Relevant Magazine put out an article this week by Timothy McMahan listing four misconceptions within the church surrounding addiction. He also offers some practical and theological methods of combatting them. Being a recovered addict himself, McMahan is in a unique position to speak on this topic, and I found his article very touching. Towards the end, he says,
Sadly, too often Christians have been a part of creating a culture of unrealistic expectations and shame around addiction… We need to change how we talk about addiction and treat those who are struggling with it. Christians should be at the front line of reducing the stigma and shame around addiction, not increasing it.
Thankfully, I don’t have firsthand experience of what addiction is like. But I have known and worked with people who do suffer from it, and I’ve learned a lot from listening to their experiences. McMahan’s article not only lined up perfectly with everything I’ve learned; it also put into words these truths that I’ve struggled to communicate myself.
If churches are serious about ministering to people who suffer from addiction, we need to first become educated. Allowing these misconceptions to run rampant risks great harm to individuals and to our own testimonies. When we choose to see the world from the viewpoint of those we’re ministering to, it gives us an opportunity to become more compassionate in our approach to them. And they deserve that.
I would encourage you to put your preconceived notions of addiction aside and read this article. It’s eye-opening and well worth your time. I’m thankful I read it, and I think you will be, too.