Counseling Questions We Have Received Over The Years

Over the last 15-years, my wife (the lovely & gracious Mrs. Wagoner) and I have conducted dozens of marriage seminars and weeks of prayer around the nation.  We have met many wonderful people in those presentations, and received some of the most thoughtful questions during Q&A sessions.  Here is a sample of some questions we have received over the years, along with the answers we gave them.

Norway, 2009.  How can a guy who never saw manhood modeled in my home become a man?

Great question.  Let me first make two definitive statements. 

  • There is a big difference between being a male and being a man,
  • You can’t learn how to be a man from a woman.  It’s impossible.  

Many guys confuse being male with being a man.  They are not the same.  A male often uses women for what he can get from them.  A man will protect a woman, especially her purity.

Also, a man is one who has grown up emotionally  “When I became a man I put away childish things (1 Corinthians 13:11).  This passage is not just talking about  toys, but emotional childishness.  When we (through Jesus) resolve past hurts and emotional damage, it brings maturity into our lives, and with maturity comes manhood.

We learn how to be a man from other mature (godly) men.  Each of us guys need about five older men we can learn from.  If your father is one of them, great.  If your father is missing from the home, or not demonstrating true manhood, you can learn from other men.  Find five older godly men and learn from them.  Learning to be a man is important—you are in demand in the world.   You are needed.

As an adult, how do I deal with parents who argue and fight in front of me?  I hate it.

I don’t blame you for hating it.  Public conflict is something the Bible condemns in Ephesians 4:31, referring to it as ‘clamor' or 'tumult.’  Parents who fuss in front of their children are being self-centered, and are damaging their children’s sense of security.  Three suggestions:

  1. Pray that God would expose the root causes for the conflict, whether it is pride, bitterness or emotional pain.  When God exposes the root cause of conflict, it can be painful for the people/parents, but it provides them with an opportunity to resolve their problem.  Pride will always be present when two parents (or people) are fighting, too (Proverbs 13:10).  Pride needs to be repented of in order to resolve conflict.
  2. Try talking to your parents:  Ask them something like "Is this how two people who love each other treat each other?"  Tell them how it makes you feel when they fight in front of you.  Don’t attack them, just tell them how it affects you.  It could be the wake-up call they need.
  3. The last suggestion is one that only works for adult children (last resort, actually).  Distance.  Some space between you and fighting parents can help a lot.  They wanna fight, let them do it without you.

“Women go through menopause.  Ok well, what about men?  Explain what they go through that makes them change —why they get angry & mood changes.  Please explain.”

While women do have some physiological elements to deal with, monthly cycles, hormones etc.., I am more concerned with a person’s spiritual and emotional state.  Everyone changes as they get older, people rarely stay the same.  The question is, will we get better or worse?  God intends that we would get wisdom and maturity as we age.

Anger is a secondary emotion — it doesn’t exist by itself.  If a man begins to demonstrate anger, it could be from several sources, such as bitterness, unresolved moral failure, or emotional pain.  Unresolved bitterness also leads to greater and more serious consequences, including eventually depression and despair.  The solution is to biblically resolve whatever is causing the anger, and be at peace.  This applies to both men and women.  God never intended that we would be unhappy as we age.  He offers us peace, joy and wisdom.

“How can I forgive my mother for leaving and breaking up our family?  And, should I?”

This is actually two questions.  I’ll answer the last one first. 

We don’t have to forgive individuals who have hurt us, but if we don’t, we won’t be forgiven by the Lord (Luke 6:37).  We will also experience many negative consequences if we don't forgive.  The choice to forgive is a liberating choice, and one that the Lord honors.

How can you forgive your mother?  Forgiveness is costly; it involves one person paying the price of pain that another person has caused them.  We don't forgive sin, only Jesus can do that.  When we choose to forgive another person, we agree to pay the price of the pain they have caused us.  This is another way of saying that we accept that we can’t change the past.  We give up all hope of having a different past, in order to have a better present.  We accept what happened, rotten though it may have been. 

We may say something like, “Lord I choose to forgive my mother for ------- ------- ------- causing me to feel ----- ------- -------.  I renounce the enemy’s desire to control my life with resentment.  I ask Your forgiveness for the bitterness I felt towards her, and I surrender the territory of my heart to be totally under Your control.”  Or put it in your own words.  If this kind of forgiveness prayer is genuine, it will set the heart free from the pain of bitterness.  Be advised, you may have to repeat your prayer for 30-days straight before the pain leaves.  Be sincere, and be patient.  Your heart will change towards that person.  One more thing, you won’t forget what they did to hurt you, but you will see that pain from the perspective of heaven, instead of from human revenge or resentment.

“Should I eat pork just to be polite when visiting relatives who are non-believers?”



“Would you consider it immoral for a married couple to watch sex-training videos?”  What do you think about sex toys for married couples?”

Videos with live people who may or may not be married?  That is immoral because it is a form of pornography. 

Sex toys.  There are two reasons that people turn to ‘sex toys’ in their relationship.  One is that they are acting out pornographic images.  This gives the enemy access to your sexual life and will defile you and your spouse’s heart.  The second reason is that a couple is not experiencing genuine emotional intimacy with their spouse and they are looking for some sort of artificial stimulant in their marriage.  It never works.

A better way is for a couple to experience spiritual and emotional intimacy first, and then initiate the physical (sexual) aspect of their marriage.  When the first two intimacies are healthy, the sexual intimacy between a married couple will be 10–100 times better.  You won’t want anything else, just each other.


“I didn’t hear you mentioning the spirit of prophecy as your source in this seminar.  Why?”

I am a Seventh-day Adventist, and a biblical counselor.  As a biblical counselor, I am amazed at how accurate the Bible is to provide answers for every problem that we struggle with.  As a Seventh-day Adventist I appreciate the insights of the SOP.  They do their job well, leading us to the Great Light (the Bible).  Don't make it an either/or.  Use both and keep them in the proper perspective.

“Every chapter and every verse of the Bible is a communication from God to men.  We should bind its precepts as signs upon our hands and as frontlets between our eyes.  If studied and obeyed, it would lead God's people, as the Israelites were led, by the pillar of cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night” (PP, 503).


“What qualities should I look for in a husband?” 

Great question. 

First, how does he treat his mother?  The way he treats her is an indicator of how he will treat you someday.  Does he want to protect you, including morally?  If he wants to protect you morally, he probably loves you.  Does he get angry easily?  He will turn that on you eventually, unless he resolves it.   Do you like to hear him pray?  That’s a good sign. 

Choose someone you want to be like, you will slowly absorb his ways.  Choose a man who is a spiritual leader, you won’t be able to respect him if he isn’t.  People can change (praise God) but don’t you try to change him.  Choose wisely and treat kindly.

"Whoso findeth a wife findeth a good thing, and obtaineth favour of the Lord" (Proverbs 18:22).