Special Blog: The Overlooked Reality of Transgender Identity

FeaturedSpecial Blog: The Overlooked Reality of Transgender Identity

The Miss Universe Pageant was held this past Sunday evening. The location of the pageant was held in Bankok Thailand and there were a total of 47 contestants that participated in this year’s event from all over the world. One of the pageant runners was a person who goes by name of Angela Ponce, who was a contestant from the country of Spain. Angela Ponce was not the actual winner of the of the 2018 Miss Universe pageant (this honor went to the contestant Catriona Gray from the Philippines). However, Angela Ponce is receiving massive media attention due to the reality Angela was the first transgender contestant in the Miss Universe Pageant. Ponce, who was crowned Miss Spain in June 2018, mentioned the desire for the world to progress further as it relates to transgender identity when Angela commented to the Associated Press after the contest

“If my going through all this contributes to the world moving a little step forward, then that’s a personal crown that will always accompany me,”

Fitzpatrick. H. (2018). Angela Ponce makes history as 1st transgender Miss Universe contestant. Retreived from https://abcnews.go.com/GMA/Culture/angela-ponce-makes-history-1st-transgender-miss-universe/story?id=59859591

Angela Ponce’s attention and influence in regarding transgender identity and influence in women’s competitions has not been an isolated case. This year there was an event where a transgender wrestler in the state of Texas won a female wrestling competition. The previous year a transgender male won the girls state wrestling championship (it should be noted that she wanted to compete against the boys, but the competition would not allow her to do so because of her sex), and just last week a person by the name of Patricio Manuel became the first transgender male to win a professional match in boxing

How is transgender identity (or transgenderism) defined?  Transgender identity carries with it the idea that cultural norms and traditions have defined what one is to be when a person is conceived (i.e., a boy or a girl) in society. Transgender identity does not seek to be defined by these cultural and societal traditions as noted in this description below:

[Transgender is] an umbrella term for people whose gender identity and/or expression is different from cultural expectations based on the sex they were assigned at birth. Being transgender does not imply any specific sexual orientation. Therefore, transgender people may identify as straight, gay, lesbian, bisexual, etc.

Transgender. Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Definitions. Retreived from https://www.hrc.org/resources/sexual-orientation-and-gender-identity-terminology-and-definitions

There may be those who are convinced due to these recent trends that the world is progressing forward. Some believe that this may be a healthy expression of psychological and sociological development. Many believe this trend actually promotes equality. However there is one fact that transgender identity fails to observe: That in attempting to promote equality, it actually undermines it. 

Take for example the Miss America Pageant. The reality is a man, who took hormone treatments that altered him into (somewhat) a woman who participated has now received worldwide attention and accolades in contrast to the winner, who by nature is a woman. Another example is the young woman who took testosterone treatments because she identified as he. As a result of this she was able to overpower the competition and as a result, the woman, who by nature was a female, lost the match. 

What about the woman who identified as a man and won the boxing match? There are two things to note here in this story: This also undermines females because the woman, who believed she identified as a man had to be modified as a man to defeat a man the boxing ring. This underscores the overall physical differences between men and women. In fact, Patricio Manuel’s coach commented after the match below

“This is bigger than boxing,” Gomez said. “It’s for all sports. The story is, I don’t care who you are, what country you come from, what nationality. It doesn’t really matter. If you’re good enough to compete, you’ll be able to compete. All you need is a chance. I’m just happy to be a part of it”

John. A (2018). First transgender male boxer wins in professional debut. Retreived from: https://www.stargazette.com/story/sports/boxing/2018/12/09/first-transgender-male-boxer-pro-debut/2256858002/

This is the irony and the sad reality found in this above statement. It really is not about if a person is “good enough” to compete. Patricio Manuel did not feel that she was good enough to compete unless she modified herself to become a man and compete like a man. She had to deny who she actually was in order to become what she felt she was. No matter the amount of hormones Patricio Manuel, or Angela Ponce injects into them this does not alter the chromosomes, which has determined their sexual orientation. No matter what, in these particular scenarios, and many others, when it comes to transgender identity, equality for women (and men) always loses, because who a person is by nature is eclipsed by how one feels.  

However, the biblical worldview promotes true equality between both sexes. True equality comes from the reality that we are created by God, and are made in His image (Gen. 1:27-28). The Scriptures also mentioned the uniqueness of women as the woman was personally fashioned (or built) by God in creation (Gen. 2:22). According to these truths, there are some points that should be underscored when observing the Biblical worldview concerning the sexual orientation of men and women: That God, not man, by these genetic and biological means determines the sex of an individual (c.f., Job. 10:8-11; Ps. 139:13-16). This is irrespective of how one may feel about their sexual identity. In addition, the physical bodies men and women naturally have magnified and made much of God displaying His power and divine nature because He has given us the physical body (c.f., Rom. 1:18-20). To deny this, or alter the physical body to reflect the sex we were not given does not honor Him, and in essence, denies the truth of God who created man and woman for His glory. 

In the paradigm of transgender identity, there is no room for true equality (in fact, if one was to raise these issues one would be criticized and observed as being intolerant of this position). True equality, from the Biblical worldview, comes from recognizing there is a Creator, who has made us according to His image and likeness. To deny this is to deny the very foundation of what true equality is based on, not “I feel,” but “God says…”

Let us continue to look observe who male and female are from what God has told us from His word. In this, we glorify God, recognizing the origin of true equality. In effect, we will serve one another rightly as we observe who we really are in light of His truth. Amen.

Until next time…

Soli Deo Gloria!

Dr. L.S. 

 

 

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Divorce, Remarriage, and Domestic Violence

Divorce, Remarriage, and Domestic Violence

The topic of divorce can be a very sensitive subject in the body of Christ. There are clear Scriptures that describe God’s hatred for divorce (c.f., Mal. 2:16). So how does the believer, specifically a biblical counselor, deal with divorce and remarriage, specifically within the context of domestic violence? Is it permissible for a man or woman to get remarried after a person has been a victim of domestic violence? Let us observe two specific Scriptures for the consideration of this particular topic. The first Scripture for our examination is Matthew 19:3-9:

3 Some Pharisees came to Jesus , testing Him and asking, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any reason at all?” 4 And He answered and said, “Have you not read that He who created them from the beginning made them male and female, 5 and said, ‘for this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? 6 “So they are no longer two, but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate.” 7 They said* to Him, “Why then did Moses command to give her a certificate of divorce and send her away?” 8 He said* to them, “Because of your hardness of heart Moses permitted you to divorce your wives; but from the beginning it has not been this way. 9 “And I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for immorality , and marries another woman commits adultery.” (NASB). 

