Hi MrW! I think that both programs are highly dependent upon the counselor, not so much on the "Scripture" behind the ideas. In the case of Nouthetic Counseling, the "chief counselor" is God Himself, and that's a "pretty heavy" counselor!
Here's the primary difference as I see it.
Nouthetic Counseling is first only for believers in Christ because it depends heavily on a person's willingness to submit to God first and to DO what God tells all believers to do, whether or not we happen to "feel like" doing it at the time. In other words, it's not for "passive, in-name-only believers." While it can certainly help anyone who implements the "ideas," the "motivation" of surrendering to God isn't there for non-believers. In other words, the "authority figure" isn't there. Few, if any, Nouthetic Counselors will not counsel unbelievers for that very reason. It utilizes God's Word and functions on the basis that the Scriptures don't just contain some answers, they contain all the answers to life's "problems" and how we, as believers are to function both within and without a marriage.
Marriage Builders was built in large part utilizing the timeless truths of Scripture, but without the "force" behind it. That doesn't necessarily make it "wrong," it was purposely designed to try to reach anyone utilizing the basic relational truths of Scripture. How effective it is really depends heavily upon the willingness of BOTH spouses to submit to the MB principles as the authority in their marriage. It has been my experience that any recovery must have the willing participation of both spouses anyway, so what then is the difference? You can think of it as the difference between the Second Greatest Commandment (i.e. in Mark 12:31) and the "Golden Rule." The first is a COMMAND of God and the second is the "secularized" form of the same rule, but without the "imperative" of doing it in humble obedience to God "even if I don't feel like it."
I think the key difference for believers is WHO is "in control." Believers "accept" the fact that every marriage already has 3 participants in it, God, Husband, and Wife. Without God, each individual occupies the "throne" of their life, not God. So the ultimate "authority" is "self" and that's often where the concept of "submission" becomes misunderstood or abused and conflicts over the "roles" comes into play. God has established the roles for husbands and wives in a marriage and without God the roles are "open" to each individual's interpretation because there is no "ultimate authority" to "appeal to" when there is conflict or disagreement.
I have often used the "Triangle of Marriage" schematic to illustrate how marriage is "supposed" to work and WHY recovery is inevitable if God is the head of marriage and both spouses are "walking" toward God in their personal relationship with God.
I can review that Triangle if you'd like me to as it's a very simple graphic that illustrates what a marriage should be like and the inevitable result of following after God, regardless of where each spouse happens to be at the "moment."
Quote:MrW: The area of largest conflict between Nouthetic Counselling and MB is the notion of poja versus submission. Dr. Harley feels that almost all Nouthetic Counselors misses the point of rebuilding LOVE when they eventually come back to the notion that a wife should simply submit to her husband. Poja is different than submission....but still biblical????
I think that if that is what Dr. Harley thinks about the Scripture teaching on "submission," then he has a wrong idea about it. Think about it this way: All people are slaves (and yes, I know a lot people are sensitive about the word "slave"). The issue is who they are in slavery to. It's either Satan and the "world," or it's God (who "bought and paid for us with His blood"). We BELONG to God, as believers. We are NOT "our own." We were "bought with a price."
But because God has appointed the Man to be the spiritual head of the household, the idea of "submission" can be, and often is, abused. The operative Scriptures that relate directly to this are;
Ephesians 5:22-24 22"Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord. 23For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. 24Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything." (NIV)
This passage is often what is "taken out of context" and misapplied, misunderstood, or misused, or even used on purpose as a "club" of control. However, it CANNOT be "divorced" from the passage that precedes it:
Ephesians 5:21, says "Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ." (emphasis added)
HOW does one do this submitting?
Ephesians 5:25 that follows the first passage above states: "25Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her..."
Now I think it's clear that most believers would readily admit that we are submit our lives, our wants and desires, to God. If our wants and desires are in conflict with what God has said, we are to "submit" in humble obedience TO God.
