by James Rudy Gray
The postmodern philosophy embraces it and the emergent church seems to endorse it: Nothing is certain except uncertainty. While that might have a ring of novelty and controversy to it, it does not help people to live good and godly lives. Truth cannot be avoided or compromised if people are to live in health.
The times we live in are confusing and often conflicting. Statistics and studies of various sorts can be quoted to supposedly prove or disprove different theories. It seems that so much of our culture reflects more contradiction than certainty. We have become more influenced than we imagine by postmodern thought.
Gary Foster Consulting has compiled some interesting data. For example, today only 7 percent of adults believe the local church is central to one's faith development. However, adult church attendance in the United States has risen from a low of 37 percent in 1996 to 47 percent in 2006. Involvement in small group Bible study or prayer groups has also reached a new high of 23 percent. I am not sure everything these statistics imply is correct, but I am confident that we are engaging more and more people in our churches who are not grounded in Scripture. Counseling in the average church today must employ a solid exposition of Scripture in therapeutic process. Otherwise, we will leave our counselees with just another option instead of the truth.
MySpace.com has more than 57 million users and is growing at about 160,000 users per day. It seems that constant exposure to media may be harmful to children and yet the great majority of MySpace users are children and teens. New studies link TV and video games to many problems including obesity, sexual activity, consumerism, and antisocial behavior. The average Christian spends more time watching TV each evening than Bible reading in a week. Again, as we encounter more and more people in Christian counseling, we will be dealing with more and more biblical illiteracy. Christian counseling cannot duck the issue-we must be teaching the Word of God as we counsel.
Ninety-two percent of Christians and 74 percent of non-Christians believe religious beliefs actually change the way you live. Thirty-six percent of Christians and 47 percent of non-Christians are "still trying to figure out the purpose of life." That statistic is particularly interesting to me because I am convinced that God has given Christians just one overarching general purpose. That single purpose can be applied in a multitude of ways. It is simply: Glorify God. Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 10:31, "Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God." Having a base purpose in life can give more direction to struggling souls that we ever achieve through our feeble efforts without the truth of God.
There are more than 4 million pornography Web sites, with more than 68 million users daily. The average age of first exposure to porn is 11. Twelve to 17-year olds are the biggest Internet porn consumers. Eighty percent of 15- to 17-year-olds have had multiple exposures to hard-core porn, while 90 percent of 8- to 16-year olds have viewed online porn.
How can we help sexual addicts and those addicted to lust because of pornography? We can provide good counseling and empathetic listening, but we must be founded in truth as we minister to those trapped in sinful behavior because of wrong choices and bad thinking. Understanding how persons feel is important. Discovering how their background and experiences possibly contribute to their behavior is significant and helpful. However, the most powerful thing we can do is direct them to the truth in loving and caring ways. It is the truth, Jesus said, that will set us free.
This is the problem; We are living in a time where words, doctrines, and interpretations of Scripture are not simply being refined or explained better. We are living in an age where words, doctrines, and interpretations of Scripture are being re-defined. Adultery is not adultery, lying is not lying, etc. The end result of this kind of thinking and behaving is insecurity. Like ancient Israel, people resort to doing what is right in their own eyes. If there is right or wrong, who knows? It is at this point, Christian counselors can have such a positive and godly ministry. There is a certain moral standard given in the Bible. People must be counseled to walk in the truth and turn from behavior and thought that disobeys, rejects, or dishonors God's truth.
Some things are certain. Scripture is certain. We are called to counsel from a base of certainty to a culture in which certainty is an increasingly rare concept.
James Rudy Gray is certified as a professional counselor by the
National Board for Certified Counselors, and is a member of the
American Association of Christian Counselors. He pastors
Utica Baptist Church in Seneca, S.C.