Category Archives: addictive

Compulsive Gambling


One dictionary definition of gambling is, ‘the act or practice of consciously risking money or other stakes without being certain of the outcome’. This definition, however, does not adequately explain all that gambling involves. A more precise definition, which takes account of all the factors involved in gambling, may be stated thus: ‘Gambling is an act by which one party consciously risks money or other stakes in the hope of gaining at someone else’s expense (I.e., if I win, he loses, and vice-versa), without giving anything of value in terms of goods in return (to the person from whom one has gained).’

It is immediately obvious from the last part of this definition that gambling is sinful. It involves breaking the eighth commandment: ‘Thou shalt not steal’. Gambling is basically an attempt to gain something at someone else’s expense without giving adequate value in return. The fact that the parties involved agree to this transaction is irrelevant and cannot justify it, any more than the fact that two men agree to fight a duel justifies one of the men killing the other. An agreement to do something wrong is itself wrong. If the one who gambles wins, he is a thief; if he loses, he is guilty of wasting that which the Lord has given to him in trust, whether money or property.

“The Federal Drug Administration estimates sport wagers at $70 billion in 1984. Even that number may be conservative. In 1981 the National Football League made its own estimate that pro football alone was attracting $50 billion a season. . . . It is not being overly dramatic to say that gambling poisons the atmosphere of any game it comes near.

Compulsive gambling is a disorder characterized by an overwhelming, uncontrollable obsession to gamble.

Among some of the typical behavior patterns associated with pathological or compulsive gambling are: a preoccupation with gambling; spending more time or money than can reasonably be afforded; and continuing to gamble despite adverse consequences that affect family, relationships, or educational or vocational pursuits.

Non-pathological and pathological gambling are currently stratified into four levels according to severity of consequences:

  • Level 0 – Non-gamblers
  • Level 1 – Social Gamblers – no ill effects from gambling
  • Level 2 – Problem Gamblers – some significant negative consequences due to gambling
  • Level 3 – Compulsive Gamblers – suffer severe consequences that can include financial devastation, divorce or damaged relationships, impaired physical or emotional health, job loss, and legal difficulties. People affected by compulsive gambling are at higher risk for suicide than most other populations.

A recent comprehensive study on gambling prevalence in the United States and Canada indicates that young people are particularly at risk for developing a severe gambling problem, with a rate of more than twice that of the general adult population. The study also shows that at least 13% of all college students will experience some form of a gambling problem in their lives. At least 90% of all adolescents will have gambled at least once by age 18. (Harvard School of Public Health)

Compulsive gambling shares many characteristics of other addictions, and is often called the invisible addiction. Latest views of this problem consider it more an addictive behavior than an impulse control disorder. When losing, compulsive gamblers become emotionally caught up in trying to win back losses, and when winning become overconfident that they will win more.

Gambling behavior which causes disruptions in any major area of life: psychological, physical, social or vocational. The term "Problem Gambling" includes, but is not limited to, the condition known as "Pathological", or "Compulsive" Gambling, a progressive addiction characterized by increasing preoccupation with gambling, a need to bet more money more frequently, restlessness or irritability when attempting to stop, "chasing" losses, and loss of control manifested by continuation of the gambling behavior in spite of mounting, serious, negative consequences.

Gambling, both legal and illegal, is a phenomenon gaining unprecedented acceptance. Because it is so widespread, Christians must look at this activity to determine the ethical and moral implications.

Gambling Defined



Advocates of gambling often try to place this activity in the same category as other ventures which involve risk. They describe farming, business, insurance, and even investments as gambling because the outcome is unpredictable and losses can occur. In this way they hope to transfer the respectability of legitimate ventures to gambling.

L. M. Starkey, Jr., has made the following helpful observation: Life does have its normal risks which one must accept with faith and courage. These normal risks are in no sense equivalent to the risks in a game of chance. Gambling devises artificial risks in the hope of excessive gain far beyond what the investment of time, money, or skill would justify. In gambling the chance is unrelated to any creative effort called for by the farmer or the stockbroker in the responsible investment of his mental, monetary, and physical funds.

To distinguish gambling from risks involved in legitimate venture it will be helpful to recognize three factors integral to gambling: (1) An incentive consisting of money or merchandise is offered. (2) The prize is acquired primarily on the basis of chance. (3) A payment of money or other consideration is required to become involved in the chance taken.

Gambling then is recognized as any activity in which wealth changes hands, mainly on the basis of chance and with risk to the gambler. Creative effort, useful skills, and responsible investment are not integral factors.


cause gambling exists in many forms and people in increasing numbers are exposed to its temptations, the responsible Christian must form an opinion concerning its propriety. The legalization of gambling by government or its acceptance by some religious organizations cannot be a criterion for evaluation. The Christian attitude must be determined by the principles of Scripture.

God’s Attitude Toward Gambling

God’s people in Bible times apparently were not greatly tempted with gambling. It seems the vice manifested itself only when Israel was dominated by heathen nations. When gambling did occur God clearly indicated His attitude concerning it.

During their Babylonian captivity the Israelites came under the influence of people who gambled. As a result some of the captives also became involved. To these people God through Isaiah said, "But ye are they that forsake the Lord, that forget my holy mountain, that prepare a table for that troop, and that furnish the drink offering unto that number" (Isaiah 65:11). As indicated in some modern translations of the Bible, the Hebrew words translated "troop" and "number" were names of the heathen gods "Gad" and "Meni." To the heathen, Gad was the giver of good luck. Meni was the god of bad luck.

The translation of Isaiah 65:11 by James Moffat is as follows: "But ye who have forsaken the Eternal, ye who ignore his sacred hill, spreading tables to Good Luck, pouring libations to Fate, I make the sword your fate."

E. H. Plumptre, late Dean of Wells, has pointed out that Gad was worshipped as the greater fortune, the giver of good luck. Meni was worshipped as the lesser fortune. George Rawlinson, who at one time served as professor of Ancient History at Oxford, has indicated the name Meni "designated a deity who apportions men’s fortunes to them."

