME

NOTE:  I am not a doctor or mental health professional. I speak only from personal experiences with and observations of mental and behavioral health challenges.  In no way is this website intended to substitute for professional mental or behavioral health care.

If you are struggling emotionally today or feeling suicidal, or concerned about someone who is, in the U.S. call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255), or for a list of international suicide hotlines, go here.

If you are suicidal with a plan, immediately call 911 in the U.S.  (for international emergency numbers, go here ), or go to your nearest emergency room. Do not be alone. Hope and help are yours.

* 2 Corinthians 10:5  We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.

Dear Pastors and Church Leaders, You Matter Too

Compassionate Love: Displaying compassion for those who struggle with mental illness, addiction, or abuse   (c) 2018  Nancy Virden, Always The Fight Ministries

Pastors and other church leaders, here’s an announcement.

You cannot do it all.

You do not read minds, know the will of God for each person, comprehend all marriages or families, or see through walls.  You do not understand all things. So, give yourself a break. 

You are only human

Some people treat you like you are superhuman. Don’t believe that lie or accede to every demand. Hoops they want you to jump through will cost your peace of mind, and drive a wedge in your family. Don’t respond to every need. 

Some will treat you as less than human.  Don’t believe that lie, either. Grant yourself permission to make mistakes and be forgiven. Allow God to redeem the day without you begging for mercy from those who would dehumanize you.

You have a teacher

Take a breath. Take a break. Sit with God, and listen. Put down study for a while; it will not be forever. Let the Holy Spirit wash you with grace.  We never learn much from God when our focus is on stress, deadlines, pleasing people, holding on to our jobs, satisfying the board, anxiety, or panic.  

Focus on him. He sees you.

Practice what you preach about trusting God when times are tough. Read about his provision, sovereignty, mercy, and grace. This is the God who promises to lead you down the best path for your life. Listen.

Take care 

I was going to write about how much the church-at-large needs to change in its general approach to mental illness and abuse. You may not want to hear that now. Maybe you need to know that you matter too.

Leaders of churches also have trauma, abuse, depression, anxiety, PTSD, and other mental health challenges. You need self-care, and perhaps professional care as much as anyone.  Do not be afraid to pursue what is best for you.  You matter too. 

Dear Pastor, you are called to a high purpose, not as God’s right-hand assistant.  Church leaders, you are servants, not gods.  I know you know this intellectually and in your spirit, but is your mind at rest?  You matter too.

Take care of yourself first. That includes vacations, time-outs, and days off.  Nurture family  relationships.  If this seems impossible, maybe you have forgotten that you matter too. 

So very much.

 Today’s Helpful Word

Psalm 27:13, 14

I remain confident of this:
    I will see the goodness of the Lord
    in the land of the living.
Wait for the Lord;
    be strong and take heart
    and wait for the Lord.

 

******COMMENTS ARE ALWAYS WELCOME.

NOTE:  I am not a doctor or mental health professional. I speak only from personal experiences with and observations of mental illness, abuse, and addiction. In no way is this website intended to substitute for professional mental or behavioral health care.

If you are struggling emotionally today or feeling suicidal, or concerned about someone who is, in the U.S. call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255), or for a list of international suicide hotlines, go here

If you are suicidal with a plan, immediately call 911 in the U.S.  (for international emergency numbers, go here ), or go to your nearest emergency room. Do not be alone. Hope and help are yours.

 

An Open Letter About Porn to Christian Husbands, Pastors, and Husbands-To-Be

Compassionate Love Blog: Displaying compassion for those who struggle with mental illness   (c)2017  Nancy Virden, Always the Fight Ministry

Note TakingDear Christian Husbands, Pastors, and Husbands-to-Be:

The topic of porn use is not often the subject of sermons. That is my point.

As a twice weekly church goer most of my life, in different churches over a span of 55 years, what I have predominantly witnessed is an hypocritical united stand against behaviors in the LGBTQ community, while the use of pornography, sex outside of marriage, and serial marriage go largely unaddressed. It’s the negligent or deliberate excusing of supposedly “lesser sins” that stinks.

(NOTE: My history is with Evangelical and Reformed churches. It is impossible for me to write knowledgeably about what goes on in mainline protestant or Catholic arenas. It is important to note the wide range of church disciplines and applications of scripture across the Evangelical and Reformed realms. I can only speak from my experience and perspective. ALSO: Wives sin too, this article is NOT intended as man-bashing. My focus is on Christian marriages and the effects on wives of porn use by husbands. )

Fanciful Grace

Christian circles tend to embrace spiritual brothers who say they are sorry,  especially if they cry. Tough truth is, Christian men who use porn may feel remorse and put on a show of regret, and stay unrepentant at the same time. (By unrepentant I mean unchanged). The harm caused to families is patched up with a swipe of the hands and an “All better!” 

