A few days ago, I was scrolling through social media and saw a post that mentioned Stockholm Syndrome. I continued to scroll, but moments later the image of the post popped back into my head. While I knew the definition of Stockholm Syndrome, I decided to look it up again and this is what I found: Stockholm Syndrome is the psychological tendency of a hostage to bond with, identify with, or sympathize with his or her captor. These feelings, resulting from a bond formed between captor and captives during intimate time spent together, are generally considered irrational in light of the danger or risk endured by the victims.
It’s interesting to think that this syndrome exists and people have legitimately endured the symptoms of Stockholm Syndrome. How is it that a person can openly have a bond with a captor – a person that strips you from your family and environment, a person that wishes harm upon you? It seems unreal that any sympathy or feelings of intimacy can come from this particular circumstance, then I thought about sin…
Sin, the evil that lurks and seeks to destroy the Christ foundation we rest upon; The darkness the looms within the hearts and minds of mankind. Sin is our captor and we can begin to develop a bond with the sin in our lives. We begin to make excuses for it, we begin to justify pleasing our flesh and turning from the gospel. While most of us understand these feelings are irrational, we look past our conviction to feel the comfort from the chains of sin. Eventually we may get to a point where we defend our sin, we justify it by saying, “this is just who I am”, and “I’m tired of fighting.” We become captive to the very thing that Christ freed us from.
We endure Stockholm Syndrome because, honestly, sin can feel good, sin can be fun…. but, is it worth our soul and our covenant with our savior? Christ did not die on the cross for us to be held captive to sin, he died so that we may be free from its snares and traps. Christ did not die on the cross for us to find intimacy with sin in darkness, but he called us to live in the light of his glory. Hebrews 12:1 says, Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. The race we are set to run may not always be easy, but Christ’s grace is sufficient. We are free from our past and our old selves, we are free from guilt and shame! Romans 6:8 tells us, now you are free from your slavery to sin, and you have become slaves to righteous living.
As I continued to read more about Stockholm syndrome, I found an interesting example. Patty Hearst was abducted from her apartment in California in 1974. Patty was the granddaughter of publishing mogul, William Randolph Hearst. This created extreme panic among women in Patty’s community. However, months later, news surfaced that Patty began working with her captors who were identified as members of the Symbionese Liberation Army (SLA). Not only did she work for her captors, but felt allegiance to their cause and traveled the world to escape her crime of assisting in a bank robbery, all described as tendencies that were not like Patty prior to her abduction.
This story is not only interesting, but incredibly saddening. Not only was she taken away from all that she knew, but the very fabric of her mind changed. Her personality became that of her captor. She felt a sense of loyalty to her captors and SLA. Sin in our lives can have this same impact if we allow it. It draws us in and gives us fleeting comfort, it takes our mind away from reality and it eventually changes the way we think, speak, and act. When we hold on to sin in the darkness, we become darkness, eventually embracing the sin that divides us from true intimacy with our Father. It is in these moments that the grip of our captor seems to be more bearable than the weight of our guilt.
Friends, I want you to realize that there is freedom in Christ – that our chains are broken and he has set us free! We must believe this with all our hearts and walk in the authority of freedom. The blood that was shed on Calvary, held our guilt and chains. The blood has redeemed us from our captors and by faith we are made whole. Do you all believe that? Do you see that we have freedom? John 8:36 confirms this truth, “Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed.” Do not be bound by the chains of sin. When our savior uttered IT IS FINISHED on the cross, he put an end to the captor’s power, he ended the bondage in which we found comfort, he removed the sting of guilt and condemnation. In his resurrection, he gave us new life and freedom. Our bond is no longer with the enemy… Our bond is with the chain breaker, the victor!
Walk boldly in that freedom today.
When we hold on to sin in the darkness, we become darkness, eventually embracing the sin that divides us from true intimacy with our Father. It is in these moments that the grip of our captor seems to be more bearable than the weight of our guilt.