Co-Dependent Nation: Living in I Can’t Say No Land

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Raise your hand if you have a family member or friend with drug or alcohol problems.

Are your hands at your side? If they are, think carefully.

What about that cousin no one talks about? You know the one; the family embarrassment that you haven’t seen for years but that you know is out there somewhere, tippling, shooting up, snorting or pill-popping their way to an early grave. What about your high school friend who started missing classes and ended up missing in action for life?

Now. I’ll ask again. Raise your hand if you have a family member or friend with drug or alcohol problems.

Ok. Has everybody got a hand in the air? Good. Now we can talk.

If everybody was honest, there were a lot of raised hands. There is a whole lot of drinking and drugging going on. That leads to the conclusion that there is probably an equal or even greater amount of codependence going on alongside it.

My untutored, unprofessional, entirely observational definition of codendence is that it is the fine art of making excuses for and buying into the lies of miscreants in such a way that you help them continue misbehaving. Meanwhile, you sacrifice yourself for them and their lies.

Codependence creates miserable people with no self-esteem. Codependents feel guilty about things other people do, look for happiness in all the wrong places and constantly try to rescue people who don’t want to be rescued. It doesn’t just apply to drinking, or even to drugs. You can be co-dependent about any kind of bad behavior out there.

Codependence has insinuated itself into the fabric of our society. Co-dependent standards have become our society’s measure for judging human behavior and even public policy. They determine our way of thinking, reacting, and interacting.

Codependence is not only allowed and encouraged, it is actually enforced through the unwritten rules of political correctness, phony tolerance and a self-conscious refusal to “judge,” which has become a block to using our higher thinking faculties when dealing with other people.

This ubiquitous societal codependence adds the burden of willful intellectual blindness to anyone who tries to help or heal the fallen people of this world. We become so confused that we don’t know and can’t react when people are using us and our kindness in a callous manner with no intention of reforming. We are prisoners of our own good intentions, unable to judge, discern, or react in intelligent ways. We can’t set limits, have been shorn of the language to express our concerns, and feel guilty about protecting ourselves from abuse and mistreatment. We are co-dependent.

Our whole society is co-dependent. It is so co-dependent that the only crime we consider really wrong is child molesting. All other crimes, including the most hideous rapes and murders, become, in our twisted reasoning, something we need to “understand” and which we say the victim themselves probably helped cause. We are so co-dependent that the only actions we are willing to condemn are failures to be co-dependent.

Pity the poor soul with the temerity to say that violations of moral law, of the Ten Commandments and the Sermon on the Mount, are sins, and that sin is the root cause of our social ills. The public shaming meted out to “intolerant religious fanatics” and “theists” who dare say things like this is equal to none other.

That’s why people who run helping ministries find themselves in a guilty conundrum over the resentment they rightfully feel about being used by the using users of our society. The moral half of their ministry has been taken from them by political correctness and our universal societal sickness of co-dependence. We need to help people who are caught in the consequences of their bad behavior, and we need to do it with love. There is no place in a Christian ministry for the condemnation of persons.

At the same time, we need to give ourselves the freedom to know and say that there was bad behavior and that sin is its root cause. Part of helping a person who is trapped in out of control behavior lies in helping them heal from the immediate physical and emotional damage they have inflicted on themselves. They’re down and they need help standing back up. 

The other part of helping them is to help them not do it again. That means telling them that what they did was wrong and, if they want a better life, they have to change. It means working with and not against the Holy Spirit in convicting them of their sins. It means not making excuses for them or letting them believe that sin plays no part in their actions. It means never explaining away the harm they’ve done or the debt they owe to try to make it right again.

Codependence enforcers are fond of quoting the words of Jesus to the woman taken in adultery, “Let him who is without sin cast the first stone.” They use this verse as a club to guilt Christians into joining them on the co-dependent band wagon that masquerades as love and tolerance. What they leave out is that Jesus also said, “Go, and sin no more.” He didn’t stone the woman caught in adultery. He didn’t condemn her. In fact He expressly said that He didn’t condemn her. But He didn’t pretend that she hadn’t done anything wrong. He didn’t cite her poverty or even the rank misogyny of the men who were trying to stone her as excuses for what she had done. “Go. And sin no more.” he said. “Sin no more.”

