Monday, April 28, 2014

The 12-step process: Sin as an addiction

I'd argue that addiction isn't just to alcohol, meth or coffee. You can get addicted to sin.

I caught myself, a few days back, driving home from work and looking down my nose at the drunkard who had only just stumbled from the bar down the street from my apartment.

It's a common occurrence with this man in particular, and every time I see him slowly making his way up the sidewalk to who knows where, I picture his life - filthy home, broken-down car, no money to speak of save the dollars spent on alcohol and an emptiness that comes from wasting a lifetime as a drunkard.

I picture those things, and pity the man.

"Thank you, Lord," I think to myself. "Thank you for blessing me and giving me the support and tools I needed to keep out of addiction to drugs and alcohol."

This afternoon, though, as I drove home from the office for lunch, the thought struck me that I am not so different.

After all, how similar are sin and alcoholism?

Take for example, an excerpt from the Alcoholics Anonymous' first step to recovery, but switch 'alcohol' with 'sin'.

"When sin begins to take control of a family, usually one of the first things to go is honesty. The sinner lies about how much he or she sins and those around them begin to cover for him as the problem progresses and they too become less than honest.

This cycle of lies and keeping secrets can go on for years and that in itself can create an atmosphere that actually causes the situation to deteriorate faster. Even the children get caught up in the lies. It's a family disease.

The family can become totally controlled by diseased thinking. Although the illusion of control may continue, their lives become unmanageable, because sin is really in control. It is cunning, baffling, and powerful."

Telling, isn't it? Now, I'll make it clear that once we accept the love of Christ, we are no longer bound by sin and it no longer has power over us. It's not really in control, and it becomes a choice, but at the point of acceptance of Christ, we should also accept and be honest that we are - or were - in fact, sinners.

Australian pastor Glen Scrivener, who has blogged extensively on the subject, puts it beautifully in his entry from 2010: Sin is addiction.

"Sin is a power over us that is disarmed and replaced by Christ," he says, arguing that the gospel of grace depends on the fact that we are helpless to escape sin without God's gift and Christ's sacrifice.

In that light, though the process of salvation begins with that admittance, we will never get to a point in our lives where we can function free of sin without the love and grace given to us on the cross.

Like a recovering alcoholic - they're never a 'former alcoholic,' but rather constantly in recovery - we will always rely on God to build and support us as we work to become more like him.

Yes, Christ gave us victory over sin, but we still live in a sin-ridden world and won't be free from temptation until we are with him in glory.

With that said, I want to start on a journey to apply the 12-step process to sin itself. I have my sinful habits which, when compared to the drunken man at the bar, begin to look a lot more like addiction than I'd ever seen them.

In the 12-step process, honesty is the first step to recovery and not surprisingly, it is the only way to build a foundation for a life in Christ. Honesty about past wrongdoings, honesty about current habits and honesty about future fears and insecurities NEED to be put on the table in some form or another in order to heal and allow Christ to chase out the lies and rebuild the truths about us.

It's uncomfortable for me. I've discovered my vanity over the last few months, and to admit wrongdoing regardless of the severity, would tarnish my self-projected image.
That's something that I'll have to work on as I think and meditate on this first step. How can I work on getting my pride out of the way?