A Christian Response to Drug Addiction

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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.

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