Category Archives: Addiction Disease or sin

Compulsive Gambling


One dictionary definition of gambling is, ‘the act or practice of consciously risking money or other stakes without being certain of the outcome’. This definition, however, does not adequately explain all that gambling involves. A more precise definition, which takes account of all the factors involved in gambling, may be stated thus: ‘Gambling is an act by which one party consciously risks money or other stakes in the hope of gaining at someone else’s expense (I.e., if I win, he loses, and vice-versa), without giving anything of value in terms of goods in return (to the person from whom one has gained).’

It is immediately obvious from the last part of this definition that gambling is sinful. It involves breaking the eighth commandment: ‘Thou shalt not steal’. Gambling is basically an attempt to gain something at someone else’s expense without giving adequate value in return. The fact that the parties involved agree to this transaction is irrelevant and cannot justify it, any more than the fact that two men agree to fight a duel justifies one of the men killing the other. An agreement to do something wrong is itself wrong. If the one who gambles wins, he is a thief; if he loses, he is guilty of wasting that which the Lord has given to him in trust, whether money or property.

“The Federal Drug Administration estimates sport wagers at $70 billion in 1984. Even that number may be conservative. In 1981 the National Football League made its own estimate that pro football alone was attracting $50 billion a season. . . . It is not being overly dramatic to say that gambling poisons the atmosphere of any game it comes near.

Compulsive gambling is a disorder characterized by an overwhelming, uncontrollable obsession to gamble.

Among some of the typical behavior patterns associated with pathological or compulsive gambling are: a preoccupation with gambling; spending more time or money than can reasonably be afforded; and continuing to gamble despite adverse consequences that affect family, relationships, or educational or vocational pursuits.

Non-pathological and pathological gambling are currently stratified into four levels according to severity of consequences:

  • Level 0 – Non-gamblers
  • Level 1 – Social Gamblers – no ill effects from gambling
  • Level 2 – Problem Gamblers – some significant negative consequences due to gambling
  • Level 3 – Compulsive Gamblers – suffer severe consequences that can include financial devastation, divorce or damaged relationships, impaired physical or emotional health, job loss, and legal difficulties. People affected by compulsive gambling are at higher risk for suicide than most other populations.

A recent comprehensive study on gambling prevalence in the United States and Canada indicates that young people are particularly at risk for developing a severe gambling problem, with a rate of more than twice that of the general adult population. The study also shows that at least 13% of all college students will experience some form of a gambling problem in their lives. At least 90% of all adolescents will have gambled at least once by age 18. (Harvard School of Public Health)

Compulsive gambling shares many characteristics of other addictions, and is often called the invisible addiction. Latest views of this problem consider it more an addictive behavior than an impulse control disorder. When losing, compulsive gamblers become emotionally caught up in trying to win back losses, and when winning become overconfident that they will win more.

Gambling behavior which causes disruptions in any major area of life: psychological, physical, social or vocational. The term "Problem Gambling" includes, but is not limited to, the condition known as "Pathological", or "Compulsive" Gambling, a progressive addiction characterized by increasing preoccupation with gambling, a need to bet more money more frequently, restlessness or irritability when attempting to stop, "chasing" losses, and loss of control manifested by continuation of the gambling behavior in spite of mounting, serious, negative consequences.

Gambling, both legal and illegal, is a phenomenon gaining unprecedented acceptance. Because it is so widespread, Christians must look at this activity to determine the ethical and moral implications.

Gambling Defined



Advocates of gambling often try to place this activity in the same category as other ventures which involve risk. They describe farming, business, insurance, and even investments as gambling because the outcome is unpredictable and losses can occur. In this way they hope to transfer the respectability of legitimate ventures to gambling.

L. M. Starkey, Jr., has made the following helpful observation: Life does have its normal risks which one must accept with faith and courage. These normal risks are in no sense equivalent to the risks in a game of chance. Gambling devises artificial risks in the hope of excessive gain far beyond what the investment of time, money, or skill would justify. In gambling the chance is unrelated to any creative effort called for by the farmer or the stockbroker in the responsible investment of his mental, monetary, and physical funds.

To distinguish gambling from risks involved in legitimate venture it will be helpful to recognize three factors integral to gambling: (1) An incentive consisting of money or merchandise is offered. (2) The prize is acquired primarily on the basis of chance. (3) A payment of money or other consideration is required to become involved in the chance taken.

Gambling then is recognized as any activity in which wealth changes hands, mainly on the basis of chance and with risk to the gambler. Creative effort, useful skills, and responsible investment are not integral factors.


cause gambling exists in many forms and people in increasing numbers are exposed to its temptations, the responsible Christian must form an opinion concerning its propriety. The legalization of gambling by government or its acceptance by some religious organizations cannot be a criterion for evaluation. The Christian attitude must be determined by the principles of Scripture.

God’s Attitude Toward Gambling

God’s people in Bible times apparently were not greatly tempted with gambling. It seems the vice manifested itself only when Israel was dominated by heathen nations. When gambling did occur God clearly indicated His attitude concerning it.

During their Babylonian captivity the Israelites came under the influence of people who gambled. As a result some of the captives also became involved. To these people God through Isaiah said, "But ye are they that forsake the Lord, that forget my holy mountain, that prepare a table for that troop, and that furnish the drink offering unto that number" (Isaiah 65:11). As indicated in some modern translations of the Bible, the Hebrew words translated "troop" and "number" were names of the heathen gods "Gad" and "Meni." To the heathen, Gad was the giver of good luck. Meni was the god of bad luck.

