Is Addiction the Sin of Idolatry, or is it a disease?

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Is addiction the sin of idolatry, or is it a disease?

  • Addiction is the sin of idolatry.

    Votes: 6 46.2%
  • Addiction is a disease.

    Votes: 2 15.4%
  • Addiction is both.

    Votes: 3 23.1%
  • Addiction is neither.

    Votes: 2 15.4%

  • Total voters
    13

UnitedWithChrist

Well-known member
Aug 12, 2019
3,744
1,928
113
#1
The question is simple.

Is addiction the sin of idolatry, or is it a disease?

I worked in a parachurch ministry dealing with addicts, particularly substance abuse.

I have never had a recognized substance abuse problem, although in principle, I believe that I have been addicted to one substance: food. But, it is not the type of substance abuse problem one would ordinarily recognize.

As I worked with individuals who had issues with drugs or alcohol, though, one of them acquainted me with the thought that addiction is really idolatry.

The person is filling the void in his life with some substance, and he is viewing that substance as the satisfaction of the needs for fulfillment, pleasure, and purpose in life. All other things are subject to this substance.

Additionally, the ordinary believer is basically facing the same situation. The deeper sins of our lives are actually idols. We have not replaced them with a passionate love for God, or we wouldn't continue to be involved with them.

And, no one has killed all the idols in their lives yet. I think every sin we commit displays that we are not really trusting in God to supply our deepest needs, so we are reaching out to that sin for satisfaction, whether it is a substance or not.

Anyways, here's a few books on addiction that might help if you are struggling with something. I think all Christians should read these types of books anyways, because I believe we are all idolaters at heart:

Redemption: Freed by Jesus From the Idols We Worship and the Wounds We Carry, Mike Wilkerson
Counterfeit Gods: The Empty Promises of Money, Sex, and Power, and the Only Hope that Matters, Timothy Keller
The Heart of Addictions, Mark Shaw
Recovering Redemption: A Gospel Saturated Perspective on How to Change, Matt Chandler
Addictions: A Banquet In the Grave: Finding Hope in the Power of the Gospel, Ed Welch

Personally, I think it is important for the person to know that his identity is in Christ, and he shouldn't label himself by his addiction. He has been redeemed and is a new creation. He may still struggle in this area, but he is not a drug addict, alcoholic, or homosexual anymore.

I think it is harmful to claim that alcoholism, drug addiction, and sexual immorality is a disease, though. And, the believer is not helpless over it in the ultimate sense. If he has been joined to Christ, then he is no longer under the slavery of sin. That is what Romans 6:1-14 teaches. So, we need to take personal responsibility for our sins, and claiming our sins are diseases is a false teaching.

I have faced a lot of criticism for saying this on another thread, but it is a biblical truth that I believe we see evidenced in Paul's writings. When he corrects believers who are involved in particular sins, he tells them that they are in Christ, and they need to behave according to this identity.

Attached are two articles by Jeff Durbin, who worked in a hospital dealing with addiction. It will give you a more articulate explanation than mine.

Anyways, let me know what you think by voting.
 

Attachments

UnitedWithChrist

Well-known member
Aug 12, 2019
3,744
1,928
113
#2
By the way, I think Romans 1 is directly applicable to the addict.

Here's a study I wrote in regards to Romans 1.

I am strongly convinced that if we are fully engaged worshipers of God, we would not struggle with our addictions. This is because we are allowing substitute gods to entertain and delight us instead of being fully engaged in passionate worship of God.

Calling addictions "disease" or "sickness" is ultimately a cop-out in my opinion. The reality is that we are not pursuing a full-bore relationship with God, and instead are using our time, energies, and talents pursuing false gods that will never satisfy us, and that is why, at the end of the day, we are unfulfilled, and we end up filling them with things that will never satisfy us.

Our human minds are very deceptive, so blaming sin on a sickness is attractive, and as Jeff's articles suggest, secular authorities can't even agree on the issues behind addiction because they don't acknowledge the spiritual dimension. In fact, there are Christian counselors who are still using secular psychology in their treatment of addiction.

If anyone is struggling with addiction, I would find an individual who is accredited by a solid biblical counseling organization. Association of Certified Biblical Counselors (ACBC) is one of those organizations. Their view is God-centered, unlike others which may not have a very high view of God and may be more man-centered (even amongst counselors professing Christianity).
 

Attachments

Heyjude

Active member
Sep 7, 2019
277
121
43
#3
Hey UWC, how are you doing?


You left one book out of your recommendations which is a must read. Gabor Mate “In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts” among other great books he wrote.


