Biblical Therapy
Chapters 17-24

Chapter 17

Chapter 18

Chapter 19

Chapter 20

Chapter 21

Chapter 22

Chapter 23

Chapter 24

Seth F. Nieding

Seth F. Nieding

8936 Riverwood Drive
North Ridgeville,
Ohio 44039-6313


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  • Chapter 17
  • Chapter 18
  • Chapter 19
  • Chapter 20
  • Chapter 21
  • Chapter 22
  • Chapter 23
  • Chapter 24

Chapter 17

Restoring Damaged Self-Esteem with Purpose and Direction

Damaged self-esteem is thinking of oneself as having little importance or value, and at worst, thinking of oneself as being defective and worthless. Appropriate guilt is based in the condition of violating our own values and having committed a wrong. People with low or damaged self-esteem may chronically feel guilty and apologetic, that they are in the way or that they are a burden, even in the absence of committing an offense. They may feel as though they have little or no significance. At the core, an individual with damaged self-esteem may feel shame or a sense of being defective, faulty, unlovable, useless, unworthy, undeserving, and/or that they are "not enough". They are likely to feel hopeless to change or to ever be accepted.

Low self-esteem frequently results from growing up with emotional, verbal, physical, and/or sexual abuse or neglect. Individuals with low self-esteem frequently grow up with a high level of criticism and/or frequent correction. Neglect can also lead to damaged self-esteem. Children who do not experience love and affection at an early age, are incapable of differentiating between being unloved and being unlovable. Children, in the absence of an environment of love and affection, usually develop low or damaged self-esteem.

Children can be vicious to each other and especially towards children with physical deformities or even physical differences, intellectual differences, or behavioral differences. Low self-esteem can result from children being victimized by teasing, name-calling, harassment, being excluded, mocked, verbally or physically assaulted, and experiencing other forms of bullying.

Adults can also develop damaged self-esteem when rejected, betrayed, excluded, or simply not being chosen. Extramarital affairs and unwanted divorces frequently result in damaged self-esteem. Betrayal within a marriage frequently leads to feelings of inadequacy, not being nice enough, attractive enough, interesting enough, sexy enough, and simply "not enough". Victims of an affair tend to negatively compare themselves to a third-party. Most individuals going through an unwanted divorce usually feel like a failure. Many men and women who have never been married have damaged self-esteem from never having been chosen. Being laid off or fired from employment can have a similar result, especially in individuals who have come to define themselves and their self-worth by their careers.

Individuals with low or damaged self-esteem are frequently afraid of meeting other people, encountering new situations, initiating relationships, or taking other risks. They have a fear of failing which results in a fear of even trying. When receiving a sincere compliment, it tends to bounce off rather than be savored, because individuals with damaged self-esteem do not believe that the complement could possibly be true. They rarely feel that what they do is good enough, consequently they end up feeling that they are not enough. Whatever strengths the person with low or damaged self-esteem possesses, they have difficulty perceiving their strengths, and frequently fail to utilize their unique giftedness.

God's yardstick for measuring people is quite different than that of our culture. How many degrees we have, how much money we have, how many friends we have, what type of house or car we possess, and even many of our accomplishments, are unimportant and may actually be counted as loss in the eyes of God. God measures us by our hearts. He knew us before we are born and we are His creation. He made us in His image. He gave us our physical appearance, our intellect, our emotions, our personalities, our capacities for relationship, and even our life experiences, and he did this all for His pleasure and for His purpose. We are unique as a fingerprint. God made each of us for a specific purpose, not to try and be like someone else or like something we are not.

Throughout the Bible there are many examples of how God used not only ordinary, but in many cases, flawed individuals to accomplish His purpose. Moses had a stuttering problem and was not an eloquent speaker. Abraham was very old. Jacob was insecure. Leah was unattractive. Joseph was rejected and abused. Rahab was immoral. David had an affair and was guilty of murder. Gideon was poor. Sampson was codependent. Jeremiah was depressed. Jonah was reluctant and disobedient. Naomi was a widow. John the Baptist was eccentric. Mary, mother of Jesus, was a young poor peasant girl. Peter was impulsive and hot tempered. Martha was a worrier. The Samaritan woman had multiple failed marriages and was guilty of adultery. Zacchaeus was unpopular. Thomas was doubtful. Timothy was timid and fearful. Paul had poor health. Mark deserted Paul and Barnabas. God, however used each of them in His service, to accomplish His purpose.

No matter what our shortcomings or our imperfection we are God's workmanship. If we reject ourselves as God has designed us, we also reject our designer. If we hate ourselves and hate our lives, we are not trusting in God. Consequently, we should not think less of ourselves, but as servants of God we should have appropriate humility and think of ourselves less often. We should not ruminate on our disabilities, but focus on our abilities. We should work on building our Godly character, removing sinful changeable features where we are able. We should also discover, accept, and even learn to appreciate, the way God designed us. We should use our spiritual gifts and uniqueness to find meaning and purpose in the service of others.

If we look for God's hand in our lives, where he is working, despite our brokenness, we can discover our purpose. Individuals who feel damaged and defective, who dwell on their inabilities, frequently feel that they have no direction or purpose for their lives. They miss their calling. They miss their purpose. They develop empty meaningless lives that lead to anxiety and depression. Many of the stories in the Biblical Therapy Case Examples are of individuals who turned their problems, misfortunes, losses, physical and emotional pain and suffering to build their strength, their character, and their relationship with God for a positive purpose.

God may want me to use my painful life experiences for the following purposes:

I will act out my Godly purpose, by implementing the following direction, despite my feelings of inadequacy, inability, or damage:

The major reason for Christians to overcome their low or damaged self-esteem
, is a recognition that each individual, regardless of their circumstance, has the ability to accept Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. As such they will have the very Holy Spirit of God dwelling within them. They will also share in the inheritance of heaven, with a new body and a new life, in a perfect environment, in the presence of God. There are many hope filled and powerful Biblical verses that can be used in therapy to help individuals overcome damaged self-esteem. These include verses related to the fact that every human being is created by God, each as a part of a larger body, with a specific role, and with a specific plan and a specific purpose for their existence. Each of us has the freedom of choice to fulfill our Godly purpose.


Biblical Verses Related to Self-Esteem

Genesis 1:27
So God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.

Psalm 139:13-14 For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.

Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

1 Corinthians 12:18-22, 27 But God made our bodies with many parts, and he has put each part just where he wants it. What a strange thing a body would be if it had only one part! Yes, there are many parts, but only one body. The eye can never say to the hand, I don't need you. The head cannot say to the feet, I don't need you. In fact, some of the parts that seem weakest and the least important are really the most necessary... Now all of you together are Christ's body, and each one of you is a separate and necessary part of it. Romans 8:28 And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purpose for them.

Jeremiah 1:4-8 The Lord gave me a message. He said, I knew you before I formed you in your mother's womb. Before you were born I set you apart and appointed you as my spokesman for the world. Oh sovereign Lord, I said, I cannot speak for you! I am too young! Don't say that, the Lord replied, for you must go wherever I send you and say whatever I tell you. And don't be afraid of the people, for I will be with you and take care of you. I, the Lord, have spoken.

Romans 12:3 As God's messenger, I give each of you this warning: Be honest in your estimate of your selves, measuring your value by how much faith God has given you.