In Matthew 19:3-9 the Pharisees approach Jesus to ask Him a question: Is it permissible for a man to divorce her for any reason at all? (vs.1-2). Jesus answers the question of the Pharisees specifically from the Law of Moses discussing that God joining man and woman in marriage (vs. 3-6). The Pharisees then asked why Moses commanded the nation of Israel to give the wife a certificate of divorce (lit. “send away”). This particular command is observed in the Old Testament (c.f., Deut. 24:1-4) (v. 7). Jesus answered the Pharisees saying that Moses permitted this because of the hardness of their heart but from the beginning, it was not to be this way (referring back to the creation account before the curse of the Fall of mankind). Then Jesus, speaking authoritatively mentioned that whoever divorces his wife, except for immorality, and marries another commits adultery (v. 9).

There are four things to note concerning this certain passage above: First, the general audience Jesus is addressing is the Jewish people, specifically the Pharisees, not the body of Christ (i.e., the church). Second, Jesus is addressing the Pharisees with a specific argument found in the Law of Moses. Third, Jesus points to the real issue of the matter with the Pharisees: The action of divorce is just the effect, the cause of divorce is the hardness of heart, which answered the Pharisees initial question. Fourth, Jesus’s answer to the Pharisees addressed, in particular, the man in the marital relationship that has initiated the sending away of his wife, which was also a part of the Pharisees question. Jesus was pointing out the question concerning the men who did this saw their wives as expendable, and not as gifts given by God to them (c.f., Gen 2:14-15). 

The second Scripture that discusses this topic is found in the book of 1 Corinthians 7:10-16:

But to the married I give instructions, not I, but the Lord, that the wife should not leave her husband 11 (but if she does leave, she must remain unmarried, or else be reconciled to her husband), and that the husband should not divorce his wife. 12 But to the rest I say, not the Lord, that if any brother has a wife who is an unbeliever, and she consents to live with him, he must not divorce her. 13 And a woman who has an unbelieving husband, and he consents to live with her, she must not send her husband away. 14 For the unbelieving husband is sanctified through his wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified through her believing husband; for otherwise your children are unclean, but now they are holy. 15 Yet if the unbelieving one leaves, let him leave; the brother or the sister is not under bondage in such cases, but God has called us to peace. 16 For how do you know, O wife, whether you will save your husband? Or how do you know, O husband, whether you will save your wife? (NASB).

In this context, Paul is writing to the saints who live in an idolatrous society. The inhabitants of Corinth worshipped one of the false deities known as Aphrodite who was the goddess of eros (sexual love) and beauty. Her temple stood at the top of the Acropolis so one would see it when they arrived at the city of Corinth. Paul addressed in his letter Gentiles who have come out of this pagan ritual and practice, and are doing good works within this culture. In addition, Paul also wrote to people who were once unbelievers and are now believers having to deal with the reality of being married to one who engaged in this act of worship at the temple (i.e. unbelievers)(vs. 12-13). If one chooses to leave the marriage, Paul instructed them to remain unmarried, not for justification sake, but for sanctification sake (by contrast to the idolatrous culture they were living in) (vs. 10-12).

There are several things to note in the above passage in contrast with the passage in the Book of Matthew: First, Paul did not specifically mention the Law of Moses when addressing marriage to the Gentiles in the church (in contrast to the subject of marriage in the Gospel of Matthew where the Law of Moses was explicitly mentioned). Paul’s audience in 1 Corinthians were mostly Gentiles who would have no reference to the Law of Moses unlike the Pharisees (Jesus’s audience in Gospel of Matthew’s was particularly Jews). Second, Paul was addressing both the husbands and the wives in Corinth (specifically dealing with willing and unwilling unbelieving spouses), whereas Jesus was handing only the husbands in the passage in Matthew. Third, while Jesus addressed why divorce takes place (i.e., the hardness of the heart) in the Book of Matthew, Paul promoted progressive sanctification by proper sexual conduct amongst Christians living in an idolatrous society. In short, the issue of violence within a marriage was not discussed in either text. 

So how are we to address the issue of remarriage and divorce concerning domestic violence? Before the author answers this question, several points must be underscored:

  • The person who has committed violence in a marriage has failed to serve their spouse: Scripture has laid out the conduct of husbands and wives in a marriage. Wives are to respect their husbands and husbands are to love their wives (Eph. 5:22-33; Col. 3:18-19). The standard is Christ, in that He is God in human flesh who served mankind by giving His life willingly for the forgiveness of our sins (Eph. 5:21). When a husband or wife, engages in domestic violence they are failing in their responsibility to honor and love their spouse as Christ served us.
  • The person who has committed violence should suffer the due consequences for their actions: There are many verses in Scripture that discusses how one who is wrathful is destructive (Prov. 16:32; 19:19; 22:24; 30:33; Eph. 4:31-32). One who chooses to exercise their anger in this manner will bear the consequences of this anger. They will experience a lack of trust from the person who they have violated. This violent interaction that occurs in the marriage is not the fault of the person who has been offended.  This is a natural consequence when one has chosen to violate their spouse in this manner, and this consequence includes the ultimate loss of trust (i.e., divorce), especially for the safety of the victim.

When it comes to domestic violence grace must be extended to the one who was violated by the person who abused them if one chooses to remarry. This is not an issue where one is divorcing their spouse for just any reasonThis is also not the case where both are living in an idolatrous country and to keep them from worshipping false gods with sex there should be sexual intimacy between them. This is about the violation of a person who was made in the image of God. It is because of this one may suffer the consequences and this may include divorce (and rightly so) due to their wrathful and destructive behavior. In the context of domestic violence, the biblical counselor can remind counselee of God’s grace and that the remarriage can be one of true joy, companionship, and service for God’s glory.

