A Christian Response to Drug Addiction

syringe

Jimi Hendrix. Heath Ledger. Whitney Houston. Cory Monteith. Philip Seymour Hoffman.

And countless others.

The drug culture that so often surrounds celebrities is tragic from every angle, and too often deadly. These men and women live in the spotlight, entertain us, and then retreat to the solitude and loneliness of addiction. They shoot poison into their veins, hoping it will calm their restlessness, and for a time, entertain the entertainers. They seek a fix. As Russell Brand, famously clean for many years, admitted in an op-ed published by The Guardian, “I look to drugs and booze to fill up a hole in me.”

But substance abuse isn’t limited to celebrities. Many people within the middle-class suburban towns that so many of us call home also struggle with addiction. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, deaths by overdose have risen more than 100 percent nationwide since 1999. Even though no headline is made when one among them loses that fight, their loss is no less tragic. So how are we—the church, the ones with whom God has entrusted his truth—to respond? How can we conduct ourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel to which we cling (Philippians 1:27)?

We must call sin, sin

Self-destructive, self-indulgent behavior like drug abuse and binge drinking is sin. There’s no way around it (1 Corinthians 6:9). It is a perversion of God’s plan, and we cannot make excuses for it. We can’t blame an addict’s environment, upbringing, or genetic predisposition. Those things may contribute, but sin is a matter of choice. Excuses don’t make the past better or the present easier.

We must extend grace and forgiveness

It was Ghandi—not Jesus or one of his disciples—who said, “Love the sinner, hate the sin.” But the sentiment is no less true on his lips. We must look beyond the sin to the sinner who’s fallen victim to it. We must love without enabling, show mercy without excusing, and offer help without condescending. (Click to tweet)

Can a Christian, in good conscience, partake of the art made by a man or woman who regularly chooses to abuse controlled substances? Of course. We enjoy the art of gossips, braggarts, gluttons, and rebels all the time. Why should this specific sin be any different?

Personally—and it is a very personal choice—I choose to abstain from art, music, or cinema that openly glorifies sin. At least, I make an effort to do so. Like most forms of abstinence, it’s much easier to say than to practice.

How do you think Christians ought to respond to the rising tide of drug addiction, and drug related death? Tell us in comments.

* * *

Learn what the Bible says about this and other issues with the free Faithlife Study Bible app. Download it today from your app store of choice.

Comments

  1. Thomas Heard says:

    Perhaps of interest on the idea of hate the sin but love the sinner, or how any other variant of this is stated:

    From

    ST. THOMAS AQUINAS

    On Love and Charity

    Replies to objections:

    1. To the first, therefore, it should be said that charity does not require actual communication in divine life; it is enough that the communication exist in potency, since what is in potency already in a certain way is.
    2. To the second, it should be said that we ought to hate in evil people that according to which they are unlike us and ought to do all in our power to destroy it.313 And to do this is precisely to love their nature, because their malice is repugnant to the good of nature.
    3. To the third, it should be said that, while evil people do not rejoice in the same things right now, still it is possible that they may come to rejoice in the same things the good rejoice in. For this reason, the Philosopher says in Ethics IX that friendship should not be immediately broken off with one who, having been good, becomes evil, but on the contrary we should help such ones recover the good of virtue even more than we would help them recover lost temporal goods.b
    4. To the fourth, it should be said that while evil people do not actually return love right now, nevertheless they are naturally capable of returning love, especially in the future life; and it is the sharing of that life that charity especially takes into consideration. Hence returning love for love can certainly take place, even among those who were never acquainted with each other in this life.
    5. To the fifth, it should be said that an evil person is divided in himself, because owing to his affection for malice he fights against the goodness of his nature; and it is in view of this inner strife that he is said to “hate himself.” We, however, ought to love evil people with respect to the nature they have, not with respect to their malice.314

    Thomas Aquinas, On Love and Charity: Readings from the Commentary on the Sentences of Peter Lombard, trans. Peter A. Kwasniewski, Thomas Bolin, and Joseph Bolin (Washington, DC: The Catholic University of America Press, 2008), 192–193.

    Note at reference 314 it states: Or more familiarly: “Hate the sin, love the sinner.” On self-hatred, see In III Sent. d. 27, Notes on the Text (p. 181) and the references given in webnote 304.

    Thomas Aquinas, On Love and Charity: Readings from the Commentary on the Sentences of Peter Lombard, trans. Peter A. Kwasniewski, Thomas Bolin, and Joseph Bolin (Washington, DC: The Catholic University of America Press, 2008).

