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Addictions that Kill

This week, a young man in Atlanta shot and killed eight people who worked at massage parlors. Immediately, there was a notable connection. All of the persons who were shot were at a massage parlor. The man ran, but police quickly apprehended him. During questioning, the shooter revealed the motive for his actions. He said he was addicted to sex and the massage parlors were a place of great temptation for him. As I read the news articles and listened to a handful of interviews and commentaries on the issue, my heart was certainly sad for those who were killed and their families. But also, my heart was sad for the young man who simply wanted to stop failing to overcome his crippling addiction to sex.

You may know someone who has dealt with addiction. People who are addicted to something intensely suffer from the guilt and shame of their addiction. It is likely they know they are addicted to their vice of choice. It is also likely that they have done everything in their own power to overcome their addiction. The powerlessness that accompanies addiction is hobbling. Try as they may, an addicted person will most often struggle year after year to stop using, spending, eating, controlling, smoking, watching pornography, hiring prostitutes, etc. The guilt and shame the addict carries is smothering. And the escape from their pain is frequently only found in giving into their addiction. In this case, the man probably knew he was unable to control himself, so he attempted to control the temptation. Whether it be alcohol, gambling, food, cigarettes, drugs, medication, pornography, sex, or so many other destructive vices, addiction is a serious problem and it must be addressed cautiously and empathetically.

Addiction is more than a psychological construct which shapes a person's thinking toward fixation on an object so great they can't go without it. Biblically, we know addiction begins with sin which often leads to sickness. Whether the sin is a passive or active sin, it is the root cause of the inklings of addiction which compound into life altering problems as the severity of the addiction increases. Imagine if you will, needing to satisfy your cravings so badly that you will do just about anything to be gratified, comforted, affirmed, or to have escaped your pain. Then imagine the horrible things that you may choose to do to release your desire and indulge in yourself. Friends, family, community members get hurt. In many cases, crime accompanies addiction. Families are broken. Friendships are dissolved and the addict is alone with nothing but the vice to turn to. I believe the man involved in the Atlanta, GA, shootings this week may have been at the very end of himself and he chose heinously desperate measures to try and solve his problem. I cannot imaging the compounded guilt and shame he is feeling today.

Biblically, addiction could be called misplaced worship. The addict craves, serves, is controlled by, seeks, praises, fixates and is consumed by the object of addiction, or worship in this case. This makes logical sense that a person would seek to worship something since people were created to seek something to worship. In the perfect world, before sin, that worship was willfully directed toward God (Genesis 1-3). Since we were created to be worshipful beings, if our worship is not directed toward God, it will be directed toward something out of our created order. We need to remember that the authority of God in our lives requires that He is the object of our worship. Unlike the promises offered by earthly objects and worldly behaviors, the promises of God are purely Divine and will come to pass. Giving into affections, which have the capacity to become addictions, toward things outside of God for our wants and desires for ourselves, is disordered worship. This is an important reality when assessing addiction.

There is great hope for an addict who turns to Jesus Christ! They can be comforted, sustained, encouraged, and often completely healed of their addiction (2 Corinthians 1:3-4). Even if desire still remains, they can be free from temptation to fall into addiction because God's Word promises that He will make a way through any temptation so that we can bear it and not give into sin (1 Corinthians 10:13). The power of God is available to those who choose to follow Christ. He says He will help. He says He sympathizes with our pain, our struggle and our temptation (Hebrews 4:14-15). And most of all, He has overcome all that is terrible in the world (John 16:33). We can share in that victory when we commit our lives to the Lord, confess He is our Savior, and begin to live a life of superior worship toward Him and not ourselves.

If you, or anyone you know, are struggling with addiction, please reach out and ask for help! Help is available to you. Help is possible, Victory is possible. You are loved, you are valuable and you are worth fighting for. Jesus is fighting for you right now! If you are ready to stop, reach out. My email is or call me at 970-566-3554.

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