When it comes to serving those who are victims of domestic violence let us do so in a manner that is gracious and kind, encouraging the faint-hearted as Paul described (1 Thess. 5:14). For this is our objective as Paul writes to do good to all, and especially those in the household of faith (Gal. 6:10). 

Until next time…

Soli Deo Gloria!

Dr. L.S.

 

Biblical Counseling: Integrationism vs. Dispensational Approach (Part Four).

Biblical Counseling: Integrationism vs. Dispensational Approach (Part Four).

The previous article examined how a biblical counselor uses techniques to assist a counselee in the counseling process. The question was explored as to how a biblical counselor can discern what type of techniques to use with a counselee. It was observed that the two things that direct the counselor to use a particular technique in counseling were worldview and the source of authority. These two things govern the motive behind the technique and the purpose for why it is used in counseling. A person who counsels from a secular humanist perspective, their source of authority is mankind (since secular humanism has its source of authority man at the center). By contrast, a person who counsels from a biblical worldview, their source of authority is God (or specifically God’s word).

When it comes to biblical counseling there are two distinct approaches a Biblical counselor may use, which the author will refer to as the Authoritative Theoretical Integrative Model and the Authoritative Foundational Model.  The Authoritative Theoretical Integrative Model can be explained using the following definition:

The Authoritative Theoretical Integrative Model attempts to infuse the biblical worldview and theories from different sources of authority, and/or worldviews, for the purpose of addressing counselee’s spiritual, psychological, social, and cognitive problems.

There are three risks when a biblical counselor uses the Authoritative Theoretical Integrative Model when assisting their counselees. these risks are described below:

  • The Authoritative source may be the theories in counseling rather than Biblical authority: A theory is defined as, “a supposition or a system of ideas intended to explain something, especially one based on general principles independent of the thing to be explained” (https://en.oxforddictionaries.com). In terms of counseling, theories are given in an attempt to explain human behavior and the rationale for why the behavior is displayed. These rationales for how to address human behavior are always explained from the theorist’s perspective or source of authority. Consequently, these theories often have an authoritative source that may not compatible with the authoritative source of Scripture. 
  • The Scriptures may be taken out of context for the sake of “unifying” counseling theory with the biblical truth: A biblical counselor, working with Cognitive-Behavioral theory, a theory that asserts that how an individual thinks determines how they behave, may use Rom. 12:2 as proof that Scripture teaches this particular theoretical model, as the author writes below:

…I was lead to a scripture that I felt answered my question. It was a writing of Paul found in 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. Paul also writes in Romans 12:2 to be transformed by the renewing of our minds, and again in Ephesians 4 we are reminded to be made new in the attitude of our minds. I could go on—it’s all over the place…This is the very essence of cognitive-behavioral therapy!

Rachel Dewitt (2010). Christian Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy. Retrieved from http://heritagecounselingcenter.blogspot.com/2010/08/christian-cognitive-behavioral-therapy.html

In the context of 2 Corinthians 5:10 Paul does write about the arguments and pretensions that the culture, or the spirit of the age, philosophically made (the cultural background Paul was addressing were saints who were surrounded by people that were speculating about mankind, life, and what the false gods they worshipped required of men in the culture they lived in). In addition, in this text, Paul mentions nothing about destroying one’s arguments and pretensions in effect to change a person’s behavior. Romans 12:2 does discuss the transformation of the mind. However, the purpose of this verse that Paul wrote was not to change one’s thinking in their brain to change one’s behavior, but so that one may know the will of God. Furthermore, the phrase “be transformed” found in verse 2 is not active, but passive. In short, the counselee is not doing the transforming, it is God’s mercies (i.e., the word of God), in conjunction with the Holy Spirit that does the transforming of one’s mind.  

  • May lead a counselor to practice counseling from the “empty philosophy” rather than biblical authority (c.f., Col. 2:8)This risk is an extension from the previous point. A biblical counselor who counsels from this model may only see the Scripture as either a means to address salvation, and nothing further, or may use it as a book for personal improvement and/or behavior modification. Sara Rainer comments:

For Christian psychologists, our worldview must be determined by Scripture. Not only should we see our clients as individuals in need of Jesus Christ, but our understanding of mental illness and disorder should also be based upon a Gospel-oriented worldview. As a result, our therapeutic practice will utilize Scripture to heal our clients and glorify Jesus.

Sara Rainer (2014). The Integration of Christianity and Psychology. Retrived from https://www.christianitytoday.com/edstetzer/2014/september/concerning-psychology-and-christianity-guest-post-by-sarah-.html

The gospel of Christ Jesus is important, and as I mentioned in my previous article Dr. Ranier does acknowledge the authority of Scripture and the reality and consequences of the sin nature in mankind. However, Sara Rainer mentions the Bible in counseling only in the salvific context. This may cause a biblical counselor to believe that the way to deal with mankind’s behavior is to choose a theoretical model over Scripture, which could more than likely be from the philosophy that is contrary to Christ (i.e., God’s word).

In contrast to the Authoritative Theoretical Integrative Model, the biblical counselor can also use what the author calls the Authoritative Foundational Model, which is discussed below:

  • Observes a consistent normal-grammatical historical method of Scripture: The biblical counselor employing this model observes God, and His revealed word, as the ultimate source of authority. As a result, the biblical counselor will strive to be a good biblicist looking to discover the author’s original intended meaning of Scripture, taking into account the meanings of words, grammar, history, and even culture. By this method, one builds and establishes a proper biblical worldview (this also decreases the chances one may take Scripture out of context and applying it improperly).
  • Works with a proper biblical systematic theology that governs counseling method and process: A biblical counselor, using a consistent normal grammatical-historical method of Scripture can establish a proper biblical systematic theology, which can be used to evaluate a particular theoretical model.  
  • Observes the authoritative sources within the theories of counseling. Subjecting them to the Biblical worldview (c.f., 2 Cor. 10:5; Col. 2:8)All theories in counseling work from a particular philosophy. The biblical counselor, before they employ a theory examines the creator of the theory, the philosophical worldview of the theory, the main points of the theory, and where the main points of the theory agree/disagree with the Biblical worldview, holding to the points of the theory that agree with the biblical worldview, and discarding the points of the theory that are incompatible with the biblical worldview. 
  • Practices proper biblical application in counseling: Once the theory, and its corresponding main points have been examined and subjected to the biblical worldview, one can use the instruction of the Scriptures, and the points of the theory that is compatible with the Bible, to advise counselees properly.
Two Models of Biblical Counseling-page-001 Diagram created by Dr. Luther Smith

A biblical counselor may use two methods in biblical counseling. The first model is the Authoritative Theoretical Integrative Model and has three particular risks: Authoritative sources may be the theories rather than the Scriptures. The Scriptures may be misquoted from their general context for the sake of making them compatible with the counseling theory. Lastly, this may lead a person to counsel with an empty philosophy rather than the Scriptures. This may lead to improper integrative conclusions and how to serve people in their problems in biblical counseling. 