The sin for which some of the Israelites were condemned was trusting in luck rather than God. Isaiah made it clear that trust in God and trust in luck cannot coexist. If people rely on chance it is evident they do not rely on God. Isaiah described those who trusted in gambling as "they that forsake the Lord" (Isaiah 65:11).

Biblical Principles

A careful reading of Scripture makes it clear there are numerous Biblical principles which indicate gambling is an evil to be avoided. When people recognize God’s authority they will honor the principles which indicate gambling is evil.

1. Gambling is wrong because it is a disregard of responsible stewardship.

The Bible clearly teaches that all things belong to God. "The earth is the Lord’s, and the fullness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein" (Psalm 24:1). Since all things belong to God, man is placed in the position of a steward who must give a proper accounting for everything given to him in trust.

The first step in a faithful administration of this stewardship is the giving of self to God. The believer must recognize he is not his own (1 Corinthians 6:19). He has been redeemed with a price, not of silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Jesus (1 Peter 1:18,19). The churches of Macedonia set a worthy example of personal dedication when they "first gave their own selves to the Lord" (2 Corinthians 8:5). Life, with all it involves, is a stewardship to be administered for the glory of God.

People who honestly dedicate themselves to God will also recognize that all they possess must be handled as a stewardship. The Parable of the Talents (Matthew 25:14-30) indicates that the good and faithful servants administered the talents entrusted to them in such a way that the master was pleased. The wicked and slothful servant failed in his administration and suffered the appropriate consequences.

When people recognize their stewardship responsibilities they will not consider gambling in any form a proper administration of divinely bestowed resources, time, and ability. Even the ethics of the world will not tolerate those who gamble with resources put in their trust. Christian responsibility transcends all other responsibility, and for the Christian, gambling is wrong. It is a total disregard of the principle of stewardship. It is a prostitution of God-given assets which should be used to glorify God and advance His kingdom.

2. Gambling is wrong because it involves a chance of gain at the expense and suffering of others.

The nature of gambling is such that a person has a chance of gain only because others have suffered loss. The economic benefits come only to a very few. The financial loss is borne by many who usually can least afford it. The fact that people involved in gambling are commonly referred to in derogatory terms by its promoters is an indication of the status to which they are reduced. Whether or not the financial loss is excessive, gamblers are basically losers while the operators of gambling establishments are the winners.

The suffering caused by gambling is totally inconsistent with the teaching of Scripture concerning love. Not only is the Christian to love those who are lovable, but even enemies. God’s people are to love their neighbors as themselves. The principle of love will prevent Christians from gambling because of the damage it does to others. The principle of love will cause Christians to oppose any effort by the state or any other organization to legalize any activity based on a weakness of people which degrades society.

William Temple, late Archbishop of Canterbury, stated the Christian position well when he wrote:

Gambling challenges that view of life which the Christian church exists to uphold and extend. Its glorification of mere chance is a denial of the divine order of nature. To risk money haphazardly is to disregard the insistence of the Church in every age of living faith that possessions are a trust, and that men must account to God for their use. The persistent appeal to covetousness is fundamentally opposed to the unselfishness which was taught by Jesus Christ and by the New Testament as a whole. The attempt (inseparable from gambling) to make profit out of the inevitable loss and possible suffering of others is the antithesis of that love of one’s neighbor on which our Lord insisted.

3. Gambling is wrong because it is inconsistent with the work ethic of Scripture.

Throughout Scripture the importance of work is emphasized. In several places the correlation between working and eating is stated. The Old Testament reminds us, "He that tilleth his land shall be satisfied with bread" (Proverbs 12:11).

In the New Testament the same principle is stated with great forcefulness. To the Thessalonians Paul wrote: "When we were wi
th you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat" (2 Thessalonians 3:10).

Not only does the Bible require that man should work for the necessities of life, but it also warns against the something-for-nothing, get-rich-quick approach. "He that maketh haste to be rich shall not be innocent" (Proverbs 28:20). "He that hasteth to be rich hath an evil [envious] eye, and considereth not that poverty shall come upon him" (Proverbs 28:22). "Wealth gotten by vanity [without labor or exertion] shall be diminished: but he that gathereth by labor shall increase" (Proverbs 13:11).

In the wisdom of God man was assigned work in the garden of Eden even before the Fall (Genesis 2:15ff). Though sin resulted in a change of the nature of work (Genesis 3:17,19) the responsibility of working was never rescinded. Any effort on man’s part to circumvent the work ethic of Scripture can result only in failure. Gambling, whether to secure wealth in a hurry or to place bread on the table, is inconsistent with what the Bible teaches about work.

4. Gambling is wrong because it tends to be habit-forming

Gambling, like other evils, has a tendency to become an addiction. As in the case of alcoholics and drug addicts, compulsive gamblers are dominated to the extent that they risk not only money, but everything meaningful in life. They have lost control of themselves.

This condition is contrary to the teaching of Scripture. The Word of God points out that a Christian will refuse to be brought under the power even of lawful things (1 Corinthians 6:12). The person indwelled by the Holy Spirit will be characterized by temperance, or self-control (Galatians 5:23).

Those who have studied gambling addiction seem to agree there are six symptoms characteristic of compulsive gambling: (1) The activity becomes chronically repetitive. (2) It becomes a mania which precludes all other interests, including the home. (3) A pathologic optimism replaces the ability to learn from previous losing experiences. (4) The ability to stop in a winning situation no longer exists. (5) In spite of initial decisions to gamble only so much the addict invariably risks too much. (6) The activity seems to produce an enjoyable tension consisting of both pain and pleasure.

It is obvious that habitual gamblers are under the control of the compulsion to gamble. Rather than being servants of God, they are servants of a desire they cannot handle. Paul described the condition clearly when he wrote, "Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey" (Romans 6:16). Because of the degrading possibility of addiction, gambling should be considered an evil.


Christian Responsibility in Relation to Gambling

When the various truths of God’s Word are considered, the Christian cannot adopt a neutral stance toward gambling. There are responsibilities which he cannot ignore.

