WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO DYSFUNCTIONALLY ENABLE OTHERS? “To behave in a manner that facilitates or supports another’s abusive, addictive, or self-destructive behavior.” (Free Dictionary)
“Enabling behavior, simply put, shields people from experiencing the full impact and consequences of their behavior. Enabling is different from helping and supporting in that it allows the enabled person to be irresponsible.” (Betty Ford Clinic)
Enablers are “companions,” (significant others, friends, or fellow participants), who set the context where the dysfunctional and disobedient can practice their sinful lifestyles, comfortably supported and never confronted.
All sins, all strivings of the flesh, are self-destructive, because when flesh rules, our souls are separated from God’s hand of blessing, leading to judgmental consequences.
Important point: what we don’t realize is that when we enable people in their sins we become participants with them, sharing in the judgments that come upon them.
“Did not Achan the son of Zerah break faith in the matter of the devoted things, and wrath fell upon all the congregation of Israel? And he did not perish alone for his iniquity.’” (Joshua 22:20)
“Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump?” (1Corinthians 5:6)
“Do not be hasty in the laying on of hands, nor take part in the sins of others; keep yourself pure.” (1 Timothy 5:22)
Guess what? Many churches in the western world practice enabling. This means that churches provide an environment for people to freely associate with one another, maintaining a veneer of moral uprightness, yet without experiencing any significant “tough love” from leadership, without experiencing any significant confrontation of supposedly secret or openly sinful lifestyles.
Enabling is a flesh thing, not a Spirit thing. So why do Christians and church leaders enable others rather than exhibit the discipline of Christ?
1. It may be a heretical misunderstanding of grace and of God’s love and Christ’s sacrifice, believing that the price Jesus paid on the cross brings eternal forgiveness to all, without distinction, universal salvation; believing that everyone who ever existed will be saved. So, why not continue sinning since grace abounds. Let’s all get a hug from Hitler when we see him in heaven.
2. It may be a misunderstanding of mercy, as if mercy has no boundaries and may be applied to all without distinction.
3. It may be a sympathy thing, living life with undisciplined or unrestrained emotions.
4. It may be an expression of individualism and our predilection for staying out of other peoples’ business.
5. It may be a erroneous view that if we stay out of anothers business everything will eventually work out well for that person.
6. It may be the knowledge that if we take a stand for holiness in the lives of others, then our lives may come under moral scrutiny as well.
7. It may be a desire for church growth that takes priority over its members’ growth in Christ.
8. It may be the idolatrous prosperity theology over true biblical values.
9. It may be a hidden love for the world, worldly compromise.
10. It may be pastors or church leaders believing that shepherding is always gentle and non-confrontational.
11. It may be church leaders who know they’ve practiced ministry in ways that allow incomplete obedience by church members, but refuse to acknowledge their mistakes.
12. It may be career-oriented pastors who believe they will lose their jobs if they stir the pot.
13. It may be a pastor that misunderstands “peace.” Example: I once knew a dear, sweet dysfunctional pastor that treasured social tranquility and a conflict free ministry so much that if a person were drowning in a lake, he would spend his time smoothing out ripples in the water so that everything would appear to be OK.
14. It may be church leaders thoroughly involved with “churchy” stuff, going about building institutions, yet with little substantive involvement in the lives of their members.
15. Or, it may be that some pastors and church leaders are just gutless cowards.
But in all the possible reasons church leaders may enable, one thing stands out that unites them; enablers are double-minded and self-protective, incomplete in their obedience, sharing in the judgments of those they willingly ignore.
“Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness.” (James 3:1)
Think this post is too harsh? How about read the scriptures without blinders on. Jesus and His apostles did as much confrontation as they did encouragement. It all depended on their audience.
God is love, but He is also personified righteousness. Thus, He demands that we live and express a love that calls us all to holiness. Show me a church leader who conveniently overlooks sin among his church’s members and I’ll show you a so-called leader that may be surprised, hearing these words of Christ: “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 7:21)
(This post is a prophetic challenge to some church leaders. I may lose some friends because of this post. If so I have one thing to say, “Bye, bye.”) Ray Ashmore