Dependency – Do Not Become Slaves Of Men

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As we discussed in an earlier post, co-dependency is a fuzzy pop-psychology term.  The more precise Biblical concept is that of someone becoming a “slave of men” (I Corinthians 7:23) by subsuming their inner self to another person, rather than to God.  But we will use the term codependent interchangeably as shorthand.

How do we know that this phrase did not refer to the physical slavery of the day?  We know it because Paul made several other clear statements that while it is better to be free, it was also ok to be a slave.

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Were you called while a slave? Do not worry about it; but if you are able also to become free, rather do that.   For he who was called in the Lord while a slave, is the Lord’s freedman; likewise he who was called while free, is Christ’s slave.    I Corinthians 7:22-23

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In fact, slaves were to not just chafe under their masters, but seek to honor the Lord in the situation.

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All who are under the yoke as slaves are to regard their own masters as worthy of all honor so that the name of God and our doctrine will not be spoken against.   I Timothy 6:1
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Slaves, in all things obey those who are your masters on earth, not with external service, as those who merely please men, but with sincerity of heart, fearing the Lord.   Colossians 3:22
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Paul could make these statements, because slavery was a feature of his era’s economic system, not focused on the control of people’s inward selves but their outward performance.  In fact, in Christ everyone was equal irrespective of their socio-economic status.
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a renewal in which there is no distinction between Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave and freeman, but Christ is all, and in all.    Colossians 3:11
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There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.  Galatians 3:28
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Therefore, Paul’s admonition to “not become slaves of men” referred to who we are as a person, who we are on the inside, how we live our lives before God and with others.  We are not to subsume who we are on the inside to someone else.
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All scripture taken in isolation is subject to misinterpretation and abuse.  “Do not become slaves of men” could easily be twisted to mean, “no one will rule over me” (including God-given authority), leading to “I can do whatever I want”, or “I should exit any relationship that restricts my freedom”.  This does not mean that.  We are referring to an inward freedom to be yourself and the person God wants you to be, regardless of the circumstances.
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There are different tactics a “slave master” might use to make someone their slave (codependent).  For example,
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  1. Bullying
  2. Manipulation
  3. Use of fake authority
  4. Abuse of true authority
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Underneath the success of all of these is an element of the fear of man on the part of the codependent person – worried about what the other person thinks of you or can do to you, rather than what God thinks of you or can do to you.  Proverbs says,
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The fear of man brings a snare,
But he who trusts in the Lord will be exalted.  Proverbs 29:25

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and Jesus said
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 “I say to you, My friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that have no more that they can do.  But I will warn you whom to fear: fear the One who, after He has killed, has authority to cast into hell; yes, I tell you, fear Him!   Luke 12:4-5
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As narcissists have an inner drive to be the unquestioned #1 around which others’ lives orbit, they are particularly driven to make others their emotional or physical slaves.  It is difficult for them to achieve that with “hard targets” (those who are on to them or not afraid of them), so they focus on available “soft targets”.  And one of the easiest of soft targets are their own children.
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Next up:  Possible paths to co-dependency

 

Dependency – My Story

Like narcissism, dependency runs on a spectrum.  It can range from totally reliant on the high end to simple people-pleasing.  As the son of an insolently proud “N” mother (see “Barry” in the book, and Dealing With Narcissists – The Narcissistic Adult Mother in this blog), I have personally experienced the warping of healthy relationships which N’s drive.

My mother’s dominance created an unspoken but real requirement on me and my siblings to keep her happy at all costs.  It did not rise to the extreme of dependency, but created in me an over-concern with pleasing people.  Involvement in my 20’s in a legalistic ministry focused on conformance to man’s expectations rather than living in God’s love did not help.  I was trapped by the  fear of what man thought, rather than what God thought.

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The fear of man brings a snare, But he who trusts in the Lord will be exalted. 
  
Proverbs 29:25

Continue reading

Dependency

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Throughout this blog we have seen how narcissists  – those with insolent pride – seek to exert their will over others.  They want to be #1, with others serving them.  They want others to be subject to their wishes, not the other way around.  They seek to subjugate others to their “rule”.