The second method would be the Authoritative Foundational Model which addresses the limitations of the previous model by observing the Scriptures from a consistent normal grammatical-historical method building a proper systematic theology. From there one examines the authoritative source(s) of the theory subjecting it to the biblical worldview. After this approach, a biblical counselor is able to properly give primary and secondary application to their counselee.

Let us as biblical counselors with a consistent method of explanation of the Scriptures, seek to subject every theory and teaching under the biblical worldview. In effect, we protect ourselves, and our counselees, from the empty philosophy that can be found in counseling, and advise our counselees properly from the Scriptures.

Until next time…

Soli Deo Gloria!

Dr. L.S.

For more biblical resources from Dr. Luther Smith they can be found on his website: www.drluthersmith.com.

 

 

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs & The Biblical Worldview

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs & The Biblical Worldview

In the field of psychology, there is a concept called “Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.”  This particular theory Abraham Maslow, a world-renowned psychologist posited there are five needs that all human beings have. These needs are usually expressed in a form of a  pyramid, which is observed below.

maslow-hierachy-of-needs

 Image is taken from https://www.simplypsychology.org/maslow.html

Maslow in his original theory stated the lower needs are needs that must be fulfilled before an individual can progress to a higher need. The needs are defined briefly:

  • Physiological needs: These are the needs of the body such as food, water, rest, and warmth.
  • Safety needs: These are needs for boundaries and protection, such as security and safety.
  • Belonging and love: These are needs concerning relationships, such as friendships and intimacy.
  • Esteem needs: These are needs concerning self: Such as accomplishment and goal completion.
  • Self-actualization: These are the needs of achieving one’s full potential, and creativity.

For example, a person who does not have their physiological needs met will not be able to “move up” to the safety needs. Maslow, explaining his hierarchy of needs noted:

At once other (and “higher”) needs emerge and these, rather than physiological hunger, dominate the organism. And when these, in turn, are satisfied, again new (and still “higher”) needs emerge and so on. This is what we mean by saying that the basic human needs are organized into a hierarchy of relative prepotency’

Maslow, 1943, p. 375. Retrieved from https://psychclassics.yorku.ca/Maslow/motivation.htm

Maslow observed these particular qualities are important for a human being to grow and develop into a person who contributes to society. However, can these needs be observed from a Biblical worldview? This topic will be explored below:

Physiological needs: These needs are observed in Genesis when God created male and female. God had given mankind food to eat (Gen. 1:29; 2:16, for meat c.f., Gen. 9:3). God had also placed mankind in a paradisiacal environment (Gen. 2:15). God ultimately provided everything mankind needs physiologically.

Safety needs: The biblical worldview emphasizes that safety was also part of the plan of God. There was no fear or concern of an enemy at this time in history. In fact, this safety and protection, in the beginning, were to be extended beyond the Garden of Eden (Gen. 1:28). In addition, God has provided governing authorities to protect mankind from evil (Rom. 13:1-7). 

Belonging and love needs: Love and Belonging are also seen in the account of Genesis as we see the qualities of intimate relationship and marriage (Gen. 2:18-25). Those who acknowledge a biblical worldview also observe the qualities of friendship and belonging defined in the Scriptures (Pro. 17:17; 27:6, 9). Belonging and love are central qualities mankind is to exhibit.

Esteem needs: Esteem from a Biblical worldview does not just come from the observation that one is a human being, but comes from the reality that mankind is created in God’s image (Gen. 1:26-27). In other words, self-esteem, from a biblical worldview comes from knowing that one is created by a God who desires to give them all the things mentioned above (physiological, safety, and love and belonging). It is because of this one’s esteem is established.

Self-Actualization needs: Self-Actualization also originates from the reality that man is created in the image of God (Gen. 1:26-27), and that he knows God and His Son whom He has sent (Jn. 17). The fact that man has communicable attributes that God has given to him (i.e., knowledge, goodness, creativity, etc) creates things like art, music, books, goods, etc. A believer understands that they have been given these attributes, not because they are human, but that God has created them to possess and use these qualities for others, and for God’s glory.

When observed from a biblical worldview there are three important points that Abraham Maslow missed concerning these needs. First, he failed to recognize the Source of where all these physical needs come from. Maslow commented:

‘It is quite true that man lives by bread alone — when there is no bread. But what happens to man’s desires when there is plenty of bread and when his belly is chronically filled?’

Maslow, 1943, p. 375. Retreived from https://psychclassics.yorku.ca/Maslow/motivation.htm

The Biblical worldview would state emphatically that man does not live by bread alone, but on every word that proceeds from the mouth of God (Deut. 8:3). The reason that mankind is sustained by food is due to God’s provision (Ps. 104:10-15). Human beings are protected and safe because of God and His sovereignty (Ps. 127:1). People have love and belonging in our lives due to man being created with the capacity to love, because they are made in the image of God. In addition, God has commanded the saint to love other believers because God has loved them (1 Jn. 4:7-14). The reason why humans are valuable is that mankind is made in His image (c.f., Gen. 9:5-6). This is what Abraham Maslow failed to see in his analysis of the motivational needs of human beings.

Second, although Maslow observed the physical needs of human beings, he neglected to observe the reality of a cursed world due to sin.  It is the active works of the sin nature that seeks to take away these needs from other people. Ironically Maslow recognized this problem when he commented:

The central role of the parents and the normal family setup are indisputable. Quarreling, physical assault, separation, divorce or death within the family may be particularly terrifying. Also parental outbursts of rage or threats of punishment directed to the child, calling him names, speaking to him harshly, shaking him, handling him roughly, or actual physical punishment sometimes elicit such total panic and terror in the child that we must assume more is involved than the physical pain alone. While it is true that in some children this terror may represent also a fear of loss of parental love, it can also occur in completely rejected children, who seem to cling to the hating parents more for sheer safety and protection than because of hope of love.