Ephesians 1:11 Furthermore, because of Christ, we have received an inheritance from God, for he chose us from the beginning, and all things happened just as he decided long ago.

Colossians 1:12-14 Always thank the Father, who has enabled you to share in the inheritance that belongs to God's holy people, who live in the light. For He has rescued us from the one who rules in the kingdom of darkness, and He has brought us into the kingdom of his dear Son. God has purchased our freedom with his blood and has forgiven all of our sins.

Philippians 2:13 For God is working in you, giving you the desire to obey him and the power to do what pleases him.

Galatians 4:4-7 But when the right time came, God sent his son, born of a woman, subject to the law. God sent him to buy freedom for us who were slaves to the law, so that he could adopt us as his very own children. And because you Gentiles have become his children, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, and now you can call God your dear father. Now you are no longer a slave but God's own child. And since you are his child, everything he has belongs to you.

John 3:16 For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life.

Ephesians 2:8-10 God saved you by his special favor when you believed. And you cannot take credit for this, it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the things we have done, so none of us can boast about it. For we are God's masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so that we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.

1 John 3:1 See how very much our heavenly Father loves us, for he allowed us to be called his children, and we really are! But the people who belong to this world don't know God, so they don't understand that we are his children.

2 Timothy 1:7 For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-control.

Romans 12:2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.

Romans 8:14-17 For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God. So you should not be like cowering, fearful slaves. You should behave instead like God's very own children, adopted into his family - calling him Father, dear Father. For his Holy Spirit speaks to us deep in our hearts and tells us that we are God's children. And since we are his children, we will share in his treasures - for everything God gives to his Son, Christ, is ours also. But if we are to share in his glory, we most also share in his suffering.

I will adopt the following Biblical life verse, as my own, to overcome my reluctance to see myself as God sees me, and to act out my life according to His purpose:


Chapter 18

Biblical Relationships: Wives and Husbands

Ephesians 5:21 And further, you will submit to one another out of reverence for Chris.

Ephesians 5:25-33 And you husbands must love your wives with the same love Christ showed the church. He gave up his life for her to make her holy and clean, wash by baptism in God's word. He did this to present her to himself as a glorious church without a spot or wrinkle or any other blemish. Instead, she will be holy and without fault. In the same way husbands ought to love their wives as they love their own bodies. For a man is actually loving himself when he loves his wife. No one hates his own body but lovingly cares for it, just as Christ cares for his body, which is the church. And we are his body.

The Scriptures say, a man leaves his father and mother
and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one. This is a great mystery, but it is an illustration of the way Christ and the church are one. So again I say, each man must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.

During couples therapy I frequently hear wives saying that they do not feel loved by their husbands. It is powerful clinically for wives to define for their husbands when and how they feel loved, and when and how they feel unloved. Love languages may include words of affirmation and encouragement, doing chores or other acts of service, giving individualized personal gifts, physical intimacy, spending quality time, etc. The husband may be loving his wife in the way he would like to be loved, but in a way that she does not feel loved. He may be a good provider, but provides very limited time to the relationship or very few words of affirmation.

In Ephesians, the use of the word love pertaining to the wife and the word respect pertaining to the husband, are intentionally different languages. During couples therapy I frequently hear husbands saying that they do not feel respected by their wives. It is powerful clinically for husbands to define for their wives how and when they feel respected, and how and when they feel disrespected. The husband’s love language may be very different than that of his wife's. His love language may be appreciation or words of affirmation and physical intimacy, rather than quality time.

The most frequent secular view of marriage that I hear during couple’s therapy, is that the relationship is a 50/50 proposition. This model is grounded in a culture of equality and fairness. It is however, a terrible model and leads to keeping score, doing only as much as the other person does, and/or responding in the same manner as one's partner. 50/50 is a better model for divorce than it is for marriage.

Biblical instruction regarding love and serving one's spouse are commandments. They are not conditional, they are not grounded in one's own feelings, and they are not based on the behavior demonstrated by the other individual in the relationship. A better model for marriage views relationships as a 100/100 proposition. Our spiritual lives and our relationship with God significantly alters our relationship with other people. We should focus first on becoming holier, then secondly focus on our relationship with our partner. We should take a look at the log in our own eye, make a list of our own sin life, then Throw Off thoughts, feelings, behaviors, and behavioral patterns that harden our heart, and Put On the anecdote or opposite elements that soften our heart. (See section Throw Offs/Put Ons). The best thing we can do for our relationships is to work on our relationship with God and the condition of our own heart. It is more important to turn one's self into a soul-filled mate, rather than to search for a soulmate.

Pay attention to the condition of your heart, which is the source of your thoughts, words, feelings, attitudes, and behaviors. Hardening of the heart is a process that can occur gradually. The hardening process may result from living a self-centered or selfish life; from mishandling hurts and disappointments in a sinful manner with anger, resentment, and lack of forgiveness; from a pattern of unconfessed and unrepentant sin, from settling and being satisfied with shallow superficial relating; and from defensiveness and lacking the ability or willingness to be open and vulnerable. The hardened heart produces negativity, criticalness, complaining, jealousy, stubbornness, disrespect, defensiveness, sarcasm, anger, bitterness, lack of forgiveness, selfish ambitions, conflict, envy, apathy, harshness, and self-focus on where we have been hurt or wronged by others. With repetition and practice, these traits become strengthened and become our character

Mark 10:2-12
Some Pharisees came and tested Jesus by asking, Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife? What did Moses command you? He replied. They said Moses permitted a man to write a certificate of divorce and send her away. It is because your hearts were hard that Moses wrote you this law, Jesus replied. But at the beginning of creation God made them male and female. For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh. So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate. When they were in the house again, the disciples asked Jesus about this. He answered, Anyone who divorces his wife and marries another woman commits adultery against her. And if she divorces her husband and marries another man, she commits adultery.

On the other hand, the softening of our heart is a process
that can also occur gradually. The softening process may result from living an other-centered life; practicing forgiveness; developing a pattern of confessing and repenting from our sins; fostering deep friendships; and practicing openness and vulnerability. Focusing on our spiritual lives softens our heart and results in love, peace, joy, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. With repetition and practice, these traits become strengthened and become our character.

Luke 6:43-45
For a good tree does not bear bad fruit, nor does the bad tree bear good fruit. For every tree is known by its own fruit. For men do not gather figs from thorns, nor do they gather grapes from a bramble bush. A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth evil. For out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.

Proverbs 4:23 Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it flow the springs of life.

Psalm 51:10-12 Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.

1 Corinthian 13:4-7 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

What elements of a hardened heart do I possess, that I need to Throw Off?:


What elements of a softened heart do I need to Put On and to practice until they become part of my character?:

The Biblical Commandment of Love, and the Best Model of Love

The Bible, the Word of God, commands us on how we are to love. Jesus, is the perfect model of love. He is the perfect model of leadership, grace, forgiveness, compassion, and other relational qualities. In order to love as the Biblical model of love commands, we are to be imitators of Jesus. When we love like Jesus, it brings hope and breathes new life into our relationships. It also brings the opportunity to heal damaged relationships.