The translation of Isaiah 65:11 by James Moffat is as follows: "But ye who have forsaken the Eternal, ye who ignore his sacred hill, spreading tables to Good Luck, pouring libations to Fate, I make the sword your fate."

E. H. Plumptre, late Dean of Wells, has pointed out that Gad was worshipped as the greater fortune, the giver of good luck. Meni was worshipped as the lesser fortune. George Rawlinson, who at one time served as professor of Ancient History at Oxford, has indicated the name Meni "designated a deity who apportions men’s fortunes to them."

The sin for which some of the Israelites were condemned was trusting in luck rather than God. Isaiah made it clear that trust in God and trust in luck cannot coexist. If people rely on chance it is evident they do not rely on God. Isaiah described those who trusted in gambling as "they that forsake the Lord" (Isaiah 65:11).

Biblical Principles

A careful reading of Scripture makes it clear there are numerous Biblical principles which indicate gambling is an evil to be avoided. When people recognize God’s authority they will honor the principles which indicate gambling is evil.

1. Gambling is wrong because it is a disregard of responsible stewardship.

The Bible clearly teaches that all things belong to God. "The earth is the Lord’s, and the fullness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein" (Psalm 24:1). Since all things belong to God, man is placed in the position of a steward who must give a proper accounting for everything given to him in trust.

The first step in a faithful administration of this stewardship is the giving of self to God. The believer must recognize he is not his own (1 Corinthians 6:19). He has been redeemed with a price, not of silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Jesus (1 Peter 1:18,19). The churches of Macedonia set a worthy example of personal dedication when they "first gave their own selves to the Lord" (2 Corinthians 8:5). Life, with all it involves, is a stewardship to be administered for the glory of God.

People who honestly dedicate themselves to God will also recognize that all they possess must be handled as a stewardship. The Parable of the Talents (Matthew 25:14-30) indicates that the good and faithful servants administered the talents entrusted to them in such a way that the master was pleased. The wicked and slothful servant failed in his administration and suffered the appropriate consequences.

When people recognize their stewardship responsibilities they will not consider gambling in any form a proper administration of divinely bestowed resources, time, and ability. Even the ethics of the world will not tolerate those who gamble with resources put in their trust. Christian responsibility transcends all other responsibility, and for the Christian, gambling is wrong. It is a total disregard of the principle of stewardship. It is a prostitution of God-given assets which should be used to glorify God and advance His kingdom.

2. Gambling is wrong because it involves a chance of gain at the expense and suffering of others.

The nature of gambling is such that a person has a chance of gain only because others have suffered loss. The economic benefits come only to a very few. The financial loss is borne by many who usually can least afford it. The fact that people involved in gambling are commonly referred to in derogatory terms by its promoters is an indication of the status to which they are reduced. Whether or not the financial loss is excessive, gamblers are basically losers while the operators of gambling establishments are the winners.

The suffering caused by gambling is totally inconsistent with the teaching of Scripture concerning love. Not only is the Christian to love those who are lovable, but even enemies. God’s people are to love their neighbors as themselves. The principle of love will prevent Christians from gambling because of the damage it does to others. The principle of love will cause Christians to oppose any effort by the state or any other organization to legalize any activity based on a weakness of people which degrades society.

William Temple, late Archbishop of Canterbury, stated the Christian position well when he wrote:

Gambling challenges that view of life which the Christian church exists to uphold and extend. Its glorification of mere chance is a denial of the divine order of nature. To risk money haphazardly is to disregard the insistence of the Church in every age of living faith that possessions are a trust, and that men must account to God for their use. The persistent appeal to covetousness is fundamentally opposed to the unselfishness which was taught by Jesus Christ and by the New Testament as a whole. The attempt (inseparable from gambling) to make profit out of the inevitable loss and possible suffering of others is the antithesis of that love of one’s neighbor on which our Lord insisted.

3. Gambling is wrong because it is inconsistent with the work ethic of Scripture.

Throughout Scripture the importance of work is emphasized. In several places the correlation between working and eating is stated. The Old Testament reminds us, "He that tilleth his land shall be satisfied with bread" (Proverbs 12:11).

In the New Testament the same principle is stated with great forcefulness. To the Thessalonians Paul wrote: "When we were wi
th you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat" (2 Thessalonians 3:10).

Not only does the Bible require that man should work for the necessities of life, but it also warns against the something-for-nothing, get-rich-quick approach. "He that maketh haste to be rich shall not be innocent" (Proverbs 28:20). "He that hasteth to be rich hath an evil [envious] eye, and considereth not that poverty shall come upon him" (Proverbs 28:22). "Wealth gotten by vanity [without labor or exertion] shall be diminished: but he that gathereth by labor shall increase" (Proverbs 13:11).

In the wisdom of God man was assigned work in the garden of Eden even before the Fall (Genesis 2:15ff). Though sin resulted in a change of the nature of work (Genesis 3:17,19) the responsibility of working was never rescinded. Any effort on man’s part to circumvent the work ethic of Scripture can result only in failure. Gambling, whether to secure wealth in a hurry or to place bread on the table, is inconsistent with what the Bible teaches about work.

4. Gambling is wrong because it tends to be habit-forming

Gambling, like other evils, has a tendency to become an addiction. As in the case of alcoholics and drug addicts, compulsive gamblers are dominated to the extent that they risk not only money, but everything meaningful in life. They have lost control of themselves.

This condition is contrary to the teaching of Scripture. The Word of God points out that a Christian will refuse to be brought under the power even of lawful things (1 Corinthians 6:12). The person indwelled by the Holy Spirit will be characterized by temperance, or self-control (Galatians 5:23).