So when Eph 5:25 says to HUSBANDS "love your wives JUST AS Christ loved the church and GAVE HIMSELF UP FOR HER," the role model IS Christ and the standard is Christ. What DID Jesus do? He did not "complain," but willing died for the church so that they could live. "Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ."
These are not "mere suggestions." They carry the weight of the Creator, the one who established and ordained marriage.
But there is a "spiritual headship" that IS the role of the husband, because God gave him that responsibility. Most "problems" in a marriage, in my humble opinion, stem from the husband abrogating that responsibility or willfully choosing NOT to be spiritual head. It's also one of the reasons why the Scripture clearly warns believers to NOT be "unevenly yoked" to an unbeliever. The "authority" in the marriage is removed and the person sitting on the throne of the marriage isn't God. "Self-preeminence" often rises to the top then. In MB parlance, the "Taker" takes over, and the other spouse is left floating as "shark bait" or "beaten over the head" with a club ("you are to be submissive to me even when I am NOT behaving in a Christ-like manner!")
Do you ever wonder what a wife might do If the husband exemplified Christ's "husband" to His "bride?" Personally, I think most women would be "falling all over themselves" to be that man's wife!
So the "submitting" is related to the husband who is following Christ and NOT to the husband who is doing something contrary to God. As a gross example think of it this way; a wife is NOT supposed to "submit" to a husband who wants "another woman in the marriage" or to a husband who wants her to engage in prostitution in order to make some money.
And it's why Nouthetic Counseling is for believers, because the "submitting" is first and foremost to God, not to the husband or wife. "Get the God part right" and the rest will follow naturally because we have God's promise and His design for marriage.
Quote:MrW: Personally...I PREFER to have my wife love me and CHOOSE to be with me based upon LOVE (a fully Christian concept). [FYI, she's NOT against biblical submission as we understand it so this discussion isn't about us, per se]. I think in Dr. Harley's opinion POJA effectuates love...whereas submission CAN BE???? (???perhaps depending on interpretation???) counter to POJA and, as a result, MAY fuel resentment, love busters or whatever.
I guess I'd refer you to what has been written above as it relates to this point.
But there are far more things that may fuel resentment. POJA can also fuel resentment. It's all in the interpretation and the application of any principle.
For example: How about the WS "getting off scot-free from punishment while the BS has to "suck it up and "just" forgive and forget?" The biblical concept of forgiveness is we are commanded to forgive if a sinner repents and seeks our forgiveness.
I have forgiven my wife because she did repent and seek forgiveness, and because I am commanded by God to forgive. Did I "feel like" forgiving? Nope. But I over-ruled my feelings with obedience and God has faithfully worked out our marriage as a result.
By contrast, I have not forgiven the OM. If he ever became a believer and repented of his sin, and then sought my forgiveness, I WOULD forgive him even though I might be screaming inside�"unfair!!!" But God KNOWS what forgiveness costs, and He was willing to die for unworthy sinners and has become the model that we submit to in humble obedience, because we are to become more Christ-like in our journey through life. You see, ultimately my own sins are "just as bad" to God, but it's easy to "forget" what I have been forgiven. We tend to want our "pound of flesh" as part of the "forgive you" deal. Thank God that He didn't require a pound of flesh from me in order to grant me forgiveness. All He required was repentance and acceptance of Jesus Christ, because Jesus already paid the price with more than a "pound of His flesh."
It's nuanced...for sure and MAYBE you'd be interested in an "other topics" thread on Nouthetic Counselling and/or whether MB IS biblical counselling. I read a great paper on the subject which I hope I can find again (computer crashed and I lost the link).
No, I don't think MB is biblical counseling. It can't be because it has divorced itself from God and obedience to God as the "primary motivator."
It may, and does, appropriate biblical principles, but it leaves out the most important "principle," God.
Besides, I have been beaten up in the past around here for suggesting that this was a "Christian" site. The powers that be will adamantly reject that appellation and want it to be a strictly secular site.