Situation/Problem in Pastoral Counseling:
George and Agnes are faithful members of their local congregation and have been Christians and served the Lord for many years. George has pastored a few small churches and is now the associate pastor of a large, diverse, multi-cultural congregation. George and Agnes are in their early fifties, having raised four children, all of whom are now adults and established in various professions, including one son and one daughter who are in full time ministerial positions in other locations. Another son is a successful businessman and their fourth and youngest son is a high school teacher. Their three older children are married with families and live outside of the medium-sized metropolitan area in which their parents reside. All four children accepted Jesus Christ as Savior at an early age and have been active in various church activities and ministries throughout the years of their youth.
George and Agnes’ fourth son, Connor, is in his mid-thirties and is single. He has kept in close touch with his parents, since he lives and works in the same community and also attends their church. He has been active in the choir, in visitation ministry and in helping with youth ministry. Recently, their youngest son shared with his parents that, for many years, he has had a same-gender attraction. He explained to his parents that he has never shared these feelings with anyone in the family, or with any of his former pastors. Although he said that he tried to ignore or deny these feelings while growing up, by being active in school sports and by dating the opposite sex in high school and college, for much of his adult life he has suffered much inner conflict and depression concerning his inner feelings of attraction to other men. At one, time, unbeknownst to his parents, he met for several months with a qualified counselor, hoping that his feelings would change, but this did not occur. Although he has not counseled with a pastor, he has prayed often about this conflict throughout the years, often with many tears. He shared with his parents his deep sense of “living a life” of having to “cover-up” his feelings; of fearing that others would conclude the truth about him, since he is in his thirties and not married. When people, even his parents or siblings have asked him about marriage and setting down—having a family, he has always answered the question with a light answer, smiling and saying, “Well, I just haven’t met the right women yet.” He has come to the point of avoiding people who try to “fix him up” with a particular young woman they may know, hoping to make a match. His deep conflict, he shared with his parents, stems from his upbringing in a conservative Christian context that spoke vehemently about the sin of homosexuality and yet struggling without success to change his own feelings concerning same-sex attraction. He has felt shame, depression, anger, loneliness, feelings of alienation, deep depression at times and hates the fact that, as he says “he is living a lie”. He is successful as a teacher, and in lay ministry at the church and not fallen into any immorality. Yet, the struggle has become more intense as he reflects on his life: what he has already experienced and what lies ahead as he continues to become older and his sense of loneliness intensifies.
Connor feels he is at a place of crisis: he says he has done all he knows to do to live a heterosexual life. He knows there are some men with same-sex attraction that marry women and simply try to live a “normal” life, not letting their wives or families or others know their inner feelings. Connor says he would rather die than do this, for it would be hurting the person he married, and living a lie. In his despair, he told his parents that he is at the point of making a decision: to take the step of “coming out”, admitting his feelings, and trying to live his life as best he can. If this means dating men and forming a relationship with another man, he said he sees no other choice, since living alone is very painful for him. He asked his parents to pray for him, but told them that they cannot make the decision for him. He trusts that God loves him and that God will either change him, or, if he cannot change, forgive his own human weakness and allow him to live his life as best he can.
Following their son’s sharing, George and Agnes were devastated. They love their son and are deeply compassionate, but shocked that, throughout the years, they did not perceive their son’s problems. They felt that either they knew and were simply in denial, or that Connor was simply very adept at “covering up” his real feelings through “the right” actions and behaviors.
Connor and his parents, after much discussion and prayer have come to the conclusion that they are all willing to submit, together, to a period of counseling and are hoping that this counseling will further help them to define the issues; to address them and to gain God’s guidance in taking any new steps necessary to address this situation. The church they all attend and in which George is associate pastor, has a theologically conservative viewpoint concerning all issues involving human sexuality. They see sexuality as a gift from God that has distinct boundaries for appropriate expression in each life: same-sex expression of sexuality, they believe is not biblically supportable and therefore represents an abnormal and sinful use of one’s sexuality. They view all people as loved by God; and that God invites all to come to Him through Jesus Christ and forgives sin and helps the believer to grow in grace and faith throughout his or her life, as each area of brokenness and sin is given to the Lord and as one opens one’s life to the cleansing and healing of God. They believe also that healing of deep-seated ways of thinking may take time for healing and require a loving, caring, community, willing to embrace “whosoever will” and, in humility, knowing that all are sinners in need of Christ, help their brothers and sisters to grow, mature and become more and more free in Christ. Although Connor’s theology is in line with his parents’ beliefs, he is discouraged because he has not seen the change in his life that he desires and is beginning to wonder if change is possible for him. George, Agnes and Connor realize that if Connor makes a decision to “come out” and his issues are not resolved, this will have profound implications not only for Connor, but for the entire family, for the church community, and for others in Connor’s life.
For this case, you will need to place yourself in the position of pastoral counselor to George, Agnes and Connor. Respond to the case by carefully answering the following questions. You may answer briefly, but be sure your responses are clear and fully respond to the questions. This, as each case, represents complex issues in human life and a careful approach to the counseling process.
This assignment has to be submitted as a PPT, and presented in the Blackboard Collaborate Session in week 5. If you are not able to attend any of the two Collaborate sessions scheduled in week 5, you have to submit the assignment in the week 5 virtual discussion board, and respond to two other students’ PPT in a substantive manner. While designing your PPT, please feel free to add more text and relevant explanation in the notes area provided under each PowerPoint slide.
Pastoral Counseling Theology State briefly your understanding of any and all theological issues relating to this case situation. In all cases, a sound biblical theology is called for to support the other actions you indicate as part of your case response. For example, what Scriptural principles, special events, etc., explain the biblical theology related to any particular case? If the case involves meeting the needs of someone who is out of work and has a family to feed, what biblical theology speaks to this case need as related to pastoral care?
Pastoral Counseling Needs and Goals Based on the issues, briefly state (a) the primary need or needs in counseling; the goals or outcomes needed, as you see them in this situation. Briefly explain why you have chosen these goals. Goals relate to the ultimate outcomes that you believe are needed in order to adequately address the case need. For example, if the case situation involves someone without the financial ability to heat their home in winter, one goal, among others, might be to provide a means for this person to receive adequate housing, with heat, for the winter months. List each goal 1, 2, 3, and so on, fully and clearly.
Pastoral Counseling Ministry Process After completing the above questions, state below how you, if you were the pastoral counselor, would proceed. In other words, what is the ministry process; the way you would address each pastoral counseling issue in order to address the above-stated needs and achieve the above-stated goals? Be sure you state a rationale for each issue: the reason why you would address each issue as you have stated. Give biblical support for your rationale in each instance. The answer may also include such information as: How long would the counseling process continue? What particular approaches would you take? What would you do if, after a certain period there is an impasse, or you do not see the counselees needs being met or goals achieved?
Other comments: If you have further commentary or responses, you may continue them here.