The “Spiritual” Stockholm Syndrome
In 1973 bank robbers in Stockholm, Sweden, held bank employees hostage for six days. The whole affair ended in peaceful surrender. The hostages, however, would not testify against the robbers. They became emotionally attached to their captors, and even defended them. The phenomenon has become known as the “Stockholm Syndrome.”
Christians are highly susceptible to “Spiritual Stockholm Syndrome.” The Bible says, “The whole world is a prisoner of sin” (Galatians 3:22). When you and I become attached to worldly things, we become hostages.
- “Those who use the things of the world, (should live) as if not engrossed in them. For this world in its present form is passing away” (1 Corinthians 7:31).”Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For everything in the world — the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does — comes not from the Father but from the world. The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever” (1 John 2:15-17).
- “No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money” (Matthew 6:24).
If we’re not vigilant, in our natural man we can become emotionally attached to the world — even engrossed. When that happens, we will serve the wrong master. Do you find that you defend your worldliness? If so, is it possible that you have Spiritual Stockholm Syndrome?
The gospel of Jesus is a radical call to a life of total surrender — taking up our cross and following Him. Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote in The Cost of Discipleship, “When Christ calls a man he bids him come and die.”
Let us choose to die rather than defend our captor.
Yours for changed lives,
Patrick Morley, Ph.D.