Hating Yourself to a Better You: Helplessness as a guide to “Christian” counseling

The following abomination comes courtesy of a local Methodist church in my area.  It is the salient components of a brochure inviting those who struggle with psychological distress in the form of addiction to attend weekly sessions where they will, so it seems, be asked to engage in group-therapy centered upon the idea that, according to the Bible and to God, there is really no hope at all.

Which of course makes the entire thing somewhat superfluous I would think.

But apparently in the hurricane of cognitive dissonance and vexing logical dilemmas the idea that there is nothing practical anyone can do, because they are metaphysically inadequate to deal with the problems which plague them, gets lost in all the “grace” of God.  That is, God will heal you instead of YOU actually having to do anything, is the message.

Except…no, that’s not really the message at all.  The message is more like:  God “is able” to heal you.  But of course, since the root of what you struggle with is your inexorable and all-pervasive sin nature, there is really no good argument for WHY God would want to heal you.  From what I gather, the gist is that you are expected to confess to your categorical assholery, realize that you cannot heal yourself, which is probably an okay thing because, being a total asshole you don’t deserve healing, and then you cross your fingers and hope manna falls from the sky.  Hope against hope that some sign will be sent from God that he will “use” your torment for better things, or, preferably, you will be healed.

Of course, implicit in the entire doctrine is the fact that if you prefer to be healed instead of wanting God to “use” your pain for “good”–a good that still involves your pain, that is, so healing seems to be out of the question; for if God is “using” your pain for good then why on earth would He want to end the pain?–…

Where was I?

Oh yes.  Implicit in the doctrine is the idea that if you prefer to be healed instead of being used then you are a selfish reprobate who desires to grant a sop to God instead of accepting His divine Will.  Incidentally the doctrine of “existing to be categorically used by God who controls everything” is at the root of the fundamental theological contradiction:  you exist, but don’t exist at the same time.  You are you, but are not really you.  You exist to be you, so that God can use you in such a way (absolutely determine you) that no actual or relevant definition of YOU, as far as “your” existence is concerned, can be applied.

So, you come away with this…this…well, it can only be describe as wholly destructive advice from these “compassionate” Christians:

(NOTE: This is my translation of the “steps to recovery”, which I will post following)

*Your problems are the rightful consequence of your utter wickedness.

*You are wicked because you cannot help it; and yet it is still defined as “wicked”, despite the obvious fact that if one does not and cannot CHOOSE to act a certain way then there can be no rational moral qualification applied.  That is like saying you are “good” for growing hair or making body odor.  (Or you are “bad”…no matter.  But see how subjective Reformation theology is?  It would be funny as hell if it…weren’t.  These fuckers are serious.).

Which leads us into our next…

*Just because you cannot help it doesn’t mean it isn’t your fault.  It damn sure is, and don’t you forget it.  Asshole.

*God would be right to let you suffer these things and even more for the sin which you cannot help but which is still all your fault…somehow.

*If God heals you then He is a hypocrite because if He is just then He must punish sin; and your misery is obviously because of your sin, because that is the ONLY reason for suffering and pain.  Ever.  There are no accidents or mere unfortunate circumstances with a God who controls every molecule in the universe, including, by logical extension, those molecules which are responsible for sin.  But shhhhhhhhhhh!  we don’t talk about that because the very fact that you thought about this is evidence that you really understand fuck all about God’s great absolute sovereignty which is responsible for sin, but also isn’t.

*God hates you.

*So…

*You might get healed. 

*But probably not.

Are you comforted yet by this?  Well, for my part, I sleep well at night knowing that this kind of “compassion” is so ready and willing to give freely and sacrificially of itself in the interest of…uh…helping?

Now, before we begin our critique, here’s an obvious hint for all of you suffering from any kind of affliction, addiction, or whatnot:  for healing, it is best not to appeal to organizations which hate people, and which have an entire systematized philosophy as to WHY people should be hated, which is rooted in the assumption that the answer to that question is a simple “because human beings blow as a matter of existential course”.

*

Here are the relevant ideas of this brochure, in two parts.  In later posts I hope to examine briefly the stark fallacies and rational insanity of each point.  In the meantime, please feel free to engage in savage criticism and raucous mockery of this evil excuse for “recovery”.

The fist section is called “The Road to Recovery:  Eight Principles Based On the Beatitudes”  by Pastor Rick Warren

(NOTE:  With each numbered idea there is an irrelevant Bible verse attached.  I say “irrelevant” because, as is the usual case with Reformed proof-texts, which are by definition taken out of context and bastardized to fit the subjective intention and interpretations of the person making the list, they have literally nothing to do with the point being made.  This means that the inclusion of scripture within these lists is for the purpose of deception only.  As such, I will not include them in this post.  They are stupid.)

1.  Realize I’m not God.  I admit that I am powerless to control my tendency to do the wrong thing and that my life is unmanageable.

