Bob Jones University Sex Abuse Investigation and A Breakdown of BJU President Pettit’s Leaked Chapel Message

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Bob Jones University Sex Abuse Investigation and BJU President Steve Pettit’s leaked chapel message

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Bob Jones University (BJU) has been in the news prominently after GRACE released their long-awaited report (trigger warnings if you read the report) on the sex abuse investigations at BJU.

Many major news sites are covering the story, including, The New York Times:

For decades, officials at Bob Jones University told sexual assault victims that they were to blame for their abuse, and to not report it to the police because doing so would damage their families, churches and the university, according to a long-awaited independent report released Thursday.

For an overall picture of what has gone on, Dee Parsons, at The Wartburg Watch, has written an excellent synopsis of the BJU sex abuse scandal in her article, Bob Jones University, Boz Tchvidjian, and GRACE: An Unprecedented, Historic Report on Sex Abuse.

BJU News, a blog that has been reporting on the abuse and “All The News That They Won’t Print” has an article compiling many links to news reports which have recently been published: GRACE Aftermath: Docs, Tweets, Images and Media Coverage.

They also published an article, New Leaked Audio: Pettit Contradicts GRACE, Reassures “BJU is Safe”,  about a leaked BJU chapel message by BJU’s President Steve Pettit, which is what the rest of this article will deal with. Is President Steve Pettit message to the students the same as what has been presented publicly? Or is he presenting a kinder/softer message?

Below, you will see the transcription of a portion of a leaked chapel message by Pettit – only that which pertains to the sex abuse news coverage. Imagine you are a BJU student going to the chapel service while the news media has been revealing damaging stories about your school. This is not a good time for BJU students. What we see here, which we typically see in abuse cases, is minimization and damage control by BJU leadership. BJU President Pettit tries to reassure the students that despite GRACE’s recent 301-page report and negative news coverage, everything is under control, BJU is safe, they don’t have anything to worry about.

Here is the transcribed message (special thanks to BJU News) with my editorial comments in green.

The message by BJU President Steve Pettit begins:

I do want to highlight our own BJU.edu website that actually really gives some very clear statements in a really good timeline. The timeline’s very helpful to understand why we initiated the GRACE report and how things have gone along up to the present day.  [BJU timeline]

What I want to do this morning, if I could, is at least help you gain a perspective about the GRACE report that I think is helpful for you as Bob Jones University students. I think you realize last week when I spoke, I spoke not only to you, but because it was videoed [sic], I was speaking to people in public, I was speaking to Greenville, in some cases to our alumni, and in some cases to the United States. And so I’d like to speak to you this morning more specifically. And I’d like to help you with this perspective.

The issues in the GRACE report are dealing primarily with events that took place in the past, not things that are happening today. And I would never — and I think it’s been very clear — minimize what people have experienced in the past, but in proper perspective, I want you to realize that most of those cases were things that happened to people before you were even born or when you were a child. [Please scroll down and look at another statement that conflicts this statement in pink font. He implies that they know when the abuse cases took place and below he says they don’t know. Which is it?] 

And so in many ways, they’re not things that are happening today. You know, it’s like, “Is Bob Jones University safe?” And of course, it’s as safe as we can make it. If somebody is bent on doing wrong, it’s hard to stop them. But we do believe, obviously, it is very safe. [They thought they were safe when there was reported abuse going on, too.]

At this present hour we’ve been making many improvements since we obtained GRACE over two years ago. [Let’s not forget that they hired GRACE and then fired GRACE and then rehired them.]

We have very strong policies and procedures in place right now. All of you understand that we have a training program here called “The Sexual Abuse Awareness Program” for students and faculty and staff. We have a solid approach toward counseling people where we are helping those who have been… who have experienced sexual abuse or assault.

I took a look at the faculty page and the schools they graduated from. BJU is strongly against anything “psychology.” The only training they offer is solely based on the Bible. What kind of sex abuse training is in Scripture? This is not at all reassuring.

We actually have it in place. And it doesn’t mean that things can’t happen, but I just want you to know that the picture that is presented in [the] GRACE report, I think, it really looks a little different than things do today in what we’re doing here. And I do want you to know the answers that I’ve given to people or reporters or anybody who wants to talk to me about the GRACE report. And really, I try to give a very consistent message. Now, I’m saying these following things, and when you go home at Christmas and people ask you these things, I would encourage you to follow along, you know, if this is what you’re willing to do, this line of thinking, you can think about it yourself.

First of all, that we were the ones that initiated this report — not because of a current problem, but because of the fact that we wanted to make sure that we were in compliance to legal reporting and then secondly to address some of the issues of the past that had come to us, and we wanted to deal with those things. [Why are they patting themselves on the back? This had been going on for 3-4 decades.]

Secondly, we are very saddened for anybody who has suffered the horrors of any kind of sexual abuse or sexual assault. To help you understand terminology, sexual abuse primarily refers to those who are under the age of 18 old. So a teenager or a child. Sexual assault has to do with those who are over the age of 18 years old. So here on campus if something happens, it’s not really an abuse if you’re over 18. It’s an assault. And of course, those people, when that is reported, those people end up being prosecuted, which we have had happen here.

