There is the current trend of the study of pornography use within the church and actually outside of the church. (By use I mean the watching of pornography in private, not use as in used in the regular worship service or Bible studies.)
I, for one, do not find any of the data that’s been uncovered to be particularly shocking, though I know many will and do disagree with me. Pornography addiction has been a growing trend for a number of years, and to know that there are pastors and other members of church leadership that struggle with it is a comfort.
However, it is also disturbing, because these are men and women who are responsible for leading the church, yet they struggle with pornography addiction. (See article here.)
(It is at this point that I would like to add myself to this statistic. Though I am not a pastor in the official sense, I am a shepherd of God’s sheep both here through the blog as well as in other spheres.)
However, as I began to dwell on these statistics and as I thought about others that I know (not pastors, but Christians and non-Christians alike) who struggle with other addictions, I began to realize something that I hope I’m not the first person to give voice to: for a Christian, an addiction is not simply an addiction, some medical or psychological issue that needs to be resolved, but it is rather, or even more so, an idol.
Even before God gave the Law to Moses and the Israelites in the wilderness, there have been idols.
Usually an idol comes in the form of a wooden, stone or clay statue that represents whatever deity the person or group of people worship (the golden calf in the book of Exodus comes to mind). This idol is prayed to, praised, given honor for its work in this world, and it is even offered sacrifices to appease it or for the person to gain favor in its eyes.
It is, in essence, a god.
Now, in today’s day and age, idols are rarely seen and worshipped, with the exception of some Middle Eastern and African tribes (and some would argue the Roman Catholic Church as well).
Of course, this all depends on how you define an idol.
According to Merriam-Webster, an idol can be just as we described above, or it can be a greatly admired person, an object of extreme devotion, or a false conception.
For the purpose of this argument, we’re going to stick with an idol being an object of extreme devotion.
Now, let’s look at addiction. Again, Merriam-Webster defines addiction as “an unusually great interest in something or a need to do or have something”.
This can be applied to any circumstance: shopping, gambling, eating, alcohol, drugs, sex, pornography…you name it. If you have an unusually great interest in something, then you’re probably addicted. Your cellphones, Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, video games all qualify as an addiction.
Here’s the correlation here: when we think of a idol, it is something that we put before God, something that we find more important than God. One pastor once defined an idol this way:
“If you would sin to get it, it’s an idol. If you would sin to keep it, it’s an idol.”
If you are willing to commit sin to get to your addiction, guess what? It’s no longer an addiction. It’s an idol. You have made that thing more important than God.
Addiction isn’t a medical or psychological issue. It’s a heart issue.
If you are struggling with an addiction/idol, then I suggest you re-order what’s important in your life. Is God more important to you than your alcohol/marijuana/cocaine/pornography/shoes/insert addiction here?
Re-order your priorities, put God first, seek Him first, and, with His help and His Spirit, He will heal you.
This is what the Sovereign LORD says.