The love of God, the love of Christ, manifests itself through the following characteristics: Love is sacrificial, there is always a cost. Love is inconvenient and sometimes can be measured by the degree to which we are willing to be inconvenienced for others. Love is not based in feeling but in doing the next right thing. Love is initiated by the one who is most spiritually mature. Love like Jesus is based in grace rather than in fairness. We should never act out what others deserve, we should practice mercy. Love originates from a servant's heart and not from a consumer's heart. Love is always other-centered rather than self-centered. Love is more focused on giving rather than on receiving. Love is unconditional. Love is empathetic and compassionate. When we receive God's grace, forgiveness, we are not to keep it to ourselves, but let it flow through us that we may be grace filled and forgiving towards others. As we receive blessings from God, we are not to keep them for ourselves, but we should be a blessing to other people. Likewise, when we receive the love of God, we are to love other people. We can only love like Christ, if we choose to be filled with Christ's love. Love can only be an overflow of the condition of our heart.

Ephesians 5:1-2
Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children, and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.

Romans 5:6-8 You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrated his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Philippians 2:5-7 Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus. Though he was God, he did not demand and cling to his rights as God. He made himself nothing, he took the humble position of a slave and appeared in human form.

Mark 12:28-31 One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, Of all the commandments which is the most important? The most important one answered Jesus, is this: Hear, Oh Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: Love your neighbor as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these.

By being holy first, we can then be equipped to love others. Keeping the order these commandments affects our ability to be obedient to these commandments. Love God first, then we can love others with the love of God that flows through us. It is not our normal human condition to love in this way, but by accepting Jesus and the gift of the Holy Spirit, we can become what we otherwise could not become through our own efforts.

Where do I need to practice being more like Jesus in the way I love?:

In our culture we value independence and personal rights, often to the exclusion
of considering the impact we have on others. When we are in a relationship we should remember that everything we do, and everything we don't do, affects our partner. Couples should change their cognitive orientation from "I" to" we" when making plans are taking certain actions. One of the core reasons for divorce is selfishness and lack of consideration. Leaving a note or making a brief call or text to let their partner know where they are or when they are returning home is not childish reporting, but rather respect and consideration for the other partner. Marital and family therapists usually attend to the quality of the couples level of attachment or connectedness. A good relationship has good communication with active listening and empathetic responding, compassion or dating without children, family time with the children, emotional support and compassion, and physical intimacy. For Christian couples additional ways of connecting include spiritual connectedness by praying together, reading and discussing the Bible together, doing devotionals together, worshiping together, and serving together in a ministry.


Chapter 19

Conflict Resolution, Fighting Fairly

Even as Christians, and even with our best intentions, we will fall short of the Biblical model of how we are to treat our spouse, our children, and others. We will always have disagreements and conflicts. Conflicts are inevitable within relationships.

John 16:33
These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world. The book of Matthew provides a wonderful model for addressing the problems of relational conflict. Before we confront others with our grievances about their conduct, we should first be open to taking a look at our own role in the conflict.

Matthew 7:3-5 And why worry about a speck in your friend's eye when you have a log in your own eye? How can you think of saying, Let me help you get rid of that speck in your eye, when you can't see past the log in your own eye? Hypocrite! First get rid of the log from your own eye; and then perhaps you will see well enough to deal with the speck in your friend’s eye.

Logjams within couple’s therapy frequently result when
one or both participants are defensive, minimizing the other’s concerns, keeping score, and/or shifting blame. Be careful when sharing your relational problems with others outside of the relationship, or painting a negative picture of your spouse to others. It may change the perspective of others towards your spouse and may not be easily erased, lasting well beyond the resolution of the conflict. A powerful therapeutic technique in couples therapy is to utilize Matthew 7:3-5 to have participants look first and foremost at their own contribution to the relational problem. As we say in therapy, you cannot fix another person, you can only fix yourself or your reaction to the other person. After you have addressed the log in your own eye, approach the other person in truth and in love. Truth without love can be confrontational and critical.

Matthew 18:15
If another believer sins against you, go privately and point out their fault. If the other person listens and confesses it, you have won that person back.

It is important to check out your own motives
for sharing your marital problems with others. Are you truly seeking help, or are you simply seeking self-justification or attempting to make the other partner look bad. Both men and women should be very cautious about seeking emotional and relational support from the opposite sex outside of the marriage. In such circumstances with increased communication and confiding, an emotional bond may result, and lead to sexualization of the relationship.

Where is the log in my own eye, that is contributing to a current relationship conflict, that I need to confess and Throw Off?

When I address the speck in my friend’s eye, their contribution to the relationship problem, how will I do that with love and respect?

Is there anything I need to confess and repent of, in order to heal myself and then heal my relationship?

Confession, Repentance, and Forgiveness

God is offended not only by our sin, but by our attempts to cover our sin and to shift blame.

Genesis 3:8-13
Towards evening they heard the Lord walking about in the garden, so they hid themselves among the trees. The Lord God called to Adam, where are you? He replied, I heard you so I hid. I was afraid because I was naked. Who told you that you are naked? The Lord God asked. Have you eaten the fruit I commanded you not to eat? Yes, Adam admitted, but it was the woman you gave me who brought me the fruit and I ate it. Then the Lord God asked the woman, how could you do such a thing? The serpent tricked me, she replied, that is why I ate it.

If you are guilty of selfishness, dishonesty, an affair, verbal abuse, or other sins that harm your relationship, healing of the relationship will not come through good works, gifts, acts of service, or even through being kind. Healing will only come from acknowledgment of the wrongdoing, remorse at a heartfelt level, confession, repentance or turning 180°, and not repeating the offense.

Seek forgiveness from those you have harmed by your wrongdoing. We are to Throw Off defensiveness, concealment, minimizing the significance of our violation, keeping score, blame shifting, and anger. We are to put on confession, openness, and owning and taking responsibility for our hurtful actions.

James 5:16
Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and wonderful results.

We are also commanded to forgive each other. (See section on The Process of Forgiveness). Unresolved feelings of anger and resentment will block not only the healing of the relationship, but our own personal healing.

Matthew 6:14-15 If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly father will forgive you. But if you refuse to forgive others, your heavenly father will not forgive your sins.

Matthew 18:21-22 Then Peter came to him and asked, Lord, how often should I forgive someone who sins against me? Seven times? No! Jesus replied, seventy times seven.

Is there anything I need to confess and repent of, in order to heal myself and then heal my relationship?

Is there anyone I need to forgive, in order to heal myself and then heal my relationship?


Chapter 20

Active Listening, Empathetic Responding

The clinical techniques of active listening and empathetic responding are powerful when addressing the specks in each other's eyes. These therapeutic tools should be utilized in conjunction with the participants removing the logs from their own eyes. Active listening, rather than passive listening, is a skill that we can develop in order to be able to learn new information about our partner, our children, or others.

The presenter should use self-disclosure, “I” statements, and avoid attacking the other with “you” statements. The presenter should express how they think, feel, and what they need or want regarding a specific topic. The active listener should not only sit quietly, but put their agenda on the shelf behind them. If the listener does not do this, they will be contemplating their rebuttal while the other person is speaking, rather than listening for new information.

After the presenter is through expressing their position, the active listener should be able to give a report, rather than a commentary, on the other's position. The listener needs to check out with the presenter, the accuracy of the listener's understanding. All of us see through our own lenses and hear through our own filters, which inclines us to listen and respond in a commentary style. Individuals can learn the skill of being a reporter rather than a commentator.

