Normalizing Addiction

Normalizing Addiction

1 Corinthians 5:1 It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and of a kind that is not tolerated even among pagans…

It is almost unbelievable to me, looking back, to see the conduct I came to consider as normal when I was engaged in active addiction.  Though it is horrific to me now, at the time, my toxic behavior was just routine.  Some of the details, frankly are just too shameful for me to repeat.  It is miserable to tell of how I once left church, withdrawing, just so I could go find some pills.  I did not start out on day one pursuing drugs.  It was a slow surrender to the destructive desires of my flesh.  It was an incremental process that led me to behavior that I would now consider unfathomable.

Paradoxically, I remember, being offended by the sin of others even while I was using.  Once, I stopped watching a certain television show as I felt it promoted a morality that offended my Christian convictions.  Never mind that I am using drugs, that show is just offensive.  It is not that I gave up on virtue and faith altogether.  It is just that I came to accept my own caustic behavior as normal, even while remaining judgmental of others.

This is the condition which Paul addressed in today’s passage.  Speaking to the church in Corinth, Paul chastised them for tolerating a prominent man in the church who was engaged in an incestuous relationship with his own mother or step-mother.  Though this seems grotesque to us, it apparently was just a part of the scenery to the church of Corinth.  We do not know the details that enabled such behavior, but as the man was a celebrated church leader, his debauchery was tolerated.

To this Paul said, What on Earth are you thinking?  This is grotesque and you cannot tolerate it.  How did you get here?  How could you think this is normal?  You know better…

I could be wrong, but I would be willing to bet that the same players who enabled and engaged in the incestuous relationship also condemned other behaviors with which they did not struggle.  The church and probably this individual most likely took a firm stand on other issues, while engaged in horrific sin themselves.

This, of course, is the height of Christian hypocrisy.   To presume to be a spiritual leader, while refusing to acknowledge my own addiction, is profound duplicity.  It is not that I must wait to be perfect to serve God.  I will never be perfect in this life.  Paul insisted though, that I am not to normalize my destructive behavior.  I must not allow myself to grow numb to disastrous behavior just because that is my particular struggle.

This is, inherently, part of my defectiveness, to grow tolerant of my own garbage.  It requires brutal honesty and introspection to continually ask myself what toxic behavior I am tolerating in my life.  Change is painful, so I avoid it.  The normal life of a disciple though, as described by Christ, is to daily deny self so I can follow him.  I am not to choose blindness to a defect, just because it is the one with which I struggle.

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  1. Brenda says:

    Why is this so? Can we humans ever really be completely non-judgemental? It seems as though those who struggle can see this and those that don’t struggle do not.

    • Scott says:

      I think everyone struggles with something. Some of our struggles are just much more obvious. And no, I don’t think I will ever strike the perfect balance between addressing destruction and being judgmental. I almost always err in either being too judgmental or just looking the other way. I should, of course, continue to strive to do it right, but I will never be perfect as long as I am in this flesh.

  2. Wendy Haider says:

    Well said..Change is Very Painful! We’ve experienced so many like stories in active addiction..I can remember judging others so harshly about doing exactly what I was doing at the time and no matter what anyone said or did, I was Right! It created so many battles and drama with family and friends. To this day..Most won’t even think about letting their guard down and giving me another chance..They’ve given all they had..That’s what’s been the hardest for me. Have you experienced this with your recovery? If so, what have you done to conquer those battles? I know that if I sit and dwell on this I’m asking myself to open up a can of worms that would only bring back my destructive ways..Is recognizing this in myself a great way to start living whatever normal is? I’m curious as to what you think on this matter? I think yes and no..Yes in that it’s making me rethink before doing which I never did before..No in that I still think of these destructive behaviors all the time! I know there is a happy medium between the two or how you put it, Normalizing Addiction..How will I know that I’m in that medium? Do you feel that you’ve gotten to that point? I do know in my heart, mind and soul that when I sit and worship God at the end of the day.. I feel such peace and comfort..That’s an Amazing Feeling..I believe that feeling is Completely different from one to another..We all experience things so differently but yet the same!

    • Scott says:

      Some of the toughest relationships to repair are the ones closest to us because we hurt them the most. We want it all repaired right away, but of course that is not reasonable. I have relationships that will probably never be repaired and I have to be OK with that as I can never change it. I just have to daily work at being a different person than I was. The only way to heal some hurts is to be a very different person for a very long time.

      • Wendy Haider says:

        Thanks for getting back to me Scott. The way I see things now with eyes wider open than before is knowing that I don’t have control of anyone but me..I know I definitely have broken many bridges to relationships that I cherish..If the other person in these relationships doesn’t want to repair what once was..All I can do is Pray and move onto those relationships that choose to have me in their lives and are healthy for me. I do find myself getting upset or angered when others act towards me or others the same destructive way I used to them..kind of ironic, huh? I keep telling myself it’s ok to still be angered or upset about what others are partaking in as long as I deal with these feelings in a constructive way.. Have you ever had thoughts like that? Sometimes, I feel like I’m still acting out of self by justifying what I do with my feelings..Just like justifying my need for certain meds in the past..Is that wrong? Has anything like this ever crossed your mind? Whoever said Life is Hard..Wasn’t Joking!

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