Codependents For Jesus
I spend a fair amount of time and effort battling dangerous and harmful teachings among Christians. One of the most stubborn and divisive ones is that of patriarchy/male supremacy (I’ll abbreviate as PMS), in whatever degree. It is divisive because it teaches that God Himself has divided the Body of Christ right down the middle, between male and female. And it is harmful, not only for that reason, but for the implications that flow from it.
At its core, PMS holds that God has ordained a hierarchy between men and women in Christ, in spite of explicit scriptures such as Gal. 3:28 to the contrary. This is where the codependency comes in. I’d like to refer to a WebMD document entitled Signs of a Codependent Relationship and pick out some highlights, for the purpose of illustrating this consequence of PMS.
Page 1: “It really is about unhealthy emotional dependencies,” says Carol Cannon, MA, a counselor and program director at The Bridge to Recovery in Bowling Green, Ky. ... People often get addicted to hope: The hope that the person will change, adds Jeanne McKeon, EdD, a psychologist at the Center for Addictive Medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. “Before anything can change, you first have to deal with that addiction to hope. You have to start setting limits. You have to figure out a plan to change things; one that makes sense. Then move through those steps -- not allowing any backpedaling.”“Hope that he will change” is the line PMS women (pun intended) are handed by the truckload. If they just submit more, the men will improve. Keep the carrot dangled in front of these women forever and the men just go on regardless.
Page 2a: Under this veil of secrecy and repressed emotions, the child grows up feeling neglected -- emotionally abandoned by the parent, McKee tells WebMD. They don’t develop healthy self-esteem and coping skills and have difficulty getting in touch with their own emotions.I could have quoted the whole page here, because it is a description of a woman’s life under PMS teachings. She is hollowed out from a young age and taught not only that she can’t trust herself, but that herself is a wicked Jezebel. She is her own worst enemy, and by the decree of God! And this arrested development happens to the men as well, who never have to give in or follow or experience the rejection of the “church” for their sin, as women do. Men are taught self-indulgence, which stunts their emotional and spiritual growth.
“You learn not to trust other people or yourself. You look for fulfillment in pleasing other people, but that never really works -- because you don’t feel you deserve the approval,” he explains.
As an adult, a codependent person has no sense of self, Weiss tells WebMD. “Their whole life is spent in wildly swinging arcs to meet others’ expectations. If you’re nice to me, I’m a good person. If you look at me funny, I’m a bad person. I don’t know who I am. I am incredibly dependent on other people to tell me who I am.”
It’s a case of arrested development -- a combination of immature thinking, dealing, and behaving that generates self-loathing, Cannon says. “That self-loathing is acted out through self-destructive or unduly self-sacrificial behavior in adult years.”
Page 2b: A selfless stay-at-home mom is not codependent, Weiss adds. “But if she’s in a relationship where things always go his way, and there’s the subtle message that his view of the world is more dominant, that’s a problem. If his needs are being tended to and hers are not, it’s not healthy.”This is a page right out of the PMS playbook. Power imbalance is something they teach as God-ordained, yet even the secular world knows how inherently dangerous and unhealthy this is. Here we have the world recognizing what is surely a sin against the very nature of God, while the “church” endorses and enforces it!
Indeed, a power imbalance in any relationship makes codependency likely, McKee notes.
“Luckily times are changing, and women have more opportunities. But there are still the lingering dynamics that cause power imbalances at home and in the workplace. There will be one person who is vulnerable to abuse -- commonly emotional or physical abuse. And they put up with it because they don’t feel they deserve any better.”
Next we will see a list of some “red flags” of codependency.
Page 3: Red Flag No. 1: Do you become obsessed with fixing and rescuing needy people? A person’s motive for “doing good” indicates whether they are codependent or not, says Cannon. “Are you literally giving for fun and for free -- or to get some kind of payoff?” she asks. “If you’re codependent, you’re trying to be someone’s savior to make yourself feel good. You give to them with an expectation of return. After all I’ve done for you, I get to tell you what to do with your life.”Here we see the man’s codependency. PMS teaches that women should appreciate the benevolence of their men, and it is ungrateful and sinful to fail to do so. She is literally responsible for whether or not he sins by abusing his power over her, yet she is always the one to pay. He is thus dependent upon her to keep him from sinning; she is his savior in this sense. But the man makes himself her savior by definition from PMS teachings, because he is literally to be treated “as the Lord” by his wife, making him her spiritual savior.
Page 3: Red Flag No. 3: Are you trying to control someone? Is someone trying to control you? Neediness is a hallmark of a codependent relationship. One person’s happiness depends on having the other person right there -- right now. Not letting you hang out with friends, calling frequently to check up on you, having to be with you all the time -- these are controlling behaviors, says McKee.I’ve witnessed this among my own relatives; it is a very real problem. Control is control no matter who does it, and it is unhealthy. Yet this is standard fare from PMS teachers.
“If you get close to someone else, it’s very threatening to them,” he explains. “They’re calling you all the time when you’re away: Do you still love me? Are you still there for me? It’s a very unhappy way to live.”
Page 4: Red Flag No. 5: Are you always seeking approval and recognition? There is no strong sense of self, McKee tells WebMD. “Ask them who they are, and men will give their job title. Women will say I’m a wife, partner, daughter, mother -- they define themselves in terms of relationships. A healthy person would say, ’I’m an independent and adventurous person.’ There’s nothing wrong with being proud of your job or relationships, but a healthy person should be able to identify characteristics beyond that.”Ask any women in the PMS world who they are, and then ask the men. They’ll give you exactly what the article identifies as codependent answers. The men are taught that their worth comes from doing “manly” things, which must include taking “rulership” over their wives. The women are taught that their worth comes completely from how they serve their men.
Pages 4b-5: At some point, they have to wake up and smell the coffee, he says. “They have to get beyond their emotions and look at the history of behavior...I’m SO glad they didn’t recommend a ”pastor“ or some group that amounts to a religious tribunal or inquisition. Being secular they recommended a twelve-step program, but there are too many ”pastors“ and church councils that would simply blame the woman alone and tell her to submit better, while the man would be told to rule better. It’s a closed system, which is why PMS teachers strongly discourage reading unapproved literature, sometimes to the point where a husband filters his wife’s email (e.g. Mark Driscoll). They will say it’s for her protection (since she is obviously too childlike to protect herself), but it is purely a matter of control.
Getting in touch with your anger is critical to recovery, says McKeon. ”Guilt is vague and inactive and tends to paralyze you. It is the opposite of anger -- and in reality, you are really very angry. You may be angry about old issues from your childhood. Anger will demand a response. Anger will make you active.“...
Getting professional counseling from a mental health worker, psychologist, or family physician can give you the strength to break away from a codependent relationship, Baron says.
Any way you slice it, PMS teachings are unhealthy, harmful, dangerous, divisive, and everything else that denies the freedom and light burden of Jesus. Their teachings do not come from scripture itself but from twisted proof-texts and heavy inference, as I’ve documented many times. When even the world sees through such things, we know that in condoning them the ”church" has become utterly deaf and blind.