The goal of communication should not be to push our view or agenda on the other until they relent, but to learn something new about the other person. Once each individual has accurately heard the other, and have new information about each other, then they can go about the process of serving each other. Empathetic responding should not come from the consumer's heart, but should be grounded in a servant's heart and other centered love.

What skills do I need to develop, or what steps will I take or Put On, to be a better listener?

What skills do I need to develop, or what steps will I take, to be an empathetic responder with a servant’s rather than a consumer's heart?


Biblical Relationships: Parent and Children

Children are a gift from God. Like all gifts from God, including our basic needs, money, time, and blessings, we are to be good stewards of our children. We are to provide them will love, safety, provision, training and discipline. It is the primary role of the mother to nurture her children and to bring them up in the ways of the Lord. It is the primary role of the father to be the provider, the spiritual head of the household, and to provide care, training, and discipline. It is the role of the children to be respectful and obedient.

Proverbs 127:3
Behold, children are a gift of the Lord, the fruit of the womb is a reward from him.

Deuteronomy 6:5-7 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.

Proverbs 22:6 Proverbs 1:8 Proverbs 15:5 Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it. Listen, my son, to your father's instruction and do not forsake your mother's teaching. A fool spurns his father's discipline, but whoever heeds correction shows prudence.

Ephesians 6:1-3 Children, obey your parents because you belong to the Lord, for this is the right thing to do. Honor your father and mother. This is the first of the 10 Commandments that ends with a promise. And this is the promise: If you honor your father and mother, you will live a long life, full of blessings.

Proverbs 6:20-23 My son, observe the commandment of your father. And do not forsake the teachings of your mother; Bind them continually on your heart; Tie them around your neck. When you walk about, they will guide you; When you sleep, they will watch over you; And when you awake, they will talk to you. For the commandment is a lamp and the teaching is light; And reproofs for discipline are the way of life.

In family therapy I frequently hear parents say
that they feel disrespected by their children. It is a powerful clinical technique for parents to reveal to their children specific ways in which they feel honored or respected, and specific ways in which they feel dishonored or disrespected, by the child's words, attitudes, and/or behaviors. The therapist should help the child develop a specific behavioral treatment plan, grounded in Biblical precepts with specific Throw Offs and Put Ons. Frequently this involves Throwing Off specific forms of disobedience and Putting On specific forms of obedience.

Children, ask your parent what you do that makes them feel dishonored or disrespected. I will commit to Throwing Off such behavior.

Children, ask your parents what you do that makes them feel honored or respected. I will commit to Putting On the following behavior.

And now a word to you fathers.

Ephesians 6:4 Do not make your children angry by the way you treat them. Rather, bring them up with the discipline and instruction approved by the Lord.

Colossians 3:20-21 Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord. Fathers, do not embitter your children, or they will become discouraged.

In family therapy I frequently hear children share their frustration regarding
their parent’s failure to listen, their parent’s anger or harsh words, and/or their parent’s arbitrary or inconsistent discipline or follow through. Some children reveal that their parents are absent, detached, or overly permissive, having few rules, setting few limits, or giving them premature adult responsibilities, making them feel lost, without direction, and unsafe. It is a powerful clinical technique for parents to listen to their children about their parenting style, and specific ways in which the child feels safe and respected, or inappropriately provoke, unsafe, or disrespected. Parents should avoid inappropriate breaches in family hierarchy, when they lower themselves to the level of the child, entering into arguments and ongoing conflicts, as if they were peers with their children.

Parents can be more powerful, and at the same time more respectful, by the use of clear expectations, rules, and the use of consequences. Parents need to learn parenting approaches of inclusion or involving and engaging their children alongside of them in doing work and play. They need to employ limit setting, rewards, and the use of natural and logical consequences. They also need to provide structure and consistency for children to feel safe. Parents should let their yes be yes and their no be no, rather than frequent idle threats with lack of consistent follow-through. Discipline without love is harsh and at times abusive. Love without discipline is misguided. It needs to be an appropriate balance.

Engaged parents, who are loving and who frequently use inclusion, have a far less need to evoke discipline. God is the perfect example of love, but also the perfect example of discipline.

Hebrews 12:5-6 My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, for those whom the Lord loves He disciplines

Proverbs 3:12 For whom the Lord loves He reproves, Even as a father corrects the son in whom he delights.

Proverbs 13:24 If you refuse to discipline your children, it proves that you don't love them; if you love your children, you will be prompt to discipline them.

Parents, is there anything in your parenting style that you need to Throw Off?

Parents, what skills do you need to develop, or what steps you need to take or Put On, in order to improve your parenting?

Chapter 21

Biblical Relationships: With One Another and With Those Who Wrong Us

Romans 5:6-8 When we were utterly helpless, Christ came at just the right time and died for us sinners. Now, no one is likely to die for a good person, though someone might be willing to die for a person who is especially good. But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.

Treating others well, with righteousness, is not contingent upon our feelings or upon the other's conduct towards us. Our forgiveness of others is not even contingent upon their remorsefulness or repentance. Our relationships, when viewed as 50/50 propositions, are grounded in a cultural concept of fairness. This model encourages us to treat others as they treat us. God's love for us however, is not based in fairness, but in grace. His love is initiating, sacrificial, compassionate, forgiving, and originated from a servant's heart not from a consumer's heart.

At times when we are stubborn, we are reluctantly willing to concede that we will meet people half way. To put on the attitude of a servant's heart, and not keep score, will contribute to healthy relationships. If the relationship focuses on radical, other centered love, healthy relationships and healing wounds, become possible. We should put on the heart of humble servants, loving and serving others, regardless of the other's posture. Other centered love is a commandment, not an option.

I encountered an interesting situation, years ago, when I build a new home in the country. When I saw my neighbor dealing with water problems near our property lines, I went out to introduce myself. Surprisingly, he did not look up, did not talk to me, and did not even acknowledge me in any way. Quite an awkward situation! Several days later I returned, offering my assistants and to pay for half of the problem, which was probably caused during the construction of my home. Again I was met with the same lack of responsive. I felt grounded in whom I was, and I told my wife that my neighbor did not know me well enough yet to dislike me. I considered the problem to be his heart. The next time I went out my neighbor confronted me stating that he was sorry that he did not buy my land. Although I continued to offer assistance and financial responsibility, my neighbor continued to rebuff and reject me. In the middle of the winter I noticed that his driveway was no longer being cleared. My son and I cleared his driveway for the remainder of the winter, declining their offer of financial payment. I later learned from my neighbor's wife that her husband had suffered a heart attack. In the spring when I was outside, my neighbor came over and thanked me. From that point on he was friendly, treating myself and my family with warm greetings. I must confess, that had this situation occurred several years earlier when I was an emotionally and spiritually immature Christian, I would have dished his attitude right back at him, perhaps even trumping him. However, adopting a Biblically grounded approach to treating others as Christ commands, resulted in health for myself and a healing relationship for our two families.

Is there any emotional or spiritual immaturity in my dealings with others that I need to Throw Off?:

What Biblical commandment do I need to Put On in my dealings with others who wrong me?:

Additional Biblical Passages Regarding Couples, Families, and Relational Health

1 Peter 3:1-4
Wives, in the same way be submissive to your husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the Word, your godly lives will speak to them better than any words. They will be won over by watching your pure, godly behavior. Don't be concerned about the outward beauty that depends on fancy hairstyles, and expensive jewelry, or beautiful clothes. You should be known for the beauty that comes from within, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is so precious to God.