Dr. Gabor Maté is a retired Hungarian Canadian based Physician, highly sought after for his expertise on a range of topics including addiction, stress and childhood development. He covers trauma, ADHD and worked with hard core addicts.

For twelve years Dr. Maté worked in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside with patients challenged by hard-core drug addiction, mental illness and HIV, including at Vancouver’s Supervised Injection Site. He noticed something others didnt notice.

While he doesn't write from a Gospel point of view (he is Jewish), he has experience and empathy and links most all (hard core) addictions to childhood trauma.

Although I see where you are coming from with the study you wrote, I disagree on this point.

“This is because we are allowing substitute gods to entertain and delight us instead of being fully engaged in passionate worship of God.“

Addicts are not addicts because they want to be “entertained and delighted” although maybe some are, I have never met any fully blown addicts that want to be addicts and I have dealt with a lot in my lifetime.

They are covering up pain, broken hearts and being “delighted” or “entertained” is far from their mind. In fact, most addicts WANT to stop, but just can't stop.

I do agree with the fact that the addict has less chance of recovery, if they have a spiritual “hole” in their lives, but pretty much all of the addicts Dr Mate treated (100%) had childhood trauma.The worse the trauma, the worse the addiction but I am talking about hard core addicts, not people who drink too much to be “entertained and delighted” at weekends, although this may lead to addiction I cannot say. Most people know an addict and most people know if they are out of control or not.

AA is alright, but it doesn't address past trauma. In fact the more stories of their lives you hear, the more you wonder how it was possible for them NOT to end up an addict because it would be impossible to take such pain and live.

What is especially interesting is how the Native Americans have more addiction than before due to certain experiences they have had, displacement etc, which was not existent before. Most of them are broken hearted or cannot take the pain or the memory of trauma and don't realise it as they cant even think straight because addicts just need the next fix. They just want the pain to go away.

Gabor Mates approach has helped many I know - maybe it's because people are willing to listen to him because he is likeable. But I doubt any hard core addict would listen to anyone with a Gospel in their hand, who came at them from an angle accusing them of doing it for “entertainment and delight” to be honest. Not one.

“It is impossible to understand addiction without asking what relief the addict finds, or hopes to find, in the drug or the addictive behaviour” Gabor Mate.

I don't have any heros but if I did, Gabor would be mine as I love this guy. He has helped loads of people that he doesn't even talk about and has a meek and humble approach.

https://drgabormate.com/book/in-the-realm-of-hungry-ghosts/

 
Jun 10, 2019
4,304
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#4
Idolatry is the disease addiction is the byproduct.
 
Jun 10, 2019
4,304
1,654
113
#5
Hmm I’ve learened the word idolatry in the Bible is about worshipping other gods. being addicted to a substances is not the same as idolatry in the Bible

Galatians 5
19The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity, and debauchery;20idolatry and sorcery; hatred, discord, jealousy, and rage; rivalries, divisions, factions, 21and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.

In secularly faction the word is used as such below.

extreme admiration, love, or reverence for something or someone.
"we must not allow our idolatry of art to obscure issues of political significance"

I thinks it’s best not to try and mix the two ways of use for they are different.
 

Melach

Well-known member
Mar 28, 2019
1,864
1,418
113
#7
i think addictions are just loving something too much.

it needs strong character not to be addicted to anything and big love for God to put Him first even before your addictions.

we are just so flesh driven as humans even me. if it feels good now we want to do it. we have the excuses already lined up my life is bad i feel sad i just wanted some joy for a moment i cant help it my family is this my wife is crazy my husband is nuts. we always have some excuses for our behavior

i dont believe God sees us like that, we can fool ourself but not God He knows we can stop if we really want. we are given all required for godliness in Christ but we need to want it more. maybe if we realize how bad sin is for us we will choose different.

i can speak and say that some people who get into some mind altering things or drunken its because life is just pointless and going nowhere. that is how i felt too like nothing is going nowhere and who cares about anything.


if you abuse certain substances too much your brains dont produce anymore dopamine and serotonin so now nothing feels good to you that feels good to normal people. some can enjoy warm coffee in morning read news paper to them its great but for you its nothing because your receptors are burned out as they say.
same with steroids, if you take testosterone your body wont produce it naturally anymore when you quit it because its so used to over production
 

NayborBear

Banned Serpent Seed Heresy
#8
Hmm I’ve learened the word idolatry in the Bible is about worshipping other gods. being addicted to a substances is not the same as idolatry in the Bible

Galatians 5
19The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity, and debauchery;20idolatry and sorcery; hatred, discord, jealousy, and rage; rivalries, divisions, factions, 21and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.

