Is There Comfort in Captivity?

captivityDuring a 1973 bank robbery in Stockholm, Sweden, four people were taken hostage and held for 5 days.  During the crisis the hostages tried to protect their captors, despite being subject to their repeated threats. After these hostages were released from their captivity, they defended their captors and would not testify in court against them. People around the globe were amazed that the former hostages would feel anything but hatred towards their abductors.


After this incident the term Stockholm syndrome was coined, referring to the feelings of sympathy captives develop towards their captors. This condition causes hostages to form a psychological alliance with their captors during captivity. These feelings stand in contrast to the fear and revulsion the average onlooker usually feels towards the captors, but they result during the intimate time spent together. The FBI has reported that roughly 8% of victims show evidence of Stockholm syndrome.


Psychologists claim that the “capture-bonding response is indeed deeply ingrained in the human psyche” (1)


This seemingly unusual condition also happens within the animal kingdom. Animals that have been in captivity for an extended period of time, very often will return to the “safety” of the pen or cage they had been held in. Rather than enjoying their new found freedom, they prefer the familiarity and security of their former confined space.


Who Would Choose Captivity?

Why would a victim or captive feel compassion for the one(s) who oppressed them?


Why would a caged animal seek out the confines of their cage after they have been set free?


There is a false comfort that captives experience within the confines of their cage.

A similar situation can arise in Christians who are freed from enslavement to pornography.  It is commonplace for them to give into those old habits because it provides them with a false sense of security.

The Apostle Paul warns against this in Galatians 5 … For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery. 

For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh.


Choose Freedom

Jesus has set us free from the imprisonment of sin. But He gives us the option of whether or not to first accept this freedom and then to enjoy it.


As children of God, we must not allow ourselves to be fooled by what the prince of this world tries to offer. Jesus purchased a better life for His followers on the cross. Those old ways do not lead to happiness, but rather guilt, pain, fear and despair. They steal our joy and lead us into dark places, hiding our actions. The Lord wants us to embrace His freedom and walk in His light.

John 8:36 …  So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.

Galatians 2:20 …  I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

So throw away those broken chains that you keep hidden in the darkness. Those can no longer imprison you without your consent, because they have no power in the lives of a child of God.

Romans 6:6-8 … We know that our old sinful selves were crucified with Christ so that sin might lose its power in our lives. We are no longer slaves to sin. For when we died with Christ we were set free from the power of sin. 8 And since we died with Christ, we know we will also live with him.

~ a BeFreeinChrist writing ~


(1) Psychology Today; “What Underlies Stockholm Syndrome?” March 24, 2012