The need to belong to a given social or religious grouping is an innate desire of humanity since creation for it was not good for Adam to live alone, and thus it is not good for anyone to live alone.
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Human beings need to identify with certain social groupings and become active members for the satisfaction of the overwhelming need of belongingness. Since human needs according to Abraham Maslow follow hierarchy in satisfaction, the need to belong falls under third category and if not satisfied, no one can satisfy the subsequent needs of self-esteem and self-actualization
Human being is a social being with a strong sense of belongingness. The need to belong is a strong human desire that compels someone to identify with certain social groups and become primary members, and thus satisfaction of their needs. Abraham Maslow in his theory of human needs suggested that, human beings have hierarchy of needs and the need to belong falls under the third group of needs. The need to belong to a given social group and desire to experience love is a source of motivation, which encourages one to attain satisfaction in life.
According to Elkin (2008), “all human beings need a certain minimum quantity of regular, satisfying, social interactions … inability to meet this need results into loneliness, mental distress, and a strong desire to form new relationships” (p.4). Therefore, the need to belong is a basic social need that human beings are constantly striving to achieve in order to attain good mental, emotional, spiritual, and social health. Nevertheless, how does the need to belong relate to the biblical principles?
The need to belong is an inherent human desire to identify and associate with a given social group that shares common values and beliefs, and can satisfy the desired needs of the members. People can express their desire to belong by “attending sports events together, visiting one another, sharing a meal together, or going out as a group to watch a movie … joining with others in groups remains a universally observed characteristics of the humans across societies” (Forsyth, 2009, p. 59).
Human beings have inherent social characteristics in that even the biblical creation story states that, after God had created Adam in the Garden of Eden, He realized that something was amiss and created Eve for it was not good for Adam to live alone without a partner or a helper. Even today, it is not good for anyone to live in isolation and that is why there is the need of belonging burning in people’s hearts continually.
Associating or being part of a certain group that satisfy social needs have profound benefits to the well being of humanity. People belong to certain groups of their choice to experience love, to pour their hearts out, to receive advice, and enjoy the warmth of unity. In the bible, King David marveled at human belongingness saying that, “behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity” (Psalms 133: 1, King James Version).
The unity of humanity is an expression of their sense of belongingness. The need to belong has great social, psychological, and spiritual benefits to humanity. Since it is not good for any person to live alone, the strong desire that is inherent in human beings always compels people to strive and belong to certain groups and that is why Christians meet often to pray together and encourage one another.
The primary reason of joining social or religious groups is to satisfy the need to belong. Since the need to belong is one of the basic human needs as classified by Abraham Maslow, it becomes difficult for someone to attain any significant level of self-esteem and self-actualization without first satisfying the need of belongingness.
Elkin argues that all people long to belong to certain groups that seem to have common values and beliefs with their desired needs, but “we do not satisfy the need to belong when we feel rejected by the groups we want to join, and we can suffer deep depression, and even decide life is not worth living” (2008, p. 12). This proves that the need to belong is an innate desire and indispensable in our daily living.
Elkin, D. (2008). The Need to Belong. The Journal of Psychology, 2(6), 1-22.
Forsyth, D. (2009). Group Dynamics (5th Ed.). New York: Cengage Learning. King James Version. The Bible