My approach would be first to just let me help you from the bible. That’s what I’m equipped to do. I can use the bible to help you with your spiritual struggles. Then often it’ll be the counselees saying, “You know, maybe I don’t need these anymore.” I would say, “Well, tell your doctor that, ask your doctor if it’d be possible for you to cut back or to go on a process of getting off of the med under his supervision, and do that as a test case to see if you’re okay without it.” I’ve had people who have done that and have gotten off of the meds. The doctors aren’t always thrilled, but it’s not my decision, it’s the counselees decision. Then sometimes they may be afraid to get off of the med, and while in my opinion maybe I wish they’d try, I view that as a matter of their liberty to make that decision.
I just had someone that I was working with the other day who there are lots of marriage struggles that we’d been wrestling with, and kind of having worked through some of those. Then the question came up of, “Hey, I’m on these meds, and they help me with this, but the side effects are this.” Realizing he and his wife kind of never had really talked through that. So it seemed like my role was a lot just to help them think through wisely the pros and cons of using those and the hard issues behind it. Do you think does that seem like a reasonable approach or …?
Sure. There are cons. We’ve already mentioned the side effects. Many of them are undesirable, and some of them go beyond the emotional side effects, the physical side effects. But I would do it in a way where it’s interactive, not, “Get off of this,” but, “How do you feel about this? What do you think about this? How does it affect you?” I would try to point them more also to, “As you grow in learning to trust God more, as you grow spiritually, do you think that some of what you may be causing you to use this may diminish so that you could consider trying without it?”
- To listen to this episode: 002 Christians, Psychotropic Drugs, and Biblical Counseling
- Medical Issues and Biblical Counseling (SS16)
- Hodges, Charles, Good Mood, Bad Mood (book)
- Newheiser, Jim, “Influences on the Human Heart” chapter in Christ-Centered Biblical Counseing (book)
- Hendricksen, Laura, Will Medicine Stop the Pain? (book)
- Welch, Ed, Blame It on the Brain (book)
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Confession of sin for a believer, a justified believer of Christ is the precursor to gospel confession.
I like talking about the magnitude of my sin and reminding myself of what I deserve for my sin because it just sets me up to appreciate the grace of God.
When you read the Puritans, like in the Valley of Vision, sometimes if you look at particular lines, you think, “Man, those guys are beating themselves up,” but look at how those prayers finish. They’re just setting themselves up to be dazzled by the grace of God. If I confess my sins, and I want to make this point tomorrow that I should not just confess my sins but I also need to make gospel confessions regarding my sins, that Christ has died for my sins. He has provided atonement for my sins, and there is no condemnation. Who is there who condemns? Christ is the one who has died, and as God has justified me, who shall separate me from the love of Christ? My goodness, if my confessions of sin always climaxed with gospel confessions like what we see in Romans 8, then it’s a wonderful discipline when those things come together.