When the Bible instructs believers, "Whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God" (1 Corinthians 10:31), it certainly precludes gambling. God is not glorified when people put their trust in chance rather than in the Lord. When God’s Word teaches that we should "abstain from all appearance of evil" (1 Thessalonians 5:22) it precludes gambling. There is no way in which a practice can be considered anything other than evil when it violates principles of God’s Word concerning stewardship, consideration of others and the dignity of honest labor.

Those who want to live according to Scripture will refrain from participation in any form of gambling. As the salt of the earth (Matthew 5:13) they will also do all within their power to discourage the legalization of gambling, whether to raise money for charity, church, or state.

Gambling is a game of chance. It involves a conscious risk in hope of making a profit, as in playing the lottery. Greed is often the motive in gambling and is prohibited in the Ten Commandments (Exo. 20:17). Believers are to keep themselves from every type of evil (1 Thes. 5:22). Rather, the Old and New Testament teach the importance of hard work, integrity and steadfastness in achieving one’s goals (2 Thes. 3:10-12; Pro. 12:11). Those who illegally benefit from the gambling losses of others are often stealing (Pro. 20:10; Eph. 4:28).

Since institutions like the stock market also involve chance and the transfer of value from one person to another, one might ask, how do the stock market, futures, or insurance policies differ from gambling? Purchasing insurance or investing in the stock market does involve some risk. But the money is invested for the development of a business or the provision of one’s financial security. Chance is not the predominant factor. Gambling, however, is based on chance, using pure luck to acquire “easy money” or get rich quick. Some religious groups have used games of chance like bingo as a means of fund raising.

There can be serious consequences from gambling. Such things as a loss of income, indebtedness, and strained family relations are among them. Games of chance can affect the mental, emotional and spiritual health of a person and may result in addiction. Gamblers Anonymous seeks to help those who have become addicted to gambling. 

A sovereign God is Lord over all of life and is not subject to games of chance (Psa. 33:6-12; Isa. 46:8-11; Rom. 11:36). He provides for the financial needs of believers according to His will (Phi. 4:19). But He usually uses hard work, industry, and a moral lifestyle to provide for those needs.


Casting of Lots. The casting of lots under the Mosaic Law in the Old Testament was a common practice (Num. 26:52-56; 1 Sam. 10:20-21; 1 Chr. 24:5). It was used to make decisions for God’s people. Matthias, a replacement for Judas, was chosen by lot (Acts 1:26). The early church evidently discontinued the practice, relying instead on the Holy Spirit, the principles taught by the early Apostles elders, and approval by church body (Acts 6:1-6, 13:1-2). Casting lots therefore cannot be equated with the modern idea of gambling.

In His Grace Forever,

Pastor Teddy Awad, CMHP

Young Adult Crisis Hotline and

Biblical Counseling Center

Call Toll Free: 1-877-702-2GOD



C0-Dependency or Inter-Dependency?


Emotional Co-Dependency

A Threat to Close Friendships

"Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life." – Proverbs 4:23

Throughout the years, we’ve realized that one of the most intense struggles people encounter is the problem of emotional dependency. Emotional dependency can range from a powerful romantic attachment to another person to a platonic friendship that has become too ingrown and possessive.

What Is Emotional Dependency?

Emotional dependency, as we’ve defined it, is:

The condition resulting when the on-going presence and/or nurturing of another is believed necessary for personal security.

This nurturing comes in many different forms of input from one person’s life into another:

Attention, listening, admiration, counsel, affirmation and time spent together.

Emotionally dependent relationships may appear harmless or even healthy at first, but they can lead to destruction and bondage greater than most people can imagine. Whether or not physical involvement exists, sin enters the picture when a friendship becomes a dependent relationship. To differentiate between the normal interdependency that happens in wholesome relationships and an unhealthy dependency, we’ll look at the factors that make up dependent relationships: how and why they get started and how they are maintained.

Characteristics of a Dependent Relationship:

We all have a deep need, placed in us by God, for intimate friendships. How do we know when we’re meeting this need legitimately? Is there some way to recognize when we’ve crossed the line into dependency?

Here are some signs that an emotional dependency has started, this is when either party in a dependent relationship:

1. Experiences frequent jealously, possessiveness and a desire for exclusivity, viewing other people as a threat to the relationship. Either party prefers to spend time alone with this friend and becomes frustrated when this doesn’t happen.
2. Becomes irrationally angry or depressed when this friend withdraws slightly.
3. Loses interest in friendships other than this one. Sometimes experiences romantic or sexual feelings leading to fantasy about this person.
4. Becomes preoccupied with this person’s appearance, personality, problems and interests.
5. They are  unwilling to make short or long range plans that don’t include the other person,
6. Is unable to see the other’s faults realistically. Thus becomes defensive about the relationship when asked about it. Reflects and displays physical affection beyond that which is appropriate for a friendship.
7. Refers frequently to the other in conversation; feels free to "speak for" the other.
8. Exhibits an intimacy and familiarity with this friend that causes others to feel uncomfortable or embarrassed in their presence.

How Does a Dependent Relationship Differ from a Healthy Friendship or interdependency where alliance is built?

A healthy relationship is free and generous. Both friends are eager to include others in their activities. They experience joy when one friend hits it off with another. In a good friendship, we desire to see our friend reach his or her full potential, developing new interests and skills. A dependent relationship is ingrown, creating mutual stagnation and limiting personal growth. In normal relationships, we are affected by things our friends say and do, but our reactions are balanced. When we’re emotionally dependent, a casual remark from our friend can send us into the heights of ecstasy or the pits of grief. If a close friend moves away, it is normal for us to feel sorrow and a sense of loss. If one of the partners in a dependent relationship moves, the other is gripped with anguish, panic and desperation. A healthy friendship is joyful, healing, and up building; an emotional dependency produces bondage.

Set-ups for Emotional Dependency.

Emotional dependency comes as a surprise to most people. Like However, dependencies don’t happen in a vacuum. Definite elements in our personalities and situations can set us up for binding relationships. Sins and hurts from the past leave us vulnerable, too. Having an awareness of these set-ups helps us to know when we need to exercise special caution in our relationships.

