32

Yes! But only the party line. There is a tension between the perception and the reality of a secular Q&A site that is named Christianity. The reality is that we are abysmally equipped to deal with "pastoral advice" questions. I mean, there are many of you who I would love to have in a small group with me or chat about life over coffee or worship in ...


31

Why aren't advice questions allowed? It's true that this site does not allow what we call "pastoral advice questions"—that is, questions that ask for advice, particularly spiritual advice, regarding an individual's personal situation. In fact, our users are strongly discouraged from even saying one little thing in response to such questions. So why is ...


21

NO! I would suggest that we refrain from handling these at all, even in comments. I know most folks here mean well. The advice I've seen dolled out is even mostly things I strongly agree with and would advise myself. A couple of them however made me cringe. They were things I would immediately step in to correct if I was counseling somebody in person. The ...


13

A lot of question types can be salvaged with some investment in editing, but I don't think pastoral advice questions are good candidates for this. Trying to salvage them by picking out an underlying doctrinal issue and shaping the question around that almost inevitably ends up doing just what we set out not to do. By reforming the question we are ...


11

Many sites just ignore this rule (Physics and Chemistry do this). It's been written for sites like Stack Overflow, where the dominant type of question is "I have this problem, halp!". It's basically for filtering out questions asked out of idle curiosity. Thing is, not all such questions are bad on some sites. Most good questions on Physics come ...


9

The really hard part of this (and the reason why I gave Peter a +1, and would give him a bounty if I could!) is because there is a presumption of action on the part of a Christian seeing a fellow traveller in need. When I read the story of the Good Samaritan, and I see the priests and Levites who leave that battered and bruised body on the road, I get ...


9

(I had a draft question written related to this issue. Half of it overlaps with this question. I'll cut that example out of my draft and paste it below. The other half I'll probably post as a question.) Here is a concrete example where we have already screwed up on this, and quite badly. There was a question, not too long ago, that involved a person of a ...


9

I already do delete answers to pastor advice questions (and comments that attempt to address the issue rather than redirect to real counsel) on sight. But I don't see everything, no even do all the mods put together. If you run across these, feel free to flag answers on such questions with a quick custom reason such as "flush answers on pastoral advice ...


8

Results (so far) The key number is in the bottom right corner: 47 messages so far. That number does not include deleted messages of which we've seen a few: Someone just stopped by to say "hi". Someone thought it was a place to petition for information about Area 51 proposals. (This seems to be a misunderstanding of the word "prayer" in English.) Someone ...


7

Abstract because this got really long: This site has always banned pastoral advice questions because we believe it's a terrible place to come for personal advice. These questions are relatively easy to spot and there is not a lot of debate on what they are, but when there is the smell test is most effective as there is no set criteria. Main post Let's do ...


7

We already have a strict policy that even your comments on the post cannot give advice: But can't I just say one thing? The site's official response to every pastoral advice question is "You should speak to a pastor, priest, spiritual counselor, etc. about such personal matters." Comments that do give advice typically end up deleted. Why should an ...


7

I'm going to disagree with this — not because I think you are wrong about many problems needing medical attention but because I think it's better to grab the stick from the side the people with the issue think their problem is on and redirect from there than it is to try to diagnose issues online. People that end up on this site that clearly need personal ...


6

I think referring people to pastors is better. Here's why: If we trust a random "local, trusted pastor" to help a person with spiritual problems, we should just as well trust the same pastor to refer the person to a doctor. Suggesting to someone on the Internet that their problem is medical or psychological, rather than spiritual (which they believe) is a ...


6

For reasons you've pointed out we have to take a much looser view of the "Problems you actually face" clause of the FAQ. However, that does not mean we need to ignore it entirely. To understand what a "problem we actually face" constitutes we need to understand two things. Who are our users? and What is our subject matter? In this particular site our users ...


5

Other users have tried "Christian Advice" sites and similar, but they never materialized. The history on this site is that we wanted to avoid arguments and drumming out the quieter voices of the less known Christian denominations with unorthodox views. See: Christianity.SE vs. Survivor On SE, I don't think there is a site were you can give any moral issue ...