1 Peter 3:7 In the same way, you husbands must give honor to your wives. Treat her with understanding as you live together. She may be weaker than you are, but she is your equal partner in God's gift of a new life. If you do not treat her as you should, your prayers will not be heard.

1 Peter 3:8-9 Finally, all of you should be of one mind, full of sympathy towards each other, loving one another with tender hearts and humble minds. Don't repay evil for evil. Don't retaliate when people say unkind things about you. Instead pay them back with a blessing. That is what God wants you to do, and he will bless you for it.

James 1:19-20 My dear brothers and sisters, be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry. Your anger can never make things right in God's sight

Matthew 12:25 Jesus knew their thoughts and replied, Any kingdom at war with itself is doomed. A city or a home divided against itself is doomed.

Galatians 5:13-15 For you have been called to live in freedom - not freedom to satisfy your sinful nature, but freedom to serve one another in love. For the whole law can be summed up in this one command: Love your neighbors as yourself. But if instead of showing love among yourselves you are always biting and devouring one another, watch out! Be aware of destroying one another.

Genesis 2:18 And the Lord God said, It is not good for man to be alone. I will make a companion who will help him.

Genesis 2:24 This explains why a man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one.

Malachi 2:14-16 You cry out, Why has Lord abandoned us? I'll tell you why! Because the Lord witnessed the vows you and your wife made to each other on your wedding day when you were young. But you have been disloyal to her, though she remains your faithful companion, the wife of your marriage vows. Did not the Lord make you one with your wife? In body and spirit you are His. And what does he want? Godly children from your union. So guard yourself, remain loyal to the wife of your youth. For I hate divorce! Says the Lord, the God of Israel. It is as cruel as putting on a victim's bloodstained coat, says the Lord Almighty. So guard yourself, always remain loyal to your wife.

1 Timothy 3:1-5 It is a true saying that if someone wants to be an elder, he desires an honorable responsibility. For an elder must be a man whose life cannot be spoken against. He must be faithful to his wife. He must exhibit self-control, live wisely, and have a good reputation. He must enjoy having guest in this home and he must be able to teach. He must not be a heavy drinker or be violent. He must be gentle, peace loving, and not one who loves money. He must manage his own family well, with children who respect and obey him. For if a man cannot manage his own household, how can he take care of God's church?

Colossians 3:18-21 You wives must submit to your husbands, as is fitting for those who belong to the Lord. And you husbands must love your wives and never treat them harshly. You children must always obey your parents, for this is what pleases the Lord. Fathers, do not aggravate your children. If you do, they will become discouraged and quit trying.

John 13:34 So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other, just as I have loved you, you should love each other.

Philippians 2:3-4 Do not be selfish; do not live to make a good impression on others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourself. Do not think only about your own affairs, but be interested in others too, and what they are doing.

Philippians 2:5-6 Your attitude should be the same that Christ Jesus had. Though he was God, he did not demand and cling to his rights as God.

Matthew 22:37-39 Jesus replied, You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: Love your neighbor as yourself.

John 15:9-14 I have loved you even as the father has loved me. Remain in my love. When you obey me, you remain in my love, just as I obey my father and remain in his love. I have told you this so that you will be filled with my joy. Yes your joy will overflow! I command you to love each other in the same way that I love you. And here is how to measure it - the greatest love is shown when people lay down their lives for their friends. You are my friends if you obey me. 1

John 4:9-12 God showed how much he loved us by sending his only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through Him. This is real love. It is not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins. Dear friends, since God loved us that much, we surely ought to love each other. No one has ever seen God. If we love each other, God lives in us and his love has been brought to full expression through us.

Luke 6:27-28, 32-33 But if you are willing to listen, I say, love your enemies. Do good to those who hate you. Pray for the happiness of those who curse you. Pray for those who hurt you.... Do you think you deserve credit merely for loving those who love you? Even sinners do that! And if you do good only to those who do good to you, is that so wonderful? Even sinners do that much!


Chapter 22

From Anger to Patience

Anger can be manifest as a thought, feeling, attitude, or behavior. Anger, in and of itself, is not sinful. The manifestation of our anger however, can be sinful, if it is selfish and self-centered. The manifestation of our anger can also be righteous anger, which is concerned about those things which God is concerned about, such as injustice, dishonesty, corruption, sexual immorality, violence, and other forms of sin. The manifestation of our anger is a choice. Our thoughts determine our feelings, our feelings determine our behavior, our behavior determines our habits or behavioral patterns, our behavioral patterns shape our character, and our character determines the choices we make, the way in which we live our lives, and eventually our destination.

Ephesians 4:26-27
In your anger do not sin. Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the Devil a foothold.

There is a high correlation of anger/rage with individuals
who grew up with one or both parents displaying frequent anger or rage. Individuals who frequently use marijuana and other drugs tend to display periods of anger or rage 8 to 12 hours after their last use due to drug withdrawal. Individuals experiencing neglect or abuse, and/or a history of being teased or bullied while growing up, may display anger/rage as adults. Individuals experiencing these patterns tend to develop the life dominating problem of anger/rage

The type of anger we reveal is a reflection of our heart. Within our culture we are encouraged to be open-minded and tolerant. Biblically however, we are commanded to be intolerant of sin. We are to hate the things which God hates. Hate the sin. Love the sinner. Individuals with self-centered anger need to learn techniques to Take Off their anger/rage and to Put On internal peace. With righteous anger, our strong emotions should be channeled to right the wrong. Within the context of marital, family, or organizational conflicts, we need to teach the involved parties how to attack the problem rather than attack each other. The skills of active listening and empathetic responding are particularly helpful. Participants can also learn to" fight fairly" by using appropriate conflict resolution skills.

Self-centered anger may involve either angry explosions or angry implosions with denial and suppression of angry feelings. Both are ultimately harmful.

Angry implosions may involve resentments, bitterness, passive aggressive behaviors, envy, jealousy, distancing oneself or breaking off of relationships, sabotaging others, shutting down, obstructive behaviors, etc. while denying that any problem exists. Such manifestations of anger usually result in self- pity, brooding, sarcasm, gossip, depression, and/or health problems such as chest pain, high blood pressure, headaches, constipation, diarrhea, and stomach distress. Imploded anger can also contribute to heart disease, a weakening of our immune system, and worsening of such medical conditions as multiple sclerosis, colitis, and even cancer. Suppressed anger can often be displaced towards others.

Angry explosions are usually associated with underlying feelings of hurt, pride, feelings of entitlement, unrealistic expectations, and/or a cognitive orientation that others are ill willed or out to get us. Sinful anger may result from the perception or the feeling of being hurt by others, rejected, humiliated, dismissed, ignored, teased, or disrespected. Angry or abusive fathers frequently reveal that they personalize their children's age-appropriate misbehavior as disrespectful and intentionally directed at the father. These types of cognitive interpretations tend to feed anger, resulting in the individual acting out their anger. Sinful anger usually involves intimidation to get what we want and allowing ourselves to be out of control or selectively in control. Many angry individuals who claim that they have no control over their anger, tend to break others belongings rather than their own things, or tend to blow up at their spouse or children, but never blow up at their employer. Sinful anger may become a habit and dominate one's character. We may keep a record of mistreatments and how we have been wronged. Keeping score usually leads to becoming bitter and holding grudges, or even seeking revenge.

