The truth shall set you free.
“So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free." (ESV)
My husband says I’m pretty, down-to-earth, sweet and sometimes, a little bit offensive. Being true to myself, I’m going to go ahead and publish this article.
I know this is a highly-criticized point of view but I'm going to say it anyway... The biggest (and most dangerous) lie about addiction is that it's a disease.
Addiction is not a disease.
There. Said it.
If We Believe It Is, It Must Be So
We live in a culture where we often believe what's popular instead of what is true because if something is popular, it must be true. In reality, there are different kinds of truth:
- Things that are true for all people.
- Things we make true for ourselves (Personal truths).
- Things that God says are true.
"The way things appear to me, in that way they exist for me; and the way things appears to you, in that way they exist for you" -Plato
Often, we accept something as our truth that isn't actually God's truth.
What Does God's Word Say About Addiction?
The Bible talks a lot about disease, drunkenness and immorality but addiction and disease are clearly differentiated from each other in the Word of God.
God’s Word says, addictive and indulgent behaviour will keep us from inheriting the kingdom of God:
“When you follow the desires of your sinful nature, the results are very clear: sexual immorality, impurity, lustful pleasures, idolatry, sorcery, hostility, quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, dissension, division, envy, drunkenness, wild parties, and other sins like these. Let me tell you again, as I have before, that anyone living that sort of life will not inherit the Kingdom of God.”
Surely, God wouldn’t keep someone with a disease from inheriting His Kingdom.
God’s Word says, whoever is “led astray” by addiction wasn't using good judgement:
We aren’t “led astray” by disease. We’re led astray by sin.
God’s Word says, not to let addiction enslave us:
That puts the responsibility on us, not on a disease. Being reverent in behaviour means we're respectful to God by using self-control.
God’s Word says, addiction is corruption and a sensual pleasure:
Debauchery is defined as: excessive indulgence in sensual pleasures; intemperance. [Source]
God’s Word says, judgement will come if we don't repent and abstain from our addictions:
“Woe (judgment is coming) to those who rise early in the morning to pursue intoxicating drink, who stay up late in the night till wine inflames them!”
Does judgement come to all who suffer from disease? Of course not.
What Does God's Word Say About Disease?
God’s Word says, healing from disease is a blessing:
God’s Word gives instruction on how to handle disease and sickness:
“Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord.”
Of course it would be great for anyone struggling with addiction to have prayer and anointing but there's a definite difference in the approach toward disease versus addiction.
God’s Word says, He will strengthen the sick:
God strengthens and sustains those who are weakened by sickness. I do believe this also means mental illness, which many who struggle with addiction have.
God’s Word distinguishes a difference between sickness and demons:
"Praise the Lord, my soul, and forget not all his benefits— who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion..."
If Addiction Isn't a Disease, What Is It?
Addiction is a sin.
Now, don’t lose me here, but can sin make us sick? Yes. Can sin open up our lives to demonic influences and possessions? Absolutely.
“That evening after sunset, many sick and demon-possessed people were brought to Jesus. The whole town gathered at the door to watch. So Jesus healed many people who were sick with various diseases, and he cast out many demons. But because the demons knew who he was, he did not allow them to speak.”
But the ROOT CAUSE of addiction is NOT disease.
Which means because of our sinful nature, there is no true cure for addiction spurned from sin apart from God. That must be why people say, “Once an addict, always an addict”, because they haven’t found true deliverance! [Yeah, I wrote about that too. Read: Can an Addict Stop being an Addict?]
“For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment on himself. That is why many of you are weak and ill, and some have died.”
Why It's Dangerous to Call Addiction a Disease
1. The way we think is powerful. Saying addiction is a disease builds on the, "Once an addict, always an addict" mentality which only creates hopelessness.
2. It takes away all responsibility and perpetuates the addicted behavioural mindset of "it's not my fault".
3. Addiction is, "Drunkenness, Idolatry and Debauchery”. If we say it’s something else, all of a sudden, it’s not a sin anymore (being sick is not a sin).
4. Addiction can’t be cured with medicine (but it can be cured by following Jesus!). Using medicine to take away cravings is a bandaid solution.
"The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly."
5. We've been told to lean on God and He will sustain us. Addiction is self-medicating and a coping mechanism that takes away our need for God.
6. If we don’t believe addiction is a sin there’s no reconciliation with God.
"See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the elemental spiritual forces of this world rather than on Christ."
Okay, Addiction is a Sin. What Difference Does That Make?
There's deliverance, mercy and recovery for people who struggle with addiction, just like there is for you and I from our own sins. Addiction is not a bigger sin, it's not an incurable disease and it's certainly not hopeless. The person the addict is while under the influence of their addiction, is not who God created them to be [Related: Read guest post by Kelly Daniel called, "The Face of Addiction" on her experience growing up as a sibling of addiction]. We need to see this from God's point of view!
We're all sinners, covered by grace and when it comes to addiction, God's love is the cure.
What Can We Do to Help Our Loved One With an Addiction?
"Four men tried to bring a crippled friend to Him [Jesus]; but since the crowd prevented their carrying him close enough to get Jesus’ attention, they climbed up onto the roof, opened a hole in it, and lowered the paralyzed man on his mat down to Jesus. Jesus recognized the faith of these men. Jesus [said] (to the paralyzed man): Son, your sins are forgiven."
Did you catch that? "Jesus recognized the faith of these men". The faith, of the paralyzed man's friends- not his own.
Don't abandon your loved one in their hour of need. Believe in their healing and lower them to Jesus with YOUR prayers, YOUR hope and YOUR FAITH. Those are all things you can do from a safe distance if the relationship is hurting you or if boundaries have been crossed.
Our God is a God of forgiveness, mercy and grace and His love for us covers all our sins.
This is my truth about addiction. What's yours?