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How these behaviours fit into the Bible’s teaching on sin and the gospel

This is a section of a longer paper. There is a roadmap for the entire paper, and you can download the PDF.

We are writing this paper as Christians, fully convinced of the gospel of Jesus Christ. One of the important truths of the gospel is that all of us are sinners, and so all of us are in need of grace and salvation through Jesus’ atoning death for us. So why are we giving a special label “SBCMB” to this particular pattern of behaviours, and treating it as a special problem that only affects some people? Why not just call it “sin,” and simply recognise that all people are sinners?

The reason is that sin manifests in different ways in different people. Some people, whether through something inherent in themselves or through something in their experience (or both), have particular propensities to sin in certain areas, with particularly significant effects on others.

For example, drunkenness is wrong for anyone, because it involves losing self-control and thus it negatively and profoundly affects how we treat other people. However, for a particular subset of people, there are specific struggles and dangers above and beyond those that others face in this area. People with alcohol use disorders normally need to take special measures in order to protect themselves and those they love, for example, by avoiding alcohol altogether; when they do not take these extraordinary measures, the effects on those in their circle of influence can be quite severe, and indeed can be devastating and last for generations.

This is similar to the situation with SBCMB (though we need to stress again that the label SBCMB is not meant to describe a “disorder”—it’s simply a pattern of behaviours that we have noticed in a small handful of people known to us). While of course all of us make mistakes, and all of us are inconsistent to a greater or lesser extent, SBCMB is more than making occasional mistakes. It is a more consistent pattern of behaviours that some people exhibit that can be especially destructive, especially over the long term. In our experience, this pattern of behaviours creates complex problems for groups, which require us to take special measures in response. These measures involve strategies of relating that we wouldn’t necessarily apply to others, such as very strictly enforcing personal and emotional boundaries (we’ll explore this more below).

In all of this, we need to remember that it is important to show love to those who exhibit SBCMB. However, we need to be very careful here. Loving such a person—in a way that safeguards our own integrity as well as the wellbeing of the many potentially vulnerable people around them—does not always look like “love” at first glance. True love in this instance may involve putting more robust personal boundaries in place, and insisting on truth and consistency. Yet a person exhibiting SBCMB will often complain that doing such things is extremely “unloving”. Such a complaint has a powerful emotional appeal, but nevertheless it arises from a distorted view of reality. We need to guard against allowing this complaint to deflect us from doing what is right, and so being truly loving. We will return to some of these things in more detail below. For now, we want to move on to identify the general pattern of SBCMB that we have noticed.

Copyright © 2021 Lionel and Bronwyn Windsor

Note well: Because of time and energy constraints, we’re not personally able to respond to any queries or comments about this paper. So please realise in advance that if you send us a message about this paper, you are unlikely to receive any response from us.

To read the whole paper: Slow-burn crazy-making behaviours

Slow-burn crazy-making behavioursOnline: a roadmap for the entire paper Download the entire PDF

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Lift Yours Eyes is a series of 70 reflections covering every sentence in Paul’s letter to the Ephesians. It’s also available in audio podcast format. You can see all the posts in the series, and connect to the audio podcast using the platform of your choice, by following this link.



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