In The Biblical Counseling Guide for Women, John and Janie Street’s years of wisdom from counseling and discipling others is evident. The book walks through seventeen fictitious case studies of counselees facing issues common among women. The topics include expected ones such as anger, anxiety, and grief, as well as ones that people might think are not addressed by Scripture. However, the Streets show that the Bible can clarify and expose the roots of even tough topics like borderline personality disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder, panic attacks, schizophrenia, and transgenderism. As these things are brought into the light of Scripture, there is hope and help beyond a secular label and psychology’s preferred interventions.
As the Streets address these issues in narrative form, they consider what Scripture says, contrast that with answers psychology or the world might give, and model how to engage the issues with compassion and truth. They also include discussion questions at the end of each chapter. These questions help you dig further into what Scripture says about the issue and begin considering how you can apply the chapter’s information in helping your counselees.
The women used in the scenarios are varied in age, spiritual maturity, and life situation. That helps the book feel widely applicable rather than cookie cutter. It also reminds the reader that each person you counsel will have a unique story. You need to seek to understand her story and take it into account as you prayerfully determine how to best help her understand God’s truth and apply it to her life. The authors avoid wrapping up each scenario with a perfect ending, acknowledging that turning from sin does not always equal life becoming easy. Alongside that reality, they continually remind us of the hopeful truth that submission to God and obedience to His Word does change lives.
This book can be read from front to back or as needed for help with specific subjects. Having a chapter per topic and a lengthy Scripture index will make it an easy tool to reference. I especially appreciate that they addressed some issues the current culture is speaking about loudly and frequently. It is extremely valuable to have this biblical perspective to counter the torrent of man-centered philosophy coming at us on so many fronts.
- “Fear is an emotional response directly related to an immediate, usually real, perceived threat or harm. Anxiety, on the other hand, is associated with the way you anticipate an expected threat” (page 39).
- “There are two extreme dangers when it comes to the influence a person’s past can have on her. First, she can believe that it determines her life, defining who she is; it is everything!…The second extreme view is that the past is not important at all; it is nothing!” (page 90).
- “…change is often not instantaneous. As you seek the Lord and His Word through your difficulty, you will learn the sufficiency of God’s grace so that you can be freed from the illusion of your own self-sufficiency” (page 104).
- “Substance abuse is reliance upon one’s own self-judgment and self-sufficiency in determining what is best for their life, and a turning away from God’s will and purposes. Because the critical sin of the substance abuser’s heart is the worship of the experience that is provided through a chemical substance, the remedy is repentance from worshipping the wrong god” (pages 110-111).
- “As she would come to see, most of her depression was not so much something that “happened” to her; it was largely a result of wrong thinking and choices that she had made when she faced difficulties, or her hopes and dreams were dashed, or the realities of daily life had failed to meet her expectations” (pages 123-124).
- “Too often we use the term hope carelessly because it is used to express uncertainty… However, when your concept of hope is anchored in biblical promises, all ambiguity and doubt is removed. Biblical hope is backed up by the very character and faithfulness of God. Unlike ‘I hope so’ hope, it is absolute and full of confident assurance” (page 161).
- “Sinful anxiety and worry are centered on the self. They ask, ‘What can I do to bring about good and meet my expectations?’ In contrast, righteous concern focuses on seeking to benefit others while trusting in God’s work to produce what He perceives to be good (Matthew 22:37-40)” (page 236).
- “Transgenderism says, ‘My body is the wrong gender’; Christianity says, ‘My view of my gender is wrong thinking’” (page 308).
- “Self cannot be trusted. Self is not something to be loved or esteemed. In fact, Jesus taught that self must be treated like a vile criminal” (page 312).