Christian Counseling: How Definitions Corrupt our Spiritual and Mental Health

A 17th century quote highlights a typical, frequently negative definition of inquisitive and curious. Add to that the subsequent negative use to the present, “Curiosity killed the cat,” and it is easy to understand why the word most often elicits an automatic negative feeling response and/or belief it is wrong.

Thomas Fuller, the English author and historian wrote: “Inquisitiveness or curiosity is a kernel of the forbidden fruit, which still sticks in the throat of a natural man, and sometimes to the danger of his choking.” However, inquisitive or curious also means given to examination or investigation, something we all experience and act on several times a day.

There are many such current uses of English words that tend to chiefly elicit a negative response, but wrongly so. Consider these: lust, pride, alcohol, sex, sensual, self-righteous, self-pleasure, revenge, slavery, rebellious, hate, unforgiveness, lying, judging (others) and foolishness to name several. I would be surprised if every reader does not get stuck on at least one word, asking, “How can that be anything but wrong?”

So, permit me to comment on a few. Lust is not just about wrong sexual desire. In the Bible lust (Greek-strong desire) is a feeling Jesus had toward the Passover with the disciples (Lu 15:22). Pride, well, if you sign up for our Newsletter on our website you will receive a free article on the subject. Sex is taught to our young people as bad and bad until they get married. Then they have trouble with  feeling only good about sex after marriage. The idea of self-pleasure often creates a feeling of guilt or stirs a question about being selfish. But “love your neighbor as yourself” tells us that self-love and self-satisfaction are not wrong, but only the excess or to the exclusion of others.

Also, revenge is one of the feelings and behaviors of God, and His only message to us about it is not to act vengefully. Unfortunately, some people also have come to believe that having vengeful feelings or thoughts are wrong and repentance is necessary. Yet nowhere in Scripture does God condemn the feeling or thought. Again, the action is wrong. In Revelation 6:10 martyred saints during the future tribulation period, ask God to take vengeance against their murders. Think about it, they are free from sin and are in heaven. Everyone is in slavery either to their sin nature or to God (Ro 6:16). Because most of us dislike the idea of slavery so much it can be difficult not to associate some negative feeling associated with the word. Rebellious, without rebelling against inappropriate authority, such as our forefathers against tyrannical England, America would not exist. Hate is almost always spoken of as sinful, unless it is used only to communicate how strong one feels about something. However we are to hate evil (Prov 8:13) and David hates those persons who are evil and haters of God with an exceeding hatred (Ps 139:21,22).

Lastly, unforgiveness, withholding or refusing to forgive another his or her offense or debt, has become viewed, in the last 15 years or so, as sinful in every situation. We are told that we must always forgive everyone for every offense regardless of the offender’s attitude toward what he or she did. This is a serious, false theology that imprisons people with feelings they cannot resolve and sends a message to the unbelieving world that all will be forgiven by God because, we His ambassadors, model absolute forgiveness. Therefore, unbelievers may believe they need not worry about salvation or their future after death, as all will be forgiven and, therefore, enter heaven. However, both the Old Testament and the New reveal truths contrary to human constructed idea of absolute forgiveness. A prophet asks God not to forgive his people and God listens and follows his full request (Jeremiah 18:19-23). How can God ask us to always forgive when He does not (Mt 6:15), which means there is at least one righteous exception to always forgiving? Again, saints, face-to-face with God in heaven, ask Him for vengeance. They have righteously withheld forgiveness from their murderers (Rev 6:10). (If you are interested, much more on this subject is presented in my article, “Theologies That Wound:A Study of Biblical Forgiveness,” which can be found in our website’s ( “Shop.”

How many other words could you add to this list?

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