Maslow, 1943, p. 377-378. Retrieved from https://psychclassics.yorku.ca/Maslow/motivation.htm

Abraham Maslow stated the primary reason these needs are not fulfilled is this was due to external factors (e.g., lack of parental love) However, from a biblical worldview, it is the active acts of sin within man that negatively affect these particular areas. The active acts of sinful mankind do not look to the benefit of its neighbor but instead seeks to hurt and destroy their neighbor. This is observed as Cain did not provide safety for his brother Abel, but instead murdered him (Gen. 4:7-8).

In the area of belonging and love the two greatest commandments in the Law of Moses concerned love (Matt. 24:37-40), which the nation of Israel disobeyed repeatedly in the Old Testament. In the body of Christ, the Church of Corinth had to be chastised for causing quarrels in the body because of their allegiance to certain teachers (1 Cor. 1:10-17), and be reminded of the qualities of love in terms of their conduct (1 Cor 13:1-8).  James also exhorted the saints who favored those rich and excluded those who are poor (Jas. 2:1-13). 

Before the Fall, esteem was anchored in the wisdom mankind was created in the image of God (Gen. 1:26-27). However, now that mankind seeks to have a wisdom apart from God’s revealed word self-esteem is now based in speculation, rather than what God has revealed in nature and His written word concerning mankind (c.f., Rom. 1:18-23).

Mankind was created by God and shares some of the attributes of God (e.g., goodness, creativity, etc.), and these were to be used to the glory of God (c.f., 1 Cor 10:31). However, because mankind is spiritually appraised they are unable to reflect the glory of God (1 Cor. 2:14). In short, one who truly”self-actualizes” is one who knows God and His Son (c.f., Jn. 17:1-4).  In addition, the person who subscribes to Abraham Maslow’s perspective may be convinced this is the way that human beings create a decent society and a relatively better world in the present time (i.e., “When I improve oneself I will improve the world”) and in some respects, this may have some benefit. In contrast for those who hold to a Biblical worldview, mankind is not to “self-actualize” to progress humanity forward with their potential, but for the glory of God.

The third thing and perhaps the most important is the lack of a spiritual need for people in the hierarchy of needs. Abraham Maslow, because of his worldview, believed that if one fulfilled these needs physically one would be truly fulfilled. By contrast from a Biblical perspective, mankind is created not just with a body, but with a soul (c.f,. Gen. 2:7; Ecc. 12:7). 

Maslows Hierarchy of Needs From A Biblical Worldview.

The Hierarchy of Needs from a Biblical Worldview (adapted by Dr. Smith) 

Abraham Maslow noticing the natural interactions that human beings have are influenced positively or negatively, to some degree, concluded there are needs that mankind must fulfill to reach their potential. Yet when Abraham Maslow’s theory is subjected to a Biblical worldview it is shown that he lacked three crucial details. He failed to acknowledge who gave the Source of these needs to mankind, and what they were to highlight, the glory of God. In addition, he correctly saw how each of these five needs can, and are, corrupted. However, he failed to observe the reason they are corrupted, and this is because of the active sin nature of mankind. Lastly, not only is his model temporally focused, but his worldview failed to account for the true need of the spiritual state of man. 

Let us continue as Biblical counselors to address with our counselees not only the physical needs of man but the spiritual needs of man. For this particular need is very important, and it is this need when addressed properly, where one sees all other needs mankind has in the proper perspective.

Until Next Time…

Soli Deo Gloria!

Dr. L.S. 

For more biblical resources from Dr. Luther Smith they can be found on his website: http://www.drluthersmith.com.

 

 

 

 

Biblical Counseling: Integrationism vs. Dispensational Approach (Part Three).

Biblical Counseling: Integrationism vs. Dispensational Approach (Part Three).

In the previous article in this series, the integration of worldviews was explored. It was shown that Sara Rainer, a Christian psychologist, attempted to harmonize a secular worldview with a biblical worldview. Although there were many things that Sara Rainer acknowledged in terms of sacred Scripture (i.e., salvation in Christ Jesus), there were many concerns about her particular position (e.g., she describes herself as a secular psychologist). By contrast, a counselor with a consistently biblical worldview does not attempt to infuse secular thought in their counseling process but seeks to be biblical when assisting counselees.  

However, this leads us to a third question: How do we discern if a technique is grounded in the truth (i.e., reality) and that it is beneficial to use in Biblical counseling?

There are two things to consider when observing this topic of techniques, which are worldview and source of authority. These two areas influence the motive in which a counselor uses these techniques with their counselees, and how a counselor uses these techniques in counseling.

When it comes to techniques there I submit four areas a biblical counselor (and really every counselor) addresses when assisting a counselee with techniques: spiritual, biological, cognitive, and social.

Spiritual: This particular area has to do with the inner man. Any technique, skill that benefits in this area would be of the most benefit to the counselee because it is grounded and subjected to the truth. The Old Testament underscores the reality of an eternal self that is housed in this earthly body (Gen. 2:7). Paul even highlights this point as he writes describing what he calls the “inner man” (c.f., Rom. 7:22; 2 Cor. 4:16; Eph. 3:16). This has particular implications not just in this life, but when the physical body of this side of Christ’s return no longer functions. The inner man can only grow through the constant study of God’s sacred word (Eph. 3:16-19; c.f., 2 Tim 3:16-17). It also must be noted that a believer is indwelt with the Holy Spirit which renews their inner man (Eph. 3:16).

Biological: This area would cover the physical body. If there is a technique, skill, or counsel that assists the body in becoming more flexible and increases the overall health of the body, this would be considered a technique that is grounded in truth.  There is little to say about this area in sacred Scripture. However, there are some general principles such as Paul advising Timothy to take some wine for his stomach problems (1 Tim. 5:23). Paul even expresses that the discipline of the body may yield short-term gains (c.f., 1 Tim. 4:8). 

