An article in the 2/29/20 issue of World Magazine is titled, God Making Up For Us has the explanatory sentence, “They fought one another in marriage—until God brought a change of perspective.”

As a certified biblical counselor with the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors (ACBC) the title and sentence got my attention as I wondered how God brought a change of perspective in their marriage.

Spoiler: The couple has been married for 45 years and the story has a happy ending. It is wonderful how the Lord ministered to them and they finally landed with a biblical perspective on marriage.

What intrigued me was what they said about the journey.

First, it needs to be said they had a number of challenges in their early marriage, including the death of a child, Sadly, that can often lead couples to divorce. To their credit they stuck it out.

Second, by their own admission they fought a lot. They mention that parenting style was a major issue between them.

By the early 90s they went to see a psychologist who said they were incompatible. They separated twice and got back together.

They go on to say their marriage issues began to intimidate fellow church members. The wife prayed frequently and attended Bible studies and counseling (it does not say what kind of counseling but their prior experience was with a psychologist.)

The husband tried self-help books, Christian conferences and counseling, again not mentioning what kind of counseling. The husband began to lose hope and after 26 years of marriage again considered divorce.

From there their story improves. The husband puts it this way as he “felt” God telling him to go home and love his wife selflessly. He said that part of him died that day and just did what God told him to do, go home and love your wife and kids. He found new ways to serve his wife like cooking and doing laundry.

After 20 years they still fight, but fight differently. Instead of emotional, selfish fights they have learned to give grace and forgive. The wife said, “the Lord taught us to forgive each other and think of each other as more important than ourselves.”

My points below in no way should be interpreted to diminish what God has done nor this couple’s journey. They are a testimony to God at work in their lives and to some extent remind me of my wife’s and mine rocky start. We were married a year before the couple in the article and now have 46 years behind us.

The difference between the couple and us is that we did not become Christians until 10+ years after we were married. Like them however, as we started to practice some of things we learned in Bible studies, conferences, prayer and so forth things began change and conflict was greatly reduced.

Like the couple we actually went to a psychologist a couple of times. It was non-directive and purely secular. Faith was irrelevant. We left thinking we were incompatible.

I do not know if the couple in the story got a recommendation for a counselor from their church. I do know it’s common. What is often recommended is a secular counselor-a secular counselor who ordinarily not consider God, nor sin.

The fact is the vast majority of evangelical churches do not believe the Bible is truly sufficient for counseling. Not only that, but many pastors do not think they are equipped to do counseling (a pastoral requirement in my opinion) or they simply do not want to because they see themselves as exclusively pulpiteers..

I experienced this first hand at my first ministry assignment. The semi-official position was see a person three times at the most. Tell them to pray more, attend church more, serve more and if that doesn’t help refer them to a psychologist, Christian or otherwise.

I wonder what may have happened to the couple in the story has they gone early on to a biblical counselor who was direct in challenging them to follow the Scriptures. After all, what does the Bible say about grace? What does it say about forgiveness? What does it say about conflict? What does it say about parenting? What does the Bible say about being selfish? What does it say about grief? What does it say about serving? What does it say about the gospel and how the gospel applies to marriage? Perhaps a Biblical counselor would have asked them if they wished to obey the Scripture or not? :Perhaps, that would have saved them from 20 years of conflict?

My wife and I figured out somethings with the Lord’s help just as this couple did so praise the Lord for his help despite the fact we turn to psychology before we turn to God. ! I just wonder how much sooner it all could have been figured out if their pastor or our pastor at the time was a pastor committed to the sufficiency of Scripture in counseling.

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