Those who have studied gambling addiction seem to agree there are six symptoms characteristic of compulsive gambling: (1) The activity becomes chronically repetitive. (2) It becomes a mania which precludes all other interests, including the home. (3) A pathologic optimism replaces the ability to learn from previous losing experiences. (4) The ability to stop in a winning situation no longer exists. (5) In spite of initial decisions to gamble only so much the addict invariably risks too much. (6) The activity seems to produce an enjoyable tension consisting of both pain and pleasure.

It is obvious that habitual gamblers are under the control of the compulsion to gamble. Rather than being servants of God, they are servants of a desire they cannot handle. Paul described the condition clearly when he wrote, "Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey" (Romans 6:16). Because of the degrading possibility of addiction, gambling should be considered an evil.


Christian Responsibility in Relation to Gambling

When the various truths of God’s Word are considered, the Christian cannot adopt a neutral stance toward gambling. There are responsibilities which he cannot ignore.

When the Bible instructs believers, "Whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God" (1 Corinthians 10:31), it certainly precludes gambling. God is not glorified when people put their trust in chance rather than in the Lord. When God’s Word teaches that we should "abstain from all appearance of evil" (1 Thessalonians 5:22) it precludes gambling. There is no way in which a practice can be considered anything other than evil when it violates principles of God’s Word concerning stewardship, consideration of others and the dignity of honest labor.

Those who want to live according to Scripture will refrain from participation in any form of gambling. As the salt of the earth (Matthew 5:13) they will also do all within their power to discourage the legalization of gambling, whether to raise money for charity, church, or state.

Gambling is a game of chance. It involves a conscious risk in hope of making a profit, as in playing the lottery. Greed is often the motive in gambling and is prohibited in the Ten Commandments (Exo. 20:17). Believers are to keep themselves from every type of evil (1 Thes. 5:22). Rather, the Old and New Testament teach the importance of hard work, integrity and steadfastness in achieving one’s goals (2 Thes. 3:10-12; Pro. 12:11). Those who illegally benefit from the gambling losses of others are often stealing (Pro. 20:10; Eph. 4:28).

Since institutions like the stock market also involve chance and the transfer of value from one person to another, one might ask, how do the stock market, futures, or insurance policies differ from gambling? Purchasing insurance or investing in the stock market does involve some risk. But the money is invested for the development of a business or the provision of one’s financial security. Chance is not the predominant factor. Gambling, however, is based on chance, using pure luck to acquire “easy money” or get rich quick. Some religious groups have used games of chance like bingo as a means of fund raising.

There can be serious consequences from gambling. Such things as a loss of income, indebtedness, and strained family relations are among them. Games of chance can affect the mental, emotional and spiritual health of a person and may result in addiction. Gamblers Anonymous seeks to help those who have become addicted to gambling. 

A sovereign God is Lord over all of life and is not subject to games of chance (Psa. 33:6-12; Isa. 46:8-11; Rom. 11:36). He provides for the financial needs of believers according to His will (Phi. 4:19). But He usually uses hard work, industry, and a moral lifestyle to provide for those needs.


Casting of Lots. The casting of lots under the Mosaic Law in the Old Testament was a common practice (Num. 26:52-56; 1 Sam. 10:20-21; 1 Chr. 24:5). It was used to make decisions for God’s people. Matthias, a replacement for Judas, was chosen by lot (Acts 1:26). The early church evidently discontinued the practice, relying instead on the Holy Spirit, the principles taught by the early Apostles elders, and approval by church body (Acts 6:1-6, 13:1-2). Casting lots therefore cannot be equated with the modern idea of gambling.

In His Grace Forever,

Pastor Teddy Awad, CMHP

Young Adult Crisis Hotline and

Biblical Counseling Center

Call Toll Free: 1-877-702-2GOD



The Bending Process :Examination

In the process of counseling as pastoral counselors are instruments to bring specific categories doctrine in helping people examine their heart in light of the Word of God. We help them in their process of bending toward God’s mind instead of their own mind. This process of bending takes time and care. We are to present them unto God in the process of their personal decisions toward the truth. We help individuals realize that absolute truth is the way to begin to think rationally and with sober thoughts. To think with sober thoughts in John 8:32 brings great freedom. Acting on truth releases the power of freedom into your life and circumstances. The turned and changed mind will be a spiritual awakening and source for strength.

The path of surrender and freedom depends upon how we assist them to look at themselves. This is defined as living the life of Faith which is to begin the journey of a yielded life. This process unfortunately is often clouded with worldly introspection and toxic guilt. The reason introspection causes guilt and not a genuine repentance is because it uses the cognition.

Cognition Definition:

The mental process of knowing, including aspects such as awareness, perception, reasoning, and judgment.Those processes involved in the gathering, organization, and use of knowledge.Reasoning by direct retrieval involves retrieving a known fact from memory to solve a problem. Reasoning involves constructing or retrieving images from conceptual memory and examining or manipulating them to solve a problem.
The internal structures and processes that are involved in the acquisition and use of knowledge, including sensation, perception, attention, learning, memory, language, thinking, and reasoning. Cognitive scientists propose and test theories about the functional components of cognition based on observations of an organism’s external behavior in specific situations.
Cognition throughout life can be broadly described as an interaction between knowledge-driven processes and sensory processes; and between controlled processes and automatic processes. Over time, there is a trade-off between the amount of surface information that is retained in the internal representation of objects or events (bottom-up processing) and the amount of meaning that is incorporated (top-down processing).
The process of cognition which the mind acts and states. This reflection depends upon self-consciousness instead of God-consciousness. A reflective looking inward is the spy of self that looks to condemn instead of building and bending toward the will and Rational expression of God.

