How the church has misunderstood the treatment of emotional bondage
In the Christian world, the treatment of emotional bondage has been a very divisive and controversial subject. As a result of the controversies, believers have divided up and polarized into primarily four ideological camps. Each camp has claimed at times to be the only path to emotional freedom. They have looked with suspicion and criticism on the other groups and even felt in competition with them.
Our Bible Schools have also been polarized into these camps. The graduating pastors then teach and practice this polarization with their parishioners. Is it any wonder that so few Christians reach emotional freedom?
Have your own Christian guide to emotional health!
In this camp the primary treatment method is denial or the use of religious cliches. This group is primarily composed of very independent and religious males who feel that the best way to “straighten out your feelings” is to use mind over matter. They feel that feelings should always be subject to one’s will, so if you are having an emotional problem, it’s your own fault and that you should just snap out of it and get on with life. To them, emotional problems are a sign of weakness and must never be admitted to. Real Christian men don’t allow themselves to get depressed, would be their unwritten motto. Women, in their eyes, are allowed to have such problems but only because they have not yet reached the level of enlightenment of their male brethren.
Physicians are to be avoided since they will only get you hooked on pills which dull you to reality. Counselors and therapists are dangerous too since they waste money that could be going to our groceries or to missions. Therapists just get you dependent on them so they can have a steady income and they just want you to wallow in your past. Their best advice is to just get to the altar, pray it through and get on with your life since the past is behind you, you’re a new creature in Christ, act like one! They quickly get impatient with churches who focus on that touchy feely, navel gazing, inner healing, new age stuff. Just take every thought captive, and be a man.
Some in this group feel that all you need is more faith. They teach that if you have enough faith you won’t have any emotional or physical problems. Those who continue to struggle consider it to be their own fault.
In these groups there is a great deal of shame, bitterness and resentment which is submerged but expressed in other dysfunctional ways. Teenage rebellion is more common in these religious groups. No one reaches emotional freedom if they remain in this environment. Satan loves these groups since their old natures’ are alive and well and he keeps tormenting them with it. None will admit to a problem so they never get help. They are suspicious of anyone who addresses emotional issues in the church.
This camp, of which I was an active and evangelistic member, is the one that believes that virtually all emotional bondages are caused by physical illnesses or chemical imbalances. The treatment then is primarily physical or medical. It was my belief in those days that if everyone could get on the right medication, their mood would normalize and their emotional problems would resolve. I felt that everyone should be able to solve their own problems once the medications were working.
I too was suspicious of counseling or those who said prayer was the only answer.
In this group are very sincere and anointed believers who are familiar with the tools of Satan to harass believers and to keep them bound to the old nature. The extremists in their groups feel that medications and counseling are unnecessary. The total treatment is in the deliverance from the attack of evil spirits.
They are suspicious of physicians whose medications they feel only dull people out of spiritual reality and allow Satan to hide behind a drug induced mental fog. They are also skeptical of counselors who “miss the root issue” and don’t do deliverance.
In this last group are most of the counselors who feel that emotional bondage is solely the result of personality wounds from the past. The “inner healing” of these wounds will bring emotional freedom. Many of them feel medications are useless “band aids” and that deliverance is unnecessary when the emotional roots are dealt with.
Satan has reveled in the polarization of Christians over the treatment of emotional bondage.
There is no doubt that the latter three treatments have helped many. Each group has dramatic and factual success stories. The sad fact is though, that due to the polarization of treatments, most people have not come to the level of emotional freedom that God intended for them since they have only received one of the three treatments that God wants us to use to find total freedom. A person may find freedom in one area but remain bound in the other two. This has led to a great deal of discouragement among Christians who wonder why they are not well after having some success in their chosen treatment path. The competitive polarization of treatments has confused believers so that they are reluctant or ashamed to try any of the other treatments. They then remain unhealed and struggling not knowing where to turn next.
What God has shown me in the past few years, is that to come completely free, we need to be ministering to emotionally broken believers in all three areas of bondage.
The Body of Christ now must recognize the usefulness of medications, deliverance and inner healing as a combined treatment for all believers who struggle with their emotions.
We are now beginning to see all three camps joining hands to see a far higher percentage of Christians come to emotional freedom.
In my opinion, the church should be a healing community.
It should be rescuing men and women from Satan’s kingdom and bringing them into an environment where they can be healed from the bondage and wounds that have accumulated while in Darkness. The church should be “on the cutting edge” of emotional healing using every method that God has given us to “set the captives free.” The greatest tool in evangelism, in my view, is not an attractive presentation, tract, speaker or song, but emotionally transformed, anointed Christians reaching out and offering hope and emotional peace to their communities.
This article is excerpted from “Emotionally Free” by Dr. Grant Mullen