In secularly faction the word is used as such below.

extreme admiration, love, or reverence for something or someone.
"we must not allow our idolatry of art to obscure issues of political significance"

I thinks it’s best not to try and mix the two ways of use for they are different.
You should look closer at the the word "sorcery."
You would find that in the Greek, it is spelled "pharmaceo" (or something like that).
The "indulging" in pharmaceo, in almost every case, are "attempts" in getting into the "Sheep pen", by some other way then the "Sheep Gate." Which is Jesus Christ our High Priest and Kinsmen Redeemer.
 

UnitedWithChrist

Well-known member
Aug 12, 2019
3,744
1,928
113
#9
Idolatry is the disease addiction is the byproduct.
I wouldn't strongly disagree with that approach...although I would use the word "sin", sin does carry along with it some aspects of disease.

However, ultimately I would go back to the reality that mankind has replaced God with something else, and this spiritual vacuum is being filled by substitutes or counterfeit gods. God created us to be united with Him, and we can't be united with anything else that will fully satisfy us. Any other thing or person will always fall short, even a spouse. If we are depending on that person or thing to provide our ultimate fulfillment, it will always fall short.

I don't like to call sins "diseases" though because many would use this as a reason to avoid personal accountability.
 
Jun 10, 2019
4,304
1,654
113
#10
You should look closer at the the word "sorcery."
You would find that in the Greek, it is spelled "pharmaceo" (or something like that).
The "indulging" in pharmaceo, in almost every case, are "attempts" in getting into the "Sheep pen", by some other way then the "Sheep Gate." Which is Jesus Christ our High Priest and Kinsmen Redeemer.
would that be in Greek secular or Greek biblical?
 
Jun 10, 2019
4,304
1,654
113
#11
I wouldn't strongly disagree with that approach...although I would use the word "sin", sin does carry along with it some aspects of disease.

However, ultimately I would go back to the reality that mankind has replaced God with something else, and this spiritual vacuum is being filled by substitutes or counterfeit gods. God created us to be united with Him, and we can't be united with anything else that will fully satisfy us. Any other thing or person will always fall short, even a spouse. If we are depending on that person or thing to provide our ultimate fulfillment, it will always fall short.

I don't like to call sins "diseases" though because many would use this as a reason to avoid personal accountability.
Dude you know idolatry and addiction to drugs are two different things you trying to blind secular meaning and biblical meaning is way out of line.
 

UnitedWithChrist

Well-known member
Aug 12, 2019
3,744
1,928
113
#12
i think addictions are just loving something too much.

it needs strong character not to be addicted to anything and big love for God to put Him first even before your addictions.

we are just so flesh driven as humans even me. if it feels good now we want to do it. we have the excuses already lined up my life is bad i feel sad i just wanted some joy for a moment i cant help it my family is this my wife is crazy my husband is nuts. we always have some excuses for our behavior

i dont believe God sees us like that, we can fool ourself but not God He knows we can stop if we really want. we are given all required for godliness in Christ but we need to want it more. maybe if we realize how bad sin is for us we will choose different.

i can speak and say that some people who get into some mind altering things or drunken its because life is just pointless and going nowhere. that is how i felt too like nothing is going nowhere and who cares about anything.

if you abuse certain substances too much your brains dont produce anymore dopamine and serotonin so now nothing feels good to you that feels good to normal people. some can enjoy warm coffee in morning read news paper to them its great but for you its nothing because your receptors are burned out as they say.
same with steroids, if you take testosterone your body wont produce it naturally anymore when you quit it because its so used to over production
Something which might relate to what you have said is that the objects of idolatry are legitimate gifts from God, but they have been used in a wrong, "illegal" way. God gave us alcohol, for example, to make our hearts glad, but he didn't intend for us to drink ourselves into a stupor.

In Romans 1, according to Tim Keller, the idolater "over-desires" the object of his idolatry, according to the Greek. It isn't just a matter that he enjoys the gift of sex within the context of the marital relationship, but he "over-desires" and uses it "illegally".

I believe this is mentioned in his first commentary on Romans, called Romans 1-7 For You.
 

UnitedWithChrist

Well-known member
Aug 12, 2019
3,744
1,928
113
#13
Hey UWC, how are you doing?


You left one book out of your recommendations which is a must read. Gabor Mate “In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts” among other great books he wrote.


Dr. Gabor Maté is a retired Hungarian Canadian based Physician, highly sought after for his expertise on a range of topics including addiction, stress and childhood development. He covers trauma, ADHD and worked with hard core addicts.

For twelve years Dr. Maté worked in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside with patients challenged by hard-core drug addiction, mental illness and HIV, including at Vancouver’s Supervised Injection Site. He noticed something others didnt notice.

