Over the years theologians have allowed specialists to handle the matters of the heart. Theologians deal with nobler issues leaving the matters of the heart to the Rogerians and Freudians. But this is how we have allowed secularism to win the day. We have allowed pop-psychology to offer answers to the questions of the heart. The Bible is left at a place of minimal use to be pulled at a wedding or funeral.
The area of human addiction is one of those areas. The porn addict, the one who abuses alcohol or drugs, and other types of addictions are defined as diseases. These diseases are outside of the expertise of the theologian and left to those of specialized clinical or psychological fields. Here again the biblical thinker is left out of the conversation. It’s not as if there is nothing to learn from the scientific community, but the reality is that the scientific and psychological community are certain that they have nothing to learn from us.
The matter of addiction, I propose, is one of those topics. If addiction is primarily an issue of the heart, then there is more to the discussion. People engage in addictive practices for all sorts of reasons, but the reason addiction exists is because false worship exists. Human nature, marred by sin, offers a life of contradictions. He/she may consider life through the lens of order and peace, but sin considers life through the lens of disharmony. The theologian/pastor has a distinct duty to bring people to see this contradiction and how to re-orient their minds.
The question has to do with human nature; the addiction of the heart. Addiction is disoriented worship. Sheer will-power will not do in such cases. Those engaged in such practices need immediate assistance in the community. One of the signs of an addict is the inability to enjoy normal life pleasures. Suddenly the common duties of day-to-day become burdensome and characteristically painful. The addict is engaged in a world that he has created. The world of the addict is a confined space. Usually he is unwilling to seek help due to the loss of privacy that it would entail.
Young man are especially prone to isolation. Isolation is usually a strong sign of an addict. Isolation is the antithesis of health. Another indication of an addictive heart is choosing new friends. The addict isolates himself from a safe community and enters into a community where accountability is minimal. a Parents need to be well aware of these changes in friendships. Though they may be harmless, addicts easily change loyalty to maintain their habits.
Finally, and this comes as no surprise to the theologian, the addiction of the heart is an addiction to other gods. Addiction leads to an explicit rejection of the commandments of God and the worship of God. When individuals begin to slowly divorce themselves from the life of the body of Christ it is time to reach out and take action. Pastors should not allow parishioners to make a habit of absence from worship. When someone has been deeply engaged in particular addictions for a long period of time it is because they have not experienced any form of intervention. Community in this sense becomes necessary to avoid such outcome.
The Gospel of Jesus Christ is the addict’s only hope. God’s people become the means of grace for those seeking refuge in other gods. The sacraments become even more meaningful to those who suffer under the weight of unending temptations. In bread and wine, men and women can rest and partake of the goodness of One who suffered and experienced temptations of every kind. The addict’s hope must be in Jesus. If he seeks any other savior the addiction of the heart will lead to death.
- The Psalmist deals with this in the first psalm (back)