Personality Set-ups: Who Is Susceptible?

Anyone can fall into a dependent relationship given the right pressures and circumstances. However, there are a few common personality patterns that consistently gravitate towards each other to form dependencies. The basic combination seems to be the individual who appears to "have it all together" teamed up with one who needs the attention, protection or strength the other offers. Variations on this theme include:

1. Counselor / person with problems
2. "In control" people / one who needs direction parent / child
3. Teacher / student.

Although these pairs appear to include one strong person and one needy person, they actually consist of two needy people. The "strong" one usually has a deep need to be needed. As often as not, the one who appears weaker actually controls the relationship. We’ve talked with people who have been "weak" in one relationship and "strong" in another, and sometimes these elements aren’t apparent at all. A balanced friendship can turn into a dependent relationship if other set-ups are present.

Situational Set-ups: When Are We Most Vulnerable?

Certain times in our lives find us feeling insecure, ready to grasp hold of whatever security is available to us. Some of these times include:

1 Life crises – relationship break-up, death of someone close, loss of job.

2 Transition periods – adjusting to new job, moving to new home, getting engaged or being newly married, starting university, becoming a Christian.

3 Peak pressure periods – final examinations week, deadlines at work, personal or family illness, holidays such as Christmas.

4 When we’re away from the familiar and secure – vacation, camp, conferences, prison, military service.

We’re also vulnerable during times of boredom or depression. The best way to avoid trouble is to recognize our need for special support during these times and plan ahead for these needs to be met in healthy ways. These might include sharing our burdens with a small prayer group, scheduling a series of appointments with a counselor or pastor, increasing our contact with family members and most important, cultivating our relationship with Jesus through special quiet times. Also, there’s nothing wrong with letting our friends know we need their support! Problems only develop when we lean too much on one particular friend to meet all our needs.

Roots: Why Are We Prone to Dependency?

In a dependent relationship, one or both people are looking to a person to meet their basic needs for love and security, rather than to Jesus. Unless underlying spiritual and emotional problems are resolved, this pattern will continue unbroken.

Typical root problems that promote dependency include:

1. covetousness, which is desiring to possess something (or someone) God has not given us

2. idolatry, which results when a person or thing is at the center of our lives rather than Christ

3. rebellion, which is refusing to surrender areas of our lives to God, and

4. Mistrust, failing to believe God will meet our needs if we do things His way.

Sometimes hurts from our past leave us with low self-esteem, feelings of rejection and a deep unmet need for love. Bitterness or resentment toward those who have hurt us also opens us up for wrong relationships. These sins and hurts need to be confessed and healed before real freedom can be experienced. This can happen through confession and prayer, both in our personal times with the Lord and with other members of the body of Christ.

Emotional dependency is a painful thing to discuss. Most of us have experienced this problem. None of us are exempt from the temptation to draw our life and security from another person, especially when that person is handy and cooperative. Dependent relationships can form in opposite and same sex friendships. They can happen between married couples and between parents and children. But in the heart of the Gospel, there’s a message of truth that can free us from self-seeking relationships. For a lot of us, that really is good news!

"All a man’s ways seem right to him, but the Lord weights the heart"

  • – Proverbs 21:2

Next, we explore the role manipulation plays in these relationships, plus a look at some reasons why emotional dependencies are hard to break.

Maintenance through Manipulation.

Manipulation is an ugly word. None of us likes to believe we could ever be guilty of this activity. Yet when emotionally dependent relationships form, manipulation often becomes the glue that holds them together.

To explain what we mean by manipulation, we came up with a working definition:

"Attempting to control people or circumstances through deceptive or indirect means".

Webster’s Dictionary describes manipulation as being insidious, which means:

1. Treacherous – awaiting a chance to entrap.

2. Seductive – harmful but enticing.

3. Subtle – developing so gradually as to be well established before becoming apparent, having a gradual but cumulative effect.

Some typical forms of manipulation used to begin and maintain dependencies:

1 Finances – combining finances and personal possessions, moving in together.

2 Gifts – giving gifts and cards regularly for no special occasion, such as flowers, jewelry, baked goods, and gifts symbolic of the relationship.

3 Clothes – wearing each others’ clothing, copying each others’ styles.

4 Romanticism’s – using poetry, music, or other romanticism’s to provoke an emotional response.

5 Physical affection – body language, frequent hugging, touching, roughhousing, back and neck rubs, tickling, and wrestling.

6 Eye contact – staring, giving meaningful or seductive looks; refusing to make eye contact as a means of punishment.

7 Flattery and praise – "You’re the only one who understands me."

"I don’t know what I’d do without you." Proverbs 29:5 says "Whoever flatters his neighbor is spreading a net for his feet."

8 Conversational triggers – flirting, teasing, using special nicknames, referring to things that have special meaning to both of you.

9 Failing to be honest – repressing negative feelings or differing opinions.

10 Needing "help" – creating or exaggerating problems to gain attention and sympathy.

11 Guilt – making the other feel guilty over unmet expectations: "If you love me, then … "
"I was going to call you last night, but I know you’re probably too busy to bother with me."

12 Threats – threats
of suicide and backsliding can be manipulative.

13 Pouting, brooding, cold silences – when asked, "What’s wrong", replying by sighing or saying, "Nothing".

14 Undermining partner’s other relationships – convincing him others do not care about him, making friends with partner’s other friends in order to control the situation.

15 Provoking insecurity – withholding approval, picking on partner’s weak points, threatening to end the relationship.

16 Time – keeping the other’s time occupied so as not to allow for separate activities.

These are common ways manipulation is used to hold dependent relationships together. Some of these things are not sinful in and of themselves. Honest praise and encouragement, giving of gifts, hugging and touching are important aspects of godly friendship. Only when these things are used for selfish ends — to bind or control another, to arouse responses leading to sin — do they become manipulative.

Why Are Dependencies Hard To Break?

Even when both parties realize a relationship is unhealthy, they may experience great difficulty in breaking the dependency. Often those involved will begin to separate, only to run back to each other. Even after dependencies are broken, the effects may linger on for some time. Let’s look at some reasons why these attachments are so persistent.