This can be situational, such as in work place power plays.  But it can also be relational, where the N seeks full-time, permanent rule over someone – a child, spouse, boyfriend/girlfriend, long serving staff, etc.  In the N’s drive and continued action to achieve this, they may subjugate their target’s will to their own.  The ultimate expression of this is for the target to become dependent on the N, allowing the N massive control.

Of course, this is not Biblical.  Paul said,

You were bought with a price; do not become slaves of men.”

I Corinthians 7:23

Just as the term “narcissism” is ill-defined and inconsistently applied, so are the concepts and terminology around dependency.

For example, Wikipedia calls codependency

A codependent is someone who cannot function on their own and whose thinking and behavior is instead organized around another person, process, or substance.  Many codependents place a lower priority on their own needs, while being excessively preoccupied with the needs of others. Codependency can occur in any type of relationship, including family, work, friendship, and also romantic, peer or community relationships.

This is a bad thing, right?  On the other hand, my parents were also considered codependent in living together on their own into their early 90’s.  They were able to compensate for each other’s capability gaps.  In this case, codependent was a good thing.

Because dependency is a real issue for those whose lives have been strongly influenced by narcissists, we are going to take a look at it in future blog posts.  This holds personal relevance for me as well, as result of my upbringing.

We will focus on the Biblical perspective of narcissist-driven dependency, looking at causes and solutions.  In particular, we will look at how to recognize it, what it can do to us, and how to go from becoming non-Biblical people-pleasers to showing genuine strength with love.

 

 

 

Strengthen Yourself In The Lord

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1 Samuel 30:6

Moreover David was greatly distressed because the people spoke of stoning him, for all the people were embittered, each one because of his sons and his daughters. But David strengthened himself in the Lord his God.

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I received a small bit of news yesterday that was a bit discouraging.  It was not a big deal, and it did not affect me directly, but rather someone close to me.  The person affected was not bothered much, but I hurt on his  behalf.

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As I was discouraged this morning, I remembered David’s example in I Samuel 30:6.  Things were completely falling apart for David and his crew, and to top it the people loyal to him were distressed to the point of contemplating getting rid of him.  Rather than giving up or thrashing around for a human solution, David started by “strengthening himself in the Lord”.

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How do we strengthen ourselves in the Lord?  First would be to get a little quiet space and begin talking directly with Him.  We can complain about how we feel, but need to do it respectfully and in light of His Sovereignty.  Second might be to find a Psalm that reflects the state of our heart.  And third might be to reflect on God’s unlimited love and goodness, His unlimited power, His unlimited knowledge and wisdom, and His consistent faithfulness to those who seek Him (Hebrews 11:6).  Finally, we can cry out to Him for HELP!.  There is no magic formula, but you will know when your heart has been strengthened in Him.

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After he was strengthened in the Lord, David was able to then see clearly enough to ask God what he was supposed to do about the situation.  God gave David the answer, and David charged forward with God providing the practical victory and ultimate solution.

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Take a look at all of I Samuel 30 to get the whole story.

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Psalm 73:25-28

25 Whom have I in heaven but You?
And besides You, I desire nothing on earth.
26 My flesh and my heart may fail,
But God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.

27 For, behold, those who are far from You will perish;
You have destroyed all those who are unfaithful to You.

28 But as for me, the nearness of God is my good;
I have made the Lord God my refuge,
That I may tell of all Your works.

 

The Opposite Of Narcissism Is Love – Intro

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1 Corinthians 13:4-8

Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Love never fails…….

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We would normally think that the opposite of narcissism / insolent pride is humility – which is true.  But, insolent pride is also the opposite of genuine love.   According to the verses above, love

  • Is kind
  • Is not jealous
  • Does not brag
  • Is not arrogant
  • Does not seek its own
  • Is not provoked
  • Does not take into account a wrong suffered

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These are the polar opposites of the traits shown by narcissists.   As we will discuss going forward, the contrast between narcissism and genuine love is fundamental to helping us understand:

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  • the real (eternal) consequences which narcissists have chosen for themselves
  • why God allows them to wreak havoc
  • how God wants us to respond and deal with them
  • why it is important that we look at our own hearts even while we are struggling with the N in our lives

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  • Narcissism is the modern colloquial term for what the Bible calls insolent pride – see here