Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Is Justice a Stone's Throw Away?

Since the horrific events of 9/11, the media has seen a rise in focus on the Muslim population in America. Islam is a growing religion today in America along with many others as we are becoming more and more of a multicultural society. One article says that Muslim presence in the U.S. grew from 1 million in 2000 to 2.6 million in 2010, which is almost doubled.  As the Muslim influence increases in America, a hot topic in the media today is honor killings. 

As Christian counselors, how do we respond to this? The possibility of working with a Muslim client is increasing, and this situation might present itself. For information on Worldwide trends in honor killings go here. (Find stats on counselors with honor killings). With the rise of a multicultural society, it has never been more important for counselors to learn competency in dealing with cultural specific issues that might be raised in the counseling office. Furthermore, those that profess to be Christian counselors need to be aware of how religion influences how people deal with life and family matters; those matters that drive them to seek counseling.  Most importantly, Christian counselors need to know how their theology integrates into their counseling, so that they are not swept away from the influences of other religions when dealing with these matters. On what authority can we say honor killings are wrong? Is it just up to the individual family unit how they want to deal with their problems? Can we prove from the Bible that honor killing is wrong? Stoning happened in the Bible, does that condone this activity? These are questions that need to be answered.

Whoever blasphemes the name of the Lord shall surely be put to death. All the congregation shall stone him. The sojourner as well as the native, when he blasphemes the Name, shall be put to death. Leviticus 24:16

As Christian counselors, what do we do with verse? Does this lend evidence to the stance that honor killing is okay? Let’s take a closer look. We look to the Bible as our authority on every issue in life and use it as a guide in counseling.  However, we are limited by our interpretation of it. If we get interpretation wrong, then our values will become skewed. It is important to evaluate the context of a verse in the Bible instead of just selecting certain quotes from the Bible. First, let’s look at the context of this verse.

First, this passage is in the Old Testament and was written before Christ came and died on the cross which changed how we deal with sin. Second, this passage has to do with the nation of Israel.  Abraham was promised, by God, to be the father of a nation. Jacob had 12 sons and favored one in particular, Joseph. His brothers did not like that and sent him into slavery to Egypt. While in Egypt, Joseph, through earning trust of influential people, became a ruler and eventually invited his family to come live there with him. After that, they multiplied and became enslaved until Moses led them out of bondage in the book of Exodus. When they went into Egypt they were a family, but when exiting Egypt they had become a nation (roughly around 2 million people). Since Israel had never been a nation before, they needed guidelines on “how to do country.” Israel was then set up as a Theocracy when God gave them laws by which to govern themselves by. These laws are recorded in Leviticus and Deuteronomy.

Hermeneutics tells us there are three types of laws found in these books of the Bible: Civil law, religious law, and moral law. The moral laws found in the Scripture are not bound by time and need to be obeyed; however, the civil and religious laws do not apply to us today. Why? Because Christ came to earth for us and fulfilled the law by dying on the cross so we are now living under grace.

"Don't misunderstand why I have come. I did not come to abolish the law of Moses or the writings of the prophets. No, I came to accomplish their purpose. Matthew 5:17

We no longer have to stone people, even if the moral laws (The Ten Commandments) are not kept because Christ died on the cross. God demanded justice for all crimes but since Christ has taken our penalty and all our sins are forgiven now in front of a Holy God, stoning is not needed anymore! We are under grace. When we hear in the news of the honor killings happening in Muslim culture, remember that Christ died for us and we no longer need to kill for justice or because someone brought shame upon us. We, as Christian counselors, need to know this truth and be able to justify it biblically as we might have to deal with this situation in counseling.

Another helpful article on this topic for counselors is "Are Honor Killings Simply Domestic Violence?" See it here.


  1. Brent, you raise an interesting issue here that I have also been wrestling with: how are we, as Christian counselors, supposed to approach people from different religious backgrounds? How do we help someone who justifies his or her actions by devotion to a faith that is different from ours? I feel that sometimes, especially with issues as horrific as honor killings, it is difficult to figure out which angle we would approach the client. In our hearts, we realize that what the person really needs is Jesus, and what kind of help can we give them apart from Him? I am still learning and struggling to discern what my role would then become in that situation. Thought-provoking post!