Where, when, and how do I display self-centered, selfish anger, that I need to Throw Off?

Where, when, and how will I practice displaying exhortation or using positive words to lift people up?

Do I have any righteous anger that is in agreement with God? How will I share my righteous anger in power and in love?

Therapeutic techniques, helpful in the reduction or elimination of anger/rage include:

  • Paradoxically getting angry more often and expressing our anger in small manageable pieces, using "I" self-disclosures rather than “you” statements Sharing underlying feelings of hurt or disappointments, rather than sharing anger
  • Checking out our assumptions Developing anger management techniques such as active listening and empathetic responding
  • Take Off anger and Put On the anecdote of exhortation or positive and encouraging words to build people up
  • Such techniques as catharsis may be counterproductive and may actually feed anger and make anger stronger.
  • Anger expressed does not necessarily result in anger reduced.
  • Learning the forgiveness process as a skill and forgiving others for perceived hurts. Forgiveness is powerful in not only resolving anger, but also in finding internal peace

Biblical Passages Related to Overcoming Anger

Ephesians 4:29-32 Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouth, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every other form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.

Romans 12:2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.

Titus 1:15 Everything is pure to those whose hearts are pure. But nothing is pure to those who are corrupt and unbelieving, because their mind and conscience are defiled.

Romans 12:17-21 Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Respect what is right in the sight of all men. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live in peace with everyone. Do not take revenge my friends, but leave room for God's wrath, for it is written: It is mine to avenge; I will repay, says the Lord. On the contrary, If your enemy is hungry, feed him. If he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head. Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

Matthew 5:21-22 You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, do not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment. But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment!

1 Thessalonians 5:15-18 Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always try to be kind to each other and to everyone else. Be joyful, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances, this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus.

James 3:9-12 With the tongue we praise our Lord and father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers, this should not be. Can both freshwater and saltwater flow from the same spring? My brothers, can a fig tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Neither can a salt spring produce freshwater.

Philippians 4:8-9 Fix your thoughts on what is true and honorable and right. Think about things that are pure and lovely and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. Keep putting into practice all you learned from me and heard from me and saw me doing, and the God of peace will be with you.

Romans 5:3-4 Not only so, but we also rejoice in our suffering, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.

James 1:19-20 My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry, for man's anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires.

Proverbs 14:16-17 A wise man fears the Lord and shuns evil, but a fool is hotheaded and reckless. A quick-tempered man does foolish things, and a scheming man is hated.

Proverbs 14:29 A patient man has great understanding, but a quick tempered man displays folly.

Proverbs 12:16 A fool shows his annoyance at once, but a prudent man overlooks an insult.

Proverbs 17:9 He who covers an offense promotes love, but whoever repeats the matter separates close friends.

Proverbs 19:11 A man's wisdom gives him patience; it is to his glory to overlook an offense.

Proverbs 15:1 A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.

Proverbs 15:18 A hot tempered man stirs up dissension, but a patient man calms a quarrel.

Proverbs 22:24-25 Do not make friends with a hot tempered man, do not associate with one easily angered, or you may learn his ways and get yourself ensnarled.

Proverbs 29:22 An angry man stirs up dissension, and a hot tempered one commits many sins.

1 Peter 2:19-23 For it is commendable if a man bears up under the pain of unjust suffering because he is conscious of God. But how is it to your credit if you receive a beating for doing wrong and enduring it? But if you suffer for doing good and you endure it, this is commendable before God. To this you are called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps. He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth. When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to Him who judges righteously.

I will select and memorize the following Biblical life verse in order to have victory over my anger?


Chapter 23

From Resentment to Forgiveness

The opposite of love is not hate, but indifference. Hate maintains a relationship. Resentment is the preoccupation with a negative relationship. Holding onto hate, anger, and resentment, leads to many physical, cognitive, and emotional problems, such as stomach distress, high blood pressure, insomnia, heart attacks, racing thoughts, preoccupation, difficulties with concentration, emotional fatigue, bitterness, and depressed mood. Resentment leads to being stuck in the past with difficulty moving forward. There is an increasing body of research that indicates that catharsis, or the extreme external expression of anger, by itself, may not resolve anger, and may actually feed anger. Anger expressed, is not necessarily anger resolved. There is also an increasing body of medical and psychological research that forgiveness leads to anger reduction and health advantages. Forgiveness is a powerful process for reducing and/or eliminating anger. Paradoxically, forgiveness of the offender by the offended, has greater healing power for the offended. Forgiveness heals the forgiver.

Secular wisdom tells us that the offender must first apologize before being forgiven by the offended. We may rationalize that the offender does not deserve to be forgiven. Our cultural perspective is that we should at least pursue justice, or even revenge.

Biblical Wisdom:

Romans 5:7-8 Now, no one is likely to die for a good person, though some might be willing to die for a person who is especially good. But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.

Psalm 103:8-10 The Lord is merciful and gracious; he is slow to get angry and full of unfailing love. He will not constantly accuse us, nor remain angry forever. He does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquity. The Lord's Prayer teaches us to be careful what we pray for.

Matthew 6:12 And forgive us our sins, just as we have forgiven those who have sinned against us.

Matthew 6:14-15 If you forgive those who sin against you, your Heavenly Father will forgive you. But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins

God in his sovereignty allows for trials and tribulations
in order to build our character, develop our perseverance, and draw us closer to God. See the story of Joseph in Genesis. Although his brothers plotted against him and sold him into slavery, Joseph was lifted up by God to a position of great authority. Joseph forgave his brothers and took care of them. We need to trust God's sovereignty in all situations, despite our limited human perspective. We need to forgive like Joseph.

Genesis 50:20 intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives...

Psalm 86:5 Oh Lord, you are so good, so ready to forgive, so full of unfailing love for all who ask your aid.

Romans 12:17-21 Never pay back evil for evil to anyone. Do things in such a way that everyone can see you are honorable. Do your part to live in peace with everyone, as much as possible. Dear friends, never avenge yourselves. Leave that to God. For it is written, I will take vengeance; I will repay those who deserve it, says the Lord. Instead, do what the Scriptures say: If your enemies are hungry, feed them. If they are thirsty, give them something to drink, and they will be ashamed of what they have done to you. Don't let evil get the best of you, but conquer evil by doing good.

Matthew 18:21-22 Then Peter came to him and ask, Lord, how often should I forgive someone who sins against me? Seven times? No! Jesus replied, seventy times seven.

Luke 6:37 Stop judging others, and you will not be judged. Stop criticizing others, or it will all come back on you. If you forgive others, you will be forgiven.

Luke 7:41-43 Then Jesus told him this story: A man loaned money to two people - 500 pieces of silver to one and 50 pieces to another. But neither of them could repay him, so he kindly forgave them both, canceling their debts. Who do you suppose loved him more than after that? Simon answered, I suppose the one for whom he canceled the largest debt. That's right, Jesus said.

