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How Is Christian Marriage Counseling Different From Secular Marriage Counseling?

Roy Milam

There is a world of difference between Christian Marriage Counseling and secular marriage counseling. Christian Marriage Counseling differentiates itself from secular,  humanistic counseling in several important ways. A primary difference is that Christian Marriage Counseling is based upon timeless biblical principles as the final authority in matters pertaining to the life issues that individuals and couples face.  Cornerstone Marriage & Family Ministries is a Christian Marriage Counseling service which addresses individual and marital issues from a  distinctively Christian, biblical  worldview.

Traditional CounselingAnother difference that distinguishes Christian Marital Counseling and secular (humanistic) counseling is each model’s viewpoint regarding how individuals are empowered to change their relationships, attitudes and behaviors. Secular therapy primarily regards the individual as being self-empowered to make relational and behavioral changes. On the other hand, a distinctively Christian approach operates upon the foundation that the Holy Spirit works through both the counselor and the individual to facilitate relational and behavioral changes. This belief assumes that with the help of the Holy Spirit and God’s truth as expressed in the Bible individuals enables individuals to be more internally empowered.

Understandably, it is up to the individual to make the decision to be willing to change. But once the decision to change is made, the individual has the Holy Spirit within them that prompts him or her to know what changes need to be made, and then guide and empower the change process. Some of both the Christian and secular methods of counseling  are similar, but often the activities suggested to the individual in Christian counseling will be associated with the individuals  spiritual development and their relationship with God and others.

Another fundamental  difference between the two counseling approaches is that Christian counseling is Biblically-based. It draws its primary  understanding of the nature of man, the sources and causes of his problems, and how to resolve them from a Biblical understanding. Christian counseling recognizes that mankind, while created “in the image of God,” and yet because of his fallen nature, is inclined towards sin, pride and selfishness. This inclination strongly impacts his thinking, emotions, will and behaviors.

Because sin impacts all persons in the world, it is also influences the mind, emotions and will of the individual, which lead to the rise of problems and issues within each  person’s life.  Christian counseling recognizes that these difficulties can only be worked through by the motivational and guiding influence of the Holy Spirit.  Christian counseling seeks to help facilitate this process. Through the guidance of a Christian counselor, and the willingness of the client, Christ is at work through the counselor and the counselee to bring thoughts, emotions and behaviors into alignment with how God desires us to feel, think and act.

Cornerstone’s team of counselors share in the value of helping couples with through unresolved conflicts, personality and gender differences, lack of closeness or intimacy, unmet emotional needs, angry outbursts and stress from a Biblical and Spirit=led approach. These problems if not recognized and dealt with can often create marital dissatisfaction that end up becoming the roots that result in major marital issues such as addictions, anger management, depression and infidelity.

At the root of many peoples unwillingness to seek marital problems is pride. We often believe we can solve our own problems. This can lead to the demise of a an individual and a marriage, especially when one spouse recognizes a need for help and the other refuses. Scripture tells us to examine ourselves (2 Corinthians 13:5). This include our marriages. When marital problems are not recognized and dealt with, they represent a potentially crushing threat to the marriage.

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