2 Corinthians 13:5 Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?

When we examine ourselves, we try to test the quality of our hearts with the Word of Grace, not the word of self-condemnation. The Word of Grace develops God’s character in which God’s nature rationally through the Word of God helps our mind to prove and ascertained the quality of one’s own state. This also through Grace internally changes us from within which then changes our conduct. This process has to start with our motives which is developed first in the Battleground of our Mind. Motives particularly cause action concerning our feelings. The reflective examination reveals with the mirror of living water the true state of our spirit, soul, and body. The process of examination does not produce toxic guilt or shame because it is God centered and not self-oriented. The examination produces the consciousness of who God is and what he has done not who we are and what we have done.

In His Grace Forever,
Pastor Teddy Awad, CMHP
Young Adult Crisis Hotline
and Biblical Counseling Center

Call Toll Free: 1-877-702-2GOD


REV. C. H. Spurgeon is these excerpts below from the New Park Street pulpit sermon # 218

“Stand not only on the mountains of your public character, but go into the deep valleys of your private life. Be not content to sail on the broad river of your outward actions, but go follow back the narrow nil till you discover your secret motive.Look not only at your performance, which is but the product of the soil, but dig into your heart and examine the vital principle. “Examine yourselves.”

Examine: that is a scholastic idea questions him, to see whether he has made any progress,—whether he knows anything. Christian, catechize your heart; question it, to see whether it has been growing in grace; question it, to see if it knows anything of vital godliness or not.

A military idea. “Examine yourselves,” or renew yourselves. Go through the rank and file of your actions, and examine all your motives. Just as the captain on review-day is not content with merely surveying the men from a distance, but must look at all their accoutrements, so do you look well to yourselves; examine yourselves with the most scrupulous care.
And once again, this is a legal idea. “Examine yourselves.” You have seen the witness in the box, when the lawyer has been examining him, or, as we have it, cross-examining him. Now, mark: never was there a rogue less trustworthy or more deceitful than your own heart, and as when you are cross-examining a dishonest person—one that hath bye-ends to serve, you set traps for him to try and find him out in a lie, so do with your own heart. Question it backward and forward, this way and that way; for if there be a loophole for escape, if there he any pretence for self-deception, rest assured your treacherous heart will be ready enough to avail itself of it.
And yet once more: this is a traveler’s idea. I find in the original, it has this meaning: “Go right through yourselves.”

Is Addiction a Disease?

Is Addiction a Disease?

Is it a Disease or sin?

Many doctors and insurance companies accept addiction as a disease because it is:

1) Predicable

2) Progressive

3) Physiologically debilitating characteristic of the normal functioning of a living organism

4) Treatable.

When a chemical or behavior interferes with the productivity, tranquility, efficacy, or well-being of any of these area and when a person is made aware that this is happening but still priests in using or acting out then that person is addicted not diseased.

By calling it a disease individuals are less likely to be condemned and more likely to get treatment that insurance companies will finance.

“The disease concept is out of tune

with the facts and a serious obstacle to rational solutions.”

It basically comes down to personal choice. What determines whether a person becomes dependent is how much he consumes and for how long, rather than his personality, psychodynamics, or biochemistry. Addiction is a progressive. It engulfs its victim psychologically and physically that creates a moral condition for which he or she is responsible. By calling addiction a disease, it tends to relieve personal responsibility. Its root cause is sin that remains not isolated becomes habitual which causes the surface problem of overt sickness.

God established protective boundaries for His children because He knows the dangers of disobedience, for the transgressor as well as for others affected by the sin. His Word warns us not to give in to temptation but to follow Jesus in a life of sacrifice, which is the way to true contentment. In contrast, the world says satisfaction is found in acquiring goods, wealth, status, and friends. Satan whispers the lie that gratification comes from self-indulgence. His goal of turning us away from God started with his temptation of Adam and Eve. The Creator had given them access to every tree in the Garden of Eden but one. The first man and woman stepped outside the limit set by the Lord, ate the forbidden fruit, and became separated from Him. Satan used doubt (“Did God really say?”), deceit (“You will not surely die”), and self-delusion (“You will be like God”) to achieve his aim (Gen. 3:1-4). He made rebellion against God—which is the root of all sin—seem very attractive. And the Enemy’s methods are the same today. The only way we can withstand the world’s clamor, the Devil’s whispers, and our own selfish desires is by immersing ourselves in God’s Word. We must focus our attention on knowing the Lord in all His fullness, believing His promises, and obeying His commands. Only through our relationship with Christ will we be able to fight the battle against sin and stand firm.

Sin plays no favorites. It works its way into every-one’s life without regard to age, race, or economic status. Regardless of the form it takes, it always tempts us to choose our own way. Rebellion is harmful and addictive. Repetitions of sinful behavior lead to more of the same, until the action is so entrenched that we cannot stop. We become enslaved. The descent into a pattern of disobedience begins in our minds. Once our thinking is involved, the influence extends to our behavior, eventually progressing until we are more entrenched than we ever imagined. Deception permeates the whole process. We tell ourselves there is no harm in what we’re doing. After all, other people behave the same way. Sin’s demands keep increasing, and yet its benefits are only short-term. Eventually, we experience emptiness instead of satisfaction, pain in place of comfort, and loss rather than gain. Habitual sin splits our mind and emotions. Then we spend less time meeting our responsibilities and more time satisfying cravings. Our care and concern for others diminishes too. Over time, feelings of guilt and entrapment can take their toll and lead to a desire to self-destruct.

