At our counseling center, we have a policy that women counsel women and men counsel men. Any time our counselors have been asked to counsel someone of the opposite sex, we have politely and firmly refused.
Our position on this is simple: it is dangerous.
Women are by nature, and for better or worse, emotional beings. Most women feel everything much more than a man does. Women often come for counseling because the have troubled marriages. Their complaint is that their husband doesn’t listen to them or is not attentive to their felt needs. He may not be the spiritual leader she wishes he was, or he may be harsh and critical of her.
The male counselor often is her pastor, small group leader, choir director or someone else in a position of spiritual authority over her. Women desire to be led spiritually, and protected from biblical error and every time the man gives her counsel he is feeding her desires. He is a kind and understanding presence in her life. For one hour a week, he does nothing but listen to her (something husband rarely if every does) and he is giving her his undivided attention. He is wise and godly and strong and gentle. Is it any wonder emotions will begin to develop?I have seen it happen time and time again.
These counseling relationships can be devastating. I have never met a counselor who set out to have an inappropriate relationship with a counselee, but that does not mean it doesn’t happen!
Our pastors are only human and many have fallen and been removed from their pulpits over an adulterous affair that began as a counseling relationship.
Setting the possibility of an actual affair aside, a male-female counseling relationship often adds to the problems at the counselee’s home. Think about it; the marriage relationship is already bad or she would not be going for counseling. In counseling, she has “the perfect man” listening to her, caring about her, praying with and for her, leading her spiritually, and sometimes protecting her from harm. What light does this put her husband in? How could he possibly stack up to that?
From the viewpoint of the pastor’s wife, male-female counseling relationships are a bad idea. Would you like your husband meeting alone with women all day long? Knowing they are pouring their hearts out to him? I would not. Many pastors find they have little energy left for their wives at the end of a day of counseling. The pastor’s wife finds her husband unavailable to her emotionally and she is sometimes squeezed out of the equation.
A woman counseling a man is equally dangerous. The man wants counseling because his marriage is in trouble, he doesn’t know how to understand or relate to his wife so he wants a woman’s point of view on things. He is vulnerable emotionally, especially if his wife has not been meeting his physical needs! A warm and caring woman who listens and is not demanding anything from him is easy to fall for.
This is why we train men and woman to counsel and disciple biblically. Our philosophy is rooted in various One Another Scriptures, and also the command not to cause another to stumble. We desire to avoid all appearance of evil in our ministry and make it one that brings God honor and glory and benefits not only our counselee, but his or her family as well.
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