Christian Counseling Certification Blog on Divorce and Marriage Ministry

Marriage is the foundation stone of society.  Through the social contract, couples come together and bring forth future generations within the bounds of society.  Strong family units produce strong individuals in the society who can benefit society with their unique talents.

God elevated this union beyond the natural order to a supernatural contract and oath to each other.  He sanctified it in the Garden of Eden and elevated it through the words of Christ that the union can never be broken unless fear of adultery.  Scripture proclaims, a man shall leave his mother and take on another and both will become one and in the epistles, Paul teaches that the love between husband and wife is like that of Christ and the Church.

Christian marriage is a spiritual vow that transcends the natural contract of marriage.

 

With such strong words from Christ, scripture, and Paul, the foundations for Christian marriage were laid.  Within Catholic and Orthodox circles, it was a sacrament, while in Protestant circles it was in the very least a sacred obligation.   Society has attempted to weaken this natural and supernatural building rock of society.  Divorce, same sex marriage, and polygamy all look to weaken the institution and society itself.  The attempt to separate the supernatural element instilled by God to a merely natural contract is on display.

With the readiness of divorce, infidelity plays no small penalty for the secular mind.  Divorce rips apart family units and leaves many children left without strong guidance to help create a better society.  The attack on the family has already begun and continues to rage.

In the midst of such chaos, the Christian Counselor is left with many divorced Christians and individuals seeking solace and wholeness.  Not only do these individuals suffer from the initial loss of a spouse, but they also suffer from a variety of secondary losses, including children, pets, possessions, income and new integration into new life styles.

Divorce sometimes is a reality to the Christian, albeit an unwanted one.  Many Christians may feel marked and ashamed with such titles within their own community and family structure.  They may feel as if they failed in some way.  Other Christians may remarry and feel as if black sheep for taking upon another spouse.  In Catholic and Orthodox churches, remarriage without annulment is forbidden.   This leads to a whole new type of ministry.  Hence, the divorced and those who decide to remarry within Christianity represent a large group of the displaced within the faith.  While in Protestantism, remarriage is permissible for due reason of adultery, it still creates issues with blended homes and still the over all loss of the original marriage.

Within Catholicism and Orthodoxy, the words of Christ echo strongly that no-one may ever remarry.  The exception clause within Matthew is not regarded as a license to remarry.  Only in Matthew is it mentioned and it never again is mentioned in the Epistles.  Many biblical scholars look at the interpretation, translation and the fact it was targeted to only the Jewish community to mean something different.  This leaves the Catholic and Orthodox church with many remarried couples that can become a pastoral concern.

Christian Counselors need to understand their plight.  Pope Francis recently wrote at length the pastoral concerns of these “black sheep”.   While many may marry as if they are dating, there are some who have unjustly been dealt.  Pope Francis pointed this out in his encyclical on the “Joy of Love” where he looks at the emergency pastoral issue within the Catholic Church.  He asked some very critical questions regarding the fate of these couples.  While remaining faithful to Christ’s words, he still pondered about those who remarry due to abuse, or those who were left with nothing after a spouse totally rejected them.  He also looked at the annulments that were not properly administered due to finance or local corruption within the tribunal.

Francis pointed out that many couples who remarried have moved on to a second relationship and now have grandchildren from this union.  They have remained faithful, albeit, outside the grace of the sacrament.   Pastorally, how does one deal with such families?  Each situation requires careful and deliberate reflection between confessor and couple with the highest regards for the Eucharist.

It is important to note for those not familiar with Catholic doctrine that an annulment is based on theology that centers around a vow.  A vow is a free choice with knowledge and understanding of the commitment.  When a vow is exchanged between a man and woman it is seen as binding when conditions certain conditions are met.  If certain conditions or secrets or distress are later discovered, then a marriage can be seen as never existing.  One example includes being forced to marry someone and not possessing complete autonomy in the decision.  Another example is a secret regarding the individual.  Maybe the individual was cheating before the vow and had no intention of remaining faithful.  Maybe the person lied about being baptized.  Maybe the person hid a past life of murder, abuse and other criminal activity.  Maybe the person lied about ability to have children or desire to have children.  The primary point is the issue is an “a priori” problem that was unknown before the vow.   Fortunately, many more annulments are issued more than once before within the Church.  Investigations can discover these things.