Every human being has an inner need for a real and growing relationship with God. When the craving is denied, unrecognized, and unfilled, a search for something else will fill the vacuum. Addiction is any thinking or behavior t

hat is habitual, repetitious, and difficult or impossible to control. Addictions have one thing in common they change moods. Almost any person can be psychologically and or physically on drugs if that person is exposed to a high dosage for a long enough periods.

In his, book Diseasing of America, addiction researcher Stanton Peele breaks with this tradition. A disease conception of misbehavior is bad science and morally and intellectually sloppy, argues Peele. “Once we treat alcoholism and addiction as diseases, we cannot rule out that anything people do but shouldn’t is a disease.”

The disease conception of addiction acts to isolate the harmful behavior from the person. Thus when we claim that drugs, much like the flu, “get a hold” of you, we conveniently deflect from that which mediates behavior: personality, values, character or lack thereof. Once someone becomes involved with drugs, we explain everything they do by saying it was due to the drugs, forgetting, in the process of this argument, that the source of the addiction is the person and not the drug. An honest look at drug-use means we cannot separate it from the person. With the disease label as a protective rampart, addicts have taken to comparing their “disease” with having, let us say, diabetes or cancer.

Procrustes name means “he who stretches”, was a giant in Greek mythology who kept a house by the side of the road where he offered hospitality to passing strangers, who were invited in for a pleasant meal and a night’s rest in his very special bed.. What Procrustes didn’t volunteer was the method by which this “one-size-fits-all” was achieved, namely as soon as the guest lay down Procrustes went to work upon him, stretching him on the rack if he was too short for the bed and chopping off his legs if he was too long. Along these same lines, an article on recovery in the New York Times cited the Psychiatric News, which said: “Addiction medicine is at risk of becoming the laughingstock of the medical community by forcing everything into a Procrustean model of addiction.”

Another example of mislabeling is the practice of calling behavioral problems “diseases.” Now, of course, there are some mental disorders that can affect behavior—schizophrenia, Alzheimer’s disease, and some forms of depression—that are associated with physical diseases. However, does this mean that behavior can be diseased? It is critical to recognize that there is an element of volition in behavior that is not present in real, biological diseases. People do not succumb to apoplexy the way they succumb to adultery. Stanton Peele, in his book Diseasing of America: Addiction Treatment Out of Control, says that “disease definitions undermine the individual’s obligation to control behavior and to answer for misconduct. They legitimatize, reinforce, and excuse the behaviors in question—convincing people, contrary to all evidence, that their behavior is not their own.”

Critics thus emphasize that a “disease” is something one has; “behavior” has to do with what one does. Addressing this issue, anthropologist Melvin Konner said: “We would all like to point at an illness—a psychiatric label—and say of our weak or bad actions, ‘That thing, the illness, did it, not me. It.’ But at some point we must draw ourselves up to our full height, and say in a clear voice what we have done and why it was wrong. And we must use the word ‘I’ not ‘it’ or ‘illness.’ I did it. I. I.”

There is no human remedy for sin.

This is a divine remedy for sin and that is the cross of Calvary.

Mark 7: 20-23

20 And he said, that which cometh out of the man, that defileth the man.

21 For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders,

22 Thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness:

23 All these evil things come from within, and defile the man.

Jesus lists thirteen items that proceed from the human heart.


Romans 1:28-31

28 And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient;

29 Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers,

30 Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents,

31 Without understanding, covenant breakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful:

The Apostle Paul lists 21 items that are “not fitting” or “not convenient”.

These words describe what is happening in our world today.

Galatians 5:19-21

19 Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness,

20 Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies,

21 Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.

The Apostle Paul presents the 17 acts of the sinful nature.

In Eph 4:22 he taught to put off that which is being corrupted by deceitful desire.

Eph 2:25-28

25 Wherefore putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbour: for we are members one of another.

26 Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath:

27 Neither give place to the devil.

28 Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labour, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth.

The Apostle Paul lists 9 items to be “put off”

Related to this, based on reading a representative sampling of Christian recovery books, I don’t think the doctrine of total depravity has received sufficient recognition in the recovery movement. Yes, Christian recovery leaders clearly acknowledge that people are infected by sin. However, more often than not the bad in our lives is presented as being more the result of unjust social conditions or growing up in a bad environment. As one critic put it, “in place of the idea of original sin, recovery experts put forward their own first cause of all our ills—the American [dysfunctional] family.”

C. K. Chesterton once observed that the doctrine of fallen man is a Christian belief for which there is overwhelming observed evidence. Indeed, as one looks at the evidence, it would seem that our psychologized society is not getting any better. If anything, it seems that people (and society) are “sicker” than ever.

We must emphasize that regardless of the attainment of self-esteem, people will continue to behave badly and suffer the consequences for their actions because they have a nature that is bent on evil. Feeling good about ourselves will not remove or alter this depravity. Hence, seeking self-esteem as a solution to inappropriate behavior seems misguided.

In His Grace Forever,

or Teddy Awad, CMHP
Young Adult Crisis Hotline
and Biblical Counseling Center

Addictions Are About Behavior, Not Disease (part 1)
by Ilana Mercer

When it comes to thinking about addiction, opinions converge. Having bought into the addiction industry’s mantra, so-called social progressives and conservatives alike share the same ideological hangover from the Prohibition era, with a twist of AA sadism: all are religious about abstinence, and all accept as bible from Sinai the wisdom of coercing addicts into treatment regimens. But perhaps the greatest error made in the attempt at humane formulations about addiction is to cast as a disease what is essentially a problem of behaviour.

