Should a Christian believe that addiction is a decision or is an addict born that way? This is perhaps the biggest question we face as the opioid crisis looms and people give their lives daily for one last high. The answer is far more complicated than a simple yes or no.
Looking at this problem from a Christian worldview may seem like an open and shut case. Of course we’re not born with it, it’s a sin and is therefore a negative decision that we make, right? Wrong.
We know that through Adam and Eve, sin entered the world. By attempting to play God, Adam effectively caused all mankind to fall victim to sins evil grip. Why is it that we have such an easy time accepting that we inherited our sin in general and such a hard time admitting that it is possible that a person could have inherited a specific sin?
We must put the physical disease/ moral failing argument aside for a moment and remember that first and foremost, addiction separates us from God and is therefore a sin. Meaning it may do justice to classify addiction as a “spiritual disease.” It acts as a cancer, eating away at our spirits until we are left with nothing. This sin enters our life through a choice on our behalf to commit it. But why would we make such a decision knowing the consequences? Is it possible that we were born predisposed to the particular sin of addiction? Man’s depravity is a genetic problem. It has been passed down since the fall and remains to this day. The Word says that before the fall everything was “very good.” There was no such thing as addiction; no sickness, no death, no pain, no reason to use. But after the fall, man was cursed and addiction along with sickness and death became a very real thing.
Science has proven over and over again that there is a direct correlation between parents who suffer from addiction and children who do the same. This is unarguable. But could it be that this is because each of us were born with a predisposition to a particular sin? This is off topic, but could this also be the reason so many homosexuals believe with all their hearts that they were born that way? The evidence for this is plentiful, not the least of which is found as experiential. No one woke up one day and decided they were going to be an addict. It began slowly, and kept on til our lives spiraled out of control. None of us wanted to be this way. Stealing from parents, hurting those closest to us, leaving our children, these were all side effects of this spiritual disease that we didn’t want to do but did nonetheless. It is not that we weighed the options, and decided that even if it killed us, it was worth it. It was that we made one sinful decision and suddenly that sin consumed us in such a way that it defined us.
Luckily, the Bible doesn’t just give us the problem, it also provides the answer. We were dead in our sins. Unable to save ourselves. But God, knowing our inability to do the right thing sent His Son to die as a ransom for our sins. We couldn’t win this battle alone, but God provided a way through Jesus. His love breaks family curses, it shatters the hold addiction had on us. Regardless of whether we were born with it or not, we don’t have to die with it. This is the most important thing to remember as we pray for those in addiction. Remember, no matter who you are, you were born predisposed to sin. And we each have that one sin that is particularly hard for us to shake. It so easily besets us that we find ourselves doing it when we don’t even want to. If we aren’t careful, we could wake up one day and find it has ruined our lives. For some of us, that sin is addiction. No matter the sin, Jesus provided a way out.