However, after the fact offenses or failures of a spouse do not fall under the guise of an annulment.   Infidelity that is not planned or a simple mistake does not invalidate a vow.  This does not mean one cannot civilly divorce, but within the interpretation of the Gospels, one cannot remarry afterwards, or they would as Christ points out, find themselves in adultery.  Many divorce for simpler reasons such as family or finance.  The generation of divorce is a replacement generation not a fix it generation.

Within Protestant theology, one may remarry over grave reasons, but this has even led to individuals thinking if they commit a grave offense, then they can become freed from a contract.  Many Protestant circles even with their exception clause have become more liberal in permitting divorce within their congregations.

These issues have led to more divorce within Christianity and has created a large pastoral issue for both Catholic and Protestant circles.  While the world mirrors a secular version of marriage, it is up to Christian communities to commit to the values of Christ regarding marriage.  It is up to Christian communities to promote the permanence of the Christian vow.

Prayer is essential for any couple. Please also review AIHCP’s Christian Counseling Certification

 

Prior to marriage, Christian Counselors, pastors and family can help young couples discover the importance of marriage and the serious nature of the vow.  Pre-Cana is also an excellent way to learn about family issues from other couples, as well as teach young couples the unglamorous aspects of marriage.  Learning to prayer together and attend liturgy and service together is an important step in engagement.  The young couple needs to investigate and learn about each other.  They need to realize that marriage is also a spiritual vocation that is not about just this world, but helping each other to reach the next world.  It is a joint vocational marriage to hold each accountable to Christ.

Prayer and God must remain in the family for it to succeed.  The modern war on the family has attempted to strip Christ from marriage.  It important then that Christians re-introduce Christ to marriage and share the beauty of Christian marriage to the world.

Please also review AIHCP’s Christian Counseling Certification and see if it matches your academic and professional goals.  The program is online and independent study and open to qualified professionals seeking a four year certification in Christian Counseling.

Christian Counseling Certification Video on Christianity and Aliens

The odds of other alien life in an infinite universe should be very high.  Sentient life while less common, should still be well represented.  Scientists and theorists have calculated mathematical probabilities of life and all points to it, but why has humanity yet to experience an encounter?   Has it already happened but is forgotten?  Is it a secret?  Or, is it simply a filtering effect where the probabilities of life becoming sentient did not work out on other worlds like on Earth?  Yet, still, is it merely too large of a universe for sentient civilizations to ever meet?

Theologically, Christianity is open to the notion of other life because one cannot limit God in His grand plan, but how would other life fit into the narrative of humanity?  The video below looks at some theological questions that could arise.

Please also review AIHCP’s Christian Counseling Certification and see if it meets your academic and professional goals.

 

Please also review the video below

Christian Counseling Certification Blog on Discipleship

Discipleship is a key element in Christianity.  Jesus calls all to take up their cross and follow Him.  Originally Jesus chose the 12 and the other close followers.  All were considered disciples but only the 12 were consider apostles with a special mission to guide the Church.  Yet each had a unique discipleship and calling, whether of the 12 or merely a close follower.   As Christians today, we also have a unique discipleship and calling.  We are called to bear witness but to also utilize our special talents given to us by the Holy Spirit to share the Gospel and build the Mystical Body of Christ.

Jesus calls us to make new disciples and followers. Please also review AIHCP’s Christian Counseling Certification

 

The article, “How Did Jesus ‘Make Disciples’?” by David Mathis looks closer at the process of discipleship then and today.  He states,

“Jesus, the Master, had called them to follow him, and for more than three years, in setting after setting, in private homes and in the midst of great crowds, walking long journeys between towns and enjoying unhurried meals — one conversation at a time, one day at a time — Jesus had discipled them. Christ himself showed them the Christian life, inside and out, in public teaching and private prayer. Now they too were to make disciples.”

To read the entire article, please click here

Please also review AIHCP’s Christian Counseling Certification and see if it meets your academic and professional goals.  The program is online and independent study and open to qualified professionals seeking a four year certification.

