Commenters share about high-controlling pastors who leave a path of mental health destruction, even suicide, because they cannot get appropriate help.
A while back, I found a comment at SGMSurvivor.com blog that cut like a knife. Sovereign Grace Ministries (SGM) is in the news a good bit because of the sex abuse lawsuits, but the subject of mental health is often brushed aside as a “sin” issue, even in cases of abuse.
Sadly, this kind of teaching is not isolated to SGM. At my former church, I heard stories about people not allowed to get outside counseling or go to support groups for help in dealing with domestic violence.
Prominent church leader, John MacArthur has been very outspoken about the subject of psychology and his Master’s Seminary teaches against psychology:
Such a thing as a “psychological problem” unrelated to spiritual or physical causes is nonexistent. God supplies divine resources sufficient to satisfy completely all the spiritual needs. ~John MacArthur (Source)
Many churches like to confine any kind of counseling to in-house Biblical counseling, even suggesting that if someone seeks outside counseling from mental health professionals, they are opening themselves up to all kinds of evils.
Nearly a year ago, the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary offered a class on counseling taught by Drs. Stuart Scott and Heath Lambert. The implication we read is that the Bible has all of the answers to even life’s most challenging situations. The class was entitled, “Counseling the Hard Cases.” It seems there is an expectation that pastors will take care of all of the challenging cases themselves using solely the Bible. We see no mention of referring to outside help at all:
Scott and Lambert will demonstrate Scripture’s competency to speak to the most difficult and complex counseling problems, which are theological at heart. Because of Scripture’s sufficiency in this regard pastors and counselors can be assured that Scripture contains all things necessary for counseling the hard cases in counseling ministry. Participants will come to understand that Scripture is relevant to the counseling task, and that the grace of Christ in Scripture ensures help in even the most difficult issues of life. (Source)
From seminary counseling textbooks to conferences to sermons, we hear from notable pastors telling other pastors and church leaders how to handle hurting people in a crisis by using what they deem to be the right way, the “Biblical” way.
It is important to note that sometimes what is taught in high-controlling churches – extreme focus on sin, wrath of God, types of legalism, and shaming – can be the source of the emotional problems people face.
Seeking counseling by tyrannical church leaders, the very perpetrators of spiritual abuse, can lead to more spiritual abuse and emotional harm. Can you imagine going to an abuser for emotional and spiritual help? Is it any wonder that so many will end up in a downward spiral emotionally and spiritually after seeking help within their church?
Here is the comment from SGMsurvivors.com site I mentioned earlier:
I am grateful to the victims of sexual abuse via SGM…I am so glad and grateful to Jesus for the expressions of relief and healing that have been recorded on this website…I truly rejoice with you all.
I must state, after years of holding back, that SGM has many more victims without a voice. Those that perished due to SGM’s warped sense of pride, arrogance, “we know better attitude”, and “pastor worship”. I am sick for those that committed suicide under the care and counseling of the CLC Pastors.
CJ preached HARD against psychology and drugs in the mid 90s….many with depression did not go to secular help because it was evil and CJ said so…..so, several committed suicide and were victims of CJ’s erroneous teaching and warped theology of the “pastors know best”…..CJ – what do you say about those who committed suicide under your arrogant teaching???
You see, some victims of SGM cannot testify in a court of law….they have no voice.
SSB reader, Scott, left a comment today that also expresses the same concern:
Although I don’t agree with everything posted here, I for ONE wish that a place like this existed when I went through my experience. Being 16-17 years old and going through this sort of thing ALONE is suicide waiting to happen. Two of my classmates did exactly that. These types of “churches” burn people deeply, like searing their souls. Some will never recover. We need to pray everyday for people trapped in these monstrosities that are masquerading as churches. Especially children forced to go to these places by parents or guardians. We also as ” the church” need to say, ENOUGH and not tolerate another Bill Gothard, Chuckie Oneil [sic], Doug Phillips, CJ Mahaney, Jim Jones…….
Psalms 42:11 Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God.