I just finished a bible study on Tim Kellers book which was based off the parable of the prodigal son. In the book, Tim goes into lots of detail about the religious, elder brother and how his sin is just as deadly as the irreligious, younger brother. In my opinion, the condition of the elder brother is even more severe because it denies the all sufficiency of God and wont point us to how deep our need is for a saviour, Jesus Christ.
In the book, “The Prodigal God”, Tim goes into some detail about an alcoholic. The alcoholic lives a portion of his life with his specific addiction. His wife, unfortunately, like many of us, has all the traits of the elder brother…. or the traits of a pharisee. If you read the story of the pharisee and the tax collectors, pharisees see the sins of other people as much worse than their own sins. They engage in singradation scale where they see other peoples sins as worst than their own sins. They basically engage in a very bad seduction of their own; they are being seduced by Gods law and eating from the tree of knowledge of good and evil. They are seduced by the law and find their righteousness in the law. Phil 3:9 says this kind of righteousness is wrong and its a righteousness that is just as self serving as the addiction of the alcoholic. This law based self-righteousness is a very seductive kind of behavior for us to engage in and its very wrong and this is clearly spelled out in scripture. (Phil 3:7-12, Romans 1:16-17).
The problem here is that since the wife has an addict husband, the wife now feels empowered for being even more self righteouss. The self righteosness of the wife, causes much stress in the marriage, which in turn feeds the addiction of the alcoholic which in turn feeds the wifes being seduced by Gods law. Its a seductive destructive cycle — the wife being seduced by the righteoussness of the law and the alcoholic engaging in his own worldly destructive behaviors. Even when the wife attempt to extend mercy to the husband she finds a way to subtly remind him, “you know you dont deserve this mercy… thats why its mercy”. Is this constant reminder of hers , really Mercy?
I dont think this seductive destructive cycle is all that uncommon. The problem is that the self righteoussness of the wife feeds the stress of the alcohlic, fueling his addiction even more, and the alcoholic’s addiction feeds the self righteoussness of the wife. They are both enabling each others sins.
Co-dependency is defined as an inability to sustain oneself without the cooperating power of another who is equally, but differently, in need of sustenance.
Co-dependents need each other for different purposes. Usually the addict is dependant upon getting their needs met apart from God. They do so through the help of a cooperative fellow dependent. The other dependent party is usually unable to sustain oneself unless they are meeting people’s needs. Being the only means of support of a dependent person is the source of their strength. One is dependent on being supported; the other is dependent upon supporting. One could say that co-dependents are a match made in hell. This behavior often manifests itself in a love-hate relationship.
Do you see this as a very subtle and common kind of codependency? Can you see the codependency between someone in need of seeking worth from the tree of knowledge of good and evil and an addict as in the story? Unfortunately the codependency of the pharisee typically goes unquestioned in Christian circles but the problem of the addict are obvious.
Only by a deep understanding of the Gospel and the depth of Gods love Jesus poured out on the cross can we escape this cycle of behaviour. And IF we cant completely escape the behavior we have assurance that “in Christ” that we have access to the complete power of God through Jesus Christ by what he he did for us on the Cross. Our only hope of fighting the worlds lusts are with the passions of God and embracing what Jesus did for us on the cross. We need to fight satans lust with Gods passion and the all sufficiency of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
The Gospel of Jesus Christ is…
We are more sinful and weak than we ever dared to admit and…
We are more loved and accepted than we ever dared to hope
We will never hunger for Christs’ beauty until we have seen the filth of our own vain efforts to make ourselves beautiful…. because our beauty is already “in Christ”.