People who want to misuse scripture to justify themselves often pull a verse out of context. The irony here is that many of the people who quote this particular verse in this particular fashion aren’t even Christians. They’re secularists, trying to bully Christians into accepting the rules of this world instead of the teachings of the Gospel. What they are asking Christians to do is to lie to people; to tell them that sin is not sin, wrong is ok, and that the harm they do to others is in some mysterious way the fault of the ones they have harmed. This is not love. It is also not ministry. It is societally enforced codependence.

If codependence is a sickness, then we are a very sick society. Forcing our minds to shear lose from our ability to see and discern, to evaluate and decide in this way does great damage to our ability to think coherently. It has, over time, left us at the mercy of the most obvious propaganda and lies. It makes us easy marks for demagogues and corrupt politics that would defraud us of all we have. 

“In an insane society, a sane man must appear insane.” That’s a quote from Mr Spock of Star Trek fame. Unfortunately for us, this is one time when science fiction speaks truth. Going against the co-dependent flow will make you the target of those who have an interest in the way things are. This is nothing new for true followers of Christ. We live in this world, but we do not follow it. We are part of this time and of this world. But we are not just that. We are also part of the Kingdom of God and while we live in this time, this epoch, we also live in eternity. Even though we live and work in the here and now, our membership in the Kingdom coming, our life in eternity, has and will always have, prior claim on us.

We are called to be the sane citizens in our insane society. Our yardstick for evaluating ourselves and other people must never be the fashionably codependent measure of relativism. We must live by the Gospels, which means that we obey the Ten Commandments and the Sermon on the Mount.

We do it because God Himself told us to.

  • http://ackans.wordpress.com Mr. V.

    Hmm….lot of meat here to digest. Thanks for writing this post, it’s a very timely and necessary message. I plan to comment further, but there’s a lot here to think about first and it’s about time for me to hit the sack as I get up at 0500.

    Powerful message, thanks for writing it.

    • http://publiccatholic.wordpress.com Rebecca Hamilton

      Up at 0500? Blessings!

  • http://hiddeninjesus.wordpress.com Jessica

    Thank you for making things we know but have gotten muddled so clear and obvious, helping us cut away the b.s. of political correctness and legislated co-dependence and getting us back on track.

    • http://publiccatholic.wordpress.com Rebecca Hamilton

      Thank you Jessica.

  • http://HeartPathJournal.net David J. Hall

    Home Run, R! Are you sure that you aren’t a Poet/Prophet? Your messages are so clear, grounded in solid scriptural consideration and well articulated.

    • http://publiccatholic.wordpress.com Rebecca Hamilton

      Thank you David! I’m an Oklahoma legislator, wife and mother. Nothing more.

  • http://scpeanutgallery.com abcinsc

    Reblogged this on The Peanut Gallery and commented:
    Peanut Gallery: Co-dependence is a natural consequence of our “infinite capacity for self-deception.” We cannot look at ourselves squarely in the face of God’s truth, so we we glance at others sideways as well. It truly is a societal disease.

    Rebecca has nailed it with her definition: “Co-dependence is… the fine art of making excuses for and buying into the lies of miscreants in such a way that you help them continue misbehaving. Meanwhile, you sacrifice yourself for them and their lies.”

    Why do we continue to enable other people’s bad behavior? Ask yourself – “For whom am I continually making excuses and why?” If we are honest, it’s not about them, it’s about us… lying to ourselves.

    Nothing will ever change until we face up to our own complicity in perpetuating bad behavior. The definition of insanity – “Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”

  • http://lifevigil.wordpress.com Beverly

    Great insights, Rebecca! Thanks for doing your part to really mend this culture.

    • http://publiccatholic.wordpress.com Rebecca Hamilton

      Thank you Beverly!

  • http://www.wesleyheights.org Jim

    In my Scripture reading this morning Jesus pretty much said what you just said…Matthew 10: 16: “I am sending you out as sheep among wolves. So be as shrewd as sankes and harmless as doves…18, You will stand trial before governors and kings because you are my followers.”
    Also as you noted, there is a difference between judgment and discernment, we are called to be discerning people which means that we measure truth by the standard of Jesus, not society in general. Our charge is to understand Jesus.

    • http://publiccatholic.wordpress.com Rebecca Hamilton

      Thank you Jim. I agree.