    The concept predates Gandhi, even if not phrased as we have all heard. He might have popularized it, but he is not the source.

  2. You are absolutely right in saying that drug addiction is sin and we should call it just that, without excuses or justifications. Yet as Christians, our response should not be so narrow as to just address it and send love from a distance while abstaining from various things. Drug addiction has become a massive epidemic. But all of this falls back on the mere fact that it is a sin issue. If you are to address this as sin issue, you must treat it as any other sin issue: with the gospel. Jesus lived a perfect and sinless life. He who knew no sin became sin on the cross, taking the wrath of God upon Himself, and died for us. He rose again on the third day. It's by His blood alone that we can be saved from an eternity in hell. It's also by His blood alone that we can be freed from sin and be kept free from sin. This is the only hope that anyone with any kind of sin can possible hold onto. We need to be preaching this message to people who are bound by drugs or any other addictions.

  3. Dear Ray and all others reading this post: I am sorry to say that your post did not reflect the love that Christians are commanded, and in my opinion, should feel and show, even without the commands to love. I agree wholeheartedly that gossips and braggarts are in the same class as addiction= sin. Remember what Paul said “such were some of YOU” and that a bad choice(sin)made many years ago may still be manifesting itself in addiction despite any remorse or turning away in more recent years. While I disagree with the medical field that it is disease, I recognize that not all partakers are willing. And who is to say our sin is better? In addition, I was totally bereaved that you addressed it as a reason to abstain from partaking in “abstaining” instead of a solution, a caring, a healing, or a comforting. SHAME ON YOU! Whereas we are soldiers, we are also doctors and nurses= “I came for the sick, not the whole”(paraphrased). These are the people that Jesus died for. What are doing for His beloved? Abstaining? Thanks a lot. Anyway, if you look up my website, you will see many Biblical messages addressing major mental illness (though not addiction,)as I suffered schizophrenia and its treatment for 28 years as an atheist before coming to faith in Messiah. I was healed in 5 months by the Lord Almighty what many hospitals and meds and therapies couldn’t do for almost three decades. We don’t need more statistics, political action and protests; we need the love God has put in our hearts, the Word of God as our light, and the work the Lord has assigned to us done by our hands to heal a broken and rebellious world unaware of its soon coming judgement. God continues to work miracles in our lives today, and has prophetic messages for the saints in these end times. I remain your recovered fellow servant of the Lord, michael k http://www.timetocareministries.org

  4. Chris Watson says:

    What comes to mind is the phrase, "in the world, not of it." We're in the world to be used by God to reach out with the love, care and compassion of Jesus. What would it look like to reach out to those who are currently struggling with addictions and send them a note via facebook, twitter, even snail mail to their agents just letting them know that regardless of what they've done or continue to do, they already have the approval, acceptance and love of Christ. This has motivated me to do this very thing. Peace!

  5. Daniel Clewley says:

    I have been personally touched by alcoholism and drug addiction. Were it not for God’s touch on my life, I’d have died long ago. But the Lord showed me grace and forgiveness. I can tell you one thing: you will never do anything to help an addicted person, by refusing to buy their art, music, or cinema. Maybe, just maybe, one might try sitting with a “sinner” who’s stuck in the throes of addiction. Listen intently to that person…everything they have to say…before you sit in judgement on them. Then, after you’ve spent some time with them, loving them, you might start by telling them, “Thank you for sharing your life with me. Do you have any idea how much Jesus loves you?” The only solution to drug addiction and alcololism, is a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Jesus is the only one who reaches down and heals a person’s very existance…changing them into a person of worth…changing them into a person of God. The hole that most addicted people talk about can only be filled by God, or should I say, the Holy Spirit. So before you refuse to purchase something made by, or acted out by, or sang by, a person stuck in their sins; before you sit in judgement of such people…you may want to realize first, and foremost, that God created that person, and God may be calling you to reach out with God’s love, and share the Gospel with them. Can I get an Amen?

  6. Gloria Gauron Genna says:

    Amen Daniel.

  7. a huge amen to that tiff!!!!

  8. William Jordan says:

    This is a Christian Based Program that has an 85% Success rate. It is also a great discipleship program for Christians. Check it out!
    God bless
    http://reformersrecovery.com/

  9. Great little article ! I used drugs for 8 years yes it was a sin and I new it was. It is not a disease and no where in the Bible do we see it called anything but sin. Pray for your loved ones and others Jesus delivered me and He can deliver anyone.