Why was the above paragraph included? He is trying share his knowledge on this topic? It’s a little late. Is he trying to say that if someone was sexually assaulted over the age of 18, it’s not abuse? What?!

Let me also say that we appreciate those who are willing to show courage and come forward and tell their story because we can only imagine how difficult that is. And we are grateful because by their willingness to come forward and showing courage is only helping us. And not because it’s about us, but it does help us. It is helping us to become better at what needs to be done. And really, we want to, as Christians, we want to be a leader in this area. 

Ok, this is not truthful. If that is the case, then why is someone removing personal accounts from their Facebook page like this:

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I do want you to know that we do sincerely apologize to those who have not been helped in the past. And we don’t know who those individuals are. I can’t know them personally. But we do feel for them, and we do take what has been said very seriously. [Obviously not true based on the removal of posts from their Facebook page as mentioned above.]

And then I want you know that we are very committed to learning from the report and going forward through this journey of change. We don’t think it’s gonna take, you know, two quick decisions. We realize that we want to become effective and helpful and serve.

Now one other thing is that, when I speak with people, especially when they ask us questions, I try to help people have a proper perspective that the things that are in the GRACE report took place over a period of four decades. So that’s a long time. And there are things that are in the report that we don’t know about.

For example, we don’t know the timeline. We don’t know when this took place. Did this take place twenty years ago? Did this take place ten years ago? We’re not sure.

We don’t know who the people are.

Well wait, they do know who some people are, but choose not to deal with them and instead remove their comments as if they never existed.

So there are some things about it that are unclear. But the one thing we do want people to know is that whether it was one person or a hundred people, it doesn’t matter because abuse is terrible for the one. You know, I think about it: if it was my daughter, well, you know, one is bad. So we want to be very, very clear. And we are going to, as a university, use the GRACE report for the purpose in which we initiated it. And that is to learn from our past and to move forward in the future.

We are forming a committee who is going to look at the recommendations before any major decisions are made. They will come, they will make recommendations on the recommendations, and then ultimately the decision will have to be made by the president myself.

We do want to be a better university. We do want to be a better leader in this area, and GRACE commended us for being proactive in initiating the report. The fact is, we have already decided that we are going beyond GRACE on our own to improve in other areas that are not even suggested in this report. And so it is something that we have made as a priority. It is very important. And so hopefully… I hope that this will help clear up anything in your mind. If you want to ask questions, please feel free to. If you’d like to write me a personal email, I’ll be more than happy to respond to that.

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50 comments on “Bob Jones University Sex Abuse Investigation and A Breakdown of BJU President Pettit’s Leaked Chapel Message

  1. “First of all, that we were the ones that initiated this report”

    Wow. I hope Pettit doesn’t hurt himself by patting his back so hard.

    So now BJU is the real hero and also the real “victim” of the public backlash? I’ve seen a cult do this before. So typical.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I do believe that BJU is an IFB school. So when I heard that they had “counseling measures in place” the red flag immediately went up for me.

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  3. “We have a solid approach toward counseling people where we are helping those who have been… who have experienced sexual abuse or assault.”

    That statement could very easily and much more powerfully been said, “We have a solid approach toward counseling people where we are helping victims of sexual abuse and assault.” Why’d he choke on the word “victim”?

    And while I’m asking these question, does anyone really think that abuse happens only to minors and never to adults? Sheesh, his attempt to dichotomize abuse/minor from assault/adult is just plain weird.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. “The fact is, we have already decided that we are going beyond GRACE on our own to improve in other areas that are not even suggested in this report.”

    Translation: We haven’t decided yet if we are going to do what the GRACE report recommends, but we already have our own ideas about what we should do instead.

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  5. Translation: We haven’t decided yet if we are going to do what the GRACE report recommends, but we already have our own ideas about what we should do instead.

    Exactly, Another Tom. And it sure sounds like the president is going to do what he wants anyway: “and then ultimately the decision will have to be made by the president myself.”

    Liked by 1 person

  6. BJU is not technically an IFB school. It’s popular among IFBs and they’re generally welcome to send representatives (musical, faculty, etc.) to IFB churches, but Bob Sr. was an “immersed Methodist” and Bob Jr. maintained a strong friendship, despite his anti-Calvinist leanings, with Presbyterian Ian Paisley. According to a friend of mine who has his MDiv from there, they purposely do NOT take stands or even teach some of the issues that really ought to be taught so they can aspire to a degree of fundamental ecumenism, if such a thing be possible. So they’re not IFB in the same way as, say, Pensacola Christian College.

    And it ought to be noted that one big reason NOT to mention exactly when the offenses took place is because it might identify the victims, no? So we ought to have some grace with BJU here.

    Now this doesn’t mean I’m in their camp–I would emphatically agree with the claim that they have too often given the “right boot of fellowship” for reasons that are less than Biblical, and a good portion of the things in “Stuff Fundies Like” can be ascribed in part to BJU.

    What it does mean, though, is that time will tell how seriously they’re taking the report.