Christian Counseling Certification Blog on Theistic Evolution

Christianity and evolution seem like two words that should be forever at odds.  Initially, maybe rightfully so, since evolution was atheistically supported and militant against Christianity and faith itself.  The empirical process with its many benefits to life brought with it a disdain for the spiritual.  This initial distrust of faith and religion, hence made evolution and Christianity natural enemies.  Evolution as a tool of  the atheist to explain the origin of the world without God became a powerful theory against religion.

How did creation come about? Is Theistic Evolution acceptable to the Christian faith or must everyone adhere to literal interpretations of Genesis?

 

Yet, truth is truth, whether discovered through atheistic eyes or devout eyes.   As time proceeded, science showed the earth was very old.  Carbon dating illustrated a far more ancient world than previously thought.   The study of the cosmos showed how far stars are and how long light takes to reach a certain point, again showing a greater age to creation itself.   As biology advanced, adaptation and how organisms change over time, especially with virus and bacteria opened new ideas how larger organisms could also change over time.

The idea of adaptation, older earth and an older cosmos seemed to challenge Scripture and old prejudices of the origin of evolution persisted in church circles.  Furthermore, misunderstandings regarding evolution itself, as well as how Scripture is to be interpreted continued to cause a divide.  Eventually, many mainstream Christian denominations became more open to evolution as a theistic mechanism void of its discoverer’s atheistic views years prior.

The only discord that exists to this day regarding Christian teaching and evolution is in fundamentalist circles who still suspect atheism within the theory.  These individuals many times also do not understand the deeper science of evolution.  In addition, fundamentalists tend to only interpret scripture to their own literal interpretations.

In this short essay, we will discuss the nature of theistic evolution and the dangers of always seeing scripture from a literal interpretation.  Obviously, science is not at odds with faith, for both reason and truth both point to God.  It is hence important that rationale beings who utilize faith, also understand the science of evolution from a theistic standpoint before dismissing it merely as an atheistic fairytale.

As Christians, we first and foremost stand against the concept of atheistic evolution.  Atheistic evolution proposes the ridiculous idea that life happened by chance or the ridiculous notion that nothing became something.  Obviously, those familiar with St Thomas Aquinas understand that every effect has a cause.  The first cause, the uncaused cause, which infinite within itself and not forever regressing, is God.  If God is a entity, a force, or whichever, does not matter, but the author of the universe must be acknowledged.  This is the basis for theistic evolution.   God caused the big bang, His infinite love for life, planted the seed necessary to create life in that moment of for the universe.  The design was laid out among the chaos.  Ironically, even Genesis points out to the darkness and disorder.

An idea of theistic evolution and God does coexist with the idea of theistic evolution.  In now way is it not plausible that God could create this way.  What matters from Scripture, is acknowledgement that God created life and the cosmos.  The story in Genesis if taken literal can lead down a path of many concepts that do not correlate with science.  However, if properly understood and interpreted, Genesis is not at odds with theistic evolution.

Genesis is not necessarily a historic narrative like modern history books.  It teaches a historic moment or series of historic moments.  It proclaims creation and most importantly the creation of humanity.  It speaks of how humanity fell and needed a Redeemer.  These are all facts, but it does so in analogical fashion.   I avoid the word myth here because Modernism looks to reduce Genesis to a myth.  Analogy is far different.  Symbolism is far different.   It still respects the history of Adam and Eve as true human beings, but how the story is told and how it illustrates a truth about them.  It is not accounted like a modern journal but through a deeper language that was handed down.  It does not dismiss the event as non historical like myth which only looks for a deeper meaning, but retains the historical reality of the event but in described differently.

When Scripture is interpreted only literally in every sense, then many contradictions can occur with science.  The books of the Bible while only pertaining to one author, the Holy Spirit, nevertheless are written by different people.  Within this school of talents, are also different ways of telling stories.  Some stories are historical, some are psalms, some are laws, some are prophecy, and others are lessons.   We must be clear to understand the form of the book within the Bible being read to understand its meaning, intent, style and audience of the time.