2.  Earnestly believe that God exists, that I matter to Him and that He has the power to help me recover.

3.  Consciously choose to commit my life and will to Christ’s care and control.

4.  Openly examine and confess my faults to myself, God and someone I trust.

5.  Voluntarily submit to every change God wants to make in my life and humbly ask Him to remove my character defects.

6.  Evaluate all my relationships.  Offer forgiveness to those who have hurt me and make amends for harm I have done to others, except when to do so would harm them or others.

7.  Reserve a daily time with God for self-examination, Bible reading, and prayer in order to know God and His will for my life and gain the power to follow his will.

8.  Yield myself to God to be used to bring this Good News to others, both by my example and by my words.

 

The second section is called “The 12 Steps to Recovery”, and I presume that this was developed by the Methodist church hosting the self-hatred navel gazing…er, I mean, counseling, sessions.  They are basically an answer to Rick’s stupid list.

As with the above list, the totally irrelevant and completely unrelated Bible verses have been omitted.

1.  We admitted we were powerless over our addictions and compulsive behaviors.

2.  We came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.

3.  We decided to turn our life and will over to the care of God.

4.  We made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.

5.  We admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being, the exact nature of our wrongs.

6.  We were entirely ready to have God remove all our defects of character.

7.  We humbly asked Him to remove all our shortcomings.

8.  We made a list of all persons we had harmed and became willing to make amends to them all.

9.  We made direct amends to such people whenever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.

10.  We continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong, promptly admitted it.

11.  We sought, through prayer and meditation, to improve our conscious contact with God, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and power to carry that out.

12.  Having had a spiritual experience as the result of these steps, we pledged to carry this message to others, and practice these principles in all our affairs.

 

 

 

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20 thoughts on “Hating Yourself to a Better You: Helplessness as a guide to “Christian” counseling

  1. Well since they are nothing but vile and wicked and cannot change, then why go? If God wants to change them, can’t He do it while they are practicing their addiction since they have little to do with any of it? Remember the old slogan? Let go and Let God? That is all they need. That one slogan. They don’t need no stinking 12 steps unless perhaps there is some money from the navel gazers? Perhaps Warren sells this program? He has made bank off everything else.

  2. Argo –

    Is there any significance to the bold text and the asterisks? Is all the text yours until the first list if eight steps?

    I’m not sure how Warren’s eight points has anything to do with the Beatitudes.

    On a side note – I find it most helpful to see the scriptures that are used. I can then go to those passages to evaluate the validity of their use and determine if I agree with their use or not. In many cases I find I don’t agree with their use, but the process helps me to train my brain to be awake and aware when listening to people use scriptures. I am amazed how this has helped me to not fall into a passive attitude when listening to teachings and sermons and reading books 😉

  3. Oasis –

    Yes it can be if it doesn’t start with men and women knowing that they are created in the image of God, because God loves us, and God wants the best for us, and was willing to come be like us, and with us, and be a ransom for us. Human life is valuable and precious to Him and should be to those created in His image.

    The state that most people are in when they go to counseling is a state of believing lies about themselves because of their own actions or the actions of others toward them and, of course, these beliefs may or may not be mixed with real medical issues in their body. A good counselor will ALWAYS want to make sure that physical health has been evaluated and will always be on the lookout for physical problems that could come into play with the thinking state of a patient. To separate the body from the mind (thinking/beliefs) is not possible. They are one unit. Most Christian counselors don’t believe this.

  4. This is so wrong.

    12. Having had a spiritual experience as the result of these steps, we pledged to carry this message to others, and practice these principles in all our affairs.

    Good grief! Is this step your way into salvation (spiritual experience?)!?! This sounds like brain washing not real life change.

  5. Bridget,

    Yes, the bold text is my commentary…er, what the points Warren and the church make REALLY mean, as opposed to the euphemistic, logically impossible language he uses to sell his false wares.

    Sorry…yeah, I thought that might not be clear. I’ll modify it.

    When I do the bullet point commentary I will include the verses for you and others. Not a bad idea. Further evidence at just how far they are willing to stretch the truth in service to their power and profit.

  6. Wesley was a good guy but the pietist crap handed down still smells crap. You have an interesting mix of Methodists over there. I suppose you wouldnn’t let go and let God ala Keswick moee would you?

  7. Wesley was a good guy but the pietist crap handed down still smells crap. You have an interesting mix of Methodists over there. I suppose you wouldn’t “let go and let God” ala Keswick mode would you?

    It eorries me when subjective spiritual experiences are taken as a sign for allegiance. Come have a spiritual experience with us. Then bond to our authority and annointing FOREVER.

  8. “It worries me when subjective spiritual experiences are taken as a sign for allegiance. Come have a spiritual experience with us. Then bond to our authority and annointing FOREVER.”

    Hmmm…yes, I get the strange feeling that “healing” can only be found via wholehearted integration into the collective. The collective will cover you like a mother hen guarding her chicks. Except in this case, the hen demands your mind and won’t suffer you to fly away.