Cognitive: This particular area has to do with, thoughts, will, and attitudes. If there is a skill or technique that would assist a counselee in having realistic cognition this would be a technique that would be established in truth. The Old and New Testament addresses this area extensively. There are many Scriptures where a common practice is to consider or ponder the word of God (Ps. 1:2; Ps. 119:15, 48, 78, 97, 99, 148; Ps. 143:5; Ps. 145:5).  In the New Testament, Paul writing to the saints in Rome that a believer’s mind is constantly renewed the believers considers God’s mercies, so that they may know God’s will (c.f., Rom 12:1-3). In addition, Paul wrote to the saints in Philippi how they were to address anxiety and have their hearts guarded by the peace of God: By prayer (with supplication and thanksgiving) (Phil. 4:6-7). In addition, he also writes:

8 Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely , whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things…

Phil. 4:8 NASB

The word dwell (λογιζεσθε) is to,”think on, to consider.” A Christian is to intentionally think about these things in their daily life in light of the truth of God’s word, and as a result, they will have peace with God, which will guard their heart against the cares of this world. 

Social: This particular area has to do with relationships. Any technique that would assist in this area would also be considered to be a benefit to the counselee when it is grounded in truth. The Old and New Testament address this area extensively in the area of friendships (Prov. 17:17; 27:6; 27:9), marriage (c.f., Gen. 2:18-25; Eph. 5:22-30; Col. 3:18-19; 1 Pet. 3:1-7), and how to interact with one another to the body of Christ (Gal. 6:2; Eph. 4:2; 4:32; Phil. 2:3, etc.), as well as those outside the body of Christ (Col. 4:5; 1 Thess. 4:12).

However, there are some models that are not grounded in reality but out of a personal experience or different religious orientation and seeks to discover, or even create, techniques that the founder believes fulfills the objectives of this certain model. For example, a therapeutic practice known as Rebirthing utilizes breathing techniques for inner healing.  The creator of the counseling skill explains the origin of this technique:

Rebirthing-Breathwork, aka Intuitive Energy Breathing or Conscious Energy Breathing, is the ability to breathe Energy as well as air. It is the art of learning to breathe from the Breath Itself. Rebirthing is perhaps the most valuable self-healing ability that humans can learn. We can not have disease and relaxation in the same space at the same time. Relaxation is the ultimate healer…Rebirthing also means to unravel the birth-death cycle and to incorporate the body and mind into the conscious Life of the Eternal Spirit – to become a conscious expression of the Eternal Spirit. This involves healing the eight biggies of human trauma, which are the birth trauma, the parental disapproval syndrome, specific negatives, the unconscious death urge, karma from past lives, the religion trauma, the school trauma, and senility, etc.

“What is rebirthing breathwork?” Rebirthing breathwork international. https://rebirthingbreathwork.com/2013/03/13/what-is-rebirthing-breathwork/

There are several things to observe from this particular paragraph. The worldview of the creator of this theory promotes beliefs originating from New Age Eastern mysticism, which is guiding the creator’s worldview (e.g, Eternal Spirit, karma from past lives, etc.). From a spiritual standpoint, he gives little to no attention to the spiritual aspect of man (although he talks about an Eternal Spirit, past lives, etc); however, his focus is only on a temporal/pantheistic perspective (to become aware of the “Life of the Eternal Spirit”) and not an eternal one (eagerly awaiting Christ appearing). In the biological and cognitive aspect of man, Lenard Orr promotes using breathing techniques. However, the motive for using breathing techniques is not to learn how to control ones physiological and cognitive responses but is to connect the body and mind to this mysterious “Eternal Spirit.” In the social aspect of man when a counselee, through this breathwork in Rebirthing, heals from what he calls the “eight biggies of human trauma,” the counselee will be able to relate with others in a proper way.

This particular counseling model is hostile, and diametrically opposed to, the Biblical worldview. The biblical counselor, holding to a dispensational system, would govern every technique they use under the truth of God’s word, with the motive being two-fold: To glorify God with their works in counseling (c.f., 1 Cor. 10:31) and to serve the counselees with their techniques well (Gal. 5:13). The motive by which Leonard Orr created this model is subject to his own speculation, personal experience, and Eastern religious mysticism, rather than Scripture, which is expressed below:

Rebirthing therapy was founded by therapist Leonard Orr in the 1970s, who is said to have re-experienced his own birth while taking a bath. This led him to develop breathing exercises that would supposedly release repressed traumas. 

Radford, Benjamin. “New Age ‘Rebirthing’ Treatment Kills Girl.” The Skeptical Inquirer Sep 2000: 6-7. ProQuest. Web. 22 Dec. 2017.

These techniques Leonard Orr has used in his counseling model, because of the misguided worldview,  has led to deceptive counseling techniques, which has little to no benefit for the spiritual, biological, cognitive, and social aspect of mankind, and may lead to destructive consequences. This is due to the fact the worldview found in this model, and the motive by which these techniques are used to meet the objectives of the theory, are subjected to an improper source of authority and worldview.

When it comes to techniques in counseling and how it benefits the counselee there must be a promotion of what God has revealed. For the biblical counselor, every technique that is used, and the motive to employ them, must be intentionally subjected to the word of God (c.f., 2 Cor. 10:5). It is in this reality that we know that God is truly glorified and that our counselees will truly be served properly.

Until next time…

Soli Deo Gloria!

Dr. L.S.

Transgenderism & The Biblical Worldview

Transgenderism & The Biblical Worldview

About a week ago The European Congress of Endocrinology (ECE) held its annual event, which took place this year in Barcelona, Spain. This event is a gathering of researchers and scientists from Europe and all over the world to share new scientific research and thier findings in their respective disciplines. One of the presentations at ECE was a professor by the name of Julie Bakker, who was the lead researcher with a team at the University of Liege in Belguim. The team presented what they stated as evidence for the reality of transgenderism, which is defined by the American Psychological Association (APA) as follows:

Transgender is an umbrella term for persons whose gender identity, gender expression or behavior does not conform to that typically associated with the sex to which they were assigned at birth.

APA (2018). What does transgender mean? Retreived from: http://www.apa.org/topics/lgbt/transgender.aspx

Julie Bakker and her team observed 160 males who were diagnosed with gender dysphoria, a psychological diagnosis that is characterized, generally, by an individual who may have a desire to remove primary and secondary sex characteristics and are convinced they were born the wrong sex.  Julie and her team of researchers performed brain scans using Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) on these men and compared them with the brain scans of women, and these men who were tested were found to have similar brain activity to that of women. 