While he doesn't write from a Gospel point of view (he is Jewish), he has experience and empathy and links most all (hard core) addictions to childhood trauma.

Although I see where you are coming from with the study you wrote, I disagree on this point.

“This is because we are allowing substitute gods to entertain and delight us instead of being fully engaged in passionate worship of God.“

Addicts are not addicts because they want to be “entertained and delighted” although maybe some are, I have never met any fully blown addicts that want to be addicts and I have dealt with a lot in my lifetime.

They are covering up pain, broken hearts and being “delighted” or “entertained” is far from their mind. In fact, most addicts WANT to stop, but just can't stop.

I do agree with the fact that the addict has less chance of recovery, if they have a spiritual “hole” in their lives, but pretty much all of the addicts Dr Mate treated (100%) had childhood trauma.The worse the trauma, the worse the addiction but I am talking about hard core addicts, not people who drink too much to be “entertained and delighted” at weekends, although this may lead to addiction I cannot say. Most people know an addict and most people know if they are out of control or not.

AA is alright, but it doesn't address past trauma. In fact the more stories of their lives you hear, the more you wonder how it was possible for them NOT to end up an addict because it would be impossible to take such pain and live.

What is especially interesting is how the Native Americans have more addiction than before due to certain experiences they have had, displacement etc, which was not existent before. Most of them are broken hearted or cannot take the pain or the memory of trauma and don't realise it as they cant even think straight because addicts just need the next fix. They just want the pain to go away.

Gabor Mates approach has helped many I know - maybe it's because people are willing to listen to him because he is likeable. But I doubt any hard core addict would listen to anyone with a Gospel in their hand, who came at them from an angle accusing them of doing it for “entertainment and delight” to be honest. Not one.

“It is impossible to understand addiction without asking what relief the addict finds, or hopes to find, in the drug or the addictive behaviour” Gabor Mate.

I don't have any heros but if I did, Gabor would be mine as I love this guy. He has helped loads of people that he doesn't even talk about and has a meek and humble approach.

https://drgabormate.com/book/in-the-realm-of-hungry-ghosts/

I'm doing fine.

I wouldn't seek him for advice on spiritual issues because he's a non-Christian.

He may have some insights, but unless his world revolves around a relationship with Christ, I would ultimately refuse him as a counselor.

Ultimately, my position is this: if the person's fundamental orientation does not revolve around God, like the earth revolves around the sun, they are an idolater. They will fill this void with something else....a substance, a person, etcetera. By definition, a non-believer is an idolater.

Humans were created for an intimate relationship with God, and if they don't have that, they fill it with substitutes. Those substitutes are idols.

Romans 1 is the best explanation of this idolatry, if one really contemplates it carefully.
 

Melach

Well-known member
Mar 28, 2019
1,864
1,418
113
#14
Something which might relate to what you have said is that the objects of idolatry are legitimate gifts from God, but they have been used in a wrong, "illegal" way. God gave us alcohol, for example, to make our hearts glad, but he didn't intend for us to drink ourselves into a stupor.

In Romans 1, according to Tim Keller, the idolater "over-desires" the object of his idolatry, according to the Greek. It isn't just a matter that he enjoys the gift of sex within the context of the marital relationship, but he "over-desires" and uses it "illegally".

I believe this is mentioned in his first commentary on Romans, called Romans 1-7 For You.
yes. its always in excess. we have seen that abstinance do not work either. look at catholic church and their celibate monks and priests. wicked to core. moderation works but for some

why doesnt anything ever work. why is world so evil. i ask because i was just downtown today and its just evil everywhere. maybe its end times like Jesus said as in days of noah, thoughts of men were only evil continually. it does depress me. but it also makes me glad that Jesus is coming soon to fix it
 
Jun 10, 2019
4,304
1,654
113
#15
Something which might relate to what you have said is that the objects of idolatry are legitimate gifts from God, but they have been used in a wrong, "illegal" way. God gave us alcohol, for example, to make our hearts glad, but he didn't intend for us to drink ourselves into a stupor.

In Romans 1, according to Tim Keller, the idolater "over-desires" the object of his idolatry, according to the Greek. It isn't just a matter that he enjoys the gift of sex within the context of the marital relationship, but he "over-desires" and uses it "illegally".

I believe this is mentioned in his first commentary on Romans, called Romans 1-7 For You.
If Tim Keller said that he mix secular meaning with biblical meaning,

idolatry in the Bible is about worshipping gods with statues,, drunkenness is about being addicted, hatred is about hating, jealousy is being jealous, etc.

Galatians 5
19The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity, and debauchery;20idolatry and sorcery; hatred, discord, jealousy, and rage; rivalries, divisions, factions, 21and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.
 