  • http://kathieevenhouse.wordpress.com kathieevenhouse

    When we decide there is no moral right and wrong, we put ourselves on the slippery slope that only goes one way–down. I believe in grace and love, not political correctness and co-dependence. Thank you for presenting this idea so well.

    • http://publiccatholic.wordpress.com Rebecca Hamilton

      Thank you Kathie!

  • http://mackijones.wordpress.com macki page

    Amen sister. Americans don’t know just how codependent they have become. I am writing a devotional/workbook for women who want to address and heal from codependency and other addictive behaviors! Thanks for your boldness.

    • http://publiccatholic.wordpress.com Rebecca Hamilton

      I agree Macki. Good luck with your devotional/workbook. It’s needed.

  • http://jessicahof.wordpress.com JessicaHof

    You highlight the same danger the Pope points to – moral relativism. We collude so often because we are afraid of being called judgemental. It is like we don’t like to admit we know what is right and wrong, any more than we like to admit someone we love has a drink or drug problem. Kathie is right to show us where the road you outline here leads. Only through Grace and His love can we live as He wants. Thank you for this post – and the wonderful blog.

    • http://publiccatholic.wordpress.com Rebecca Hamilton

      Thanks Jessica!

  • http://catholicdiatribes.wordpress.com The Diatribe Guy

    This post is EXACTLY what I have continuously argued regarding the “log in your eye” verse that has been turned into the ultimate argument for Christians just shutting their mouth and saying nothing about immoral and self-destructive behaviors.

    What has clearly occurred is a purposeful intrusion of government into the realm of morality and moral behavior – but absent God. It is my frustration with every argument in favor of wealth transfer – regardless of fiscal prudence – about the morality of having the government being the arbiter of servicing the poor. It’s upside down. We should deal with the less fortunate through (1) Family, (2) Church, (3) Local Community, (4) state programs, and the nand only then (5) Federal programs. The first two, and even the third, go a long way towards preserving the Christian ethos of service in the name of Christ, which would go a long way towards people seeing the good that comes from following Christ. But the more everything flips to (5) being the first line of argument, immediately usurping the other 4, the more people look to the central authority of government as a replacement for the good of Christian service, the more poorly it is done, and the more restrictive government policy is towards those who want a part in offering that service, often to the complete extinguishing of any religious reference as a condition of being allowed to carry out their ministry.

    *sigh*

    I’ll stop now.

    • http://publiccatholic.wordpress.com Rebecca Hamilton

      Diatribe Guy, you’ve earned your name!

      Thanks for commenting. I enjoyed reading it.

  • http://scpeanutgallery.com abcinsc

    I can’t get this post out of my mind. The applications and implications are endless. Co-dependency is a pervasive societal disease – no one, no institution, no area of human interaction escapes its corruption and debilitating effects. Thank you for speaking the truth – clearly and pointedly. Someone has to.

  • http://publiccatholic.wordpress.com Rebecca Hamilton

    Thank you Art!

  • applyingmybeliefs

    I run a helping ministry, and so I can testify that there is a lot of truth in what you write. I don’t agree with everything you say, I do acknowedge that you are fundamentally correct in saying that we live in a sick society, and it is so sick that it cannot see what is wrong. When we call abortion, homosexuality and other sinful behavioral choices acceptable we are on a slope into a social Kidron valley.

    • http://publiccatholic.wordpress.com Rebecca Hamilton

      I agree.

  • http://bethehands.wordpress.com jchenwa

    Speaking the truth makes one unpopular. Jesus must have been GOD because He did that AND He was popular,

  • http://publiccatholic.wordpress.com Rebecca Hamilton

    !!

  • Rebecca Hamilton

    “A politcal opponent might use this against you.” :-)

    • Arkenaten

      Oh, and thank you for ‘liking’ my last post. You never cease to amaze me as well! Smile.

      • Rebecca Hamilton

        Are you going to delete my like? :-)

  • http://jscafenette.com Manny

    Yes, a very good blog Rebecca. As I look down the list of my extended family I am not aware of anyone who is codepedent, and we have a fairly large family. But that could just mean it’s not widely known and I’m in the dark. (Oh wait there is a third cousin who has had some problems, though I don’t know specifically what.) We are all God’s children, and we have to take care of them, but that includes putting them on the right path. This is why I consider myself a Conservative and not a Libertarian.

    • Rebecca Hamilton

      Well … I’ve got plenty of them in my family.


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