A young man walked into my office frustrated that he failed again and had another bad breakup after another instance of wandering eyes. “Why can’t I just be satisfied with my partner? She was a quality girl, and I blew it up!”
What kind of counsel or advice is helpful to a young man in this situation?
Consider the different approaches that could be found in response to a young man with a wandering eye or propensity to cheat. He could easily find advice that would:
- Normalize it – Men are predisposed to cheat, and it’s easily proven by evidence, anecdote, and history. Understand yourself and only change if you want to.
- Accept it – Your biology isn’t wired for monogamy, and you likely won’t be satisfied with a traditional relationship. Just accept that fact.
- Moderate it – The problem is that you are breaking trust. Instead, you need to be open about what you are doing and find someone who is ok with that.
- Challenge it – The lifestyle you are leading isn’t proven to make people happy or healthy. Review the research, and you will conclude that vanilla relationships are actually the most rewarding.
From a Christian worldview, all the above answers are incomplete, and some are directly incompatible with biblically faithful lifestyle choices.
Sources of Truth
This raises the larger question of who gets to decide what is good and normal when it comes to your identity and lifestyle choices.
From a biblical counseling perspective, there is no way to answer what is acceptable without understanding God’s design and His created purpose. If we are just mammals, then monogamy is nothing more than a convenient social construct. However, if counseling is grounded in good theology, then ignoring what God has said will run the risk of finding answers that lead us further away from our purpose.
If you scour modern textbooks on counseling, you will read much about “finding yourself” and “finding your purpose”. The popular mantra is “be true to yourself.” Most types of counseling implicitly embrace such ideas as they place the client and the client’s wishes as the controlling focus of a counseling agenda.
However, this squarely contradicts a biblical understanding of our created identity and purpose. We were made by God for a purpose, and we find ourselves at war with our purpose as enemies of God. Our true self is corrupt and groaning for redemption, which only comes as God renews his purpose within us.
Counseling that seeks to help clients embrace an identity of self will only further alienate someone from their created purpose.
A theology of creation should be part of the conversation in any counseling process that is truly Christian. Consider a few facets of creation theology and the implication for approaching the challenges often found in the counseling room.
We are created with value and worth.
Genesis 1:26-28 reminds us that there is dignity and worth to everything that reflects the character of God.
Rather than our own self-worth, we have value assigned by God, and we are called to embrace this value in the way that we treat others. Our spouses, children, and enemies were all created in God’s image, even if they frustrate and offend us.
The Bible teaches that God’s image is reflected in both male and female, masculine and feminine traits. Every man, woman, and child is endowed by our creator with worth.
We are created with purpose.
As Christians, we believe that life is intentional. God put you on earth for a reason.
Ephesians 2:10 says it this way, “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”
What we often see when we look around is “every man does what is right in his own eyes.” However, when we accept that we are created for a purpose, we begin to ask: “Why am I here?” and “What I am supposed to accomplish with my life?” In humility, we approach the Word of God seeking wisdom for fulfilling our purpose on earth.
We are being renewed.
When we look around at the pain, hurt, and brokenness in this world, a theology of creation helps us understand this is not what God desires. However, this realization is not without hope.
2 Corinthian 5:17 speaks to this hope, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.”
Despite sin and suffering, we have confidence that the God who created the world is still active, recreating in us more of what he desires us to be. Ultimately, we know that all creation will be renewed and restored back to its purpose, resulting in a new earth.
- Creation teaches us to trust a God that is powerful enough to create all that we see.
- Creation reminds us to value others and believe that we are valuable to God as well.
- Creation challenges us to wrestle with how to successfully embrace our God-given purpose.
- Creation tells us to find hope in God’s promise to restore the sinful brokenness in us and around us.
Creation is a great starting point to direct many conversations in counseling. Who are we trusting and how do we view our purpose? In whom or what do we find the basis of our hope?
Without a theology of creation, we will always default to each person deciding for themselves what kind of life they desire to live. Instead, God created us for a purpose and His plans are great than ours.
Good theology leads to good counseling, especially when it includes our created purpose.