Are Non-Biblical Terms Valid?
"There was a man who had two sons. The younger one said to his father, 'Father, give me my share of the estate.' So he divided his property between them. Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living."1
In response to a Daily Encounter on codependency a subscriber enquires, "What I'm wondering is, what led you to believe in co-dependency? The modern psychological term 'codependence,' the meaning of which is not an idea that I have ever found in Scripture. You say things like this a lot and so I'm only writing this wondering what led you to come to this belief/conclusion."
Actually there are many terms we use today that are not found in the Bible. In fact you won't find the word, Trinity, in the Scriptures but this truth is clearly taught. You won't find anything about denominations either, or theological terms such as eschatology (the study of the end times), or homiletics (the study and art of preaching), or hermeneutics (the study and interpretation of the Scriptures), but these are all valid terms and biblical exercises. Furthermore, the word, Bible, isn't in the Bible either.
Codependency, among other things, is short circuiting the logical consequences of somebody else's self-destructive behavior. It is rescuing another from his or her lack of personal responsibility and mistaking need for love. It may look like love but it isn't. It's a way of trying to fix another's problems by avoiding facing your own. It is keeping someone over-dependent on you instead of allowing them to take care of their own needs and becoming dependent on God. It's neurotic.
While the Bible doesn't use the word "codependency" a prime example of not being codependent is found in Jesus's parable of the Prodigal Son who, as a young man, wanted to do his own thing so asked his father to give him his inheritance now. So the father gave his son his inheritance and let him go. We know how the story ended. The son blew his entire inheritance in riotous living. When he hit rock bottom, did his father send to rescue him? No. It was his hitting rock bottom that brought him to his senses.
It was very important that the father allowed him to bear the consequences of his behavior. Only when the son came to his senses and returned home with a contrite heart, confessing his waywardness, did the father forgive and accept him back into the family and home—a great example for all parents and the wives of alcoholic husbands. There comes a time when we need to let go of a loved one and stop protecting them from the consequences of their self-destructive behavior.
Keep in mind too, that the deeper meaning of Jesus's parable is about God, our heavenly Father, not being codependent but, rather, allowing us to experience the consequences of irresponsible and reckless behavior to bring us to our senses and repentance.2
Suggested prayer: "Dear God, please help me to see if in any way I am being codependent and blocking the consequences of a loved one's self-destructive behavior. Help me to let go of seeking to control this person, and overcome my problem of being codependent. Thank You for hearing and answering my prayer. Gratefully, in Jesus's name, amen."
1. Luke 15:11-13 (NIV).
2. See Luke 15:11-24.
Note: For additional help read, "Overcoming Codependency" at http://tinyurl.com/8p4t6.