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Co-dependent no more
Published on: November 20, 2010 |

Co-dependency or just being a good person? By: YourWebMom

On the surface, codependency messages sound a lot like Christian teaching.

  • "Codependents always put others first before taking care of themselves." (Aren't Christians to put others first?)
  • "Codependents give themselves away." (Shouldn't Christians do the same?)
  • "Codependents martyr themselves." (Christianity honors its martyrs.)

Those statements have a familiar ring, don't they? So how can we distinguish between codependency, which is unhealthy to codependents and their dependents, and mature faith, which is healthy.

Codependency says:

I have little or no value.

Other persons and situations have more value.

I must please other people regardless of the cost to myself or my values.

It’s OK to be used by others, without protest.

I must give myself away.

If I claim any rights for myself, I must be selfish.

Jesus taught the value of the individual. He said we are to love others “equal to” ourselves, not “more than.” (“Love your neighbor AS yourself.” Mark 12:31) Our realization of HIS love for us forms our natural love of ourselves, and the basis for loving others.

The differences between a life of service and codependency take several forms:

  • Motivation differs. Does the individual give his service and himself out of free choice or because he considers himself of no value? Does he seek to "please people"? Does he act out of guilt and fear? Does he act out of a need to be needed (which means he actually uses the other person to meet his own needs; the helpee becomes an object to help the helper achieve her own goals).
  • Service is to be an active choice. The person acts; codependents react. Codependents behavior is addictive rather than balanced. Additions control the person instead of the person being in charge of their own life.
  • Codependents have poor sense of boundaries; they help others inappropriately (when it creates dependency on the part of the other person rather than moving that person toward independence). They have trouble setting limits for themselves and allow others to invade their boundaries.
    A codependent's sense of self-worth is tied up in helping others; Christianity says that a person has worth simply because he is a human being God created. One’s self-worth is separate from the work one does or the service one renders.
  • Codependents have difficulty living balanced lives; they do for others at the neglect of their own well-being and health; Christian faith calls for balanced living and taking care of oneself.
  • Codependent helping is joyless; Christian service brings joy.
  • Codependents are driven by their inner compulsions; Christians are God-directed and can be free from compulsiveness, knowing that God brings the ultimate results. http://yourwebmom.com/lib/editor/editor/images/spacer.gifhttp://yourwebmom.com/lib/editor/editor/images/spacer.gif

Source: Adapted from Celebrate Recovery materials




  1. I assume responsibility for others feelings and behaviors.
  2. I feel guilty about others’ feelings and behaviors.
  3. I have difficulty identifying what I am feeling.
  4. I have difficulty expressing feelings.
  5. I am afraid of my anger, yet sometimes erupt in a rage.
  6. I worry how others may respond to my feelings, opinions, and behavior.
  7. I have difficulty making decisions.
  8. I am afraid of being hurt and/or rejected by others.
  9. I minimize, alter or deny how I truly feel.
  10. I am very sensitive to how others are feeling and feel the same.
  11. I am afraid to express differing opinions or feelings.
  12. I value others opinions and feelings more than my own.
  13. I put other people's needs and desires before mine.
  14. I am embarrassed to receive recognition and praise, or gifts.
  15. I judge everything I think, say, or do harshly, as never "good enough."
  16. I am a perfectionist (to the extreme).
  17. I am extremely loyal, remaining in harmful situations far too long.
  18. I do not ask others to meet my needs or desires.
  19. I do not perceive myself as a lovable and worthwhile person.
  20. I compromise my own values and integrity to avoid rejection or others’ anger.


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