By now most of you would have heard about the shocking story of three women held captive for thirty years – not in Pakistan or Saudi Arabia, but in London. And when the MSM says an “Asian” couple was responsible, that likely means a Muslim couple.
Slavery is of course still practiced widely in the Muslim world, going right back to the example of Muhammad. But that is not what I wish to focus on here. My main interest lies in the fact that it seems the women were brainwashed into actually staying with their captors.
Consider how one news report discusses this: “Three women held captive in a London house for 30 years were beaten and brainwashed, police say, as Britain struggled to comprehend the ‘invisible chains’ that held them. Detectives say they are trying to understand the ‘invisible handcuffs’ used to control the women, including a 30-year-old who had spent her entire life in servitude, Commander Steve Rodhouse of London’s Metropolitan Police told reporters.
“‘What we have uncovered so far is a complicated and disturbing picture of emotional control over many years,’ Rodhouse said. ‘Brainwashing would be a simple term but I think that belittles the years of emotional abuse these victims have had to endure.’
“He also revealed that the two suspects in the case, a man and a woman both aged 67 who were arrested at a house in south London on Thursday, had been detained before in the 1970s, but gave no further details. Also suspected of immigration offences, the pair – who are both foreign nationals – have been provisionally released until January pending further investigations….
“Scotland Yard is in touch with the Malaysian and Irish embassies but officers would not disclose if they had discussed names with the missions. Hyland said that during their captivity the women had been able to leave the house, but only in carefully-controlled circumstances. The case has sparked national soul-searching amid fears it is the tip of an iceberg.”
As tragic as this case is, I want to look at it in terms of some spiritual truths. Here we had people who were captives – some for their entire lives – but they may have gotten to the place where they did not realise they were enslaved, or at least made little attempt to escape.
They seemed as though held by “invisible chains”. That is a deplorable state to be in. But spiritually speaking, it pretty well summarises the condition of all of humanity. According to the Bible, we are all slaves of sin, and captives of the devil.
That in fact is our natural condition, so we really do not know any better. We think we are free, but we are living a life of slavery. Sin keeps us completely in its grip, and it deceives us as well. The Bible speaks often about our condition of bondage and utter helplessness to free ourselves.
Consider just a few New Testament passages which speak to our condition as fallen, sinful beings. It is not a very flattering picture, and it offers us no hope, unless outside help becomes available:
-John 3:18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son
-John 5:24 I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life
-Acts 26:17-18 I will rescue you from your own people and from the Gentiles. I am sending you to them to open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.’
-Romans 1:21 or although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened.
-Romans 3:10-12 As it is written: “There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God. All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one.”
-Romans 5:10 For if, when we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life!
-Romans 8:6-8 The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace. The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. Those who are in the realm of the flesh cannot please God.
-Ephesians 2:1 As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins
-Ephesians 2:3 Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath.
-Ephesians 4:17-19 So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking. They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts. Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, with a continual lust for more.
-Ephesians 5:8 For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord.
-Colossians 1:13 Who has delivered us from the power of darkness, and has translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son
-Colossians 1:21 Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior.
Of course it is not just Scripture which speaks to these truths. Many other folks have as well – even pagan film makers. One recent classic example of course is the 1999 hit film The Matrix. The entire film is based on this biblical premise – that everyone is enslaved and deluded, and they don’t even know it. Consider this bit of dialogue from the film:
Morpheus: The Matrix is a system, Neo. That system is our enemy. But when you’re inside, you look around, what do you see? Businessmen, teachers, lawyers, carpenters. The very minds of the people we are trying to save. But until we do, these people are still a part of that system and that makes them our enemy. You have to understand, most of these people are not ready to be unplugged. And many of them are so inured, so hopelessly dependent on the system, that they will fight to protect it….
Morpheus: The Matrix is everywhere. It is all around us. Even now, in this very room. You can see it when you look out your window or when you turn on your television. You can feel it when you go to work… when you go to church… when you pay your taxes. It is the world that has been pulled over your eyes to blind you from the truth.
Neo: What truth?
Morpheus: That you are a slave, Neo. Like everyone else you were born into bondage. Into a prison that you cannot taste or see or touch. A prison for your mind.
In the film Neo, a Christ-figure, helps to set the captives free. In real life, the real emancipator, Jesus Christ, did just that. He came to earth to deal with our sin problem. He came to set the captives free (Luke 4:18). The good news is, we don’t have to wait thirty years before we are released from our bondage.
It can happen right now if we bow the knee and agree with God about our condition, and accept the tremendous offer of sins forgiven and newness of life in Christ.