The dangers of gathering more and more behaviors under the disease label is not something pharmacology moguls, politicians or health care professionals ruminate about, despite the ramifications for a society already committed to a morality lite and to diminished personal responsibility. In his book Diseasing of America, addiction researcher Stanton Peele breaks with this tradition. Disease conceptions of misbehavior are bad science and morally and intellectually sloppy, argues Peele. “Once we treat alcoholism and addiction as diseases, we cannot rule out that anything people do but shouldn’t is a disease, from crime to excessive sexuality to procrastination.”

While the application of the medical disease model to addictions was developed to “remove the stigma from these behaviours”, there is NO genetic marker for alcoholism or drug addiction. Still, the misconception that these behaviors are linked to a genetic vulnerability is aired repeatedly by the media, in the absence of evidence. The rationale for using the disease model to describe addiction even though it is intellectually dishonest is that medical treatment is effective.

Yet another deception. An overview of controlled studies indicates that “treated patients do not fare better than untreated people with the same problems.” Of note is a 4500-subject-strong 1996 US epidemiological study conducted by the National Longitudinal Alcohol Epidemiological Survey. Treated alcoholics, it was found, were more heavily alcohol dependent on average than untreated alcoholics. Clearly a behavioral problem cannot be remedied by medical intervention. Addicts are cured when they decide to give up the habit.

The disease conception of addiction acts to isolate the noxious behavior from the person. Thus when we claim that drugs, much like the flu, “get a hold” of you, we conveniently deflect from that which mediates behavior: personality, values, character or lack thereof. Once someone becomes involved with drugs, we explain everything they do by saying it was due to the drugs, forgetting, in the process of this circular argument, that the source of the addiction is the person and not the drug. An honest look at drug-use means we cannot separate it from the person.

Heroin addicts are thus highly disposed to having social problems even before they become addicted; and truancy and smoking behavior serve as good predictors of future drug use.

With the disease label as a protective rampart, addicts have taken to comparing their “disease” with having, let’s say, diabetes or cancer. How opting to shoot up for the first time, then doing it again, then stealing cash to get some, even breaking and entering – mimic the organic disease process in cancer or diabetes is unclear.

As Peele explains, addictive disorders are known only by the behaviors they describe. In the absence of the ongoing behavior there is no way of telling whether the person is, or will be addicted. “By claiming that alcoholics are alcoholics even if they haven’t drunk for fifteen years, alcoholism is made to seem less tied to drinking behaviour and more like cancer,” but “a person does not get over cancer by stopping a … behavior”… while “the sole and essential indicator of successful remission of alcoholism is that a person ceases to drink”.

It is unfortunate that the various preventive programs school kids are exposed to are delivered by equivocating addicts-cum-activists who conveniently convey that “It” can happen to anyone, that kids have little control and that once diagnosed as an addict, always an addict. This sets in motion–where there is already some drug use–a self-defeating cycle of abstinence and relapse, not to mention an overall rise in drug related involvement.

Most youngsters outgrow their occasional binges and turn into responsible adults. For doing what they do as a rite of passage, teens and college students do not deserve to be labeled diseased. What they do need is to be held accountable for their behavior. Failure to hold the person who strays responsible for his actions means that you cannot credit the person who doesn’t. That’s the logic of diminished responsibilities all round.

For the rest, the lingering paranoia of the temperance and prohibition era, which has culminated in AA disease dogma, should be consigned to the historical dustbin.

© 2000 – 2001 Ilana Mercer
Previously Published in the Calgary Herald

Addiction is Not a Disease (Part II)
by Ilana Mercer

Any overdue blitz of the disease theory of addiction owes a great deal to Stanton Peele. So, here is an interview conducted with the author of Diseasing of America (1989). A psychologist and an attorney, Peele is an addiction expert with an international reputation. The author of 120 articles and eight books about chemical and relational addiction, Peele is a recipient of the Mark Keller Award from the Rutgers Center for Alcohol Studies, and the Lindesmith Award for Career Achievement in

Scholarship from the American Drug Policy Foundation.

Q: Dr. Peele, do you believe addiction is a disease?

A: No. Most emphatically not. It has become the style to call negative behaviors, which people often experience as compelling motivation, “diseases.” As though nail biting, overeating, and wife beating were like the malignant growth of cancer cells. Many self-defeating and anti-social behaviors have a common thread. People engage in them because they feel degraded and disapproved of, which feeds into their motivation to continue the negative behavior. But how ultimately do people stop drinking too much, overeating, and biting their nails? They feel, internally, that the balance of their desires and rewards is not to act this way; people make positive choices when they feel they have the opportunity to engage -and are supported – in more positive choices. The toughest addiction to quit is smoking. Right now about 50 million Americans have quit smoking, over 90% without a patch or formal therapy.

Q: How have we progressed to thinking about addiction as a disease?

A: We have developed a faith in medical advances that is steeped in the legend of the “microbe hunters”, the generation of researchers and physicians who identified the bugs that cause many of the major killers of humans. This worship of medicine has become a fetish in North America. If we can describe a malady in medical terms, we feel we have somehow conquered it. Yet with psychological disorders and problems of behavior, namely addictions – such labeling and accompanying medical mumbo jumbo have not led to improvement in treatment outcomes. In many ways, turning our sense of ourselves over to medicine seems to be making things worse. Surveys repeatedly confirm that a generation of education about addiction has led to people’s spiraling out of control now more than ever.