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  7. One statement of our gracious hostess with which I would STRONGLY disagree is the idea that the Bible says nothing about abuse. It is somewhat more difficult exegesis than too many evangelicals are used to, but it’s there. Historical evidence indicates that the Jews used “porneia” to refer to any sexual conduct outside of marriage, and the Torah specifically makes clear the guilt off the perpetrator. Where many schools have gone wrong is when they have ignored these principles, choosing to protect perpetrators instead of serving justice.

    Complete, modern program for dealing with abuse? No, but some principles that will get you awfully close.

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  8. Pingback: » Bob Jones University Sex Abuse Investigation and A Breakdown of BJU President Pettit’s Leaked Chapel Message

  9. One statement of our gracious hostess with which I would STRONGLY disagree is the idea that the Bible says nothing about abuse. It is somewhat more difficult exegesis than too many evangelicals are used to, but it’s there.

    Sure, the Bible addresses abuse, but I’m talking about specialized training for what often happens to those who have been abused: PTSD, dissociative disorders, etc. Everything I have read from their counseling courses show that they are only critical of modern psychology. Would they even acknowledge PTSD as a mental health issue? With Biblical counseling, the focus seems to be on sin as the source of problems. Yes, there was sin when victims were violated, but the sin issue should be addressed with the perpetrator, not the victim.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. My take is that for BJU to make light years of progress vs. what they themselves admit they were doing–blaming the victim and so on–they don’t need to understand PTSD, disassociative disorders, and the like. They need to simply stop blaming the victim, learn how to take and process information, and how to realize that they need to bring in a higher authority than themselves. No?

    Even I can do that. BTW, here’s a link to BJU’s school of Biblical counseling. They’re using DSM and presumably teaching some of the core of psychology.

    http://www.bju.edu/academics/programs/biblical-counseling/

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  11. “…and how to realize that they need to bring in a higher authority than themselves. No?”

    Given their history, the question is, will they? Heck, they’ve long believed they have the most correct version of Christianity ever invented, complete with shutting out as much ‘worldly influence’ as possible. And they did such a good job of it, nobody was aware of state or federal reporting laws for a couple of decades.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. After reading most of the report complete with footnotes, I think I can safely say the entire Old Guard involved with BJU’s counseling department, both living and dead, needs to go. There are some entrenched patterns of thinking that need to be purged, and trust to be rebuilt by bringing in people who have proven themselves trustworthy.

    The two-part vs. three-part debate around the human person is one I couldn’t care less about, yet these men apparently took a rigid, compartmentalized 3 part view and then assigned varying values to said parts in ways that caused a lot of damage when applied to counseling victims of sexual abuse. The borderline gnostic view that the body is relatively unimportant compared to the soul and especially the spirit, is an idea for which they need to be called on the carpet. While lecturing grad students on the counseling track, one of these professors actually referred to the body as the least important part of a person, or “the throwaway part”. Perhaps the ultimate irony was using the doctrine of the future resurrection of the body to argue for the body’s lack of importance!

    Even worse though, is the persistent notion that what is in a person’s soul is always under complete control of the will. With that presupposition firmly in place, of course any long term difficulties for the victim are the result of their own sin. Quickly forgive, then hurry up and get past it because anything else is wallowing in the pain, or not trusting God. Or as one of them put it (what I call the Las Vegas view), “what happens with the body stays with the body”. Yeah, if only that were so.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. I’m totally unsurprised by all this. It does make me somewhat sympathetic towards the psychotic, mean spirited, incompetents they called teachers at the christian school I was incarcerated at for 7-10th grades. All of them came from BJ, Hyles Anderson or Pensacola Christian concentration camp. I wonder how many of them were really suffering and just injuried young ladies that couldn’t cope. Hard to be bitter at rape victims that were denied treatment & proper counseling by QUALIFIED professionals, and shamed with misplaced guilt. This offers some possible explaination for some of the horrible things I saw these people do to kids. The abused becomes the abuser and the cycle continues for decades sometimes until someone reaches sanity again and ends it.

    This sort of Reminds me of the fools at Soverign Grace Fairfax claiming that a 3 year old girl could be “seductive and sexually aroused”. When these types of sexually twisted & perverted ” christian leaders ” can blame a three year old for being digitally penetrated, why would we be shocked at the cover up of sexual abuse at the collegiate level ?

    May God bring healing to all affected by this vile evil and the cover ups & dismissive excuses offered by infantile, cowardly “christian leaders”.

    Truly pathetic that this just keeps happening over and over again within Christian circles. There is a problem and it can’t be solved by minimizing the issues. Collectively we must attack this evil, declare war on it and remove from leadership anyone that is part of the problem in any way. Enough is enough, this must end.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Dear Bubba,

    And it ought to be noted that one big reason NOT to mention exactly when the offenses took place is because it might identify the victims, no? So we ought to have some grace with BJU here.

    Well, yes, that’s a good reason not to mention specific dates and times of counselling sessions. But I don’t think that Julie Anne was taking issue with that. Early in his address, Pettit claims that “most of those cases” happened so long ago they couldn’t possibly affect BJU’s current students. A few paragraphs down (and out of the other side of his mouth), he says he’s “not sure” whether the cases took place twenty or even ten years ago.

