Vol.XVII No.XII Pg.5
February 1981

Stockholm - Syndrome

Curtis Wubbena

During the last few years we have been hearing about something called "Stockholm-Syndrome." This psychological problem is often found in individuals who have been in a hostage situation for an extended time period. The captives actually identify with their captors. They unconsciously place themselves in the situation of the ones who are holding them and even assume characteristics of those persons. Fortunately these misplaced positive feelings are only temporary. Removal from the stressful situation soon wears off the syndrome.

For some reason many Christians fail to recognize the fact that this can happen even in religion. Misplaced empathy has to be carefully guarded against. This realization came to me when I was doing some personal study in the Gospel according to John. A "light-bulb" finally came on while reading the account of Mary anointing the feet of Jesus with expensive ointment. Aware of the price of the pure nard, Judas Iscariot asks Jesus, "Why was not this ointment sold for three hundred shillings, and given to the poor?" (Jn. 12:5). There is no question as to his motive. God says in the next verse, "Now this he said, not because he cared for the poor; but because he was a thief..."

For a long time I believed Judas betrayed Jesus blinded by thirty bits of silver. The money made his thinking foggy. I tried to be empathic with him. Yet, the statement made in Jn. 12:6 helped pull me away from the situation. I was then able to objectively examine this Bible character. What was he really like?

Judas was not a man who acted on impulse. He was a man who committed premeditated sin. Concerning the betrayal of Christ I learned that ".

Judas Iscariot, went unto the chief priests, and said, "What are ye willing to give me, and I will deliver him unto you?" (Matt. 12:14-15)

My attitude towards Judas should not be one of empathy. That would mean I am adopting the thinking of a perverted man. It should not be sympathy, for this would mean I held some feeling of affinity. I do not share Judas' love of sin. My feeling must be restricted to a lamentation for the loss of a precious soul and a desire to help those in a similar situation today.

We must never have empathy or sympathy for those who blatantly sin. Identifying with and thinking like Satan's followers can put us in an extremely dangerous position. The spiritual "Stockholm-Syndrome" can happen to anyone! Let us always remember that those who make a practice of sin do it willfully. Each individual has the ability to reject the powers of darkness.

Sure, we may be tempted to think like the man who knowingly commits wrong in God's sight. Yet, there may be a time when we aren't able to step back and see things clearly. God says Satan is "a roaring lion, who walketh about, seeking whom he may devour." If you stick your head in the lion's mouth, one of these days you just may not get your head back. We can do the most good by revealing God's divine rescue plan from sin.