Gospel Stockholm Syndrome

Stockholm syndrome – a paradoxical psychological phenomenon in which hostages express empathy and positive feelings toward their captors, sometimes to the point of defending them.

For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery. Galatians 5:1

Our study of Paul’s letter to Galatia has shown he wrote to plainly lay out the Gospel of Christ and clear up the muddy theology that had corrupted this church. In chapter 5, Paul is warning these followers that they have let themselves become enslaved by religious legalism and turned to embrace their captor. We must be careful not to fall into the same trap. We can easily allow ourselves to embrace a gospel that takes small tastes of Jesus and twists them into a strict set of rules instead of simply loving others. Like a victim who falls in love with their kidnapper, we can experience a Gospel Stockholm Syndrome, vehemently defending the twisted theology we’ve been taught to accept as truth when faced with the real truth of Jesus’s desire for our hearts.

Today’s drawing visualizes Stockholm Syndrome. A figure falls to one knee to embrace the standing figure made of chains. Chain-linked tentacles slither from the standing figure to wrap around the kneeling figure, entrapping him in his embrace, turning his offer of affection into submission into slavery.

If you have fallen victim to this captivity of your mind, know you can break those chains. Let go of your captor by loving people, starting with yourself. Embrace the freedom offered to you through the Gospel and you will be free.

Those who’ve avoided being tangled in a web of insatiable legalism, it is your responsibility to lead others to freedom by loving them out.



  1. You tell the truth ~ and this last design of bondage ~ disturbing yet right on. Jesus set us free – I Thank Him & praise Him for it.
    What exact material do you sketch on? Curious for myself to set out right. I use whatever – but this I would like to know so to have best materials .Also in your header photo up top what are you using chalk on. please?
    Thank You – enjoy your showing too- thought about that today. How very nice for you and all viewers.
    Kathryn Elich Portland Oregon


    • Hi Kathryn!

      Thank you for the encouraging words and quesitons! I am always excited to share tips with other artists!

      I sketch on an 11×14 Strathmore drawing pad (wire bound), 50lb paper, using graphite, charcoal, and a kneaded eraser. Soft leads and charcoals smudge easy and make for quick shading. I go back with the kneaded eraser and add highlights.

      The piece I’m creating in the header is mixed media on masonite board. That particular piece used India ink, white gesso, masking tape, and oil pastels to create. Masonite board is inexpensive and versatile, particularly for working in mixed media. The only problem I’ve experienced is the board warping as it dried. Using less ink wash on the background, or applying the wash in stages so the board is not too wet at one time will remedy that.

      Have fun as you get started and try new things!

      I am very excited about the upcoming show and hoping for a large turn out!


  2. “…enslaved by religious legalism” – No kidding ~
    “Never Again!” we say – but what are we listening to or buying into? Must keep check of it – very unpopular topic sometimes.


  3. This is a very thoughtful comparison, and your drawing really helps to make that comparison…being trapped and serving the captor as if one’s life depended on it. Good work!


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