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Addiction: Learning to let go


When it comes to addiction, no sin is solitary. A habit so strong it cannot be given up easily may enslave us, often without our realizing it. Food becomes an obsession instead of fuel for our bodies; pornography an insidious distraction from relationship troubles (or a creator thereof). Alcohol, nicotine, gambling, drugs, shopping, exercise, caffeine and even our jobs can bring highs and lows, cycles of need and seeming satisfaction.
Our obsessions can have large-scale repercussions. We may act alone, but our pursuits and consumptions affect our families, our community and, of course, our Lord’s church.
Modern times have brought faster computers, faster cars, even faster food, but no instant cure for the destructive behaviors — and their consequences — that have characterized mankind throughout all time.

November 1, 2005

When it comes toaddiction, no sin is solitary.

A habit so strong itcannot be given up easily may enslave us, often without our realizing it. Foodbecomes an obsession instead of fuel for our bodies; pornography an insidiousdistraction from relationship troubles (or a creator thereof). Alcohol,nicotine, gambling, drugs, shopping, exercise, caffeine and even our jobs canbring highs and lows, cycles of need and seeming satisfaction.

Our obsessions canhave large-scale repercussions. We may act alone, but our pursuits andconsumptions affect our families, our community and, of course, our Lord’schurch.

Modern times havebrought faster computers, faster cars, even faster food, but no instant curefor the destructive behaviors — and their consequences — that havecharacterized mankind throughout all time.

If the sins havestayed the same, the ways addictions manifest themselves have changed. WhileDavid lusted for Bathsheba from his rooftop, today’s Christians can indulge insecret sexual sins with the click of a mouse.

And could it be thatthe Israelites’ tendency to worship false gods is replicated each time weindiscriminately plant ourselves in front of the TV and allow our children todo the same?

In a society wherethe constant barrage of advertising keeps telling us that we can never haveenough, our culture literally has spun itself into addiction — whether many ofus want to admit it or not.

Thankfully, manycongregations have recognized — and acknowledged — that addiction comes in manyforms, forcing us to consider a modern-day application of the parable of theProdigal Son.

Steve Steele,executive director of the James Group, has “seen it all.” He talks straight andknows what he’s saying when it comes to addiction recovery and how it fits intothe work of the church.

Not if. How.

The James Group isone of several Christ-centered nonprofits that offer skilled, caring supportfor anyone in need. Based in Dallasand overseen by the Webb Chapel church, it trains leaders to share experiencesand model the kind of strength it takes to beat Satan.

Bethesda Workshops, aministry of the Woodmont Hills church, Nashville, Tenn., is another. Its director,Marnie Ferree, is a licensed marriage and family therapist — and a recoveringsex addict who has been sober for many years. A key point, Ferree says, is thatyou can’t recover alone.

Therein lies thechallenge. Christians are good at hiding problems, yet excel at helping others.What an opportunity for churches and members who seek a relevant ministry.

How can smallcongregations reach out? Maybe the answer is to unlock the building to host arecovery group. Or to pay a retainer for a counselor to drive in one night aweek from a nearby city.

Licensed counselorswho are members of larger churches might work with staff to launch recoveryministries. Once they’re equipped, these individuals could lead discussiongroups or offer private sessions. The support and accountability found in sucha setting can be invaluable for those who crave restoration.

The Fort Gibson, Okla.,church lends its fellowship hall each week to the Believers Narcotics Anonymoussupport group.

In Plano, Texas,members of Overeaters Anonymous gather as many as three times each week at thePitman Creek congregation.

As the climatechanges in some of our buildings, our hurting brethren are becoming comfortableenough to step forward and seek help from their family members. And theirfriends, co-workers and relatives outside are starting to follow them in.

The question is, areresources in place to help them? Do we openly pray for God to send us thehurting, or do we hope instead they find help elsewhere?

Filed under: Editorial Staff Reports

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