  10. Amanda Lee says:

    The World League "Mind Free of Drugs"

  11. Abu Zkls says:

    - Can a Christian, in good conscience, partake of the art made by a man or woman who regularly chooses to abuse controlled substances? Of course. We enjoy the art of gossips, braggarts, gluttons, and rebels all the time. Why should this specific sin be any different?

    Thanks Ray for this article. I thoroughly agree we should not stigmatize the substance abuser, but rather recognize their need for God's revelation and transformation and respond with God's love.

    As disciples of Christ, we should also not medicate our own pain with over indulgence in food or other things that become sin in their excess. As reflectors of God's glory and examples of a life guided by kingdom principles, we must 'buffet our bodies, make them our servants, so we are not disqualified…' As leaders we should not just mandate abstinence from unhealthy practices, but encourage living a life of healthy discipline that glorifies God.

    - Personally—and it is a very personal choice—I choose to abstain from art, music, or cinema that openly glorifies sin"

    This last is a critical comment, and more about ourselves, and our alignment with God's priorities.

    A question I asked myself the other day, I'm still struggling with, 'If I'm finding rest & renewal in music that glorifies sin, or something antithetical to God's kingdom, where am I centered"
    We enjoy the art of gossips, braggarts,…etc,,, we can and should, but I am becoming more aware this art should reflect Wesley's divine spark, than be mired in the fallen nature of the age. Your choice is a personal one, but one I'm being challenged to make as well. There is a balance between ongoing engagement & influence of the world, and finding our joy in fallen-ness…may we all find it as our orthopraxy is guided by His spirit.

  12. Paula Jones says:

    Take it from one who has seen addiction up close and ugly Daniel is right on. Amen Daniel

  13. Very powerful!

  14. Brett Fawcett, New Zealand says:

    I am intrigued to read several responses critical of the author’s comment that he chose not to partake in art, music, or cinema that openly glorifies sin. I think they have mis-read him because he did not say that he would avoid art, music or cinema that was CREATED by a (drug addict) sinner. I totally agree with him and I, also, try to avoid that which GLORIFIES sin, which is quite a different thing than simply having been created by a sinner.

  15. I believe that there is an emptiness in someone’s life who becomes addicted to drugs, sex, alcohol, etc. Faith in God is vital and also regular fellowship in a caring, supportive community of like-minded people. My son. a talented musician, just underwent Ibogaine treatment for heroin addiction (even after four treatment programs, etc.). He now feels better than he has ever felt for 15 years of his struggle. He attends church with my wife and me, and goes to AA and NA meetings, finally getting a sponsor to help him with the 12 steps (personal inventory, making amends, prayer & meditation, service). It’s still one day at a time, but I think now, at 32, he is serious about his recovery.

    • I have personal lived though and Drug addiction lifestyle for seven years. A loved one was at the forefront of my addiction. See I used there problems to justify my own using. So as life continued to spin out of control. Both of us where let to a changing points in each of are lives. Most addicts must hit a hard rock bottom. Some the bottom is death!.
      God is what and whom saving us from are selfs. I was introduced to NA, there I found a new way to live without the use if drugs or alcohol. See in this program I found God. And the reason I’m on this Web site is because I found my Lord and savoir Jesus Christ. So the 12 steps are the way out of addiction, and God will help you in that journey. One of the most important commandments is to love your neighbor as yourself. One of the keys to NA is open mindness willing to change. So if you would like to work on some of your own personal issue read the 12 steps. It may help you change. We as people are judgment, but God teaches to Love one another. If there was just judgment on me in my active addiction i would have never stop. This addiction of drugs and alcohol is a KILLER! . So someone with words of love ,compassion and hope. don’t label them as Sinners and I’m better that you. Turn addiction is not a choice .Till you are free from the drug and understand it’s instant. Them after sometime and work on your self do you see the choice. In the midst of using there is only one thing the need to use and how to get. Just me I prayed to stop , it’s just not that easy. Last you will never find more joy in life knowing you truly changed someone’s life tell you reach out that hand and open your heart. Remember it will not be.easy and you must have patience. Set boundaries and forgive. You will see true love as God helps you.

  16. Jean-Michel Etienne says:

    This is fantastic. As christian leaders, we must continue to call sin, sin and urge people to stay away from immorality and from any thing that is destroying their body as God’s temple.