Q: What is the science on which the disease proponents of addiction base their demand for considering addiction a disease?

A: There is no inherited mechanism that leads a person to be unable to control their substance use, to go on tremendous binges, or to leave off their connection to people and environments in order to consume a substance. Genetic theories, being the modest things they are, can never explain the experience of loss of control. An overview of the research on alcohol and drugs NEVER supports the wild claims made by some proponents of the disease model. These claims reflect fundamentally antiscientific attitudes and a lack of understanding of the confluence of human motivation in response to experience, biology and external stimuli.

Consider this example: A 1996 headline in The New York Times, declared that brain images of addiction in action show its neural basis. The article reviewed research showing that many different drugs — namely heroin, alcohol, amphetamines or nicotine — activate common neural pathways. Its author surmised that these drugs bathe the neurons at these sites so as to reduce natural supplies of dopamine, and thus stimulate a craving for more of the drugs to compensate for this depleted supply of the neurotransmitter. And this was taken to mean that addiction is purely brain driven.

In my critique of this folly I explain that a wide range of activities stimulate the same pleasure centers in the brain — including sex, eating, working, consuming chocolate. This should alert us to the fact that these brain theories tell us nothing about differences in behavior, let alone addiction. Apparently, stimulation of a pleasure center is only one small component in the entire addiction syndrome. Moreover, if any activity can be pleasurable — from work, to sex, to parenting and so on — identifying activities as stimulating the pleasure center fails to explain why people find different things pleasurable and why different people react in destructive, addictive ways to some of these things, while others incorporate them into a balanced overall lifestyle.

Peele’s position is at odds within the drug reform movement. He is a proponent of harm reduction policies such as needle exchange, but is a strong opponent of a treatment industry that relies, for the most, on coercing addicts into rehabilitation.

© 2000-2001 Ilana Mercer
Published previously in the Calgary Herald

Characteristics of the Addictive Process

Initial use of these substances or behavior is usually accompanied by mood elevation and other affective changes that lead to their recreational use. Some drugs have actions that produce other desirable psychological effects, such as relaxation. Addictive drugs activate brain reward systems. However, the activation is much more intense causing the individual to crave the drug and to focus their activities around taking the drug. The ability of addictive drugs to strongly activate brain reward mechanisms and their ability to chemically alter the normal functioning of these systems can produce an addiction.

Characteristics of the addictive process are:

! Obsession and abnormal importance of the substance or behavior

! Persistence, inflexibility and repetition of the particular addictive behavior

! Relative immunity to adverse consequences and resistance to learned modification of behavior

! The charm of an interrelated system of which, Psychological defenses (mental defense mechanisms), function in concert to protect the individual from the full realization and acknowledgement of his addiction and hence provide cover and concealment for the continued expression of the addictive process. Psychological defenses (mental defense mechanisms) are normal and universal features of the human mind that operate consciously, half-consciously and unconsciously to protect the ego from awareness of difficult or painful feelings, facts and ideas. Normal defense mechanisms of particular importance in the maintenance of addictive disease include denial, paranoid projection, and avoidance, isolation of affect, rationalization and intellectualization. Harmful and ultimately painful addictive behaviors require a bodyguard of lies, distortions, and psychotic denial to fend off the natural corrective consequences of cognitive and behavioral dissonance resulting from addiction. In a sense, however, they are merely superficial and secondary aids to the addictive process, which originates and operates at a still deeper level of the mind. The addictive process eventually transforms the worldview of the addicted individual and even realigns his sense of himself and his identity, so that they facilitate and do not obstruct the continued expression of the addiction.

Just as a powerful river finds or creates channels around anything obstructing its flow, so does the addictive process defeat the rational and ethical resistances of the person within which it is active. In addition, in the process of constructing such alternative paths for its discharge, the addiction shapes the reality of the addict’s world and his very notion of himself. The worldview that is created by the addictive process is one that is compatible with and friendly to the interests of the addiction. Worldviews that are inconsistent with the continuation of the addiction are suppressed or eliminated.

Addictive interest has been justly compared to the more commonly known stage of romantic love in which the lover thinks constantly of the beloved. An individual in such a state of mind is said to be obsessed with their love object and to subordinate every other aspect of their existence, including at times their health, work, and other relationships to the fulfillment of the almost unbearable need and longing to be united with their beloved. There are many paths and ways to recover from addiction but all require the capacity for honesty with oneself and the willingness and ability to bear the temporary but often intense discomforts associated with the loss of a love. In almost all cases, the addict must find ways to replace what he has lost with new and healthier ways of relating and dealing with life.

The painful feelings of guilt, shame and fear resulting from the conflict of addictive behavior with the individual’s own values often create states of unbearable inner stress that make it harder for the addict to refrain from resorting for relief to the very addiction that is causing the negative feelings. Abstinence requires a decision; recovery requires time and effort.

Physical recovery is the least complex of the four, even though it is often the most immediate. Physical recovery happens primarily as the result of abstinence alone. The body has an amazing ability to repair itself, especially when combined with medical attention.

Mental recovery is more complex because it includes not only issues associated with brain function and brain chemistry but with issues of attitudes, belief systems, and rational, abstract thought.

Emotional recovery is
more complex yet. It involves not only attitudes, belief systems, and rational thought, but thought’s first cousin—feelings. Emotional recovery involves learning to deal with feelings openly, honestly, and responsibly. It includes learning to express and resolve feelings in appropriate and effective ways. For most people in recovery, emotional recovery takes years.