    First, Pettit says he knows when these cases happened; later, he says he doesn’t know. JA wants to know which it is, and I don’t blame her. (Kudos to her for picking up on that, BTW. I didn’t notice it my first time perusing the transcript.)

    Liked by 3 people

  15. Bubba,

    My take is that for BJU to make light years of progress vs. what they themselves admit they were doing–blaming the victim and so on–they don’t need to understand PTSD, disassociative disorders, and the like.

    I agree with that. I would be content if they’d just realize that they need more than the Bible to help them understand such mental and emotional disorders. But how likely are they to do so?

    BTW, here’s a link to BJU’s school of Biblical counseling. They’re using DSM and presumably teaching some of the core of psychology.

    http://www.bju.edu/academics/programs/biblical-counseling/

    They also — more than once — make mention of “doctrines of sufficiency” and “God’s all-sufficient Word”. That gives me little hope that they’ll gain anything meaningful from studying psychology, or seek help from outside agencies. After all, if the Bible alone is “all-sufficient”, why would they feel the need to listen to ‘heathen’ counsellors?

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  16. @Scott:

    This sort of Reminds me of the fools at Sovereign Grace Fairfax claiming that a 3 year old girl could be “seductive and sexually aroused”.

    Only to a pedophile.
    (Did we just discover SGF MenaGAWD’s kinks?)

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Keep in mind that the debate over what is proper psychology is not over. If you doubt that, just mention Freud or Skinner in the psychology department at your local school, public, private, secular, or religious. You will get an earful on both sides. To draw a picture, does the Bible say anything remotely as sexist as Freud’s doctrine about female motivations? I don’t think so.

    (for the uninitiated, Freud argued that female behavior was largely a function of penis envy)

    I can’t speak to whether BJU has gotten religion on this, and I disagree that one must scrap everyone involved–you simply risk getting someone worse who doesn’t have the “feel” for people that an experienced person would have. Retrain, and then monitor. Time will tell if they do this, and we ought to let them flesh this out, or not, without burdening them with our preconceived notions, no? A quick look at their website disabuses us, after all, of the notion that they learn nothing from the moderns.

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  18. “What it does mean, though, is that time will tell how seriously they’re taking the report.”

    “Time” has already told us. Money and bad PR is a more apt measurement.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Bubba Bike, Although both Freud and Skinner among many others have contributed to the early years of studying the human mind, no well educated therapist would draw solely from just one man’s theories. In the past decades, newer and more sophisticated theories and methods are being researched and used to assist in healing victims of abuse, rape, PTSD etc. As in other sciences, psychology continues to build and grow as it absorbs new information and therefore is not a static field.
    Psychological and psychiatric (M.D.s) studies provide the means to measure mental distress and create treatment plans to assist in providing a more appropriate treatment to help victims of any type of mental health issues, whether organic or brought on by outside trauma.
    The problem with lay church counselors is their inability to diagnose an issues. It is difficult to treat a person who has no diagnosis. My brother who has tremendous anxiety around self-esteem issues, partly due to a withholding narcissistic father, has been told he has a problem with pride by the nouthetic counselor ( who has a limited education.)
    What happens when a floridly psychotic person returns after three sessions of church counseling? Are they demon possessed? Schizophrenic? On methamphedimine? How do you distinguish? A church counselor couldn’t. Some of these undertrained individuals are playing with damaged people’s lives. Where is Christ in that?

    Liked by 1 person

  20. Ann said,

    The problem with lay church counselors is their inability to diagnose an issues.

    Not just that, but their suggestions or treatment is terrible and ineffective as well.

    Not just nouthetic conselors, but I’ve found that Christian lay persons (even well-meaning ones) give bum advice to hurting people.

    For years, I had anxiety and clinical depression. (I was diagnosed by a psychiatrist with the depression in childhood.)

    Anyway, nothing helped. I tried shrinks, medications, reading books by Christians, reading Christian magazines and later on, blogs, about it. None of that helped.

    What I usually found from Christian sources – whether preachers, lay persons – was the same old advice: read the Bible; trust God; pray to God for a healing; help other people more (eg, volunteer at a soup kitchen); etc.

    Basically Christians (and the nouthetic counselors are big on this) take the “Jesus is sufficient for all your needs” verse and distort it. They twist it to forbid Christians from seeking relief out side the Bible.

    For mental health problems or personality disorders, Christians usually prescribe Bible reading only, or Bible reading and church attendance, prayer, and sun-shine-y platitudes about “Trust in Jesus!!” .

    And none of that helped me. Jesus is wondeful, the Bible is swell, but Jesus and the Bible (and volunteering at charities) did not make the depression go away.

    The Nouthetic counselor approach can be summarized as “blame the victim.” They will always chalk your problems up to some sin you must be guilty of.

    If you are depressed, anxious, whatever you’re facing, it’s your fault (they say) for not praying harder, not praying often enough, for thinking at all about yourself/your problem, you must not be “trusting Jesus” enough.