Follow-up with the confessor’s wife ranges from little to none at all. An insidious mindset prevails that a Christian wife is to be patient, forgiving, and available to her man no matter what.  When she asks for counsel, a subset of ideas fuels the care she receives. This includes, if wives love their spouse well, he will not “need” porn.

This is not vastly different from the unchurched world, and that’s a problem. Christian husbands are called by Christ to a higher standard of love, a faithful love, a sacrificial love. 

Christian men are to love their wives as Christ loves the church.* That is a lifestyle of unselfishness and setting aside the instant for the worth-waiting-for.  Meanwhile, Christian men who watch porn live in make-believe, growing intolerant of the realness of their wives.

Unlike in fantasy where a man can be a totally selfish and everyone still wants him, his wife wants respect. Her heart longs for deep connection at every level. For my blogs that go into more detail on relationships, click these links:  Is Watching Porn Emotional Abuse  and More on Is Watching Porn Emotional Abuse.

Collateral Damage

Sadly, one Christian wife whose Christian husband chose divorce over giving up porn, said she believes there are two kinds of men in the world- those who use porn and those who admit it.  Is she wrong?

Certainly, her ability to trust has been damaged. Husbands who take their role seriously do not make it difficult for wives to trust God, other people, and their spouse.  Christian men are commanded to nurture, not destroy the inner being of the one God gave them. Love your wives as Christ loved the Church.

Matthew 5 tells us that if a man looks at a woman lustfully (obviously the foundation of porn use), he has committed adultery with her in his heart. A wife may recognize this is happening, however often is blamed, ignored, or told to be patient if she brings it up. She is held to a painful and impossible standard – be like the women in the movies. Be content with the affection an adulterous mate offers when he feels like it.

Yet still in modern times men who watch porn are excused in the church. Do you ever see the immoral brother cast out from the church until he repents? No, porn use is not considered bad enough for that. Immoral brothers include preachers, worship leaders, Sunday School teachers, church planters, missionaries, ushers, elders, and deacons. What could motivate them to say, “enough!”  

Instead, men form accountability groups, Bible studies, and write self-help books about every man’s battle. Maybe these efforts work. Yet a pastor once said, “Pornography is not sin, it is an addiction.” Where is the warrior who quakes at God’s Word and changes his ways completely? Who stands up for wives? 

 Let’s Get Real

Husbands tell their wives they struggle against pornography.

Men, no you don’t struggle against pornography. You love it. Your struggle is against righteousness. Your mind is focused on how difficult porn is to give up, how maybe if you cry out to God in sorrow and remorse he will forgive you and continue to use you in ministry.

Your love for pornography causes you to turn from the relationships you say you want. You are willing to give up right standing with God. You are willing to hurt your wife and steal from her the ability to trust. You are willing to bring sexual immorality into the home and fail to protect your children. No, you do not struggle against pornography. You struggle against righteousness.

You will drop righteous and healthy living at a moment’s notice because your eyes saw something you want, you experience body sensations, and your mind tells you lies. You don’t live the life of courage it takes to love your wife as Jesus loves the Church. Spiritual leadership over your family is easily sacrificed on the altar of fantasy and lust. You don’t struggle against porn; you struggle against righteousness.

It seems inconceivable that you could meet your wife’s need for faithfulness. It doesn’t seem fair that you have this libido and are expected to ignore billboards, scantily clad women, and TV commercials. You don’t believe you can be a man of God free of sexual immorality, so you rationalize. You beg your wife to understand, and to be patient and forgiving. “It has nothing to do with you” she is told. “I love you, pornography is a release- that’s all it is.”

You struggle against righteousness. 

Today’s Helpful Word

Psalm 97:10

You who love the LORD, hate evil!

************

COMMENTS ARE ALWAYS WELCOME (see tab below)

NOTE: I am not a doctor or mental health professional. I speak only from personal experiences with and observations of mental illness. In no way is this website intended to substitute for professional mental health care.

If you are struggling emotionally today or feeling suicidal, or concerned about someone who is, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255). Hope and help is yours.

– pic from qualitystockphotos

*Ephesians 5:25