  2. Brent, I think we as Christians should be the subject matter experts or at least lay-persons regarding giving information about other religions. As a Chaplain Assistant in the Army, Soldiers always assume I’m a Christian. That happens to be a correct assumption but they also assume that I know everything about religion. This happens to me in my civilian life too—people assume that I’ll have answers as to why God let those kids in the elementary school die or why that shooting Colorado happened. Well, the assumptions keep coming and I think it is a great time to explain the truth about religions. I do not bash religions unless you come to me in person and we’re friends, but I do tell truth that the mainstream media would never talk about.

    Your post got me thinking about a tangent, though I agree with the point you made. As I understand it, you’re saying that we need to be able to reconcile our strong urge to tell people about Jesus and give them the Truth with helping people who will not repent, in Jesus’ name. But, what if America allows honor killings, or stoning, or more marriage to those under the age of 18 for the sake of being religiously tolerant? I have noted before in a previous post that normal psychology changes with the politics and that not all of psychology is what is profitable, but rather what is permissible. Among many reasons for politics to change, it will also change based on the population demographics and what the people demand. It seems as though the United States’ is terribly preoccupied with its own issues at present, but there is a big, bad and good world out there that will progress without the general population knowing of it.

    Perhaps the rise in honor killings is from ten-plus years of war. War dissipates a nation and creates displaced persons. Perhaps the steep rise in honor-killings are the ignorance of Islam and what rules it. Fundamental Islam AND the culture some Muslims come from allows for honor killings. My point is, how far do we love our clients that if we perceive a threat either to them or from them.

    How far is too far? If we perceive that our clients are going to harm someone, we will report it dutifully. If we perceive that our clients are the ones being harmed, we will do our best to get them protection. It’s the gray areas that we must tread lightly. It’s easy to agree with everything in the media and be overly religiously tolerant. In America, murder is murder. In Pakistan, Afghanistan, and other Islamic states, murder is an honorable thing if done for the valid reasons. It’s normal. There is the frog in the pan metaphor that makes me ask, who is the frog and how much longer are they going to stay there? How much longer are we going to tolerate the slowly but radically changing society? Soon Christianity may be the minority religion-then what? It takes effort to turn the Bible into a murdering, hateful theology, but it takes a lot more effort to turn other religions into the peaceful, loving theology that our God has for us.

    Thanks for making me think, Brent!

  3. Brent I really enjoyed reading this post. As I read my thoughts were turning in my head. The question of how a Christian counselor should handle issues such as this has been on my mind a lot lately. Honestly the thought of counseling someone who differs in their religion than me, such as a Muslim scares me! I completely agree with you in your statement that is has never been more important for counselors to learn competency with dealing with issues in therapy. I also really agree with the statement that we as Christian counselors should be increasingly aware of how religion effects our clients. I am working to become more understanding of why I believe what I do and this article really raised up many new thoughts. Thanks for your time in posting this!!

  4. Brent, thank you for your post. I was both encouraged and convicted as I read about the Christian counselor's role in situations such as these. I have possessed the attitude that I will refer a potential client who believes so differently than me. As I wrote those words, I was embarrassed and ashamed at the pride that was in my heart. After personal reflection and thinking about your post, I have realized that it is vital for me to know and understand how to respond in a situation such as what was mentioned in your blog. It is very freeing to me to understand the three different types of laws which include: civil, religious, and moral. No matter the differences I have with people, it is vital that I have a sensitivity to them and where they are coming from. Additionally, it is important for my to understand and why I believe the way I do. Thanks again for the post!

  5. Brent, I enjoyed reading your blog post and I would to comment on the idea that most likely in the future we will be counseling a Muslim client. I agree with you that we need to be competent in knowledge of other religions but also firm in our own faith so that we do not fall away from Christianity.

    But I believe that as Christians, we are already very well prepared to work with Muslims when compared to secular or non-religious counselors. While Islam and Christianity have different beliefs, many of their principle beliefs are the same. These include but are not limited to the belief in one God, moral law derived from God and holy scripture, the belief in non-material life (spiritual world), and the belief in afterlife. In fact, many of Christianity's and Islam's moral laws are the same and many of the parables and stories found in the Bible are also found in the Koran (Islam's holy scriptures).

    Because of the similarities between the religions, a Christian counselors worldview might be very similar to that of a Muslim client. We should use this to our benefit to help us understand Muslim clients and their presenting problems. Also, we must be careful though to not force our religious beliefs upon Muslims or any clients with differing religious beliefs.


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