Is Addiction a Disease or a Moral Issue?

Because most experts have no clue as to how they should approach addiction science has been called upon to solve the issue. Thousands of people in the medical field want our scientists to now use their skills to cook up some new potion so we can finally resolve this “disease” once and for all.  The result of this is that doctors and psychologists are now calling for faith based rehabs to be discredited since we don’t view addiction as a scientific issue, rather we see it as a moral issue that originates in man’s fallen nature.

Now, I’m not totally against science as a Christian.  Science is a beautiful tool that God has given us and it has saved the lives of millions of people.  I’m also thankful for the scientists who work hard at the practice of medicine and I submit to their expertise in most areas.  However, science is not the answer to every problem facing mankind today. Why?  Because science cannot answer the moral questions that revolve around complicated issues like addiction.

Often the argument is made that addicts are infected people who need their chemical levels balanced, and once this balance is achieved then all will be well in Eden once again.  This is a flawed outlook on recovery because even if you balance the chemical levels in the brain you still cannot touch the character issues inside the heart.

Let me give you an example:

Cancer is a tragic disease.  It’s effects are ravaging on the human body and it’s often fatal for those it infects. However, cancer is not a moral issue.  I’ve never met a cancer victim who claims their disease causes them to commit unethical acts.  Imagine catching someone stealing from your wallet for cancer medication.  Now imagine you caught them doing it.  What if  you confronted them about it and they claimed that they couldn’t help stealing from you due to their disease.  Is that logical?  Would you buy that story?  I think most of us wouldn’t because we understand that stealing is a moral issue.  So it goes with addiction…

We live in a culture that is increasingly finding technological ways to excuse man from their personal sin.  Thus, it does not surprise me that this mindset would find its way into addiction recovery as well.  Addiction is one of the most frowned upon habits in our society and the world hasn’t been able to fix this behavior despite all of their self help programs and positive thinking schemes.  So, instead of admitting that they don’t know what they’re doing and telling us why they can’t fix it, they have instead chosen to deem addiction as a disease that only science can heal.  It’s simple really.  By labeling it this way they have excused the addict from needing repentance before God.

I speak from personal experience.  When I was trying to recover through secular rehabs I bought into the disease excuse and loved it.  It wasn’t my fault when I relapsed because I had a disease that had caused me to do it in the first place.  I didn’t need to feel to bad about what I did to others because I was just following the course of my sickness.  It wasn’t my fault I had the disease of addiction, but it was my responsibility to take care of it from there on out…at least that’s what they taught me.

When I was converted by Christ, I instantly knew that this disease model was a fraud.  Once I was awakened by the Holy Spirit, I saw who I really was in the eyes of a holy God and I understood that I could no longer escape my moral depravity.  I didn’t have a disease that caused me to commit immoral acts; I had sin that I loved to participate in.  I lied because I was a liar.  I stole because I was a thief.  I schemed people to get what I needed in order to get high because I was a schemer.

Once I was aware of my condition as a morally bankrupted person I knew I needed something greater than steps, pills, and programs.  I needed a power outside of myself to change my deepest desires.  I needed to be saved from myself. I knew it was true that I was sinful at heart and that drove me to the Savior, Jesus Christ, for salvation.  He died on the cross on my behalf and He promised, if I repented and trusted in Him alone, to deliver me from the dominion of those moral flaws that had driven my addiction in the first place.  He didn’t let me down.

Today I don’t desire drugs and alcohol.  It’s been around six years since I was an addict.  These “brain disease” doctors would be baffled to explain my transformation because science didn’t play a role in the least bit.  In light of that, these modern day calls to get rid of the gospel in recovery are totally illogical.  The biblical worldview calls a man, addicted or not, to repentance for their personal sins against their neighbor and against a Holy God.  The bible does not excuse a moral issue as a disease and it never says we are to teach others such heresy either.  The church would do well to wake up on this issue and no longer buy into the deceptions of the devil when it comes to recovery.

And so I ask you:

Is addiction a brain disease or moral issue?  Is Christ our Savior or is science?

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