Friday, September 22, 2017

"The Ten Suggestions"

Isaiah 16.3 NASB

Give us advice, make a decision;

Cast your shadow like night at high noon;

Hide the outcasts,
do not betray the fugitive.”

I am not a counselor and so I can’t comment with authority on the profession. However, I do have an issue with some of the marriage counseling I’ve heard about. My impression is that many counselors flat refuse to “give… advice” or “make a decision.” Were they taught in Counselor’s School how to remain neutral: “Never take sides. Never give advice or render a decision”? 

Most counselors appear to know how to listen intently and then say with ease, “Thank you for sharing” or inquire, “How does that make you feel?” But I can’t imagine a modern counselor taking sides or making a stand with words like these: “That’s just wrong. Stop it.”

Like many counselees, the Moabites cried out for help. “Give us advice, make a decision.” Sometimes that’s what people need. An answer. A verdict. A judgment. A pronouncement. They need someone in authority to ‘cast their shadow like night at high noon’ on behalf of “outcasts” or “the fugitive.”

I knew a good woman who was deeply wounded by her husband’s infidelity. She hoped to save the marriage and although he wanted a divorce, the husband reluctantly agreed to marriage counseling. Their Christian counselor was unwilling to speak authoritatively about the husband’s ‘extracurricular’ sexual activities. I don’t understand. The Bible promotes a system of living that involves some marital absolutes like…

  • God hates divorce (see Malachi 2.16)
  • Except for sexual infidelity, divorce is not an option (Matthew 19.6, 9)
  • Sex outside of marriage is against God’s law (Hebrew 13.4)
  • It’s wrong to secretly desire another man’s wife (Exodus 20.17)
  • Do not have sex with a person married to another (Luke 18.20)
  • Stay away from pornography (Matthew 5.27-28)
  • A woman should respect her husband (Ephesians 5.33)
  • A man must love his wife and lay his life down for her (Colossians 3.19)

Have I always lived up to the God’s commands? Of course not. I have violated nearly all of them. However, that does not change God’s law. My disobedience does not make it OK. God gave Moses Ten Commandments, not Ten Suggestions. Occasionally, He expects us to remind ourselves of His standards. Offenders need straight talk. Victims need validation and vindication. Shepherds, pastors, Christian counselors or leaders, may even have to “give.. advice” and “make a decision.” When this is called for, anything less is a cop-out.
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The replica of the Ten Commandments above is from Ha Shem (The Name) Into the World Artworks.

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