By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible. – Hebrews 11:3Like us if you are enjoying this content.
All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work. – 2 Timothy 3:16-17
Christian Marriage Counseling has a Biblical Worldview
Christian marriage counselors view life through the lens of Scripture. From this it follows that the origins and solutions to the problems in your marriage should primarily be informed by the Word of God, rather than by science, psychology, culture, or reason. The most valuable “tool” of Christian marriage counseling is knowledge of the Word, and being able to draw on one’s relationship with God in order to conform to its prescriptions regarding beliefs, attitudes, thoughts, and behavior. While Christian marriage counselors may use “tools” and concepts similar to those of secular counselors, they will be limited to those that are in harmony with Biblical truth.
Christian Marriage Counseling Views Marriage as God-Ordained and Sacred
And the Lord God said, ‘It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper comparable to him’ . . . And the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall on Adam, and he slept; and He took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh in its place. Then the rib which the Lord God had taken from man He made into a woman, and He brought her to the man. And Adam said: ‘This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.’ Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. – Gen. 2:18, 21-24
Marriage is the oldest human institution, dating back to the Garden of Eden. God first made Adam, and He then made Eve and brought her to him as a suitable companion. It is obvious from the text that God intended Adam and Eve to be a couple, and that marriage has its origin in this creation event. Marriage is sacred because it is God’s idea. Marriage is His intention for men and women and it, therefore, deserves to be generally reverenced, preserved, and protected. A Christian counselor will view your marital relationship from this perspective while a secular marriage counselor may or may not share this understanding. Instead, a secular marriage counselor may reflect — whether subtly or not so subtly ̶ a cultural disregard for God’s will and for the significance of committed marriage as the foundation of the family and of society. Rather than encouraging the vision, hard work, and perseverance required to succeed in marriage, secular counselors may embrace a relativistic approach that exalts personal desire over Biblical values and obedience to God or that undermines the kind of fidelity that is needed to overcome marital challenges.
So then, they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate. – Matthew 19:6
There are certainly valid reasons for separation and sometimes for divorce. Patterns of harmful, destructive, and ungodly behavior should not be enabled or tolerated in a Christian home. However, in this era of no-fault divorce, the pendulum has swung far from the extreme of staying married no-matter-what. It is now at the opposite extreme where couples break the marital covenant simply because they feel they have grown apart or because one or both parties have become disillusioned or frustrated. A Christian counselor will encourage you to fight to mend your marriage, or, in especially difficult circumstances, to separate for a season to do the work of repair. Divorce is considered a last resort for situations that are toxic or dangerous, or when either the husband or the wife is intent on leaving.
The Marital Relationship is a Three-Stranded Cord
Though one may be overpowered by another, two can withstand him. And a threefold cord is not quickly broken. – Ecclesiastes 4:12
When husband and wife have a healthy relationship based on love, respect, and trust, their marriage bond can be expected to withstand many tests but may still eventually fail. But when Christ is made a central, integral part of their marriage, their interaction becomes not only horizontal but also vertical. When husband and wife are committed to walking in the Spirit , both individually and corporately, their union becomes a truly formidable force for the adversary to contend with and is less likely to crumble due to worldly pressures.
According to Gary Thomas, the author of Sacred Marriage,
“God intends marriage to provide partnership, spiritual intimacy, and the ability to pursue God — together.”
Contrast this to a self-centered concept of marriage that insists on getting one’s personal needs met, avoiding conflict, and experiencing continuous euphoric attraction. Such emotional love can actually be idolatrous.
Chip Ingram, founder and teaching pastor of the international discipleship ministry “Living on the Edge,” asserts that Christ should be Lord of your life ̶ and that includes being Lord of your relationships. The Word of God is very vocal on how believers ought to interact with one another and includes teachings specific to husbands and wives. Devotion to Jesus Christ is the most important ingredient in a successful marriage, rather than marrying or being a perfect mate. Intimacy with the Holy Spirit and spiritual disciplines will inspire marriage partners to behave toward one another in a holy and relationship-preserving way. But when either the husband or the wife allows their partner to be central, rather than God, the relationship becomes vulnerable to damage and collapse. A Christian counselor will refer you to activities that focus and help to strengthen your relationship with God as a means of strengthening your relationship with each other.
The Born-Again Spirit in Relationship with the Holy Spirit is the Change Agent
I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. – Philippians 4:13
“My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness. – 2 Corinthians 12:9
I once had a pastor who stated something to the effect that a couple can read books on marriage, receive sound counseling, and attend all the marriage encounters they want to, and yet still fall apart. Why? Because if you don’t have the strength of God to empower you, it will be challenging to put what you have learned into practice.
In secular marriage counseling, human understanding, and your own self-will constitute the change agent. However, Christian marriage counseling acknowledges that it is the wisdom and power of the indwelling Holy Spirit, along with our cooperation, that gives us the supernatural strength to change and to triumph over marital difficulties. Like a secular counselor, a Christian marriage counselor may offer many practical tools for adjusting your marital attitudes and behavior, such as teaching you skills to promote communication, intimacy, and the re-building of trust. But where Christian counseling trumps secular counseling is in the understanding that true transformation is accomplished by the renewing of the mind (Romans 12:2), which develops the “fruit of the Spirit” conducive to peaceful and loving relationships. Once again, the most important thing you can do to improve your marriage is to grow spiritually.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. – Galatians 5:22
How Christian Counseling Can Help Your Marriage
Whether you are considering marriage or are already married and experiencing some relationship problems, a Christian counselor can be a valuable resource. Choosing a counselor with a Biblical perspective ensures that your Christian values will be supported and you will receive counsel in keeping with God’s will. Your struggles will be met with compassion even as you are guided toward a more fulfilling and God-honoring marriage. Working with couples is one of my passions, so if you are looking for assistance please reach out to me today to find out how Christian counseling can help your marriage.
“Open Bible with Pen Antique Grayscale” courtesy of Ryk Neethling Flickr CreativeCommons (CC BY 2.0); “Rope” courtesy of Kham Tran Flickr CreativeCommons (CC BY 2.0)
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