Recently I was in a South Florida home with a young man who had captured a wild hawk and in a short time had converted it into an obedient Falcon. At the sound of a whistle, the bird would fly from its perch, light on the man’s arm, take food offered it, and on command return to its roost. When it was outdoors and free to escape, the hawk made no attempt to do so or return to its natural state. I was amazed that this wild creature could be made to abandon its instinct, its normal behavior, its ancestry, and submit to the command of another who had deprived it of normal life.
More so, I was astonished to learn that the hawk’s complete transformation had been accomplished within three days after its removal from the wild. In that brief time it had become a voluntary prisoner, submissively doing the will of its captor and adapting to a strange and unnatural environment. But as I watched, I saw much more than a falconer and his captive bird. I saw a spiritual truth unfolding before my eyes—Truth—in the form of a question I want to ask you:
Can humans be mentally captured, removed from their natural state, subdued, and forced into a life-style that is totally alien to themselves and their role in the kingdom of God?
Let me illustrate the answer: In 1973, four bank employees in Stockholm, Sweden, were captured during a robbery and kept inside a vault. Strangely, within six days they became so devoted to their captors they not only resisted rescue but afterward refused to testify against the criminals. This psychological phenomenon became known as the Stockholm Syndrome and is identical to what happened to the hawk.
The most notorious instance of the Syndrome in America came in 1974 when 19 year-old millionaire-heiress Patty Hearst was kidnapped by the Symbionese Liberation Army, kept in a dark closet, blindfolded, and abused. Then something strange happened; Patty joined her captors’ organization, renamed herself “Tanya” and took part in robbing a bank of which she and her parents were part owners. When captured and tried, Patty was sentenced to seven years in prison. In another case, an airline hostage later married one of her captors. Politically, we call this transformation “brain-washing”. A large Church of Christ in Boston, Massachusetts, was recently accused of using this tactic in “converting” new members. One of their steps was to deprive the people of sleep through all-night “prayer”, then, at dawn, church officials mentally bombarded them with religious ideology and overwhelmed them psychologically. In such a deviate method, the Holy Spirit was unneeded-just “mind control”.
I have a dear friend who as a child was accused of a crime he did not commit—but one to which he confessed after police interrogated him under bright lights for eight hours. Thankfully, he is a committed Christian today but his normal life was stolen from him by this horrendous childhood event. We have all heard of traumatized wives who refuse to leave an abusive husband. The style of maltreatment may change but the end-result is the same: The mind can be taken captive by powers of darkness.