Addictions are those habits and behaviors which are not good for us, in part, because they crowd out something much better. Sadly, when addicted we accept a lie for the truth.
Sex makes people feel good. But it is not just the act itself that obsesses our society, it is the whole fantasy of passionate love depicted through movies and television that sets our hearts beating faster. Passionate relationships create a bond that makes people feel they belong and have a purpose. God gave us the ability to know passion for the formation of family and society for the very reason that human relationships are so very hard to sustain over a long period of time. But when we trade the long term commitment of family and children, for the momentary pleasure of disconnected physical highs, we replace the greater good with a lesser good. Sometimes people are not really looking for a human companion – they are actually looking for a “soul mate”. Too often the other person can never fulfill the inner needs of the yearning soul simply because as humans we cannot comprehend the full needs of the other person. In our world today, people are hoping to find the depth of God in a personal relationship that was never meant to replace Him. Render unto César what is Cesar’s and render unto God what is God’s. The same could be said – Expect humanity from a human (even a beloved human) and expect God from God. Sex as an addiction is looking for love in all the wrong places. It is looking for depth in a shallow encounter. Human sexuality is far too sacred and wonderful to be degraded to a mere addiction that is why the misunderstanding of our sexual nature tends to damage us in the long run.
Drugs, alcohol, and bad food choices are other addictions in which we place ourselves into a kind of slavery. Drugs are so obviously addictive that I hardly need to mention the danger, but the reason behind the danger is worth a moment’s thought. Why would anyone use drugs, smoke, or eat or drink unhealthy food? Why would anyone fill their days and bodies with toxic food and drugs? Desperation usually does the trick. What would make people so desperate? In most cases I have encountered, there is a terrible lack of family cohesiveness, a history if abuse, and a total loss of purpose. How could this happen? If you look back at the isms of humanism, secularism, consumerism, and voyeurism, you will see the cause. In each case, there is a lack of an engagement with God and an attempt to fill His place with something else. When individuals put themselves in place of God, then selfishness rules. If we abandon the sacrificial example that Christ offered us then sex is nothing more than a momentary pleasure, family becomes disposable, goods are bought at any cost, religious convictions get tossed to the side, and humanity buys into the lie that we can fix ourselves – with whatever is at hand. If drugs, cigarettes & soda happen to be available…
Techno toys are another addiction that are taking over the minds and souls of people in society today. If there was a crises in our country and we were no longer able to use our computers, iPods, games, and other electronic time-spenders, we might find ourselves worrying less about our next meal than about our next techno connection. I appreciate all the advancements that technology have to offer, but remember an addiction is defined by a lesser good crowding out a greater good. If technology is used within proper bounds it remains a helpful good, but if it crowds out healthy relationships, personal life experiences, and healthy encounters with the natural world, then we have to ask if our relationship with technology is taking more than it gives. Do we choose freely to get on face book or do we feel we have too? How much of our day is spent in staring at a screen and then not being able to remember what we just did for the last few hours? Have we become better people for the encounter? Healthy past times like healthy food build us up, not waste our lives.
In the very beginning of this series of blogs I started with the observation that someone once made to me: “God wants me to be happy.” After watching my husband suffer and die, mourning for the thousands suffering in the Middle East, grieving for the Ebola victims, and dealing with countless personal encounters with human grief and tragedy, it has become quite obvious that God did not create me just to be “happy” – at least not here. That is the ultimate lie that has fed the isms and addictions that have haunted humanity. I do believe God has my best interest at heart. He did, after all, die for me…and you. But I believe that the price of our human existence is to know both happiness and sorrow, to encounter the wonderful and tragic realities behind free choice. This earthly life is not the final end. There is another life which comes after this one and though I cannot define or explain it – I do believe that it offers us what we have been trying, through false and futile means to achieve – real happiness – if we are courageous enough to realize it.