NayborBear

Banned Serpent Seed Heresy
#16
would that be in Greek secular or Greek biblical?
Does it matter?
Galatians 5 Mounce Reverse-Interlinear New Testament (MOUNCE)
20 idolatry (eidōlolatria), sorcery (pharmakeia), quarrels (echthra), strife (eris), jealousy (zēlos), fits of rage (thumos), selfish rivalries (eritheia), dissensions (dichostasia), divisions (hairesis),
 

UnitedWithChrist

Well-known member
Aug 12, 2019
3,744
1,928
113
#17
Neither. Addiction means bondage to a habit which is harmful. It is self-induced and may be broken, just like any other harmful habit.
I can agree that addiction is a form of bondage. However, the fundamental cause is because the person doesn't have God as their fundamental orientation. Mankind was created for their existence to revolve around Him, like a planet revolves around the sun. When it does not, then they fill it with cheap substitutes which will never fulfill them. Persons, substances, etcetera fill the void in their heart.

For the true believer, who has some type of relationship with God, the answer is that they need to fill this void by drawing nearer to Him. The non-believer needs to enter into a saving relationship with Jesus Christ.

By the way, the addiction is more of a symptom than a cause. The cause is an unregenerate heart, or a regenerate hear that isn't fully pursuing a relationship with God.
 
Jun 10, 2019
4,304
1,654
113
#18
Does it matter?
Galatians 5 Mounce Reverse-Interlinear New Testament (MOUNCE)
20 idolatry (eidōlolatria), sorcery (pharmakeia), quarrels (echthra), strife (eris), jealousy (zēlos), fits of rage (thumos), selfish rivalries (eritheia), dissensions (dichostasia), divisions (hairesis),
Yes it does just like this thread is completely miss using what the Bible means what idolatry is.

biblically it’s about worshipping statue gods, not the secular meaning of idolatry of art.

Bowing down and worshipping gods, is not the same as a person who loves art.

you stopped at division keep going to drunkenness
 

UnitedWithChrist

Well-known member
Aug 12, 2019
3,744
1,928
113
#19
If Tim Keller said that he mix secular meaning with biblical meaning,

idolatry in the Bible is about worshipping gods with statues,, drunkenness is about being addicted, hatred is about hating, jealousy is being jealous, etc.

Galatians 5
19The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity, and debauchery;20idolatry and sorcery; hatred, discord, jealousy, and rage; rivalries, divisions, factions, 21and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.
Idolatry is not confined to worshipping statues.

In fact, that is really only looking at the letter of the law.

Idolatry is when we worship something else in place of God. We look to it as our source of fulfillment, purpose, contentment rather than God. Something else replaces God in our hearts rather than God.


Colossians 3:5 5 Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry.
(ESV)

All of those things associated with the old life are idolatry, because the person is not allowing God to rule in their hearts, but allowing other things to.


Colossians 3:5 3:5 therefore. Paul elaborates on the new way of thinking (vv. 1–4) with specific instructions. The imperatives correlate with the indicatives: you are, now be. It means that they are to unite with the transforming divine power working within them. One is either dead in sin (2:13) or dead to sin (Rom 6:11). The old nature is not renewed or reformed; it is “put to death.” Believers are to eradicate any persisting marks of the old life: its values, customs, and practices. These are summarized as “idolatry,” putting something else before God (e.g., sex, money, power) and wanting more and more of these things.
(NIV Biblical Theology Study Bible)
 

Heyjude

Active member
Sep 7, 2019
277
121
43
#20
You should look closer at the the word "sorcery."
You would find that in the Greek, it is spelled "pharmaceo" (or something like that).
The "indulging" in pharmaceo, in almost every case, are "attempts" in getting into the "Sheep pen", by some other way then the "Sheep Gate." Which is Jesus Christ our High Priest and Kinsmen Redeemer.
So you think, that "pharmaceo" or medication is "attempts" to get into the "sheep pen" by some other way that the "Sheep Gate" do you? So when my Dad was dying of cancer in dreadful pain so bad I couldn't witness, his doctor giving him pain relief from medication was doing that do you? Ever been in pain yourself? Weird how no one mentions the word "pain" as if they never had any. People have to take medications for a number of reasons, especially at the end of their lives if the pain is too much to bear. So I strongly disagree with that. People can be addicted to pain killers from injuries as well without realising. They can just be doing what their Doc says, not trying to "attempt" to get into the "Sheep pen". Be nice if people could see things from a heart felt point of view instead of a judgement point of view.

  1. pharmaco-(Prefix)
    medication
  2. Origin: From φάρμακον.