By Lonnie Wilkey
Editor, Baptist and Reflector
The Merriam-Webster Dictionary provides several definitions for the word “addiction.”
• a strong and harmful need to regularly have something (such as a drug) or do something (such as gamble);
• an unusually great interest in something or a need to do or have something;
• the quality or state of being addicted; and
• compulsive need for and use of a habit-forming substance (such as heroin, nicotine, or alcohol) characterized by tolerance and by well-defined physiological symptoms upon withdrawal; broadly persistent compulsive use of a substance known by the user to be harmful.
This issue of the Baptist and Reflector provides articles on addictions. Why? Does the Bible even mention “addiction?” It does but it uses the more common description of “sin.”
And, as we know, the Bible has plenty to say about sin. We need to think of addiction as a bomb ready to explode.
Romans 6, though it never mentions the word “addictions,” does talk about remaining or continuing in sin. In essence, that is what addiction is. It causes a person to repeat the same sin over and over.
Romans 6:12 clearly states, “Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, so that you obey its desires.” That’s addiction in a nutshell.
The reason people wallow in their addictions is because it temporarily brings them comfort and relief. The key word is “temporarily.”
Without God we are “slaves to sin.” With God we can overcome the sins/addictions that try to ensnare us.
Both Christians and non-Christians can fall prey to addictive behavior. When we accept Christ He forgives us of our sins, but if we fail to remain close to him, Satan can lure us back into the grips of sin.
See the article about Johnny Morelock. He readily admits he was a Christian but he says he “backslid” right into Satan’s arms.
Only by the grace of God was he rescued once again and now he spends his time helping other addicts overcome the addictions that ensnare them.
Most of the time we think of the “Big Two” when it comes to addictions: drugs and alcohol. Technically, it could be the “Big One” because alcohol is a drug. Don’t be fooled. But for the sake of this conversation we will separate them because there are some who drink to excess and indulge in other drugs as well. Others simply drink without using other drugs.
The drug category is almost endless with the number of drugs that one can become addicted to.
But there are numerous other addictions that are creating havoc in the lives of people all across Tennessee and around the world — pornography, cigarettes (another drug), sexual addictions, Internet, food, excessive spending, and the list can go on.
Again, don’t be fooled into thinking that it’s only a “sin” if it is alcohol or drugs or pornography. Any behavior that becomes compulsive and can’t be controlled can be considered an addiction.
And, while I have no hard data to prove it, I daresay most everyone has something in his or her life that could become an addictive behavior if the person is not on guard and on their knees in prayer.
I love to eat and I do have a fondness for sweets and junk food. But I also have diabetic tendencies and my doctor continues to stress that I need to avoid sweets and carbs in general.
So, I have to fight an internal battle to not eat those type of foods or to be around them. Sometimes I’m successful. Sometimes I’m not. My wife has learned the best way to keep me from eating junk food is to keep it out of the house. Joyce is the kind of person who can make a bag of chips last for two weeks or more. I have trouble making a bag of chips last five minutes. You get the picture. I have addictive tendencies when it comes to food.
And don’t be fooled into thinking that food is a “harmless” addiction. According to a Columbia University and Robert Wood Johnson Foundation study released in 2013, one in five deaths in the United States is related to obesity.
Churches and Christians need to be more pro-active in helping people deal with addictive behaviors. Churches can (and many already do) provide support groups for a variety of things.
I daresay that one reason churches do not offer more help is people are ashamed to admit they need it. Churches should be a safe haven for people who need help, not a place where they fear judgment.
Addiction is a bomb about to explode. May God use His people to defuse that bomb and help others overcome addictive behaviors.