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Suffering from Spiritual Stockholm Syndrome

On August 23, 1973, Jan Erik Olsson, out on parole from prison, attempted to hold up a bank in Stockholm, Sweden. When the police showed up, Olsson took four people as hostages. A stand-off between Olsson and the police lasted six days. At one point during the standoff, Olsson called Sweden's Prime Minister to say that he would kill the hostages. He put one of the hostages, Kristin Enmark, on the phone. She said to the prime minister, "I am very disappointed in you …. I think you are sitting here playing with our lives." Despite Olsson's threats to kill her, Enmark had decided she felt safer with the bad guy than the police. In fact, she wasn't the only one. Other hostages actually resisted rescue attempts and later refused to testify against their captor. Some even raised money for his defense! Now whenever you a hear news of a hostage who identifies more with their captors than their rescuers, their condition is referred to as the Stockholm syndrome. Many years after the incident in Stockholm, Kristen Enmark summed up what had happened: "It's some kind of a context you get into when all your values, the morals you have, change in some way."

It's amazing how people can get so psychologically turned around that they can no longer tell the difference between the good guys and the bad guys. Ephesians 5:3 warns us that this can happen to Christians. We can actually forget which side we're on. Paul writes: "But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God's holy people."

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