Luke 23:33-34 Finally they came to a place called the Skull. All three were crucified there - Jesus on the center cross, the two criminals on either side. Jesus said, Father, forgive these people, because they do not know what they are doing...


In A Study of Interpersonal Forgiveness, Peter Bliss defines forgiveness as: The cancellation of a legitimate debt, which is owed to us, but which can never be repaid.

Forgiveness is God's commandment, for it is more virtuous than justice. Forgiveness is not about an emotion, but a process which results in a choice, the decision to forgive another who has wronged us. It is letting go of the desire to seek justice or retaliation. Anger management techniques that do not include the process of forgiveness may be ineffective.

The therapeutic process of forgiveness involves accountability for something within our power to control. Forgiveness is not contingent upon the behavior of the offender. It is obedience to the Word of God. It is a decision. It is a commitment to a Biblical principle. All of us at some time during our lifetime will be hurt or wronged by others. We will be faced with the decision on whether to forgive or not. We will also, inadvertently or intentionally hurt others, and we will also be forced with the choice on whether or not to seek forgiveness.

Some Christians feel guilty if they are not quick to forgive. Forgiveness is, however, a process. Some Christians also feel guilty and do not feel that they have truly forgiven if they still have a remembrance of the wrong. Forgiveness does not mean forgetting i.e. “that time will heal all”. Forgiveness is not condoning, i.e. “that it was not that bad”. Forgiveness is not excusing i.e. “that it was not their fault”. Forgiveness is not justifying or rationalizing i.e. “that it is okay”. Forgiveness is based in grace and is not seeking justice or retaliation. Many Christians have said, “never ask God for what we deserve; ask God for his grace which is forgiveness”.

Forgiveness is not the same as reconciliation. Forgiveness requires only one party; reconciliation requires two parties. Forgiveness is not the same as trust. One may wish to forgive their rapist, but not trust or seek reconciliation, which may be foolish at best, and highly dangerous at worst.

Phases In the Process of Forgiveness

1) The initial phase of forgiveness, paradoxically, involves taking an inventory or journaling all the ways in which one has been harmed by the offender. These may include feelings of betrayal, humiliation, depressed mood, anxiety, panic, anger, preoccupation with the offense, resentment, a permanent adverse change in oneself, loss, an altered view of the world as unsafe, racing thoughts, insomnia, fear, no longer trusting others,... etc. This phase should include not only on account of the offenses, but the continuing consequences and future impact on the offended.

Sylvia and her husband presented to therapy because of husband's affair. Sylvia's husband had an affair with Sylvia's best friend. Sylvia not only lost trust in her husband am a lost her best friend, felt hurt, angry, suffered damage to her self-esteem, but also realize that she had suffered an adverse change in her personality, becoming an angry and resentful person. For months afterwards she would experience severe anxiety and panic attacks on her husband was on the phone or on the computer, and when he was late in returning home from work. The legitimacy of the debt is fully uncovered and acknowledged. The negative consequences that result from the affair continued long beyond the actual act. Because the consequences of the offense can never be reversed nor the clock turned back, therefore the debt can never be repaid.

2) The decision phase involves the realization that anger, resentment, and holding onto the heart, is not working for the offended. This phase involves making a decision and a commitment to forgive. Since the debts are uncollectible, they are canceled. No matter how remorseful, repentant, changed, or loving Sylvia’s husband is after his affair, there is nothing he can do to undo or remove the painful consequences for Sylvia.

3) The processing or working through phase of forgiveness may involve the softening of the offended and their developing empathy or compassion. There may be an acknowledgment that we have all harmed others either inadvertently or even intentionally. It is our human nature to be selfish, to put our needs above others, and at times be insensitive. There are times when we are hurt or angry when we can be deliberately hurtful to others. This phase involves a recognition of our own humanness, our own sinfulness.

4) The learning phase may involve finding new meaning within our suffering and that we are not alone in our own experience. We may develop a new perspective and perhaps even a new purpose. There may be an acceptance of God's sovereign plan at work within our situation, with the reduction in negative emotions and an increase in positive emotions. Hurt, if handled Biblically, may result in growth and an acceptance of our changed character. We may develop strength and perseverance, a closer relationship with the Lord, and a new direction for our lives.

Judy, who was teased and bullied in school as a child, initially experienced damaged self-esteem. She was angry and resentful. She went through a process of forgiving her offenders, who were also children at the time of the bullying. She realized during therapy, that through the Biblical handling of her resentment, that she had developed a character with greater empathy and compassion for others. She felt that God, in his sovereignty, had been working in her life to make a positive change in her character, to direct her purpose to become a school teacher, a protector, and an advocate for teased and bullied children.

Clinical Tools That Aid in the Forgiveness Process

  • Praying to God for the grace to be forgiving
  • Writing letters to the offender, separately listing each offense and forgiving each offense, whether or not the letters are mailed
  • Role-playing and/or talking to an empty chair, representing the offender, during a Biblical therapy session
  • Reading Bible verses related to forgiveness
  • Making disclosures in a small group setting
  • Burning and/or destroying one's letters or journals chronicling one’s hurts
  • Finishing any unfinished business, getting closure, with the offender
  • Canceling the debt(s
  • For the offender, if possible, to make amend
  • Using Throw-Offs for resentment and lack of forgiveness and using Put-Ons for forgiveness by following each of the four steps of the forgiveness process

I am harboring the following resentments with a lack of forgiveness:

I am willing to initiate the forgiveness process by committing to the following steps:

I will select and commit to memory the following Biblical life verse to aid in my process of forgiveness:



Chapter 24

Sexual Problems or Sexual Pleasure

God created men and women to be sexual. Sexual relations within marriage are holy and Biblically prescribed.

1 Corinthians 7:2-5
But because there is so much sexual immorality, each man should have his own wife, and each wife should have her own husband. The husband should not deprive his wife of sexual intimacy, which is her right as a married woman, nor should the wife deprive her husband. The wife gives authority over her body to her husband, and her husband also gives authority over his body to his wife. So do not deprive each other of sexual relations...

Sexual relations between men and women are equal and reciprocal. The Bible does not give the man rights superior to the rights of the woman. One should not, however, make unreasonable sexual demands upon their spouse. There is to be no sexual bargaining or manipulation, such as the man manipulating for sex or the woman manipulating with sex.

Sexual relations are to be regular and continuous. Both parties are to provide such adequate satisfaction to the other that both unfulfilled sexual desires," burning", and the temptation to find satisfaction elsewhere, are avoided. Positive sexual satisfaction can only occur within the context of an overall positive relationship with good communication, companionship, emotional support, and spiritual connectedness.

Hebrews 13:4
Give honor to marriage, and remain faithful to one another in marriage. God will surely judge people who are immoral and those who commit adultery.

Sexual pleasure should be regulated by the central principle that one's sexuality does not exist for oneself or for one's own pleasure, but for the pleasure of one's partner. One's rights over one's body are given in marriage to one's partner. Every self-oriented manifestation of sex is sinful and lustful, rather than holy and loving. The general principle throughout the Bible, also applies to the sexual relationship, that love is always other centered. Physical intimacy should also be other centered.

