Alcohol Awareness Month: The Silent Struggle Of Christians And Alcoholism

Christian and alcoholic? Is this possible? The Bible is clear that drunkenness is a sin and that overconsumption of alcohol can lead the faithful astray. God has declared we should have no gods or idols before Him, and we know we are called to live a life of holiness. So how is it that so many believers are also addicts? How is the Christian’s experience of alcoholism unique?

Christians And Alcoholism – A Silent Struggle

Many will never see the issue of alcohol abuse discussed in their churches because the particular church or denomination takes a hardline, prohibitive stance on the consumption of alcohol. If alcohol isn’t allowed, then no alcoholism, right? Members of the congregation may go along with this injunction outwardly, though questioning if the Bible really prohibits drinking of all kinds. Many will continue to drink moderately at home or with non-Christian friends.

The Challenges Of Christians And Alcohol Addiction

Alcohol Awareness Month-Christians & Alcoholism-ChristianDrugRehab.comOthers will not be able to maintain the Biblical call to moderation and will fall into the trap of addiction. If their church is conservative on the issue of alcohol, they will be unable to get the help and spiritual care they need. They will fear having to confess to having a problem with something they weren’t supposed to touch in the first place.

The church’s failure to address the issue candidly means believers who struggle with alcohol addiction will often do so in silence, feeling isolated not only from God’s people, but from God Himself. They will feel the dissonance between the people they are and the people they pretend to be every Sunday morning.

Sin vs. Sickness

Another challenge for the Christian struggling with alcoholism or another addiction is the doctrinal view that addiction is a sin, a moral failing or a lack of self-control rather than an illness. This then places the addict in the position of simply needing to repent, pray harder, read the Bible more, practice greater self-control or conjure up a little more willpower — which, of course, the addict will attempt to do. And these attempts will fail, the addiction will progress and the believer will be left feeling hopeless and defeated.

It’s no different from telling a cancer patient that if he or she would only pray more and exert some willpower, he or she would be healed. Yes, sin is present in addiction, but treating the issue as simply a matter of sin and moral failing doesn’t take into account that the addict is suffering from a mental illness and is in need of help. God is the one who ultimately does the healing, but the Christian alcoholic will need help specifically oriented toward recovery from addiction.

Fear Of Consequences

Many believers, especially those in ministry or positions of church leadership, are especially fearful of confessing their struggles with addiction. While admitting one’s alcoholism isn’t easy or convenient in any profession, again, within the Christian world, alcoholism is viewed more as a moral failing than an illness.

Because church leaders are expected to uphold the highest moral standards, their illness can disqualify them from their vocation, even permanently. This pervasive misunderstanding around the causes and basis of addiction can, in the end, perpetuate the silence around addiction, not to mention the grave suffering of believers and their families.

What People Need To Do To Recover From Alcoholism

While God provides everything we need for healing and holiness, we have to acknowledge that He doesn’t always provide it right within the walls of the church. