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  • Writer's pictureFriedhelm (Counsellor)

Marriage problems are not solved spiritually

Updated: Jun 17, 2019

There is a misperception amongst Christians and churchgoers that marriage problems should be addressed and solved by a spiritual leader or helper. Although the problem may affect us spiritually and impact on our relationship with God, it is in essence not a spiritual problem but a relationship problem. Spiritual leaders like pastors or theologians are in most cases not trained to handle complicated relationship issues. They are mostly limited in their support to listening and understanding the predicament or hurt, the offering to pray with people or to refer to Biblical principles. Some may even provide a prophecy. (Universities do not have a course on Pastoral Psychology anymore recognizing that the Bible is not a handbook for relationships or marriage).

It is important that complicated marriage issues are handled by an academically qualified counsellor or therapist. (In Pastoral Theology today a "pastoral therapist" is on the top of the counsellor's pyramid and has to have a degree in psychology including study modules on marriage or alternatively an equivalent training).

Why then is a pastoral background or theological training for counsellors still needed? It is because in general, a psychological approach is humanistic in nature. The critical question is always: "What do you want? What is best for you?" Counselling does not accept or acknowledge the authority or the will of God or any higher being for that matter. Psychology does not include a study of a spirit (like God) or any faith issues.

For most Christians having a Christian as their counsellor is very important for they do not want to go against their faith. Furthermore, they believe in the power of the Holy Spirit and they find solace in prayer. Thus they want a counsellor that respects all that, someone who demonstrates a fear of God.

It is wonderful that in most cases (spiritual) counselling by a church leader is for free. When the problem persists though it is wise to consult an expert. Even if you have to pay a small amount for the service. Surely your marriage is much more important than many other things we spent time and money on.

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