August 14, 1991
“Computer Counseling” has arrived. Now a staff of trained psychologists can be replaced by terminals and floppy disks. The patient just sits in front of a computer and punches in his thoughts. Out comes a programmed response based on the input, telling him what he needs to know.
This latest electronic development supposedly not only saves money but makes it easier for patients to bare their souls. They don’t have to go through the struggle of telling their innermost secrets to another person nor take time developing a trust relationship. The computer never betrays their confidences, it just stores it on plastic and kicks out information, with the assumption that relevant information is all a hurting person needs.
I can relate to the ease of using machines. For one thing, “talking” to a machine has a big advantage: I can edit and revise before printing my statements. Face-to-face conversation doesn’t allow that option.
But retreating from people to my PC is neither healthy or biblical. God is involved in our lives and wants us to be involved in each others lives. His Word has more to say about human relationships than almost every other topic. Here are a few examples:
“...have peace one with another.”
“...love one another; as I have loved you...”
“...prefer one another.”
“...be of the same mind towards one another.”
“...follow after the things that build up one another.”
“...receive one another, as Christ also received us...”
“...have the same care one for another.”
“...by love serve one another.”
“...be patient with one another...”
“...submit yourselves one to another in the fear of God.”
“...Lie not one to another...”
“...teach and admonish one another...”
“...comfort one another with these words.”
“...exhort one another daily...”
“...let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works.”
“...Speak not evil one of another...”
“...Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another...”
“...show hospitality one to another without grudging.”
“...be subject one to another...
“...be kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake has forgiven you.”
Just a glance at the list reveals that God’s plan for relationships involves some hard work at the ordinary level, not just the Counseling level. It involves time, money and effort. However the rewards are rich: hurting people are loved, encouraged, healed. In fact, the “one another” treatment prescribed by God would put counselors out of work much faster than computers could.
Besides, God’s way never goes obsolete like a computer program. It is eternal. The catch is that it requires people with eternal life within -- a life that flows from their hearts, demonstrated in care for others. It is not a natural concern but a supernatural loving obedience.
Maybe that is why we have had to resort to computer Counseling; there just isn’t enough folks that have that kind of inner resource. Without the “wonderful Counselor” within, all anyone can do is rely on is themselves and perhaps their library of plastic, encoded data.