Many Christians will turn to professional counseling or therapy for comfort and guidance when dealing with mental health issues. These are great tools for coping with and recovering from mental illness, but what is the Bible’s stance on counseling?
In this guide, we’ll take you through what the Bible says about counseling, along with how teachings from scripture can be applied to seeking help for mental health issues.
Is There Anything In The Bible About Counseling?
First things first – does the Bible contain any teachings about counseling?
Well, as it turns out, counseling is a relatively common subject in both the Old and New Testaments; however, it’s not used in precisely the same context as today.
In Biblical times, the concept of counseling as a form of therapy didn’t exist. Instead, ‘counseling’ referred to literally seeking counsel from an authority figure (typically a religious teacher).
Similarly, there was far less knowledge about mental health in general, along with ways of treating mental health issues.
There isn’t any single mention of therapy or mental illness in the entirety of the Bible, primarily because there was little to no scientific understanding of these topics at the time the Bible was written.
So while there are similarities between our modern idea of counseling and the Bible’s, there isn’t much in the way of specific teachings regarding mental health and therapy in the Bible.
However, there is still plenty in the Bible to learn and apply to modern definitions of counseling.
The Bible’s teachings regarding counseling and other scripture aspects can be incredibly beneficial to understanding the Bible’s stance on modern counseling and therapy.
What Does The Bible Say About Counseling?
So now that we’ve looked at how the Bible addresses the topic of counseling let’s take a closer look at some examples from the Bible.
In general, the Bible is positive about seeking advice and guidance from a figure of authority and puts a lot of credibility on listening to the wisdom of others.
While the meaning of seeking counsel in the Bible is different from how we think of it today, these teachings are easy to transfer to the context of seeking therapy and treatment for mental health issues.
Additionally, teachings about other subjects – such as healing – can be applied to modern counseling.
Several verses from the Bible discuss the benefit of seeking counsel when facing a personal conflict and the problems that can arise from ignoring help from others.
For instance, Proverbs 11:14 says: “Where there is no guidance, a people falls, but in an abundance of counselors lies safety”. This may refer to seeking guidance during a literal conflict, but it also shows that personal conflicts require help from others.
Meanwhile, Proverbs 13:10 says: “By insolence comes nothing but strife, but with those who take advice is wisdom”.
The message here is more precise and holds more significance for modern counseling – ignoring help will only cause you further problems, while seeking counsel is wise.
Another example of the Bible’s teachings on counseling is Galatians 6:2 – “Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ”.
This builds on Christ’s other teachings, particularly his Golden Rule from his Sermon on the Mount: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you”.
This teaches the importance of seeking help when you need it, and helping others with their problems as well. In a modern context, this can be interpreted as the relationship between a therapist and a patient.
On top of the therapist providing counsel to someone struggling with their mental health, that person can better support others in their life.
Other Biblical teachings that aren’t specific to counseling include James 5:16 – “Confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed”.
While mental health issues aren’t sins, the sentiment of discussing personal issues to receive healing is undoubtedly transferable to counseling.
Meanwhile, other teachings point toward God as another form of solace and a figure for counseling.
1 Peter 5:10, for example, says: “And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, strengthen, confirm, and establish you”.
In fact, Christ himself is referred to as a counselor in Isaiah 9:6 – “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace”.
Prayer may not be the sole solution to issues of mental health, but it can still be a great way to find solace and guidance in times of personal conflict and struggle.
The Bible And Mental Health
When it comes to mental health, the Bible doesn’t have much in the way of discussions of mental health.
While the examples above, and several others, provide some insight into Biblical perceptions of counseling and therapy, there aren’t any specific teachings regarding seeking help for mental health issues.
This can make it difficult to find advice regarding mental health in scripture – there isn’t any there.
However, there is plenty in the Bible regarding the healing of physical injuries and sickness, which can help give a better idea of the Bible’s stance for mental health treatment.
Jesus (along with several others in the Bible) performed many healing miracles. These include healing the blind, the sick, and even the dead. A way to look at the Bible’s treatment of mental health is by comparing the healing of physical maladies.
When Jesus healed the blind man in Siloam, his disciples asked him “Who sinned, the man or his parents, that he should be born blind?”.
Jesus responded that no one had sinned and that the man’s blindness was not a form of punishment or symbol of wrongdoing; as such, people with mental illness aren’t being punished for any sins either and are deserving of the same compassion and healing as the blind man.
Another example is when Jesus healed the lepers. A person suffering from leprosy was isolated and sent away from others.
However, Jesus still healed a leper who asked for help; this shows that, even though you may feel isolated by mental health struggles, you still deserve Christ’s healing and the compassion of others.
You can see the parallel with counseling – those who are most isolated are most in need of care through prayer and professional counseling.
The Bible might not specifically mention counseling or mental health, but there is still plenty we can take from its teachings regarding seeking help for mental health issues.
Finding help and comfort from therapy and prayer are good ways to cope and are things the Bible advocates for when you’re struggling.
Mental health issues are hard to deal with, but by using the guidance of God and therapy, you can know that you’re never alone and that there is always help there for you.
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