    Liked by 1 person

  21. “The problem with lay church counselors is their inability to diagnose an issues. It is difficult to treat a person who has no diagnosis. My brother who has tremendous anxiety around self-esteem issues, partly due to a withholding narcissistic father, has been told he has a problem with pride by the nouthetic counselor ( who has a limited education.)”

    I have come to see these types (mostly “Christian leaders”, counselors) as social Darwinists. They have a “survival of the fittest” mentality that they fit God into. They cannot see the real issues clearly because they have a hammer that fits every problem. They were not only taught this but it also fits their overarching agendas of control.

    Liked by 1 person

  22. Lydia said: “I have come to see these types (mostly “Christian leaders”, counselors) as social Darwinists”.
    You do realize that any of them reading this just went into fits of rage? “She–she–she called me Darwinist! How dare she???”
    Thanks for the extremely amusing mental picture of a mean, self-absorbed nutter foaming at the mouth. (And fluttering his hands).

    Liked by 1 person

  23. Wow, thank you for posting all this. When was this Chapel message given?

    I went to the BJU News site and it appears it was given December 16, after the GRACE report was released and after Pettit had already done some interviews with news sources.

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  24. Ann, agreed that psychology is not a static field, but the fact of the matter is that–just as you will in certain areas of nouthetic counseling–get hearty arguments about what is true, appropriate, and the like. For that matter, I’ve got relatives who have been through the secular mental health system, and suffice it to say that they were never cured. Maintained, yes, but cured, no. And it was very interesting to me that I could always tell when my brother-in-law was about to go manic (he’d start buying and selling cars), but the counselors did not. Whether this was a lack of contact with him, or a lack of insight, I do not know.

    And to me, that illustrates a huge opening for lay counsel. I’ve heard of the bills my relatives have racked up–mental health inpatient care is not cheap–and hence more extensive care for the affected is going to “take a bit of persuasion” to justify the expense. And so if you’re a relative or friend of one of the affected, that means you may be their first line of help.

    And thankfully, that doesn’t mean that you need to know all the nuts and bolts of bipolar disorder or whatever. It means you keep in contact with the person and learn to recognize that something has changed, something is very wrong, and the like.

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  25. There is virtually no one in the psychology/psychiatry field who thinks that bipolar disorder and schizophrenia are anything but organic brain disorders. There is no cure at this time and maintenance is the best that can be achieved. No one medication works for everyone and no medication works at the same dosage indefinitely; adjustment needs to be made over time. Psychotherapy can also help the person adjust. It is not a failure of mental health professionals that these diseases are not curable. They aren’t researchers.

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  26. In regard to the christian counseling thing: wow, you guys nailed it. Jesus is the answer to all our problems and if someone rapes you, well God is sovereign ( just ask Sovergn Grace) . Molested by your Sunday school teacher, well it must have been the suductive spirit you had back when you were 5 years old. Your parents beat you with a glue stick and threw you down the stairs, well spare the rod…. ( just ask old Gwen Shambling Shamblin, she of course will tell you you are FAT because you have a demon while she is at it).

    Wow, you shot yourself. Well nice funeral. So sweet of all these church people to show up and whisper how you went to Hell for ” turning your back on God’s Grace”.

    Liked by 1 person

  27. Bike Bubba wrote,

    For that matter, I’ve got relatives who have been through the secular mental health system, and suffice it to say that they were never cured. Maintained, yes, but cured, no.
    And it was very interesting to me that I could always tell when my brother-in-law was about to go manic (he’d start buying and selling cars), but the counselors did not. Whether this was a lack of contact with him, or a lack of insight, I do not know.

    You totally need to check out the post I did here (this thread, a few posts above yours)

    As I remarked in my last post, neither secular nor Christian counseling or Christian tips helped me out, neither did meds. (How I finally defeated depression is another story, but it did involve secular teaching about thought processes.)

    (BTW, I do not discourage other folks from seeing secular counselors or using medications.)

    However, I think that Christian counseling by laypersons is more dangerous. And even more ineffective.

    When you say you could spot that your BIL was about to have a manic episode, what was your treatment?

    Did you tell your BIL to pray more, read the Bible, go to church, volunteer at a soup kitchen, trust Jesus for a healing, or what?

    The fact is, Christian treatment suggestions, which almost always amounts to “read the Bible, go to church, eradicate sin from your life” does not heal most people or help them cope with depression and similar issues.

    I have a book by a Christian nouthetic counselor who essentially tells rape victims in the book that it’s their fault they were raped, they need to “own up” to the role they played in being raped, that they are just at fault for being a rape victim because they too are sinners, just like their rapist is a sinner. (I discussed this more in depth at the other blog over a year ago.)

    I can’t even begin to tell you how revolting I find such counseling and teachings, yet it’s common place among Christians, and far from healing someone, it will keep them trapped in the emotional pain for many more years, until they realize what a crock it is and find better help/ teaching.

    I also posted a link to a Nouthetic counseling church site’s page, which described their counseling views and approaches at the other blog (I don’t have the link now).