From this, one can see how literal interpretation of Genesis can create an unneeded confrontation with Theistic Evolution.  However, when one discovers Genesis teaches creation, but leaves out the science, one can then learn to incorporate both together.  “Humani Generis” by Pope Pius XII in the 1950s, helped lay a bridge between theistic evolution and Genesis.  While he stated at the time, one can choose to follow theistic evolution or pure creationism, he pointed out that Christians could adhere to theistic evolution in good conscience.   He however, warned against modernism which would look refer to Adam as mythical, or Adam as a tribe, or that the soul of Adam evolved from matter.

The other larger issue in fundamentalist camps is a misunderstanding of evolution.  Evolution is not something that happens over night.  The fossil record has confidently portrayed a world where adaptations occur within creatures.   Adaptation is merely extreme genes that do best in a certain environment that are passed down to future generations.  Individuals without these particular genes designed for better survival pass away.  Hence, the gene that is best adaptive to a given environment continues to develop and be handed down.  This leads to gradual change over time.  While it is impossible to see massive change in human years, we see these changes in the fossil record, and we also see them in microbiology where generations upon generations can mutate and adapt within years instead of millions of years.

So, this does not mean something magically changes and becomes something new, but it is a natural change within a species due to time and environmental changes that forces certain genetic qualities to pass away and new ones arise in others.  It is God’s long term design to allow a species to propagate and survive.

Another huge misconception in evolution is that humanity evolved from apes and monkeys.   The truth is that both apes and monkeys share similarities to human beings and are closely related from a physical standpoint, but they are not humanity’s ancestors but merely a sharer of a common ancestor.  These lines break off into what are today monkeys and apes and humanoids.

One may then naturally ask, since Genesis, although not literal, being historical speaks of only 2 human beings.  Science actually shows that humanity genetic pool goes back to a pair but the idea that humanity evolved through a series of tribes on a global scale is incompatible.  Many atheistic evolutionists contend this to be true, but Christians who believe in Adam and Eve, contend that Adam and Eve were the first conscious human beings to be endowed with a human soul in the image of God.  Other cousins of humanity may have possessed human qualities and great intelligence, but without God’s blessing, no one could possess what Adam and Eve possessed.

Adam as a special creation was granted a reprieve from this world of suffering.  He was granted an unfallen status.  Whether this paradise was a place or a state of being, he existed without suffering until he betrayed God through his choice to follow the will of himself and Satan.  Upon this, he was again thrust into the world that science has shown us to be temporal reality.

Did Adam and Eve’s children cohabitate with other humanoids of the time?  This is very possible and may apply to the verse in Scripture referring to the children of God sleeping with the children of man.  This was seen as something wrong, but it would pass upon these lesser humanoids, the gift of Adam, a human soul. Nevertheless, we know that the great Flood would forever change global geography and also the history of humanity.

The cosmos dictates a much older existence of the universe. Please also review AIHCP’s Christian Counseling Certification

 

How about dinosaurs?  Again, the temporal age and Adam’s special status in Eden show a historical separation in the fossil record but this does not mean that in the time frame of creation, dinosaurs and other creatures did not exist prior to Adam.  Genesis states Adam and humanity were created last.  Hence a series of animals could have existed well prior to Adam.  Either due to extinction or they evolved, they would not all exist at the same time humanity existed.  Many fundamentalists try to state dinosaurs existed side by side with humanity.  While other odd creatures may have existed during the writing of Scripture, as the fossil record indicates, the idea of classical dinosaurs existed side by side with humanity is far fetched.

So, yes, with evolution and with scripture, come many subjects of reflection.  Some aspects are issues due to stubborn literal interpretation of Genesis, but other things must be clearly reflected upon with a biblical understanding and not merely a scientific mind that pretends Genesis does not exist.

This is not to dismiss those who choose to hold on a more literal meaning and creationist account.  This is one’s own choice.  One needs to be aware of the issues this creates from a philosophical and scientific standpoint.   It does not damage one’s faith but it can lead to one demonizing others who hold to an equally valuable ideal about creation that does not distort Scripture.  There needs to be mutual respect on any disagreements concerning this issue among Christians.  Ultimately, in the end, all of these secrets will be revealed to humanity by Christ.

With so much reliable information about the age of the cosmos, earth and the fossil record, I find it very convincing that evolution was the vehicle that God utilized to bring about life.  If one returns to the Bible and Genesis and looks for clues, one can begin to find that the two can co-exist if understood analogically.

