A Biblical Case For Therapy by David Lee Chu Sarchet
As some of you may know, I have been attending therapy services for many years. I have gotten a lot out seeing many different therapists from many different backgrounds. And I have grown a lot because of my therapy sessions. I am an avid supporter of therapy because I see the many benefits to therapy.
However, I do admit that, on occasion, I do have to reject some therapeutic lessons. I reject them because they run contrary to the Bible.
For example, things such as mindfulness exercises and deep breathing exercises have more in common with transcendental meditation than they do the Bible. However, there are certain therapies that are in line with the Bible. It is always amazing when I learn about a therapy that is in line with the Bible. For example. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), which teaches that your thoughts precede your emotions. So to get a better handle on your emotions you must get control over your thoughts.
Apostle Paul himself says the same thing in Philippians 4:8-9,
“Finally, brothers, whatever is true. whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.” (emphasis mine)
In this text, we clearly see that the Apostle Paul knows that the secret to experiencing peace. It is by gaining control over one’s thoughts. We are commanded to intentionally think about things of God. We need to have a proper understanding of who God is. Both in His holiness and majesty, but also in His mercy and grace.
Then, we must also have a proper understanding of who we are in relation to Him. We are to think about ourselves as sinners who deserve His condemnation, but also as a holy people who are redeemed by His blood shed on the cross and as a royal nation too.
In Luke 10:27 Jesus commands us by saying,
“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind, and and your neighbor as yourself.” (emphasis mine)
In this text, we see that the Lord commands us to love our God with our entire mind. When you love someone, your thoughts revolved around that person. For example, I love my wife and my love for her causes me to always think about how my actions or words will effect her.
Does this mean that I always act in ways that demonstrate I love her? She would tell you herself that is an absolute no. However, because I love her, she is always on my mind. I cannot think of a time when my mind is not thinking of her.
Sure, there maybe moments where I do temporarily think of other things, but my mind will always circle back to her. I believe that when we love the Lord the way we are supposed to, our minds should always be on Him. Now, we do not ever love God the way that we are supposed to. I think the Heidelberg Catechism puts it perfectly on Lord’s Day 2 when it answers whether we keep the law perfectly. It reads,
“No, for I am prone by nature to hate God and my neighbor.”
So if we by nature hate God and then hate our neighbor, how can we ever fulfill the command of Jesus to love God and also to fulfill the command from the Apostle Paul to think on the things of God? I believe Paul answers this in Philippians 2:13 when he says,
“For it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.”
We cannot fulfill any of the commandments on our own strength. We must be utterly dependent on Him to even be able to love Him the way we should. In the next section, I shall talk about how my mental illness makes this especially difficult for me.
How Mental Illness Causes Difficulties
My Schizoaffective Disorder causes me to have a lot of difficulty loving God and my neighbor and to even think on the things of God. For example, I have a really dark imagination and my thoughts consistently think of things that can be considered almost blasphemous. No matter how hard I try to keep my thought process under control, I always fail.
Also, not only do I consistently think thoughts that are blasphemous towards God, but I also think hateful thoughts about my neighbors as well. It is a real struggle for me to get my thoughts under control. This is why the command from Paul and the command from Jesus are especially hard for me to read because I know myself really well.
When I take my medication and they are working well, my thought process is more easily able to be managed, but even then at times it is difficult. It is during these times where I am feeling especially guilty for my thoughts and sometimes my actions, that two promises from the book of Romans comes to my mind.
The first promise is Romans 8:1 where Paul says,
“There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” (emphasis mine)
And also Romans 8:28 where he says,
“…and we know that all things work together for the good of those who love God, who are called according to His purpose.” (emphasis mine)
In these two texts I take great solace because I know that according to these two texts, God is working out all things for my ultimate good (this would include my thoughts) and that no matter what I think or do I am never condemned.
Jesus took my punishment that I deserve so that I can live in perfect communion with the Holy Trinity for all eternity and NOTHING will ever separate me from the love of God. This should be comforting news for anyone who struggles with a clinical mental illness because even if you do not struggle with dark and blasphemous thoughts like I do, there are still things in your life that make living for the Lord especially difficult for you.
When you are feeling guilt and shame for your struggles remember these two promises found in the book of Romans and know that you are not ever condemned. Jesus died and rose again so we will not have to face death and punishment from God.
As for therapy, like I said there are many benefits that a believer can experience from therapy but you must use discernment always.
The Apostle John tells us in 1 John 4:1,
“Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world.”
Therapy offers a lot of benefits but you must exercise great discernment because if you do not then you will fall for all kinds of New Age practices. I like my therapy sessions because they give me a safe place to express all my frustrations and doubts and even my dark, blasphemous thoughts without being judged.
Also, it makes me comfortable to know that all my sessions are confidential too.
So, if you are a Christian who is considering seeing a therapist, I would recommend that you do so but go into each session being prepared to use great discernment.
Thank you for reading this blog and I hope that it helps you in your decision on whether or not to see a therapist. I also hope you were blessed by reading this too. Soli Deo Gloria!
-David Lee Chu Sarchet
Christian Mental Health Advocate And Apologist
For 24 hour peer support, please call the Christ-Centered Mental Health ministry line at 567-343-3727 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
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