  17. This is fantastic. As christian leaders, we must continue to call sin, sin and urge people to repent and stay away from anything that is destroying their body as God's temple.

  18. Dennis Anderson says:

    I agree it is a sin issue. For that purpose I just finished a book to that addresses it as such. Called “Overcoming Through Christ- beating besetting sins and addiction”. It takes a biblical approach to the sin (addiction) problem. Interested parties feel free to contact me. Dennis Anderson otc6640@yahoo.com

  19. Check this website for a Christian answer to alcohol and drug addiction:

    http://www.twelvestepsout.org

  20. Being an ex-drug addict and alcoholic for more than 20 years, I have been saved through the amazing grace that God has given me when I entered the Teen Challenge program in London Ontario Canada. For years I tried to fill the hole in my life with inappropriate relationships, drugs, and alcohol. I have survived five drug overdoses, three times my heart has stopped, and 10 people I have shot up with our dead and gone! I have also survived to serious motorcycle accidents, and a car accident in which I was intoxicated all three of those times. One of those accidents cost me my leg.
    I believe that Christians and the church should get behind programs that are faith-based. Teen Challenge boasts a success rate of 75 to 85% five years after completion. No other program that his government sanctioned comes close! They run 5 to 15%. It is actually documented that this is called the Jesus factor! No kidding!
    I need to Jesus in my life….. Does that mean life is easy?… I still have to be super cautious of where I go and who I hang out with. Accountability is key!
    This is why I am totally blessed to be here at Emmanuel Bible College to pursue a BRE in youth ministry/counselling where I hope and pray that God will use me to work with Street kids from grades 6 to 8 so that I may try and persuade them that the drug and alcohol lifestyle is not as fun as it appears to be.

  21. Well said my Brother. Love ya Steve. Keep on.

  22. Jennifer Fachnie says:

    Good job Steve, I remember you (and a few others) from those days and I'm happy you're trying to work with youth… I am sure if your use your humour you can get some of them to listen to you. Good luck

  23. Shellie Wavell says:

    amazing..god bless you my friend. its been a journey..xo

  24. awesome God will deliver great story of the Grace of God in your life, best to you

  25. Tara Hamilton says:

    That's great graveyard! I may not have gone the christian way, but I'm right along beside you!!! And it feels good!

  26. Hi All …..Daniel you are spot on. Jesus is The one and only answer for addiction and any other Choices we make to partake in the kingdom of darkness. Yes it is a choice! I myself an x addict 12 years (nothing to boast about) better yet, i was a worker of the kingdom of darkness for 23 years, little rebel. Had the privledge to partake in the opening and runnings of 2 recovery programs NA being one of them, second being a Christian based program. Currently both meetings are running well and serving their purposes, i currently dont attend either one, live in a different city then were they run. But addiction is a history only because of JESUS nothing less Nothing more(there is nothing more bcoz he is EVERYTHING). The old has gone the NEW has arrived( no longer a sinner im a saint, no longer an addict im a son.) Been transferred from the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of his Son…… While we were sinners Christ died for us…. Jesus is the Only True way out of an addictive/Bondage Lifestyle, we are called to be Completely FREE! ONLY JESUS is the name by whom all can be saved by, not the God of your understanding. Those who dont know Christ are never really free even if they no longer use drugs and booze. Love is our way towards those in sin/addiction why? Coz thats wat God did to us while we were in it ….. lets keep to our commandments love our neighbours…..im so glad i met Christ to the point whereby i want everyone else to know him! ……preach the Gospel , heal the sick, cast out demons, and raise the dead.
    Hey even if addiction is a “desease” Christ can heal ALL deseases! Yay!
    May Grace, Peace and LOVE be multiplied to you all, through the knowledge of him and his power working with in us his kids

  27. Ow and i believe steve is right faith based recovery programs have a better tendancy to introduce Christ to a temporarily addict who is about to be set free when he meets his king, more than other programs…..non the less its key to not forget the programs dont save people but ONLY Jesus Saves. Not even mine or your “church” saves people but Only JESUS….He’s So awesome.

  28. yes. drug addiction is really sin because you can do so many ridiculous things when you are with it. I'm happy and proud to see people who have already undergone recovery. Mostly, they are renewed persons and lives a better life with God.
    On the other hand, some can undergo drug test and start the recovery process. drugabusecontrol.com

Speak Your Mind

*