Q. Please explain more about what you call the Three Bs.

A. The term, “The Three Bs,” has been attributed to a Jewish Rabbi. They stand for: belonging, believing, and behaving. They could be applied beneficially to family systems, almost any religious denomination, and perhaps to other organizations as well. The term is a way of describing the preferred order in which expectations and behaviors related to “membership” can be applied.

By way of example, writings from the Holy Bible invite people to belong to the family-of-God (2 Corinthians 6:18). Then ask them to believe (John 3:16). And finally offer guidelines to behave in a manner that is consistent with the beliefs and expectations of family membership (Romans 12:17-21).

Unfortunately, many family systems, religious denominations, and other organizations apply The Three Bs out of order, which can be detrimental to everyone. Concentrating first on expectations for behavior can interrupt one’s learning to believe. A failure to believe can interfere with one’s sense of belonging. And emphasizing believing before a sense of belonging is acquired can result in behaviors that, even if appropriate, tend to be exhibited conditionally rather than consistently.