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.