Did Anybody Do Anything Wrong? (User Poll)
I’m going to present two scenarios to you, and I would like to put to a vote which of the two scenarios should cost the counselor his job. After I get some discussion, I’ll give you my take on the matter (in a future blog post):
Scenario #1: An atheist patient goes to a Christian counselor, suffering from depression. The atheist wants to sincerely figure out why he’s so down all of the time. They give equal time to family and job pressures, but in each session the Christian asserts that the atheist is particularly vulnerable to a spiritual attack because he doesn’t believe in demons. The Christian continually reassures the atheist that he is praying for him, and urges him to come to church every Sunday, over and against the atheist’s protest that he doesn’t believe as the counselor believes. The Christian continues to insist that the only way his patient will get better is by faith in Jesus.
Scenario #2: A Christian patient goes to an atheist counselor, suffering from depression. The Christian confides in the counselor that he feels it is a spiritual attack from Satan, and requests prayer in addition to counseling services. The atheist ridicules the patient for believing patent nonsense and tells the patient that prayer has never helped anyone because God is an imaginary friend for adults. Satan is just as imaginary. Throughout all of their sessions, the atheist continually rags on the Christian for belief in sky fairies and recommends he grow up and deal with reality and the real issues behind the depression instead of punting it off on make-believe monsters. Otherwise, contends the atheist, the depression will just get worse.
Additional comments and thoughts are welcome below.
Posted on May 20, 2011, in Apologetics. Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.
In my country (australia), if those events occured, both of those counselors would be disciplined.
As to whether those actions are morally wrong, I don’t know. I think they both are.
I’d say both counselors are in the wrong. They both seem more interested in pushing their own agendas than in listening to their patients.
If the Christian is working as a psychiatrist or psychological therepist, then he should lost his job; if he’s working as a church counselor however (much more likely given your description), then the atheist should realize he’s walked into a church and not expect anything else. I’d want the counselor in that case to use some wisdom, and get the atheist to a more secular venue for his counseling, because the Christian is only qualified to give religious guidance. Then, if the atheist stays, he has chosen to, and the Christian should not lose his job.
In the case of the atheist counselor, if God is being used by the patient as a crutch, the atheist might actually the best one to see it. However, the response you outline would be the worst way to say it. He needs to meet the patient where he is at. Opinionated atheists usually have a pretty good intuition of how God would ideally work, and so should be able point out the inconsistencies without tearing the patient’s faith to shreds. The atheist that you outline is clearly hostile and should lose his job.
Please note that I am answering out of a prejudice against atheists, but out of a prejudice against hostile counselors. You have painted the atheist as hostile and the Christian as loving. Had you done it the other way around, I have no doubt that I would have chosen the Christian to lose his job, and contrived a setting where the atheist potentially keeps his. You might consider rewording the scenarios.
I left out a word: “I am NOT answer out of a prejudice against atheists, but out of a prejudice against hostile counselors.” I hate typos like that.