Those who have been diagnosed with gender dysphoria are usually taken in to see a therapist or a psychiatrist for treatment. However, Julie and her team, due to their findings, hope that those who struggle with this are given more resources to assist them in their uneasiness about being in their own body. Julie Bakker, in presenting highlights this when she said the following at the ECE below:

“Although more research is needed, we now have evidence that sexual differentiation of the brain differs in young people with GD, as they show functional brain characteristics that are typical of their desired gender…We will then be better equipped to support these young people, instead of just sending them to a psychiatrist and hoping that their distress will disappear spontaneously.”

Transgender brain scans promised as study shows structural differences in people with gender dysphoria (2018). Retreived from: https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2018/05/22/transgender-brain-scans-promised-study-shows-structural-differences/

In addition, there are various religious institutions that have sought to deal with the issue of transgenderism. One such example is a woman by the name of Joy Everingham who became the first Methodist minister to be appointed to ministry as a transgender.  Another example was a Lutheran church in Hoboken New Jersey which a transgendered parishioner, at the main service, took on the name of “Peter.” With the culture using various methods and arguments to advance the ball of transgenderism how are those who hold to a biblical worldview to believe in terms of this societal movement?

In the book of Genesis, we find God in the sixth day of creation, declaring that He is going to make man in His image and likeness, giving them dominion over all of the creatures that He has made, and expresses He will create mankind male and female (Gen. 1:26-27). This creation of mankind is also observed where God took the dust of the earth, formed man, breathed into His nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being (Gen. 2:7). Later in the narrative, Eve is formed from the rib that is taken from Adam’s side (Gen. 2:10-21). God brought her to Adam and he observed one that is made just like him, thus the being was called “woman” (Gen. 2:23). 

What does this passage have to do with transgenderism? It was not until God breathed into man’s nostrils that man became a living being (or living soul). The point here is that the spirit of man is who a person truly is, not just the body that the spirit inhabits. A person may be able to alter the body, a person may feel uncomfortable in their body, but the true self is housed within the body, and this does not change, because one true identity comes from God.

In addition, Scripture tells us it is God who determines who we are (and it is biology that is the means for accomplishing this). In the Psalm, David glorified God in how he was fashioned in his mother’s womb (Ps. 139:13-16). Concerning Jeremiah and his call by God to be a prophet to the nation of Israel God says this:

Now the word of the Lord came to me saying, 5 “Before I formed you in the womb I knew youAnd before you were born I consecrated you;I have appointed you a prophet to the nations.”

Jer 1:4-5 NASB emphasis mine

In the text, we observe that before God formed him in the womb of his mother He knew Jeremiah. God, in His attribute of omniscience (i.e., all-knowing), knew who Jeremiah was before Jeremiah even existed, and this included his sex. Once more this highlights that God is the creator and that one’s identity comes from God Himself, and not an subjective feeling one has or does not have, about themselves.

It would also appear one’s identity is static even after one leaves their physical body. One such example is found in Luke 16:19-31 concerning the rich man and Lazarus, where both of them die, are buried, and the rich man, due to his lack of faith is sent to be tormented. However, Lazarus is sent to be comforted in “Abraham’s bosom” (a place where those who believed in the God of Abraham, Issac, and Jacob went). In this passage, there are several things to note in this particular text.

  • One’s identity is retained after death: Jesus said that the rich man, being in torment saw Abraham far away and Lazarus in his bosom (v. 23). The rich man even asked Abraham for Lazarus by name that the rich man may be comforted by him with just a drop of water (v. 24). This highlights that rich man recognized Lazarus even though they were deceased, and no longer in their physical body.
  • Abraham addresses Lazarus as a man after death: The rich man, when requesting that Abraham send Lazarus to cool off his tongue with a drop of water Abraham replies, “…’Child, remember that during your life you received your good things, and likewise Lazarus bad things; but now he is being comforted here, and you are in agony'” (v. 25 emphasis mine). In this verse, it is observed that Abraham refers to Lazarus as a “he.” This is after Lazarus is not in his physical body.

Researchers have observed biologically that the sex of an individual is determined by the chromosomes, however, this picture from a biblical worldview is incomplete. Brain scans, as interesting as they may be, should not be the factors for determining one’s sex. God, by His omnipotence, and sovereignty chooses one’s sexual orientation, which can be either male or female. The means by which His will is accomplished is seen in the biological working of these chromosomes. In addition, the physical body is an important thing, but it is not the only thing. One may feel that they are not comfortable in their physical body, one may even detest their physical body, and this is unfortunate, but this does not change the reality that the true identity is found in one’s spirit (in fact, it is not far-fetched to say that the physical body reflects the spiritual nature of one’s identity).  Furthermore, It is physical nature that displays the invisible power, divine attributes, and glory of God, which includes the creation of mankind (c.f., Rom. 1:20). However, a denial of this is a willful rejection of what God has made, which reveals the complete depravity of mankind who continues to deny God and suppress the truth (Rom. 1:18-19).

Let us as believers who hold to a Biblical worldview to continue to observe mankind, not only physical beings, but spiritual beings, whose true identity comes from God who has given it to mankind physically to display His eternal power, divine nature, and glory. Amen.

Until next time… 

Soli Deo Gloria!

Dr. L.S.

 

 

Biblical Counseling: Integrationism vs. Dispensational Approach (Part Two).

Biblical Counseling: Integrationism vs. Dispensational Approach (Part Two).

In the last article, the term integration in light of Biblical counseling was explored.  It was shown that the word integration was about the worldview, which is how a person perceives the world around them. Furthermore, when a person attempts to reconcile two different worldviews this is what the author had termed “worldview integration.” By contrast, a counselor, working from a dispensational system would not engage in a synthesis of worldviews but would reject all worldviews that were not compatible with a Biblical worldview.

This left two unanswered questions from the last article:  What does an integration of worldviews look like, and what are its implications?

In an article titled, “The Integration of Christianity and Psychology” Psychologist Sara Rainer gives her perspective on how to integrate Christianity with psychology. This author encourages you to read the article in its entirety, which can be found here. At the start of her article, Sara Rainer writes:

Secular psychologists operate on a biopsychosocial model of human development and behavior. This model proposes humans develop and operate according to biological, psychological, and social influences. Accordingly, we are products of our biology and environment, both bearing equal importance.