    At least in their online paper, they freely admit that their goal is NOT to help you if you seek them for help. They fully admit upfront on their site their goal is not to heal you and get you past the pain.

    This church flat out admits in their paper they are there to get you to focus on your sin, and how your own sin supposedly led you to get victimized. I wish more nouthetic churches were that transparent.

    There may be some ineffective secular counseling out there, and some crackpot secular psychologists / psychiatrists, but in the overall scheme of things, I think a hurting Christian would do better to see a secular therapist, or at least a Christian one who does not subscribe to “Jesus only” bunk, concerning mental illness.

    I have a ton of respect for Jesus Christ, but he does not heal most people supernaturally of depression via prayer, Bible reading, helping those less fortunate, going to church.

    Liked by 1 person

  28. Daisy, I was actually talking to my sister-in-law, who also suffers from bipolar disorder, and I did encourage her to try and get him some help. It happened each fall (he is deceased), and you could pretty much set your clock by when it would start. For whatever reason, those working his case never made the connection.

    An interesting connection was that his mental illness really got going after his divorce from his previous wife, which led (in circumstances I”m not entirely sure of) to a massive IRS debt. While he was alive, I wondered whether his illness was real, or whether it was a way of keeping the IRS at bay.

    For my sister-in-law, yes, I did encourage her in church attendance, but (per my own little training in nouthetic counseling) pointed out that, whatever the debate over the efficacy of the drugs she was taking, they do succeed in changing one’s chemistry, and hence you don’t drop them cold turkey.

    I also concede that I’ve got a number of examples of modern psychiatric/psychological care gone wrong. My stepsister and her mother got counsel that destroyed my stepdad’s first marriage and nearly destroyed my stepsister’s relationship with her father.

    Also, when I was a youth, I got care because I was having trouble as my parents’ marriage fell apart, and the counselor heartily assured me that it was OK to masturbate. Trouble was, I hadn’t hit puberty yet and had no clue what they were talking about. It was yet another case of the “empath” completely missing what was going on.

    Agreed 100% with Marsha that a lot of psychiatrists are simply trying to manage the symptoms. My take, though, is that when one gets to know the sufferers, one can start to see some of the real issues leading to the problem.

    And to wrap things up with something we discussed before, 100% emphatic as well that blaming the victim ain’t the way to go. It’s not Biblical.

    Like

  29. Bike Bubba said,
    “I also concede that I’ve got a number of examples of modern psychiatric/psychological care gone wrong. “

    It doesn’t matter if secular counseling is sometimes wrong – Christian counseling does not work.

    Christainity does not work in treating mental health issues.

    Going to church, loving Jesus, reading the Bible did not deliver me from depression.

    I get the feeling you skimmed one or both of my posts but did not read them carefully.

    Visit blogs and forums where Christians who have had depression for decades gather, and you will see many of them also recount how the faith does not help them with depression, and the pat answers to “trust Jesus, pray, go to church, read the Bible” not only does NOT help but it makes them feel worse.

    Liked by 1 person

  30. Daisy, your anecdote says it didn’t work for you. There are a lot of people out there who are anecdotes who say it did. Including me–it was through faith that I overcame the issues related to my parents’ divorce.

    In other words, your statement “it doesn’t work” is more than a bit hasty. You have two significant camps in mental health, really; you have the “drug” camp that says it’s something unknown that went wrong chemically, and you have the nouthetic camp (people like Peter Breggin) who say that most cases are really dealt with better by good, sound counseling. You will find examples of both in just about any center specializing in mental illness.

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  31. I have been reading Peter Breggin for forty years. A number of his points are well-taken. Medical interventions should be based on solid evidence of efficacy and safety. Lobotomies, induction of diabetic comas, ECT are harmful treatments that don’t work, apart from some patients suppressing behavior or symptoms to avoid being tortured. Some psychiatric medications have more side effects than benefits (haloperidol being one) and psychiatric drugs are tested on adults and then prescribed to children whose brains are different without any knowledge of potential side effects. I also agree that medicating restless school children isn’t therapy, it is done for the convenience of schools. Children are not designed to sit quietly and listen for hours on end. Whatever happened to recess where children can play and work off that excess energy?

    But while critics like Breggin can always cite cases where psychosis as a symptom has a curable cause such as medicine toxicity, an acute illness affecting the brain, or a family gaslighting a scapegoated member, they have nothing to substitute for medication in the case of schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, Alzheimer’s, Huntington’s Disease, Pick’s Disease, and some other disorders which cause psychiatric symptoms and have no cure at the present time.

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  32. Daisy, I do understand what you were going through with your depression. If you were still depressed, I would recommend cognitive therapy where the therapist teaches you to ‘hear’ what you think and stop and examine it. Based on what you have posted, it seems to me that you absorbed ideas about women deferring to men and sacrificially meeting the needs of others and denial of self without ever learning how to set and maintain healthy boundaries and meet your own needs. It sounds to me that you re-examined these ideas on your own and overcame your depression that way.