Please also review AIHCP’s Christian Counseling Certification and see if it matches your academic and professional goals.  The program is online and independent study and open to qualified professionals seeking a four year certification as a Christian Counselor.

 

 

Christian Counseling Certification Blog on Qualities of Christian Counseling

Christian Counseling is a unique type of counseling.  It looks to point one towards Christ in all forms of healing.  It presents truth at all costs.  It does not look to the subjective realities of the world or immoral plans of the world, but teaches truth and expects individuals to conform to that truth.  Ultimately it is Christocentric.

Christian Counseling is Christocentric in nature
Please also review AIHCP’s Christian Counseling Certification

 

 

The article, “3 Universal Truths for Counseling in Particular Circumstances” by Curtis Solomon takes a closer look at the unique qualities of Christian Counseling and how those qualities are applied.  He states,

“No matter who you’re counseling, no matter the particulars of his situation, you can and should be patient, show compassion, and point him to Christ. Applying these universals will guard you from becoming a jerk and, more importantly, you’ll model Christ’s character in each particular situation.”

To read the entire article, please click here

Please also review AIHCP’s Christian Counseling Certification and see if it matches your academic and professional goals.  The program is online and independent study and open to qualified professionals looking to earn a four year certification in Christian Counseling.

 

Christian Counseling Certification Video on The Spiritual Exercises

The Spiritual Exercises by St Ignatius Loyola is a classic for any Christian interested in spirituality.  It delves deep into Christian meditation and creating a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.  The exercises are in themselves Christocentric and focus on the life of a Christ as a starting point into deeper reflection about oneself and one’s relationship with Christ.  Choosing the banner of Christ is critical in the exercises.

St Ignatius uses many battle analogies in choosing this banner.  The exercises are also important for spiritual development and also helping others guide others through difficult spiritual troubles.

Please also review AIHCP’s Christian Counseling Certification and see if it meets your academic and professional goals.  The program is online and independent study and open to qualified professionals seeking a four year certification in Christian Counseling.

 

 

Please also review the video below

Christian Counseling Certification Blog on Alien Life and Alien Encounter

Within Christianity, the belief that God created two sentient type of creatures, namely angels and humans is universal.   By sentient, one infers that an individual is made in the image and likeness of God in that the individual or species has an intellect and will that can reason beyond physical problems but actually acknowledge the issue of existence itself.  In this understanding of to exist or not to exist, sentience allows one to truly understand good and evil and to also contemplate a higher power.

This is far more than mere solving of puzzles as one can see in primates or dolphins, but realizing the very essence of “to be or not to be”.   Despite the intelligence of many animals and emotional ranges, animals such as primates or dolphins do not write about existence itself.   Animals merely exist.  Abstract concepts of existence itself and the choice to adhere or not adhere to moral principles are of a higher cognitive level, which is referred to sentience.   Sentience makes one made in the image and likeness of God.  It gives one knowledge, choice, and self awareness.  It is spiritual in nature, but many  non sentient things can have spirit, but it is the spiritual qualities of humanity and the angels that make them separate from other creation.

Is one to conclude then that only angels and human beings are sentient?  From observation, no other creature on Earth possesses the qualities of sentience.  While many creatures on Earth display amazing intelligence, they do not illustrate sentience.  As a Christian, is it then fair to say only human beings and angels are sentient?

While it has yet to be proven or at least acknowledged, the limitless nature of the universe ultimately has other life.  Is some of this life sentient?  One cannot answer but one cannot also limit God’s creative power to the creation of other sentient life forms.   With the creation of other sentient life forms as a possibility, speculative theology looks at the role of Christ and His redemptive act coincides with other alien sentient beings.

The cosmos is so vast that we cannot limit God’s creation.

 

Once asked regarding what he would do if he met an alien, Pope Francis said he would offer baptism and the message of Christ.  This point may very well be true, but the appearance of another sentient life form offers many challenges and questions to Christian theology.   For some, aliens offer no crisis of faith to the Christian, while to others, it may very well make them doubt the universal importance of humanity in the cosmos and reduce the Christian faith to just a religion of a particular planet.

I would like to point out a few ideas that may reassure believing Christians that alien life is not necessarily detrimental to the message of Christ.  In fact, Christian theology can exist side by with other sentient life.

