Dr. Willis Newman, Esmeralda Newman, bible-teaching-about.com

What does the Bible say about women counseling men?

QUESTION:

What is your biblical view on women counseling men and can you give me Scriptural references to back it up?  I know that the Elders of a church are called to preach and teach, but is counseling considered teaching in the same sense?

Julie

ANSWER:

Julie:

Good question. The answer depends on many things. For example, how does one define counseling? What is teaching? Is it teaching Bible and Theology? Is it Christian or secular counseling? Is it giving advice in group counseling? What is the problem? What are the local cultural rules? What are the legal requirements? Does it violate Biblical commands? Does it violate common sense? What are your church rules?

In other words, it all depends. Therefore, here is my view. 

1. If you are counseling men in the church, but it goes against the wishes of the leadership, then I would say not to cause trouble. 

2. If you have a counseling practice in your own office outside the church in a professional setting, then go ahead. This assumes that you have the professional training to be a counselor.

3. I do not know of any commands in the New Testament that forbids women counseling men. Paul warns against women teaching theology and Bible and exercising authority over men in the church (1 Timothy 2:11, 12). 

4. There is also specific instruction for older, mature women to encourage young women how to behave in their families (Titus 2:3-5). To me, this sounds like counseling, and is something spiritually mature and wise women are called to do. Mature does not necessarily mean “old,” but perceptive and wise in the way of human relationships. Consequently, women can and should counsel.

5. There are, however, common sense reasons that find support in Scripture. In a counseling setting, there are very dynamic, emotional, and intimate exchanges that occur. It is a very highly charged atmosphere. Both men and women can become very vulnerable. Guards are down, and very personal information is shared. There are very power forces such as, “transference,” and “counter transference.”

It is easy, too easy, to fall into temptation and even an affair of the heart – or otherwise. Paul warns us to, “flee immorality,” and to abstain from the appearance of evil (1 Corinthians 6:18; 1 Thessalonians 5:22).

There are even laws in some states that forbid a counselor and counselee from dating until two or more years have elapsed after the counseling has ceased. Even non-Christians recognize the danger. Many counselors and pastors lose careers, because of improper relationships. 

In fact, this even brings into question if men should counsel women. If pastors (or professional counselors) do, then they should carefully guard themselves, and conduct their practice in a very professional way. The basic precaution is to leave the door open, and have the secretary within eyeshot. Many pastors always have their wives present during counseling.

These issues always come up in the psychology classes I teach in a college setting. My advice if you are having marriage problems, never go to a member of the opposite sex with your troubles. You can always find someone with a sympathetic ear, soon talk crosses the line, and more trouble is brewing. 

Therefore, Julie, it is not a question of who can muster up enough Bible verses to prove themselves right and others wrong. God gives us common sense, and that is the issue. Good intentions and motives can sometimes turn bad. It is the application of various biblical principles.

Another qualification that I make: I am speaking from a Western, American point of view. Other cultures may take a different view, and we should always respect culture as long as it does not directly oppose the Word of God. For example, if a Muslim woman counsels a man, it would be her death.

Hope this helps, Julie. All the best, and God bless.

Dr. Newman

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