    I can see how nouthetic counseling would have been the last thing you needed! Nobody needed to confront you about sin or blame you for anything or scold you for contributing to your own depression. If we are depressed because of mistaken ideas we hold or because our coping strategies to deal with trauma don’t work, we need a trained specialist to help us reconsider our thoughts and behaviors and help us develop healthier ones. No shaming and blaming necessary!

    Liked by 1 person

  33. Marsha, Breggin is a regular speaker at conferences in the nouthetic camp. Now he may not specifically call himself that, and that’s fine–as I believe he’s secular in his outlook–but his work is very important there.

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  34. Let me interpret the essence of BJU President Steve Pettit’s leaked chapel message: Nothing to see here, move along. Everything is safe at BJU. Nothing to worry about. Don’t think about it. We’re taking care of it, and nothing really happened anyway, and if it did, it was a long, long time ago. No, nothing to worry about, nothing at all. Everything is safe at BJU.

    Like

  35. Bike Bubba said,

    DECEMBER 19, 2014 @ 7:16 AM
    Daisy, your anecdote says it didn’t work for you. There are a lot of people out there who are anecdotes who say it did. Including me–it was through faith that I overcame the issues related to my parents’ divorce.

    In other words, your statement “it doesn’t work” is more than a bit hasty. You have two significant camps in mental health, really; you have the “drug” camp that says it’s something unknown that went wrong chemically, and you have the nouthetic camp (people like Peter Breggin) who say that most cases are really dealt with better by good, sound counseling. You will find examples of both in just about any center specializing in mental illness.

    My comments and observations are not hasty but based in reality and decades of having been trapped in depression and panic attacks.

    They are also experienced by a lot of other Christians (see the book “Why Do Christians Shoot Their Wounded?: Helping (Not Hurting) Those with Emotional Difficulties ” by a Christian doctor. His book goes into more detail and he has more examples, of why your approach does not work for most people)

    I had depression from the time I was around 10 yrs old up until my early 40s, and no, your approach does not work – not for me, and not for a lot of other people.

    You can read scads of testimonies by Christians (or now former Christians) who tried the “Bible only” approach, and they were wounded by this.

    Often, when Christians are not helped by nouthetic counseling and its related approaches (Bible reading, faith, prayer), they will be shamed and blamed by other Christians, and told their problem is them – that they are somehow to blame for being depressed.

    That if only they would pray harder or more often, or volunteer at church more (or do whatever more or harder), they would be cured.

    Drugs did not work for me. However, I do not coach other people to avoid taking anti-depressants or other sorts of medications if they find them useful

    Bible reading, prayer, Jesus, going to church, focusing on my own supposed sins – none of that helped me at all.

    Focusing on that stuff actually kept me trapped in the depression and anxiety much, more longer.

    I find that people who claim that the “Jesus only” method (which may entaiil nothing but Bible reading, volunteering at soup kitchens, “having faith” etc) are in the minority.

    Depression forums and blogs are haunted by many Christians who still grapple with depression or other problems, and the Jesus Only approach does not work.

    BTW the Bible nowhere teaches Jesus will heal everyone of all their problems. Meaning, if you are a christian with depression, Jesus’ answering to healing you when you pray and ask for a healing may be “No.” Which means you will have to find another means of dealing with it, which may mean seeing a secular therapist, and/or using drugs for treatment.

    Bike Bubba’s views don’t work for most people and are actually pretty cruel – because they promise help and a cure but do not deliver.

    Like

  36. Bike Bubba said:
    I’ve got relatives who have been through the secular mental health system, and suffice it to say that they were never cured. Maintained, yes, but cured, no”

    Cured, huh? Is that what he thinks is the purpose of psychology, is to cure people? NO…It’s to help CONTROL what cannot be cured.

    Cured, huh? Jeeeesh!

    Ed

    Like

  37. @ Marsha

    You guessed correctly!

    I did see shrinks for years and took medications for depression when the prayer, Bible reading, volunteering at charities (the “Jesus only”) approach did not work.

    I even took up the “Jesus only” approach again for awhile to deal with my depression and anxiety a bit after giving up secular doctors and meds. I sometimes bounced back between both approaches, or used both off and on.

    None of the doctors I saw for years diagnosed the root of my depression, which was the real culprit.

    Christian weenies telling me that my sin was the root of my depression and that I lacked faith and just needed to pray more etc, were totally off base and incorrect as well.

    The psychiatrists and psychologists (some were Christian, some were not) I saw diagnosed me with the depression, which I did in fact have (and it runs in my family, so there may be a biological component), but it was not until after my mother died and I did some research on all this to figure out the cause of my depression was based on faulty thinking.

    The root of my depression: my mother was extremely codependent, and she brought me up to be that way as well.

    I don’t want to get into all the details, because there are so many facets of it, but to toss out an example or two:

    – I was taught that nice Christian girls do not express anger at all for any reason, no matter how horrible someone is treating me.

    – I was also taught that my feelings and needs do not matter, but everyone else’s matter.

    These notions are supported by a lot of Christians, too, you will notice. I see them echoed in writings by Christians in their books and blogs and in their sermons. Christians are supposed to (it is claimed) be nice all the time, never show anger, getting your own needs met is supposedly wrong.

