As our readers know, we have been critical of the biblical counseling movement (BCM) for years. We have revealed in our writings that it is a latter-day movement that, although biblically sound at times, deviates from Scripture and often piggy-backs on the practices of the psychological counseling movement. We repeatedly say that our most serious criticisms of the BCM are aimed at what they do. We often summarize by saying: If the psychological counseling movement did not exist, the biblical counseling movement would not exist—at least not in its current form and practices.
For proof we present their various case studies. As we have tracked these BCM cases over the years, we found that early on little was said about a person’s sex life. However, in recent years this has changed! We have written articles revealing their outright, outrageous, and unnecessary invasions into the sex lives of married couples. The biblical counseling cases we have reviewed are by well-known, popular leaders in the BCM. These cases are all examples that are used to train other aspiring biblical counselors and to demonstrate how one can counsel couples in the sensitive area of sexual relations in marriage with supposed success.
The four cases involving sex counseling, which we reviewed recently, were done by Randy Patten,1 John Street, 2 Jim Newheiser,3 and Heath Lambert.4 All four are pastors who are leaders and teachers in the BCM certification programs, and three of them have doctorates. Patten headed the National Association of Biblical Counselors (NANC) for a number of years and has trained many others to become biblical counselors like himself. Street heads the largest biblical counseling program in America at The Master’s College and Seminary. Newheiser is the Executive Director of the Institute for Biblical Counseling and Discipleship. Lambert heads the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors, “the largest biblical counseling organization in the world with certified counselors and counseling training centers in 17 countries.”
We have said for years that men should not be counseling women about problems of living, either with their husbands present or, especially, alone. These four cases, in which each male biblical counselor discusses the sex lives of the couples who are counselees, demonstrate how, in all four cases, the husband’s sexual desires take precedence!
Such excursions into this sensitive and biblically sacred area of the marriage bed by biblical counselors are not unusual. This has become the standard for many biblical counselors and what others are taught to do. As we say about such needless excursions: This reveals how deeply worldly this biblical counseling is and to what extent psychological problem-centered counseling has been emulated and embraced by biblical counselors. While prying for details is expected and practiced in biblical counseling, details about a couple’s sexual intimacy should not be shared with a third party or pursued by a biblical counselor. Nevertheless problem-centered counseling, such as currently practiced and encouraged in the BCM, depends on such details, even in these intimate areas. There are many ways to minister to couples without invading their bedrooms and physical intimacy through unnecessary and unhelpful sinful communication.
More and more biblical counselors are counseling couples about their sexual intimacy. In one case, the biblical counselor suggested that the couple “have sex regularly (two times per week for them).”5 This kind of counseling has no precedence in Scripture! It is a page out of the world and its psychological counseling movement.
We have cried out about a variety of BCM practices and sounded the necessary scriptural alarm, but not one leader has responded to our serious concerns. While all of the leaders of the BCM claim the inerrancy of Scripture, none, so far, is willing to condemn such sinful sexual counseling practices or to name and identify those who are doing this devilish deed. To their shame, the various biblical counseling organizations, schools, and seminaries are holding hands with each other in support of counselors prying into the sex lives of their counselees.
The excursion into the privacy of sexual intimacy is a reflection of the world and psychological counseling rather than a biblical need. While the topic of sex is clearly dealt with in Scripture, Paul was no doubt answering general questions in 1 Corinthians 7 rather than having private sessions with couples during which they expose one another! One does not need to hear the complaints or the details about sex to teach about marriage. Biblical counselors would do well to skip the preliminaries (the digging and prying) and teach the doctrines and principles from Scripture, thereby trusting the Holy Spirit to do the convicting and the inner work for outer obedience.
1 Martin & Deidre Bobgan. Stop Counseling! Start Ministering! Santa Barbara, CA: EastGate Publishers, 2011, pp. 72-79.
2 Martin & Deidre Bobgan, “A Critical Review of The Master’s College & Seminary Biblical Counseling Program,” PsychoHeresy Awareness Letter, Vol. 20, No. 4, www.pamweb.org/street_tmc&s.html.
3 Martin & Deidre Bobgan, “The Institute for Biblical Counseling & Discipleship: A Critical Review,” PsychoHeresy Awareness Letter, Vol. 23, No. 6, www.pamweb.org/IBCD-1.html.
4 Martin & Deidre Bobgan, “Dr Heath Lambert: A Failed Counseling Case,” PsychoHeresy Awareness Letter, Vol. 24, No. 4.
5 Garrett Higbee, “‘Tony’ and Bipolar Disorder” in Counseling the Hard Cases. Stuart Scott and Heath Lambert, eds. Nashville, TN: B&H Publishing Group, 2012, p. 155
(PsychoHeresy Awareness Letter, July-August 2016, Vol. 24, No. 4)