Struggling with addiction can be one of the most difficult experiences a person can go through. Feelings of shame, regret, guilt and hopelessness can haunt the addict’s mind for years. How could I have let this happen? Why have I been so weak?
While addiction is painful for everyone, for Christians, the struggle can be especially devastating. Many people view and expect Christians to be morally and ethically pure, and the Christian ideal of living a sin-free life can add an extra layer of shame to the addict’s conscience.
Let’s take a closer look at some of the reasons why the struggle with addiction can be so difficult for Christians to deal with, as well as how their faith can be a great resource in their quest for achieving recovery.
The Lying That Comes With Addiction
Because deception and addiction go hand-in-hand, perhaps the greatest ethical struggle for Christian addicts is confronting their dishonest behavior. Dishonesty can manifest itself in a number of ways when a drug, alcohol or sex addiction takes hold. As a Christian, you may feel an obligation to live a righteous, devout life, and to act as a upstanding pillar of your community. This may lead to dishonesty and deception in order to maintain appearances.
Christian addicts will often live a double life, one that they present to their Christian friends and family, and another that they can only acknowledge to themselves, other friends and possibly coworkers.
The Shame That Comes With Addiction
For a Christian, the shame and guilt caused by addiction can be especially intense. It’s hard enough not living the life that you are meant to live for your own sake, but knowing that you are not living the life God intended for you brings a uniquely powerful sense of shame. Feeling ashamed and disappointed in yourself and your actions can be a powerful tool for change, but dwelling too much on those feelings can lead to hopelessness and resignation.
Coming Clean While Being Christian And Addicted
It is important to remember that, as human beings, we are all susceptible to the temptations that can lead to addiction. It does no one any good to pretend that simply being a Christian makes us impervious to sin and moral weakness.
In order to get the necessary help, Christians need to be encouraged to come clean about their struggles with addiction. They need to be reminded that no matter how bleak their situation may appear, there is always the opportunity for redemption.
Many Christians fear that if they come clean about their addiction, they will be ostracized by their faith community. But those who truly understand the Christian principle of forgiveness will answer the call to provide support and guidance, making one’s church or faith community an invaluable resource for achieving recovery.
Always remember that, as a Christian, the first step towards healing from addiction is honesty, both with yourself and with God. Realize that your addiction does not make you any less of a Christian. In fact, by accepting that you are powerless over your destructive impulses, and turning your will over to God for help, you can successfully begin the journey toward a full and lasting recovery.