5

I don't believe there is any place within the SE network to ask these questions at the moment. Some questions would naturally fit on other sites, but without a Christian flavor. Parenting, comes to mind as an obvious example. Our official answer on advice questions has always been "Ask your pastor or a trusted Christian counselor." And I think that is ...


5

I'm a bit at a loss for how to handle these questions in a manner that Reflects the fact that this is an academic site hosted by a secular company Provides pointers for a person to go find help if they need it and Doesn't compromise my own beliefs. I'm going to start with the most obvious thing. First and foremost if someone arrives on our site, and asks ...


5

The highest voted answer (+26 / -1) to the post that decided pastoral advice questions were off-topic starts: The most important thing is that we resist the temptation of providing an answer. I know that Christians are supposed to love others, and questions like this will undoubtedly tug at the heart-strings, but answering questions like this will always ...


4

Reference requests should be sufficiently targetted that you wouldn't expect to get more than half a dozen references in the answers. For something like lust my local Christian bookstore is going to have hundreds of relevant books. Also, in this case, PyRulez made a bad edit which did not respect the OP's intentions, which should not have been approved. We ...


4

I myself don't see that there is a correlation between it being a “personal question” and it being a question that only one person in the world would ask. Indeed, it often seems that I have many thoughts and concerns which never grace the minds or consciences of other people. (I believe someone once wrote something lamenting such a predicament.) Those ...


4

Here's why I like it Any prayers or praises to our Holy God are permanently in His mind. Within this room they can now be in ours. We cannot easily forget when it can clearly be read. Sometimes what I am praying for means more to me when I write it out. Seeing my own words to God over and over, and examining them multiple times helps me realize that God ...


4

To me, a pastoral advice question is one in which the circumstances of the asker are "too relevant" to the answer at hand. PASTORAL ADVICE: If the question is or must be framed in personal life of the asker in order to be sensible, it is pastoral advice. NOT PASTORAL ADVICE: If the question can just as easily be phrased in a third-person way, or if ...


4

We're giving them the solution they need: find a local church and begin a relationship with them. If they need help with that, we can help, but I don't think I've ever seen anyone who asked one of these questions ask us for help with that. Because the reality is that most people who come here to ask pastoral advice questions already have some relationship ...


3

Historically we have had little trouble identifying pastoral advice questions. I don't think there is nearly as much confusion over this issue as you make out. In the history of the site as we first discussed the possibility of them before they happened and then as we have handled them coming in, we're never really had much disagreement over what they were. ...


3

I think you've missed the main point in what a "pastoral advice" question is. Personal involvement has little to do with it. Of course those are the obvious cases to spot, but it really doesn't matter how many layers of abstraction you put the problems through they still aren't good fits for our site. It doesn't matter if your asking on behalf of somebody ...


3

Here's why I don't like it (or more accurately what I fear about how it may be used) Someone may post a prayer asking God to violate His own nature. I'm talking about blasphemy. I would hate it entirely if this room were used for such wickedness. New users with barely 20 rep or users from other sites may ignore the room's purpose and post inappropriate ...


3

On the one hand, "an answer cannot rightly take your personal situation into account." On the other hand, a situation that applies to one person may apply to others as well—and depending on the situation, not everyone may be qualified to make that judgment. What, then, constitutes "your personal situation", and what constitutes "personal advice"? As ...


3

I also believe that Pastoral advice type question require a type of skill that very few members of this site have. It would be irresponsible for this site to let such important matters be answered by people that may or may not be qualified to give advice. Just for your information I believe the Cognitive Science SE has a similar policy. Seeing as this site ...


2

By the time someone appears on our site asking a question like this it is very likely that their friends and family have already expressed concern and told them to get medical help. If the OP won't listen to them then they certainly won't listen to us, but there is the slightest chance they might listen to a spiritual adviser they trust. Yes they might turn ...


2

This is standard copy used across the SE network. Though the exact wording may not apply well to theology, the principle behind it does. The idea applied here might read something like this: You should only ask specific, answerable questions based on actual things you want to learn. Lots of folks come here and start asking questions they actually know ...


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