    The church is God’s proxy, and the Pastor, God’s incarnate Self to you…and healing is only by God.

    Translation: you belong to them.

  9. “12. Having had a spiritual experience as the result of these steps, we pledged to carry this message to others, and practice these principles in all our affairs.”

    Yes, creepy. Cultish. You are expected to have had a “spiritual experience” which is highly subjective and even easily influenced. The evil one often masquerades as an angel of light.

    You know, the more I am reading the more my message is one of independence and freedom of thought. Not buying into their version of the unity Jesus or conformity of belief. I do thank Verduin for articulating some of this. He introduced me to Gods desire for a composite society for the express purpose that His people would be so obvious and would relect Him to others. That was his purpose for the Israelites who failed miserably. In fact, His people would not resemble a tribe at all. They would be in all parts of society being light to others. And in their locations they would meet to encourage each other. We have so overcomplicated it.

  10. Lydia,

    By the way, thanks for linking that response to the Danvers statement on Paul’s blog. I enjoyed reading that immensely. Of course, by appealing to inerrancy he contradicts his entire argument, but it was still a good read and quite articulate.

  11. Yeah, that response is very old –the early 80’s I think. It was actually typed! I heard about it on a blog and emailed him and he sent me a pdf of the typed copy. I lost it during a computer crash but was glad to see it put online by someone later. HIs name is RK McGregor Wright and is a scholar of the old school type.

    And you are right he appealled to inerrancy which I did not catch the first time I read it, about 10 years ago. That is how ingrained those concepts can be when we do not question them.

    But he drives mack truck sized holes through their position. In fact, what little scripture they used in the Danvers statement he totally refutes the application.

  12. Lydia,

    Yes. All things considered, he did an excellent job.

    But it says something that his perspective is not the dominant one, even though his argument is much more compelling and much more intellectually honest than that Danvers bullshit. And that is why I criticized his appeal to biblical inerrancy.

    I have a theory as to why people still accept mysticism to reason.

    Once we decide that absolute truth and authority is outside of man’s life…that is, once we concede man’s life must be submitted to ideas that are considered absolute beyond human life, denying that it is man’s conscious existence which is the prerequisite for them (or anything at all) being true, then we are no better than our opposition. We can argue egalitarianism until we are out of breath, but if the standard of truth does not need man to be true (e.g. Biblical inerrancy), what difference does it make what we believe? We still must concede that the problem which plagues man is his existence. And since this is the crux of all Christian orthodoxy, people naturally gravitate towards ideologies which most blatantly declare that man must submit himself to “proper roles” in order to be good…as morality is the flip side of the truth coin.

    This means man’s death is the key to “salvation”.

    So, arguing for egalitarianism as opposed to complementarianism is tomato vs toMAHto.

    Only when man’s life individually is the singular standard of truth do any of these arguments matter.

  13. Argo, bonding to your abusers in a church context is a marker of “spiritual abuse.” Call it Stockholm Syndrome, brainwashing, mind control or whatever. Tribal allegiance is voluntary.

  14. “I have a theory as to why people still accept mysticism to reason. ”

    The answer:

    “And since this is the crux of all Christian orthodoxy, people naturally gravitate towards ideologies which most blatantly declare that man must submit himself to “proper roles” in order to be good…as morality is the flip side of the truth coin.”

    Let me try it this way. People buy into inerrancy to be accepted by the larger group. It is expected. No one will listen at that level if you do not conceed inerrancy upfront. This might even be subconscious because it just is that way. No thinking on it required.

    So the entire disagreement becomes about the minutia of interpretation. I know, I do this all the time because I think an arguement can be made doing this. But I can do it without believing in the concept of inerrancy. The concept of inerrancy has become the Holy Grail that cannot be questioned. No debate can get past it.

    RK McGregor Wright was probably like all them in that it is unconscious way of saying, you can listen to me, I have the bonafides. It is a sad thing.

    I cannot imagine a “scholar” actually propping up the concept of inerrancy. So when you think of it that way (remember the Chicago statement and the cognitive dissonance in article 10?) the whole scholarship house of cards tumbles down and they look like frauds. We don’t need inerrancy to debate the definition of Kephale in the 1st Century, do we?

    I do think God is probably shaking his head over inerrancy saying, “They have missed the point altogether”.

  15. “Argo, bonding to your abusers in a church context is a marker of “spiritual abuse.” Call it Stockholm Syndrome, brainwashing, mind control or whatever. Tribal allegiance is voluntary.”

    Jason, I had never thought of it that way. You know when you add the layer of God into the mix the Stockholm Syndrome becomes piety. A dastardly combo.

  16. “RK McGregor Wright was probably like all them in that it is unconscious way of saying, you can listen to me, I have the bonafides. It is a sad thing.”

    Well said.

  17. “You know when you add the layer of God into the mix the Stockholm Syndrome becomes piety.”

    Excellent observation!!

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