Let’s consider some more thoughts on what God’s Word would have to say to us about ‘holy attachments.’
Part I highlighted John 15 as a key passage for understanding God’s design for our attachments or ‘connections’ with people. Jesus was in his last earthly hours with the faithful eleven disciples. There had been talk of him leaving, of troubles, sorrows, death. In effect, chapter 15 describes for the believer what life in Jesus looks like.
Life in Jesus is more than coming to the temple. Life in Jesus is not merely following rules. Life in Jesus isn’t about us down here and him up in heaven. Life in Jesus is exactly that: in him. He carefully helps us to understand this with the analogy of a vine and branches, of fruit being born through the branches as they abide in their source of life, the Vine—Jesus.
The theory of abiding is so much richer and more hopeful than attachment theory! When I attach to something or someone, I’m stuck to it, clinging, grasping, holding. The picture Jesus draws for us in John 15 is one of “oneness” and shared life. We experience this oneness with Jesus through faith, through his Word abiding in us, and believing in him. It’s a lifestyle of increasing, loving obedience.
None of us, however, experiences this oneness with Jesus without being tempted to abide in something or someone else. Relational habits and sexual habits that have been a home for us, and to which we’ve become attached, can and must be dismantled by the vine dresser! This is Father God.
Part III will discuss how awakenings and arousings fit into the picture. We’ll unpack this into specific scenarios of relational and sexual attachments that are anything but safe.
11 Jan 2010
What wakes you up in the morning? An alarm? The aroma of freshly brewed coffee? The cry of a child? Habitual body clock? And when you wake up, what rouses you to actually get out of bed…to move into the day: a sense of responsibility? Desire? The need to…um…use the bathroom? Time with the Lord through Bible reading, reflection, and prayer?
There are lots of things that wake our bodies up and lots of other things that then move us from our just-wakened state into an aroused or “active” responsiveness. I’ve been reflecting a lot recently on how, in similar ways, our souls and affections are awakened, aroused, and then move into ‘attachment’.
We all experience some level of attachment to behaviors, people, relational dynamics, and emotional patterns. Habits form, and sometimes these habits are the fruit of attachments that are not healthy, not holy. Unholy, habitual patterns are called besetting sins in the Bible and patterns don’t “just happen.” They form over time as we are awakened and aroused somehow, in some way, and take little steps towards these unthealthy patterns.
Attachment Theory in biblical categories is something I’ve been delving into in recent months. I’ve been spurred on by my own heart’s bent towards attaching to certain emotional dynamics in relationships and by hearing the stories of many women. I minister to women who wrestle in some way on the spectrum of female same-sex attraction, from emotionally enmeshed relationships to sexualized relationships as a lifestyle. A key concept in our counseling is understanding attachment theory.
In a sentence or two, attachment theory acknowledges the impact that healthy or unhealthy emotional bonding with our primary caregivers impacts the way we navigate our emotional bonding with other people. This bonding, or attachment, can be expressed in ways that are holy, Jesus-centric, and boundaried. Or our attachments to people can be enslaving, fueled by idolatry and self-protection.
Scripture thankfully has much to say about holy attachments that go much deeper and wider than how we regulate our emotions in relationships. True to form, Jesus our Savior and Restorer of all things broken thought that holy attachment was so important for his followers to understand that he spent a good chunk of time teaching about it in his last hours with them. Check out John 15; we’ll delve into the passage more on Part 2.