There are benefits.

We usually don’t involve ourselves in any kind of behavior if we don’t believe it benefits us in some way. As painful as dependency is, it does give us some gratification. The fear of losing this gratification makes dependent relationships hard to give up. Some of the perceived benefits of an emotional dependency include:

1 Emotional security
a dependent relationship gives us the sense that we have at least one relationship we can count on. This gives us a feeling of belonging to someone.

2 Intimacy
Our need for intimacy, warmth, and affection might be filled through this relationship.

3 Self worth
Our ego is boosted when someone admires us or is attracted to us. We also appreciate feeling needed.

4 Relief from boredom
A relationship like this might add excitement and romance when life seems dull otherwise. In fact, the stressful ups and downs of the relationship can become addictive.

5 Escape from responsibility
The focus on maintaining the relationship can provide an escape from confronting personal problems and responsibilities.

6 Familiarity
Many people don’t know any other way of relating. They are afraid to give up the "known" for the "unknown".

We can’t see it as sin.

The culture we live in has taken the truth that "God is love" and turned it around to mean, "Love is god". In modern history, romantic or emotional love is viewed as a law unto itself: when you "love" someone (meaning: when you have intense romantic feelings for someone), anything you do with that person is "OK". Viewed in this light, dependent relationships seem beautiful and noble. Especially if there is no sexual involvement, dependent attachments are easy to rationalize. Genuine feelings of love and friendship might be used to excuse the intense jealously and possessiveness present in the dependency.

Also, we may not be able to see how a dependent relationship separates us from God. "I pray more than ever", one woman told us. What she didn’t mention was that she never prayed about anything but her dependent relationship. Sometimes people say, "This friend draws me even closer to God." What usually has happened is that the emotional dependency has given them a euphoric feeling that masquerades as "closeness to God". When the friend withdraws even slightly, God suddenly seems far away!

Root problems are not dealt with.

We might end a dependent relationship by breaking it off or moving away. However, if we still have unhealed hurts, unfilled needs, or an unrepentant heart, we’ll fall right into another dependent relationship or return to the one we left. Dealing with the surface symptom rather than the real problem leaves the door open to future stumbling.

Spiritual influences are overlooked.

When we ignore the Holy Spirit’s correction, we make ourselves vulnerable to satanic oppression. Those who willingly enter dependent relationships become candidates for spiritual deception. Wrong begins to seem right to them and truth begins to sound like a lie. When breaking free from dependent relationships, we sometimes overlook the importance of spiritual warfare: prayer, fasting and deliverance. If emotional ties have gone deep into a person’s life, especially if sexual sin has been involved, there’s the need to break the bonds that have formed between the two people. When dependency has been a lifelong pattern, ties need to be broken with all past partners as well, If the spiritual aspects are not dealt with thoroughly, this sin pattern will continue.

We don’t want to give up our sin.

Counselors know the frustration of going through all imaginable steps of counseling, support, and spiritual warfare on behalf of a counselee only to realize this individual has no interest in changing. People in dependent relationships sometimes say they want out, but they really want to be relieved from the responsibility of doing anything about the problem. They hope talking to a counselor will free them from the pressures of their conscience. Meanwhile, their desire and intent is to continue having the dependent relationship. Sometimes the bottom line is this: an emotional dependency is hard to break because the individuals involved don’t want it to be broken.

"For you were once in darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of the light, for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true, and find out what pleases the Lord." Ephesians 5:8-10

Healing for this sin that so deeply affects our ability to relate to others is found through right relationship with Christ and the members of His body. In exploring "The Path Out of Dependency", we look at sugg

estions coming directly from Christians who’ve battled this sin, yet now are learning to enjoy relationships that reflect God’s design and intent.

The Path Out of Dependency.

The tendency to draw our life and security from another human being is a problem nearly everyone faces. However, it’s only after we encounter repeated frustration and sorrow in emotionally dependent relationships that we hunger for something more satisfying. We long to find contentment and rest in our relationships with others, but how do we break the old patterns?

Before we start exploring the different elements in overcoming dependency, we need to grasp an important truth: there is NO FORMULA that leads us to a transformed life. Lifelong tendencies towards dependent relationships can’t be changed by following "ten easy steps". Jesus Christ desires to do an intimate and unique work within each of us by the power of His Holy Spirit. Change will come as we submit to Him and cooperate with that work. The guide-lines we’re considering here illustrate ways God has worked in various people’s lives to bring them out of emotional dependency. Some of the suggestions apply to gaining freedom from a specific relationship; others pertain to breaking lifelong patterns. All represent different aspects of a whole picture: turning away from forms of relationship rooted in our sin nature and learning new ways of relating based on our new natures in Christ.

Elements In Overcoming Emotional Dependency

Making a commitment to Honesty.

In the second part of this series, we covered some reasons why dependencies are hard to break. One reason was that as a result of the deception that sets in, we can’t see dependency as sin. This deception is broken when we are honest with ourselves, admitting we’re involved in a dependent relationship and acknowledging our dependency as sin. Then we’re ready for honesty with God, confessing our sin to Him. We don’t have to hide our confusion, our anger, or any of our feelings; we just need to pour out our hearts to Him, asking Him to give us the willingness to obey His will in this matter. The next challenge is being honest with another person. We can seek out a mature brother or sister in Christ and confess to them, "Look I’m really struggling with my feelings towards my partner on the evangelism team. I’m getting way too attached to her. Could you pray with me about this?" As we "walk in the light" in this way, we can be cleansed and forgiven. If we’re aware of specific ways we’ve manipulated circumstances to promote the dependent relationship, we can ask forgiveness for these actions, too. The deeper the honesty, the deeper the cleansing we’ll receive. In choosing someone to share with, the best choice is a stable, trustworthy Christian who is not emotionally involved in the situation. This person can then intercede for us in prayer and hold us accountable, especially if we give them freedom to periodically ask us "how things are going". Extreme caution needs to be used in sharing our feelings with the one we’re dependent on. It’s better to seek the counsel and prayer of a spiritual elder before even considering this step, and even then, we need to ask the Lord to shine His light on our motives.