We are all pleasure seekers. There are pleasure centers located within the human brain, which, when activated, are associated with feelings of euphoria. This is part of the daily cycle we all experience. During the day we go through naturally occurring periods when we feel comfortable, secure, happy, and fulfilled – and this is followed by periods when more negative feelings are aroused (anxiety, insecurity, discomfort). We humans are highly reinforced by positive feelings of pleasure. We want to experience euphoria again and again. Fortunately, that’s not all there is to life.

Addictive behavior can be seen as an attempt to control our daily cycles by maximizing pleasurable feelings and decreasing the frequency of negative feelings. At first we may even succeed for a while in doing this, but our basic natures have a way of catching up with us. We probably need our down phases of the daily cycle as much as we need the more positive ones – if for no other reason than that the negative parts of the cycle help us appreciate the positive ones even more. Our negative experiences strengthen us and help us to become survivors. They assist us in learning wisdom and integrity. There are few things in nature which are not cyclical. Attempts to find constant pleasure through addictive behavior are always futile. The negative phase always revisits us and brings balance back into our lives. There is no escaping our basic nature. And there is no escaping the escalating and debilitating results of the addictive process.

Addiction is an uncontrolled search for gratification through a relationship with a substance or activity to the exclusion of other more diverse life experiences. The substance or activity with which the addict forms a relationship varies with each person.

  • Many addictions aim to increase arousal. This is the all-powerful feeling that might come from cocaine, amphetamines, the first few drinks of alcohol, shoplifting, sexual acting out or gambling. This omnipotent feeling, however, is eventually undermined when the addict realizes that a dependency has been formed. A feeling of fear replaces the feeling of being all powerful – fear of losing the source of addiction and fear that others will find out how powerless the person actually is. Negative experiences always accompany the positive feelings the addict is seeking.

  • Other addictions aim to increase satiation. This is the feeling of happiness and fulfillment that might be achieved through the use of heroin, marijuana, tranquilizers, pain medication, watching TV or overeating. The feeling of satiation serves to camouflage a person’s underlying pain. Again, however, negative feelings always show themselves. The person who strives for satiation not only re-experiences the underlying pain when the feeling of satiation wears off, but also experiences the grief accompanied by the loss of the satiation high. Satiation addicts must increase the dosage of the drug or the frequency of the addictive acting out behavior to cover up their original pain. The quest for a satiation high takes over the person’s life until, ultimately, the pain returns in the form of despair.

Note that satiation reflects our quest for pleasure while arousal exemplifies our quest for power. Pleasure ( The state or feeling of being pleased or gratified.) and Power (The ability or capacity to perform or act effectively) are two of our most primitive behaviors and are experienced by children in the earliest years of life when the range of experiences is focused largely on forming one’s sense of self. Adulthood brings us beyond these simple levels of experience into a more complex, diverse and meaningful way of relating to the world. When we move past pleasure and power, we are able to form intimate relationships with other adults, to contribute to society, to understand our responsibilities to others, and to incorporate moral convictions into our actions. Addictive behavior prevents us from achieving these more complex levels of behavior found in adulthood.

Addictive behavior usually contains the following components:

Þ Acting out Behavior: Addicts create a mood through a change in their behavior that sets the stage to go into the addictive high. These “acting out” behaviors are a preliminary part of the addictive process and serve to shift the addict’s mood. During the acting out stage, the addict feels the illusion of being powerful and in control.

Þ The Illusion of the providing of loving care and attention: Most of us seek ways to achieve the providing of loving care and attention. In times of stress, but for the addict, this is tem
porary and does not allow the person to find ways to solve problems in a realistic way. Addiction is a lifestyle in which life’s problems are avoided in favor of the search for the next high. Although the addict may understand rationally that addictive behavior will not solve the problem, they develop their own logic which rationalizes the continuation of the addiction.

Þ The Addictive Object Becomes the Person’s Primary Relationship! Addicts seek to meet their emotional and intimacy needs through achieving a high until, eventually; this becomes their most important relationship. They experience a mood change and come to believe that their emotional needs have been met. This is the tragedy of addiction because the addict shuts out other people, the community and the search for spiritual answers – the real way to deal with life’s issues in a healthy manner. Other people are used, not for true relationship, but merely as props in pursuit of the addiction.

Þ The Addict Withdraws from the World. The normal way to achieve intimacy is to reach out to other people. For the addict, where the primary relationship is with the addictive substance, the illusion of intimacy means pursuing the addictive high and excluding other people. The high gives the feeling of warmth, control, and well-being – and the feeling that the need for intimacy has been met. Unfortunately, the longer the addict engages in this process, the more lonely and isolated he or she becomes. When the pain of isolation becomes intense, the stage is set for the addict to engage in more acting out behavior. The pattern becomes entrenched, and escaping it is difficult.

Þ Addicts Trust the High More than Other People Addicts begin to trust the mood change that comes from engaging in addictive behavior. They feel isolated from other people and find that others might not always come through for them. The high, on the other hand, is consistent and always available. They trust the high more than they trust others. Unfortunately, because addicts have not engaged in the normal interactions that occur between people, they lack the experience of working through the providing of loving care and attention of relationships in order to find ways of getting their needs met through others. This entrenches them in the belief that their addiction is their only friend. It works every time, while friends are not always there.

In His Grace Forever,
Pastor Teddy Awad, CMHP
Young Adult Crisis Hotline
and Biblical Counseling Center