Biblically Forbidden Sexual Behaviors That Should Be Thrown Off

Premarital Sex is disrespectful to the future marriage covenant and it is disrespectful to each partner. Premarital sex sacrifices the sanctity of the future, for immediate gratification. When individuals enter into a marriage, having had prior sexual partners, there is no longer anything special about the marital sexual relationship and sexual problems frequently emerge. When such couples present for marriage counseling, individual emotional problems and couples’ conflicts over past sexual conduct and sexual partners, frequently emerge as central issues.

Pornography and other forms of Lust and Self Gratification

These forms of self-oriented sex are extremely disrespectful to one's spouse, who is likely to feel compared to the pornographic image as well as devalued. Pornography replaces or dilutes and damages the marital sexual relationship. Similar consequences and damage are frequently seen from lusting after members of the opposite sex. See section on Life Dominating Problems. Whatever we feed will grow stronger. Whatever we starve will shrink and eventually disappear. Treatment for pornography and other forms of self-oriented sexual gratification involves total abstinence from the Biblically forbidden behavior.

Extramarital Affairs

The relational therapy to repair adultery is a long and painful road
. The individual committing adultery usually does not want to focus on the multitude of issues caused by or brought to the surface by their affair. He/she wants to jump ahead and focus on the future in order to avoid feelings of embarrassment, guilt, and shame. It is not uncommon for the adulterer to become angry when their spouse brings up their emotional pain. The offender's anger may be used to cover their feelings of guilt and shame. Anger also has the consequence of shutting down the emotions of the offended, which the offender may feel helpless or difficult to deal with.

The offended party usually needs to process and reprocess the multitude of issues over a lengthy period of time. When this happens, the adulterer frequently accuses the offended of not being able to move forward and not having true forgiveness. What the adulterer fails to realize is that the emotional pain of the offended spouse is in the present, and will continue to be present, well into the future, long after the affair has ended. A blanket apology for the past, is in no way sufficient for covering the pain of the present and the reemergence of emotional pain in the future. Trust can rarely ever be fully restored. Repentance requires that the offending party attend and re-attend to the current emotional pain of their spouse which will most likely continue for months and years afterward. The offended spouse will most likely have symptoms similar to those of posttraumatic stress disorder. Certain places, names, movies, music, dates, and numerous other unforeseen situations become triggers for intrusive and unwanted thoughts and feelings. The damaged spouse may pace and become nauseous when their spouse is running late, experience crying spells when hearing certain songs are watching certain movies, have emotional lability with depressed, anxious, and angry mood swings, experience anxiety or panic attacks, be untrusting and accusatory, not liking the person they themselves have become, having disturbing racing thoughts during physical intimacy... etc. For these reasons a one-time blanket apology is insufficient. It is important that the offending party develop empathy and compassion, and apologize for each of the emerging symptoms experienced by the offended spouse. The offended’s anger may be the most difficult emotion for the offender to empathize with, but they must come to realize that their spouse’s anger comes from the same wellspring as their anxiety and depression. Coupled with an apology for the offended spouse’s present symptoms, and offer by the offender to be supportive of the offended spouse in the moment of their distress, contributes greatly to the individual and relational healing process.

It is also important, as some point, for the offended spouse to learn forgiveness, which is a decision, not based on their feelings, to cancel the legitimate debt that is owed to them, which the offending party can never repay. See section on The Process of Forgiveness. The offending party is usually consumed with guilt and shame for the unanticipated pain inflicted on their spouse, the damage done to the other person involved in the affair, and the damage done to both families. It is not uncommon for marriages damaged by an affair to continue on in conflict for years or to even end years later.

Same Sex Relationships, although controversial or culturally accepted, are Biblically forbidden and should be Thrown Off.

It is not uncommon for some adolescents and even preadolescents, who have feelings towards the same sex, to feel that homosexuality has chosen them, and that they did not choose it. These young people may fall into deep depression, hating that they have an attraction to the same sex. Some individuals in this situation have chosen to remain out of relationship, or even to marry an individual of the opposite sex, minimizing the importance of their sexual relationship and focusing primarily on their friendship, communication, companionship, emotional support, and spiritual connectedness.

Some self-identified gay and lesbian individuals have a history of childhood sexual abuse, often offended by the same-sex perpetrator. In these situations the sexual experience frequently gets entwined with feelings of love, affection, attention, and being cared for. Some of these individuals have later discovered that when they experience love, affection, attention, and being cared for by the opposite sex, that they question their sexual orientation and discover their attraction to the opposite sex.

In our hedonistic culture, were pleasurable experiences are highly valued, along with alcohol and drug abuse/dependence, many teenagers and young adults who identify themselves as gay or bisexual have experimented by having sex with both male and female partners. When some of these individuals obtain and maintain total abstinence from alcohol and drugs, and/or experience significant emotional and relational pain from such relationships, it is not uncommon for them to make a conscious decision to become monogamous with an opposite sex partner.

Sexual Promiscuity frequently results from early exposure to sex. Such exposure may come through children and preadolescents viewing pornography, witnessing adults having sexual relationships, and/or being lured into a sexual relationship with an older child or adult. When sexuality is opened up at an early age, it is difficult to be closed up. Such individuals will frequently become involved in sex before marriage, sexual affairs outside of marriage, and/or have multiple partners in serial or concurrent sexual relationships.

Swapping and Threesomes are other forms of self-oriented, hedonistic sex which have destroyed many relationships. Participants profess that the rules so swapping partners, and/or engaging in group sex, are to avoid becoming emotionally attached. Many marriages have been permanently damaged or have unintentionally ended in the sinful pursuit of sexual pleasure.

Vulgar, Profane Sexualized Language is demeaning and devalues the sacredness of love and sexual intimacy within the marriage, and should be Thrown Off.

Date Rape, Marital Rape, and Other Forms of Forced Sex should be treated as violence. Therapy should occur in conjunction with the arrest and domestic violence or criminal justice involvement of the offender.

Sexual relationships are always intertwined with individual emotional and relational needs. Biblically forbidden forms of sexual behavior always involve pathological emotional, cognitive, and/or relational issues. Therapy should focus on the differentiation of thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. Stop thought/behavior and Throwing Off forbidden sexual behaviors, and thought/behavior substitution and Putting On Biblically permissible sexual behaviors, have helped many individuals obtain emotional and relational stability. There are individuals who end up always having feelings of attraction to the same sex, but who have overcome acting out on such feelings. Cognitive behavioral therapy for sexual problems is only effective when used in conjunction with total abstinence from the Biblically forbidden behaviors.

Biblically Permissible or Prescribed Sexual Conduct That Should Be Put On:

  • Sexual relationships within marriage on a regular and continuous basis
  • Other-centered sex with the central focus of pleasuring one's spouse
  • Nonsexual affection as the context for physical intimacy

Sex, in the absence of a loving relationship, will usually result in
a multitude of sexual problems. Good communication, companionship or spending quality time, emotional support, and friendship are important within the marital relationship in order to have positive feelings of physical intimacy. Other love languages include words of affirmation, individualized gifts, and acts of service. Praying together, doing devotionals together, reading and discussing the Bible together, worshiping together, and serving others together in a ministry are important bonds within the Christian marriage. There should be a central focus on serving one's spouse. Men are to love their wives like Jesus loved the church. Women are to love and respect their husbands. They should be best friends, each serving the other.

I confess that I practice and that I will Throw Off the following forms of selfish or forbidden sexual sin:

I will Put On the following Biblically permissible sexual practices: