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Addictions, Compulsions and Solutions 11/16/2007

Drowning in Despair

We must be a lifeline to those drowning in addiction and compulsion.

Addictions are serious love affairs. It seems to be a permanent part of the human condition to compulsively flirt with danger and end up hopelessly addicted. Whether it's a celebrity hooked on cocaine, a housewife addicted to junk food, a businessman ruled by money, a minister captivated by pornography or a politician obsessed with power, the result is always the same: pain, suffering and destruction. In order to effectively deal with compulsion and addiction, both as a society and as the church, we must understand their seriousness, root causes and genuine solutions.

When I see addiction, I see someone drowning in their situation, like a diver whose oxygen is running out deep underwater. Their only hope is a lifeline from above.

Any addiction counselor will tell you that the first step toward recovery is admitting that a problem exists. Unfortunately, the shame associated with addiction prevents many people from opening up to others. It is only by creating a safe harbor through unconditional love that people will be willing to talk about their situation. If people believe that the storm on the surface is more dangerous than their condition in the dark waters below, they will stay where they are at until their life slowly slips away.

There is great power in confession. I don't mean the type of confession where you repeatedly admit your addictions and compulsions in a darkened booth, chant a few lines and return to the same lifestyle. I mean real agreement that your situation is killing you and hurting those around you, followed by a willingness to do whatever it takes to make a permanent change. It's one thing to admit that you are drowning, but it is not the same as returning to the surface. If we are to truly help others who are defeated, we must be willing to help them up instead of condemning them in their desperate condition.

We never apologize for needing glasses or hearing aids. Likewise, we should never demand an apology from one who needs help seeing or hearing the truth. Those living with compulsions and addictions do not see or hear clearly. Christians, especially, must come to the aid of others with a voice of compassion and the light of love.

It is also critical to understand that "surfacing" is not always instant. Often, it is necessary to come up slowly. This can be one of the more difficult things to accept and understand, but we must be willing to say to someone, "I'm not here to judge you. I'm here to walk with you through this process, no matter how long it takes."

Those who are experiencing defeat must never give up in the battle, knowing that victory is possible. Those who care for them must never cease offering mercy and compassionate help.

This is especially true with sexual compulsions, like porn addiction and homosexuality. The deeper someone goes into sin, the longer it may take to come out of it. Like the deep sea diver coming out of absolute darkness in the depths of the ocean, the person recovering from deep sin will respond to progressive increases in light, but it will take some time for them to be able to breathe on their own again.

Finally, it is absolutely crucial that recovery from an addiction not create a void in someone's life. Like a lover leaving an adulterous affair, people feel an emptiness that must be filled with something more pure and powerful. Frankly, I cannot imagine anyone truly recovering without the power of God. Granted, some may find fulfillment through the virtuous things of God, like helping others or meditating on good things. Whatever the case, nature abhors a vacuum and the only way to completely heal an addiction is to fill it with good things -- and there is nothing more "good" than God. Our minds can and must be renewed by the power of His Word as we meditate on transforming truth.

Our world is in drowning in the despair of compulsion and addiction. As believers, we have a lifeline to salvation and freedom. It is time that we began acting as agents of recovery.


Author: James Robison

Word Count: 697

About the author: James Robison is the founder and president of LIFE Outreach International, a Christian media ministry and mission relief organization. He and his wife, Betty, host of the television program Life Today; He has authored numerous books, including The Absolutes: Freedom's Only Hope and True Prosperity.

Media Contact: Randy Robison, editor at jamesrobison.net

Photo available upon request. Reprint rights granted with attribution for complete, unedited article. Revisions allowed only with approval.