Introducing Changes in Activities: Gradual Separation.

Whether the dependency has been mutual or one-sided, we usually begin to plan our lives around the other person’s activities. In dealing with dependent relationships in Love in Action, San Rafael, we don’t advocate the idea of totally avoiding another member of the body of Christ. However, we do recognize that a "parting of the ways" is necessary in breaking dependency. For example, we don’t recommend that a person stop attending church just because the other person will be there. But we do know that placing ourselves unnecessarily in the presence of the person we’re dependent on will only prolong the pain and delay God’s work in our lives.

Allow God To Work.

This sounds so obvious, but it’s not as easy as it seems! After we confess to God that we’re hopelessly attached to this individual and are powerless to do anything about it, we invite Him to come in and "change the situation". The Lord never ignores a prayer like this. Some people begin to confront us about this relationship, but we assure them we have it all under control. Our friend decides to start going to a different Bible study, and soon we find a good reason to switch to the same one. We ask God to work in our lives, but then we do everything in our power to make sure He doesn’t! I’ve learned from my own experience that thwarting God’s attempts to take someone out of my life only produces prolonged unrest and agony. Cooperation with the Holy Spirit brings the quickest possible healing from broken relationships.

Preparing for Grief and Depression.

Letting go of a dependent relationship can be a painful as going through a divorce. If we acquaint ourselves with the grief process and allow ourselves to hurt for a season, our healing will come faster. If we repress our pain and deny ourselves the time we need to recover, we’ll carry around unnecessary guilt and bitterness. Some people have said that they found the Psalms to be especially comforting during this time of "letting go".

Cultivate Other Friendships.

Even if it’s difficult, scary, and our hearts are not in it … we need to do it. Our feelings will catch up later, and we’ll be glad we’ve made the investment in the lives of our new friends. The Lord will choose relationships for us if we’ll let Him. Willingness to accept the friends He gives us will deepen our relationship with Him as well. He knows just the relationships we need to draw out our special qualities and chip off our rough edges.

Discover God’s Vision for Relationships.

If we love another person as God loves him, we’ll desire to see that man (or women) conformed to the image of Christ. The Lord wants to bring forth qualities in us that reflect His character and gifts that enable us to do His work. In a recent issue of the This may sound tough, but our willingness to be disciplined emotionally might just make or break a friendship. When we exchange another’s best interests for our own neediness, we run the risk of losing the friendship." If we desire an exclusive emotional involvement with this friend, then our desires are in conflict with what the Lord wants. We need to ask ourselves, "Am I working with God or Against Him in the person’s life?

Resolve The Deeper Issues.

The compulsion to form dependent relationships is a symptom of deeper spiritual and emotional problems that need to be faced and resolved. Self-analysis is th

e least effective way to uncover these problems. The most effective way is to go directly to Jesus and ask Him to show us what’s wrong. "If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, Who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him." (James 1:5) Another effective way is to go to those God has placed in positions of authority over us and submit to their counsel and prayer. For some, a long-term counseling relationship will help us face the sins we need to repent of and the hurts that need healing. The desire to find our identity and security in another human being is a common sin problem with a myriad of possible causes. Confession, repentance, deliverance, counseling, and inner healing are means the Lord will use to bring purity and emotional stability into our lives. The healing and forgiveness we need are ours through Jesus’ atonement. We can receive them by humbling ourselves before Him and before others in His body.

Prepare For The Long Haul.

Sometimes victory escapes us because we prepare for a battle rather than a war. Whether we are trying to gain freedom from a specific attachment or from lifelong patterns of dependency, we need to prepare for long-term warfare. We need to know ourselves: our vulnerabilities, the types of personalities we are likely to "fall for", the times when we need to be especially careful. We need to know our adversary: know the specific lies Satan is likely to tempt us with and be prepared to reject those lies, even when they sound good to us! More than anything, we need to know our Lord. We need to be willing to believe God loves us. Even if we cannot seem to feel His love, we can take a stand by faith that He does love us and begin to thank Him for this fact. As we learn of God’s character through His Word, we can relinquish our images of Him as being cruel, distant, or unloving. A love relationship with Jesus is our best safeguard against emotionally dependent relationships.

Is There Life After Dependency?

Though overcoming dependence may be painful for a season, it is one of the most curable ailments known to man. Often people are so healed that they cannot even conceive of the extent of their former bondage to dependent relationships. The immediate reward in giving up a dependent relationship is peace with God. Even in the midst of pain over the loss of the dependency, we experience peace, relief, and joy as our fellowship with God is restored. "It’s like waking up after a bad dream" one woman told us.

Peace with ourselves is another blessing we receive. It’s much easier to like ourselves when we are not scheming and striving to maintain a relationship we know God does not desire for us. When we have relinquished a dependent attachment, we are no longer tormented with fear of losing the relationship. This, too, brings peace to our hearts.

In the aftermath of dependency, we discover a new freedom to love others. We are members of one another in the body of Christ. When our attentions and affections are wrapped up totally in one individual, other people in our lives are suffering for it. They are not receiving the love from us God intends them to have.

Individuals who have given up dependent relationships say they discover a new caring and compassion for people that’s not based on sexual or emotional attraction. They find they are less critical of people and less defensive. They begin to notice that their lives are founded on the real security found through their relationship with Christ, not the false security of a dependent relationship.

And, finally, overcoming dependency brings us a freedom to minister to others. We can only lead others where we have been willing to go ourselves. When we are no longer rationalizing wrong attachments, we have new liberty in the Spirit to exhort and encourage others! Our discernment becomes clearer, and spiritual truth is easier to understand and accept. We become clean vessels, fit for the Lord’s use.

