Lecture 14 – Ethics of Pastoral Counseling

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Unit IV: The Ethics of Pastoral Counseling


1. The caution based on 2 Tim. 2:4-5.
2. The caution based on Rom. 3:8.
3. The caution based on Rom. 14:16.
I. The Ethics of the Reception and Disclosure of Information
A. How much should I hear?
1. The general axiom: Seek for and listen to only as much information as is necessary for accurate diagnosis, comprehensive treatment, and realistic assessment of progress within biblical norms of righteousness.
2. Some biblical guidelines:
Mt. 18:15-17
Eph. 5:11-12
1 Tim. 5:19
Prov. 15:2
Prov. 15:28
Prov. 16:28
Prov. 17:4
1 Pet. 4:15

B. How much should I disclose and to whom?

1. Disclose as much as is necessary to fulfill your obligations to your fellow elders.
Prov. 11:14
2. Disclose as much as is necessary to secure the best interest of the person involved.
1 Cor. 1:11
Phil. 4:2 with 4:18 and 2:25
3. Disclose as much as is necessary to maintain the purity of the church.
1 Cor. 5
4. Disclose as much as is necessary to fulfill your obligations to society.
Rom. 13:3 ff
5. If none of these things demand disclosure keep it to yourself or one other office bearer.
C. Miscellaneous guidelines
1. Guidelines for disclosures to your wife.
a. Be realistic about your own temperament, emotional needs, and vulnerability.
Rom. 12:3
b. Be realistic about your wife’s temperament and her specific needs.
1 Pet. 3:7
c. Be sensitive to your wife’s previous track record in specific things related to this question.
(1) Her general emotional strength
(2) Her proven ability to keep confidences
Prov. 25:19
Prov. 11:13
Prov. 25:9-10
(3) Her proven ability to “play dumb”
d. Be honest with people while building your reputation in this area.
2. Guidelines for disclosures in preaching.
a. The key texts are:
Mt. 7:12
Rom. 13:10
b. As a general rule seek permission beforehand from the person involved.
c. As much as possible use generic rather than specific terms in identifying the person or situation.
d. If in doubt, don’t!
Rom. 14:23
II. The Ethics of Personal Appearance and Conduct
A. Personal appearance
1. Dress and appearance are not ethically neutral matters. They say something about ourselves and our attitude to others.
Gen. 41:14
Est. 5:1-2
Matt. 11:7-8
1 Tim. 2:9-10
1 Pet. 3:3-5
1 Cor. 13:5
2. Let your dress accurately reflect your consciousness of the dignity of your office, the seriousness of your anticipated activity, and a realistic understanding of your present relationship to the person you are counseling.
B. Personal conduct in the session
1. Be totally involved and make this involvement evident.
Col. 3:23
Rom. 12:11
Turn off your own cell phone and your desk phone.
2. Maintain principled control of your spirit and your emotions.
Prov. 16:32
Prov. 25:28
Rom. 12:15
Gal. 5:23b
Mk. 3:5
3. Be judicious in any physical contact.
1 Cor. 6:18
Rom. 13:14
Rom. 14:16
Eph. 4:17


III. The Ethics of Receiving Special Remuneration
A. If you are ministering to one of the members of your own congregation 1 Tim. 5:17 should regulate your practice.
B. If you are counseling non-members I believe 1 Cor. 9:18 ought to regulate our practice.


Summary and conclusion:


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