First, humanity exists within a temporal and fallen sphere.  Hence due to the sin of Adam, humanity fell from the grace of God and the protection of the Garden of Eden.  Humanity was thrust into a world of suffering, death and loss.   It is possible, that other sentient life has been created before and could be created after humanity.  Would this sentient form of life be immune from the sin of Adam since they are not human?  Angels and humanity were judged separately.  So if sentient life does exist in the universe, it could very well be immune from the temporal fall.  They very well may have “passed” their test.  If not,  did this form of sentient life also incur the sin of Adam or their “own sin”.   In this case, one of two options emerge.  First, Christ’s death was for all temporal existence, or Christ’s death was just for humanity, and the Trinity has other plans for the redemption of other fallen sentient beings.

Second, other sentient life forms will have a different form of revelation.  Revelation via scripture is for humanity and through the special incarnation of the Son.  Alien life may have a very different form of revelation.  This does not mean it is a false creed, but a different form of revelation from the Trinity.  It would be difficult to determine if the alien life adhered to a false creed or the universal creed found via the Trinity.  It would take investigation.   Aliens could also very well be atheistic.  One merely needs to look at the variety of false “isms” on Earth.  A larger collection of false “isms” could exist in other sentient cultures as well.

What do we make of alien encounters? Please also review AIHCP’s Christian Counseling Certification

 

Hence the existence of aliens does not harm the faith of a Christian, but in fact opens one to the potential larger plan of God.  It again is only speculative but theologians should be prepared to try to re-evaluate Christianity under the lens of the possibility of alien life and how the faith would respond to such an event.

An important aspect to note.  One philosophy which has many heretical aspects are the ancient alien theories when applied to Scripture.  Assuming interventions and stories about God and angels were in actuality an alien encounter.  When these stories in Scripture are interpreted by ancient alien theories to dismiss the supernatural and replace it with the paranormal, Christians must dismiss those notions.  Did aliens appear in the past?  It is possible, but such stories cannot be used to confuse God’s communication with humanity with paranormal speculation.

As for those who are faced with alien encounters, counseling, especially Christian Counseling must approach the individual carefully.  The individual may be psychotic, on drugs, or not mentally well.  This is why it is important to refer anyone with such encounters to a professional counselor who can better attest if someone is suffering from delusion or a true event.

In such events as well, Christian theology teaches the possibility of demonic influence under the guise of alien presence.   Under such theories, the alien presence shares false ideas that weaken the faith, or push the faithful to doubt the importance of Christ.  Obviously it is very difficult to ascertain what is occurring to the individual when paranormal or supernatural events occur and this is why it is important to refer an individual to appropriate mental health professionals.

Please also review AIHCP’s Christian Counseling Certification and see if it meets your academic and professional goals.  The program is online and independent study and open to qualified professionals seeking a four year certification in Christian Counseling.

 

 

 

Christian Counseling Certification Blog on Ignatian Communication

In sharing the Gospel,  converting others, defending the faith, or dialoging with others, communication is key.  St Ignatius Loyola understood the extreme importance and went to great lengths about the philosophy that guides conversation and dialogue.

Please also review AIHCP’s Christian Counseling Certification and see if it meets your academic and professional goals.  The program is online and independent study and open to qualified professionals seeking a four year certification in Christian Counseling.

Please review the video below

Christian Counseling Certification Video on the Culture of Death

The culture of death is a disregard for the value of human life from the womb to the dying and even to the battlefront.  People are used as objects to satisfy other human beings through sex slave trade and abductions of others.

Please also review AIHCP’s Christian Counseling Certification and see if it meets your academic and professional goals.  The program is online and independent study and open to qualified professionals seeking a four year certification as a Christian Counselor.

Please also review the video below

Christian Counseling Certification Video on Church Councils

There are many councils of the Church that detail the early teachings of Christianity in response to many of its early struggles in particular with Christological heresies.  Most churches accept the first Ecumenical Councils as critical parts of the Christian faith.

Please also review AIHCP’s Christian Counseling Certification and see if it meets your academic and professional goals.  The program is online and independent study and open to qualified professionals seeking a four year certification as a Christian Counselor.

 

Please also review the video below