In our desire to remain free from this problem, we need to remember that hiding from people is not the alternative to dependency. Dependency is a subtle counterfeit to the tremendously rich and fulfilling relationship the Lord intends for us to have through Him. If we are trying to overcome the sin of dependency, let’s remember that Jesus is not harsh with us. He will teach us to love people in a holy way, and He knows that this takes time. There is a battle between the flesh and the spirit in every way of our lives – relationships are no exception. But Jesus is the one who is bringing His body together, and we are learning. "I am confident of this: that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Jesus Christ." (Philippians 1:6)

John 15:15,

"I have called you friends."

Friendships are made, not born

Christ Himself is our model. He reaches out to us and offers us more than just friendship. He offers us eternal life with Him. He is always there for us and forgives us endlessly. He knows us inside and out and loves us anyway.

We are all born into a family, but we grow into friendships. Members of your family may be your best friends. But if they are, I suspect it’s more a matter of spirit than of blood.

Friends are a priceless gift from God. According to the dictionary, a friend is one person linked to another by esteem, respect, or affection.

One of the advantages of having friends with whom we can have deep conversations about things that matter is the opportunity to discuss each other’s beliefs and doubts.

Developing new friends:

1. Show a real interest in the lives of others. This means asking questions and really caring about their lives, not just your own.

2. Go out on a limb. Invite someone you’d like to know to do something with you.

3. Don’t give up too easily. If someone doesn’t immediately jump at the chance to build a friendship, be patient. Some people need a little more time.

4. Talk to God about your desire for friends. Ask Him to help you find good friends.

In His Grace Forever,

Teddy Awad, CMHP

Young Adult Crisis Hotline and

Biblical Counseling Center

Call Toll Free: 1-877-702-2GOD


Biblical Counseling: Defined

Throughout the counseling session, the goal is to change the counselee’s focus on the false self, a self of lusts and appetites to a realization of his true self, a self in union with Christ. This is accomplished by a continuous process of judging self, one’s own sins, not others; changing focus from self needs to one of accomplishing God’s purposes for his life by loving Him and others foremost; daily dying to the old man and putting-on the new man; and of maintaining a state of forgiving and reconciling throughout life. The ultimate goal now is for the counselee to be a disciple, to help and restore others to this same position whereas they, in turn, will do likewise.

The False Self

All of life in the natural sphere conditions and inclines one to deal with life’s experiences from a horizontal perspective, that is, to react from a self-protective and self-defensive posture, to insure one’s survival in a competitive and fallen environment. This pronounced self-focus degenerates, in time, until life is characterized by guilt and shame, anger and bitterness, and fear: a life devoid of the Presence of God. Life becomes filled with the presence of self attempting to meet the needs of self by a fruitless search for the meaning of life in a world system energized by evil.

A person in this condition seeks relief by the fashions and customs of this world, by the lusts and appetites of the flesh, by justifying his own behavior, by placing the blame on others, by seeking peace and joy in things, people, and possessions. Emphasis is on what others have done or failed to do, and the remedy is to change others and the circumstances of life by whatever human (fallen) resources are available. The focus is on self, to save self and to use others, and the things of the world to find the meaning of life.

The True Self

All that was done to us, what we have done to others, the failures, the ills, the violations of our persons, the brutalities, the perversions of life, rejections, death of loved ones, tragedies, loneliness, abandonment, Jesus paid the penalty for all these sins. Provided the means to handle the tragedies of life. We do not need to deal with these violations, and the tragedies of life on our own. Christ is in us to work out our salvation daily ( Phil. 2:12-13 ; Gal. 2:20 ; 2 Cor. 5:17 ; 2 Cor. 5:21 ; Rom. 6:3-6 ; Ezek. 18:20 ).

Being in Christ, we are new creatures and we are to deal with life now from a biblical perspective. Our problem is not with Satan, not with people, not with the circumstances of life, but our problem lies in our relationship with God. Our focus is to change from a concern about self, to a concern about God’s glory and that is accomplished by our godly responses to others and to life in general ( Rom. 5:17 ; 2 Cor. 5:21 ).

Dynamics of Problem Solving

(Heb. 3:13 ) Being ignorant of sin desensitizes and causes hardening.

(Rom. 1:20-32 ) After awhile you become your own god by establishing standards to justify self-centered pursuits. People perish because of ignorance; therefore, it is a question of becoming knowledgeable, of becoming sensitive, of recognizing that living in this world cannot be taken for granted ( Hosea 4:6 ).

The Ways of Man and the Ways of God

Approximately 230 psychological schools of thought are practiced in the world dealing with the study of man’s behavior, and the varied methods and means required for man to solve personal problems. These schools are reduced to five common characteristics.

1. Man is good : Humanism – independence from God – New Age: Man has everything necessary within to solve own problems – mind merely blocked by negative thinking or influences – develop positive thinking and draw from one’s own resources – see self as worthwhile and esteemed. What does God say? Ps. 62:9 ; Rom. 3:10-18,23 ; Rom. 7:18 .

2. Man is a superior animal: Basic view of man is that his behavior is wrongly conditioned or programmed by environment and circumstances. He needs to be reconditioned or reprogrammed by manipulation of behavior through use of positive and negative stimuli… He is artificially maneuvered to respond to reward and punishment in order to improve self. What does God say? John 15:4-5 ; Rom. 1:18-32 ; James 4:10 .

3. Man can change himself: Although being wounded by circumstances of life, man can change bad behavior. This is a combination of the above positions: that through education, logic and reason, man can overcome self. What does God say? Jer. 13:23 ; Ezek. 18:20 ; Ezek. 36:26-27 .

4. Man, a victim of conscience: Man driven by instincts, thwarted by family, by society, by upbringing, and by others, who are responsible for his problems. Deep analysis necessary, along with hypnosis, re-socialization, catharsis, self-actualization, free association, etc. What does God say? Ezek. 18:20 ; Phil. 2:3-4 ; 1 Tim. 4:1-2 .

5. Man, a bargainer: When the above doesn’t work, the world uses – trade-offs. You do this, and I will do this, a 50/50 arrangement. Imbalances are inevitable, the self nature always wants more than its share. What does God say? God commands us to love without expectation of return, to return good for evil. Rom. 12:21 ; Phil. 2:3-4 .