In more recent years, psychologists have begun recognizing that our spirituality impacts our lives, but have yet to say it is imperative for life. While the traditional psychological theories and models that are based upon naturalism are insufficient from a Christian worldview, not all of secular psychology is wrong. Indeed, there are many helpful and positive aspects of psychology to consider, which is why there is a need for integration.

Sara Ranier commented that secular psychologists operate on a biological, psychological (or cognitive), and sociological model (i.e., a biopsychosocial model). She mentioned that these aspects of man the secular psychologist focus on carry equal value. Additionally, she added that these qualities of mankind are not bad, however, they must be considered when counseling, emphasizing the need for an integrative psychology. 

Even though there is a benefit to understanding these aspects of man there is one thing that is missing from her paragraphs. Sara Rainer does not define the term secular. This particular word originated from the 13th century and is defined as “living in the world, and not being a part of a religious order.” As a worldview, the word secular is a term that focuses on the well being of man in this present life, without any regard for the afterlife (since there is a disregard for God’s existence). Sara Rainer admits even though a secular psychologist may find the spiritual aspect of mankind important, to the secular psychologist, or counselor, spirituality is perceived as a coping strategy to assist counselees with the overwhelming problems in a temporal existence. This is the reason why secular psychologists, or counselors, do not primarily focus on the spiritual aspect of man because their worldview does not account for this reality.

In another section of her article Sara Rainer writes that a believer who is counseling should operate on what she referred to as a middle ground:

As a trained secular doctor, I appreciate the biopsychosocial model of human nature. Learning about the complexities of humanity provides me with a better framework for understanding and helping my clients. The intricacies of the human brain, the environmental influences on our personality, and the social and culture impact on our lives remind me that pathology cannot simply be reduced to issues of morality or sin..

On the other hand, as a Christian, I acknowledge that all humans are inherently separated from God. This separation causes disorder, sin, and disease of every kind. However, we serve a loving and just God that provides a way out of our depraved state through Jesus Christ. He longs for us to seek Him and His promise of eternity.

Due to the love of this God, I also cannot reduce all pathology to a naturalistic model of humanity. I propose that Christian mental health professionals operate on a middle ground, the bio/psycho/social/spiritual model, which considers both our dignity and depravity as humans

There are several things to observe in these above paragraphs. Sara Rainer acknowledged the doctrine of sin. She argued the reason why there are diseases and illnesses was due to the curse of the Fall. She also endorsed that all mankind has a depraved nature and that Jesus Christ is the only hope to be redeemed from this corrupted state. Furthermore, Sara Rainer also admitted that mental illness and pathology cannot be boiled down to just naturalism, which those who hold to a biblical worldview can appreciate. However, within Sara Rainer’s article, there are several concerns to highlight, which are explored below:

  • Addressing herself as a trained secular doctor: Sara Rainer wrote that she was trained as a “secular doctor.” Even though she mentioned Christ and the forgiveness of sins in her article this is incompatible with the word secular, which she uses to define herself in terms of her training. As previously mentioned above, secularism, due to it’s forsaking God in its worldview, only seeks to find pleasure and purpose in this temporal life, and disregards an afterlife.
  • There is no “middle ground:” Sara Rainer commented that believers who work in the mental health field should operate on a “middle ground.” When it comes to a secular worldview and the Biblical worldview there is no middle ground. The primary presupposition of the secular worldview (i.e., “there is no God”) is antithetical to the central presupposition of the Biblical worldview (i.e., “in the beginning God…”). There cannot be a middle ground in terms of a secular and biblical worldview.
  • The bio/psycho/social/spiritual model: The word of God does speak on these aspects of man. However one of the shortcomings of biopsychosocial model is that it places the order of the spiritual quality of man last, not first. This is not consistent with Scripture where God created the man out of the dust of the earth, and it was only when God breathed into man’s nostrils that he became a living being (c.f., Gen. 2:7). In other words, the spirit God gave man animated the body. Therefore there should be a greater importance placed on the immaterial aspect of man, in relation to the material (perhaps the spiritual/bio/psycho/social reality). 
  • This argument assumes the biblical worldview lacks an aspect of mankind: Sara Rainer, in desiring to seek a middle ground between the two adds the spiritual to the biopsychosocial model. This assumes that believers need to add the spiritual component of man rather than recognizing it is the secular humanist that has removed this aspect of man. The biblical worldview underscores all these qualities of man because this perspective begins with the presupposition that God created mankind with these qualities. It is the secular humanist that borrows from the biblical worldview, not the other way around. 
  • The spiritual aspect of man in this model deemphasizes the doctrine of sanctification: The bio/psycho/social/spiritual model that Sara Rainer promoted in her article is one that is only concerned with the salvation of man from wrath and eternal damnation from God, which is important. However, there is not an emphasis in this article about the importance of positional and progressive sanctification under the grace of God, and looking forward to the blessed hope of Christ appearing (c.f., Tit. 2:11-14). While there is an emphasis on justification in Christ alone, there is an underemphasis on sanctification in the Holy Spirit (i.e., positional, progressive, and perfect).

This article is an example of worldview integration. Sara Rainer has taken two worldviews and attempted to find centrality between these perspectives, when in fact these positions, at their core, are diametrically opposed to one another. As a result of wanting to be neutral Sara Rainer has unknowingly given much ground to the psychologist who denies that God exists. In addition, it is more justification driven, affirming the gospel of Christ (which is important), but ironically it gives little to no emphasis on the life to come. Furthermore, there is still greater weight placed on the “here and now” only, rather than a “here and now” in terms of positional and progressive sanctification, and future glorification. 

Let us as believers seek to understand the aspects of man from what God has revealed to us within the pages of sacred Scripture. Additionally, let us refuse to  integrate the biblical worldview with perspectives put forth by secular humanists, who begin with an incorrect presupposition that “God is not.” By doing this we glorify our God and His revealed word, and we decrease the risk of adopting beliefs that could be potentially misleading to us and the counselees we look to serve.

Until next time…

Soli Deo Gloria!

Dr. L.S.