Co‑dependency can be defined as; “a condition or relationship in which a person is controlled or manipulated by another who is affected with a pathological condition such as alcohol or drug addiction; and in broader terms, it refers to a dependence on the needs of or control of another. The dynamics of co‑dependency can play out in any type of relationship including family, work, friendships, and also romantic, peer or community relationships.”
There is always an unhealthy dimension of “pay off” for both parties in a co‑dependent relationship. One party is the “enabler”. The enabler facilitates (or enables) the dysfunctional behavior of another in order to get some kind of reward in return and the dependent receiver is enabled to continue in their self‑serving and often self-destructive behavior. He or she serves in the twisted capacity as a “care‑ giver” in order to get some form self‑gratification in return. He or she will provide moral support, care, alcohol, rationed affection, a conspiracy of silence and even non‑judgementalism in order to get control, power, praise, subservience, acceptance, approval or simply the sense of being needed in return – Even while often reaping a perverse sense of manipulation, abuse and coercion.
The subtle dynamics of co‑dependency are increasingly at work in the contemporary church – especially in the American church. It can manifest itself in the message they preach and often in the people they attract. Often, the subtle mechanics of enabling the sinner or “seeker” to remain in their self‑sufficiency, complacency and “compromise” is at work. Often, the “seeker sensitive” church preaches a watered-down gospel that encourages newcomers to feel comfortable in their worldly contentment and complacency.
Many preachers today are guilty of serving as enablers of spiritually, self‑destructive behavior. Some do it openly; others do it unconsciously through the compromised gospel they promote. Some mega churches are filled with people who want no spiritual demands, sacrifice or accountability placed upon them. They just want to feel positive about themselves and empowered in the lifestyle they embrace. This is why they flock to buy books with titles like; “Its Your Time”, “Becoming a Better You” and “Your Best Life Now.” Mega “churchanity” is saturated with this co‑dependent dynamic even though it has been cleverly refined into a church growth strategy. People get the message they want and the enabler gets power, control, approval, influence, prestige, success and numbers.
One of the wonderful things about Jesus and His message is that He doesn’t seek to enable, makes compromises or accommodate anyone’s sin or self-indulgence. He didn’t come to foster a tolerant, co‑dependent relationship with us. Contrary to pop-theology God does not exist to fulfill your earthly dreams or to make you happy. He comes to help, support, bless, encourage, provide and even enable, but not so we can do what we want but what He desires. He came to call us to serve Him and others and not ourselves or our selfish agendas. He didn’t come to empower us do as we want but to do as we ought. He comes to enable us to be like Him not to become a better you. He compromises for no one. He lowers the bar for no one. Contrary to the spirit of co‑dependency, He knows when to set boundaries, say “No” and speak the truth without compromise.