Man’s way is always self-oriented, he is his own god, as evidenced by:

1. No biblical confrontation,

2. No conversion experience expected or even considered,

3. No repentance,

4. No work of the Holy Spirit,

5. No sanctification process in bearing the image of God.

Given impetus in modern times from the so-called Enlightenment and the Renaissance periods, this typifies and represents man’s attempt to save himself without God. Such concepts have culminated today in a society whose sinking foundations are being built on preferences (feelings) rather than principles (absolutes). Twisted human reason and logic replaces the Ten Commandments.

God’s Way of Handling Problems

( Phil. 3:13 ) God is the God of the ‘I AM’, He is not in the past, nor in the future, He is always in the present. We start from the present and each day thereafter – one day at a time.

· ( Luke 9:62 ) Looking back into the past will make you unfit for the present.

· ( Heb. 11:15 ) Thinking of the past makes one vulnerable, and weak.

· ( Rom. 8:28 ) Past events in our lives are irreversible. Why waste time and effort there.

Our reactions to those events can be changed as we allow God to intervene in the present, to reach into our experiences, to redeem us, to free us to love and worship God. Eventually we become lovers of God in our spirits instead of lovers of self by dwelling on the past.

(1 Tim. 4:7 ; Eph. 4:22-24 ) Thus, it is through discipline we become godly: by commitment to live God’s way in the present through the simple process of putting-off and putting-on – by the authority of God’s word and by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Accordingly, we change our coping mechanisms from reacting to life to responding to life on the basis of God’s word.

God’s Resources

· Holy Spirit – John 16:7-8,13 ; 1 Cor. 2:11-15 .

· Bible – 2 Tim. 3:16-17 ; Heb. 4:12 .

· Counselors – Gal. 6:1-2 ; Rom. 15:14 ; Prov. 15:22 .

· Start up the spiral by tackling the immediate problem first ( James 1:2 ). Act on known solutions, postpone acting when solutions are unknown ( James 1:5-8 ; John 7:17 ; Rom. 14:23 ). Continue up the spiral ( Heb. 5:14 ).

Attitude and Behavior

Ten Keys of the Beatitudes: Attitudes, what we are ‘to be’ based on Matt. 5-7 .

( Eph. 4:22-24 ) Our spirits have been regenerated by the Holy Spirit, but our minds must be renewed, and our foundation in life is to be Christ Himself. These ten foundational keys in the Sermon on the Mount are as follows:

1. ( Matt. 5:3 ) "Blessed are the poor in spirit…" Realization that there is nothing in myself whatsoever that I can draw upon or rely upon, but the full realization and acknowledgement that I need God now and forever in everything I do.

· We are poor in spiritual life. Thus we need God, all the time, a complete dependency on God.

· Learn about God, learn from God, and see God in all of life’s activities, view life from His perspective.

2. ( Matt. 5:4 ) "Blessed are those who mourn…" Realization that the crisis and difficulties I find myself in, the pains and sorrows will not last forever. They will change, comfort is on its way.

· Crisis and difficulties are never forever. Trials do not last forever because everything changes.

· There is a season for all things: rejoice with those who rejoice, mourn with them who mourn. Crisis are only temporary, comfort awaits. Crisis are only opportunities to experience God’s presence and deliverance. Plan beyond the crisis ( 2 Chron. 20:7 ).

3. ( Matt. 5:5 ) "Blessed are the meek…" Realization that I must be in control of myself, that I must desire, must expect and must demand self to be disciplined, organized and structured.

· Don’t be mediocre, force self to do and go beyond the flesh. Do by your will not by your feelings.

· Don’t let circumstances control, but be in control by your will.

4. ( Matt. 5:6 ) "Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness…"

· Growth and knowledge doesn’t come to you, you must pursue and seek after it. Impose on yourself standards higher than others. In Christ, your potential is without limits.

6. ( Matt. 5:7 ) "Blessed are the merciful…"

· Make room for others to fail, and don’t be quick to judge them. Allow others to make mistakes. Give people space to make mistakes. We are all growing. Be patient . Mercy is the postponement of judgment. We are

inclined to judge and condemn. What you sow, you will reap ( Matt. 7:1-5 ).

· Be in a constant state of forgiving. Be quick to release others from offenses.

7. ( Matt. 5:8 ) "Blessed are the pure…"

· Develop a pure mind in everything, and you will see things from God’s perspective. Avoid the corruption and contamination of the world’s presentations upon one’s imagination by guarding what your eyes see, what you hear and what you speak. Your eyes, your ears, your tongue, and your senses are the gates of your heart ( Prov. 4:23 ).

· Look at life from God’s point of view, see that God is in everything. If the heart is pure, you will see God in all things whether negative or positive. As a man thinks, so is he. To the pure all things are pure, unto the corrupt all things are corrupt. As you see, hear, and speak that is what you will reap.

8. ( Matt. 5:9 ) "Blessed are the peacemakers…"

· Determine to be a positive influence, look for the good in others, look for the best and the better. Be the one to bring it about. Who is without sin, cast the first stone, look at life from this perspective… but for the grace of God, go I.

9. ( Matt. 5:10 ) "Blessed are those persecuted for righteousness sake…"

· Have a good attitude and enthusiasm toward life based on what you know. Nothing in life is to be feared, but to be understood. The world hates righteousness. Rejoice and be glad, so suffered those before you. Rejoice for great is your reward as you stand firm in the truth.

10. ( Matt. 5:11 ) "Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you…"

· Expect the best and prepare for the worst. See that difficulties in life are normal. Get ready for persecution. They hated Jesus, and they will hate you. Expect this. Be prepared to bless and to pray for those who are against you.

11. ( Matt. 5:12 ) "You are the salt of the earth…"

· You are important for the world, for humanity, and for your generation. Know your value and your worth. We are to be the example for the world to follow. This is the spirit of Christ: that we are the elite, that we influence the best in life, that we are the standard for the world (Matt. 28:18-20 ).

In His Grace Forever,

Teddy Awad, CMHP

Young Adult Crisis Hotline and

Biblical Counseling Center

Call Toll Free: 1-877-702-2GOD