Unleavened Brett

Brett’s Friday Blog Post

UB May 10

Should we turn to therapy?

I was recently dealing with a troubled person who seemed to be affected by mental health problems (or possibly demonic influence or both). Many are dealing with issues that would be classified as psychological, but there may be more to it. During my current Sunday message series, I’ve been saying that therapeutic practices can only go so far because ALL issues are ultimately spiritual. Only God can get to the deeper underlying issues. His supernatural resources are what provide the wisdom, help, hope & healing needed. [To hear that first & foundational message click here.]

Though May is designated as “Mental Health Awareness Month,” the social “sciences” involve philosophies & speculations about human beliefs, behaviors & motivations that may not align with what God says, & sometimes flat-out contradict what God says about human nature. Counselors aren’t even allowed to label patients’ behaviors as “sinful” or “holy.” Their job isn’t to judge with that kind of “right judgment” (John 7:24). Non-Christian people wouldn’t be expected to seek that kind of help. Yet such “experts” can still be helpful through the “common grace” God provides unbelievers. But I’ve been advocating for Christians to turn first to God & His Word because that’s where we find the truth that sets us free (John 8:31-32).

Some Christians who work as counselors (not as biblical or “Christian counselors”) are allowed to help those who do request help from a Christian perspective. And certainly, there are some godly, wise Christian counselors who can be very helpful. But you still have to be cautious since they may have been trained more in secular psychology than biblical theology.

There’s plenty of bad therapy out there, focusing too much on self & feelings, which ironically can lead to more intense emotional distress. “Mental health” issues have been increasing exponentially over the past several years, especially among the young. While psychological treatments have been increasing dramatically, depression & anxiety have not been decreasing. When it comes to children, therapists can’t always be trusted to reinforce the parents’ values. They may actually be undermining them. They may even be incentivized to keep patients coming back instead of “curing” them. There’s no oversight, tracking, or reporting of what they’re doing. They could be making things worse, so you have to remain vigilant.

Add to that how much negative content everyone, but especially impressionable & vulnerable youth, is consuming–watching horrific movies & dark TV shows (whatever happened to fun wholesome sitcoms?), listening to foul music, immersing in violent & profane gaming, absorbing disturbing online content, social media, & pornography–it’s no wonder young people are feeling so miserable.

What could be more helpful is talking to a caring, wise adult–whether a Grandma, a minister, or a good friend. Some other basic ways of feeling better are getting better sleep, better nutrition, getting in better shape through exercise, & filling your mind with better things (Phil. 4:8). These all affect our moods. Pray & meditate on Scripture daily. There’s a reason people continue to recite the Lord’s Prayer & the 23rd Psalm after thousands of years–they re-direct your mind & spirit to God’s care. Attend church weekly & experience fellowship. Stop obsessing over yourself & instead serve, meet needs, & make a difference in other people’s lives.

A few days ago well-known Christian pastor & author, John MacArthur, received plenty of criticism for his controversial pronouncement that there’s no such thing as mental illness. He hit a nerve by urging parents not to believe the “noble lies” of the pharmaceutical industry which has financial interests in selling medications. While he overstated his case because the brain is a biological organ that can malfunction & may need medical treatment, I believe that many issues do stem from our disconnect from God due to worldly thinking, sinful behaviors, guilt, & self-delusion. We’re influenced greatly by so-called worldly wisdom as well as demonic deceptions that make us think we’re experiencing “illness” (James 1:15-16, 3:15-18, 1 Cor. 1:20-25, 1 John 2:26-27).

I would suggest that many “issues” are not complexes, disorders or even demonic (though some are)–they’re simply spiritual struggles. The foundational help Christians receive is God’s Spirit empowering us to change & grow (John 14:16, 26-27); God’s Word guiding into all we need for life & godliness (2 Peter 1:3-4, Heb. 4:12, 2 Cor. 10:5, 2 Tim. 3:16-17); & God’s Church teaching, encouraging, & supporting us (Heb. 10:25, James 5:16, Gal. 6:2, Col. 3:16). Start by focusing more on Christ than anxieties, fear, & insecurities. If you’re still troubled, you don’t have to feel ashamed to seek further help.