Coffee Talk 2015: Week 4 {Idolatrous Emotional Attachments}

Biblical Solutions for Problems with Others
What Do You Mean I Can Live without Him?
Idolatrous Emotional Attachments
Gaila Roper

coffee talk online edition pictureJenny looked excitedly at her most recent text. It was from Tom, who was her high school sweetheart for two years.  This Saturday was their secret Senior Prom rendezvous she carefully disguised as a date–then a sleepover with Patty her best friend.  In reality, it was to be a special night celebrating their two year relationship at a downtown motel!   Jenny was a church kid with godly parents. She was attracted to Tom, captain of the football team and kind of a bad boy, who ridiculed her faith.  Jenny put up with him because he made her feel special.  Like that time Tom confided to her that nobody understood him or was as patient with him in his insecurities and bad temper.  He said she was good for him and she rationalized that he was well worth the ‘missionary dating’ thing.  My parents will come around to the idea of me and Tom when they see how much we love each other.

Jenny didn’t foresee that her mom and Patty’s mom were also best buds. Jenny’s mom called up Patty’s mom and asked if she could send over some snacks for the girls after their special prom event.  After their phone conversation, Jenny’s mom and dad were shocked that their daughter had deceived them. They prayed together about confronting her. “How could this happen? We’re a Christian home and these kids are in the same youth group!”

After supper they confronted Jenny and everything spiraled down into threats. “You don’t trust me.  We love each other.  He needs me.  I’ve been sharing Christ with him.  Don’t you care about that?   If you ground me or forbid me to see Tom, we will run away. Can you deal with that?”

Her parents, heartbroken and shell shocked, simply said, “honey, we’re deeply hurt that you’ve deceived us for some time.   We’re all too upset emotionally tonight to address this.  Just know that we love you, and we’re going to trust God to help us deal with this in a God honoring way. We’ve called our church elders, and they’re willing to come over tomorrow.  Are you willing to show up?”

Martha Peace opens the chapter with several illustrations as to what an idolatrous emotional attachment looks like. In a similar scenario above, “There is an idolatrous emotional bond that involves inordinate longings and sinful desires to be with the person even if it is obviously wrong.” (page 46)  Inordinate means excessive, or unrestrained according to the dictionary.  Her strong emotional desires have been habitually developed by a belief that what she wants is worth more than honoring God. Jenny knows Tom is an unbeliever. She believes the lie that she cannot live without Tom.

What would be the biblical response to these ungodly desires and beliefs? Encourage Jenny to respond to God based on the objective truth of His Word rather than to how she feels.  Wanting a relationship is a good thing.  Witnessing to Tom is good.  But her intentions and desires of her heart were revealed by how far she was willing to sin, rather than her obedience. She wanted Tom’s acceptance and good feelings more.  There are many layers of unbiblical beliefs in Jenny’s young life. Perhaps she should examine her heart to see if she’s in the faith?

It would be a good thing if her parents could receive some counsel to address this as well as the emotional bondage. Because Jenny is still living in her parents care, all members of the family would benefit from a small accountability group which may consist of a pastor, elders, and a biblical counselor.  Wrong thinking could be addressed and corrected such as, “I don’t want to be alone”, or “I can’t live without him”, or “it’s ok to lie”, etc.  By putting these off, we see Christ is sufficient and promises to never leave us. (Heb.13:5)  She’s also in emotional bondage to sexual sin.  Believers are taught to flee immorality. (1 Cor.6:18-20)  By submitting to this accountability, it will have a humbling and discipling effect, with the promise from God that He gives grace to the humble. (James 4:6)

Are there other ways to engage in an idolatrous emotional bond?

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