    After having lived with those beliefs for years – anger stuffed down, no boundaries, I was inviting bullies to pick on me because they spotted I was so passive – no wonder I was afraid of people (I had social anxiety badly), and no wonder I was depressed.

    It’s disappointing that in all the years I saw psychiatrists (and a small number of psychologists) that none of them noticed the root of my depression.

    Christians and their stupid teachings on these topics made me worse. Christian teachings on these topics keep sincere Christians trapped longer in these issues than they need be.

    Instead of being blamed and shamed and told to focus on my sin, and that I am a worthless sinner, and instead of listening to false teachings about always being a “turn the other cheek” passive doormat in all situations, I ironically became set free when I realized that these teachings are bogus and rejected them.

    Being a Christian (or just a human being) does not mean putting your needs last, being a doormat, holding anger in and biting your tongue when someone bullies you. I’ve learned that it’s okay to make mistakes, to sometimes put yourself and your needs first.

    In other words, I had to reject almost every evangelical / conservative Christian cliche’ (and your Nouthetic guys teach similar stuff) I had been raised to believe was true to be set free of depression, low self esteem, and most of the anxiety.

    If I were to follow Bike Bubba’s thinking and nouthetic counseling, I would still be stuck in depression and other problems to this day.

    A lot of this is also tied in to conservative Christian gender complementarianism, by the way.

    Gender comp teaching – where Christian women are told it is biblical womanhood, or God’s wish for them to be quiet, demure, passive, lack boundaries, never get their needs met (because that would be “selfish”), to value other people’s feelings more than their own, etc, etc, is nothing but codependency under another name.

    It really is. And it makes me ill that Christians are actually encouraging women to live this way and think this way, because it will lead many women who buy into this into becoming passive, repressed, tired, and can lead to depression and a host of other problems. It’s so unnecessary.

    Oh, another great out come of dumping the views I was discussing above. Although I am currently waffling on the faith (I don’t know if I am Christian now or not, or at least I am somewhat Christian), I figure if the God of the Bible does exist, I now feel for the first time in my life that he actually loves me, and that he loves me just as much as anyone else.

    The previous teaching I got from Christians- that God values and loves other people more than me, I am just a lowly sinner, worm of the dirt – made me feel that God does not love me. He loves everyone else, but not me, I had no value at all.

    A sad, frustrating thing about the Bike Bubba’s of the Christian community – they will sit there and insist it is wrong or worldly for Christians to use medications or secular doctors for mental health issues, but the only approach he validates is the un-biblical, ineffective, Nouthetic / Jesus only techniques, is the picture I’m getting.

    What of Christians for whom Nouthetic / ‘Jesus only’ does not work? You have Christians who have tried and tried for years to get relief or recovery from depression by Bible reading, thinking positive sunny Jesus thoughts, and prayer, but those things simply do not work (they didn’t work for me).

    So… for these folks, for whom the faith does not work, they just have to suck up the pain and deal with it, and live out the rest of their lives hurting and living in a fog? That’s pretty cruel thinking.

    I had a Christian friend who tried the ‘Jesus only’ method for many years. He had depression, OCD, and low self esteem. He committed suicide several years ago.

    I do sometimes get the impression reading the anti-psychology, anti-medication rants on “discernment” Christian sites that such individuals would rather a believer kill himself and go on to the afterlife than get help by way of using medications or secular therapy.

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  38. A sad, frustrating thing about the Bike Bubba’s of the Christian community – they will sit there and insist it is wrong or worldly for Christians to use medications or secular doctors for mental health issues, but the only approach he validates is the un-biblical, ineffective, Nouthetic / Jesus only techniques, is the picture I’m getting.

    Like Scientologists and Dianetics?

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  39. Cured, huh? Is that what he thinks is the purpose of psychology, is to cure people? NO…It’s to help CONTROL what cannot be cured.

    Like Type 1 Diabetes or AIDS. There’s no cure, but there are maintenance treatments that keep the disease damped down.

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  40. Missdaisyflower,

    Your situation is why I come down extremely hard on some people that comment on this blog. Bike Bubba is just one of many that I have engaged with on here. As I told Brenda, I am anal-ytical. I analyze what people say, when they attempt to give false and faulty godly advice, and pawn it off as biblical. I’ve made some enemies on this blog. I know it. I’m sure that Bike Bubba thinks I’m a nut case. I don’t care. I know that he suffered abuse, based on what he stated on this blog, and I’m sorry for what he had to endure. I’m sure that is a huge reason as to why he posts here to begin with. But when you go from being the victim to now being the expert on how to deal with issues, claiming that it is biblical, then the victim card is set aside, and I must challenge the expert side. And challenge I will do, even if I am thought of as the enemy.

    God Bless you!

    Ed

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  41. missdaisyflower-“I had depression from the time I was around 10 yrs old up until my early 40s, and no, your approach does not work – not for me, and not for a lot of other people.”
    I could paste your whole comment, I hear you, and I thank-you for sharing. BB approach didn’t work for me either.

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  42. Pingback: Translation of Bob Jones University’s Manipulative Press Release Announcing GRACE Report | A Cry For Justice

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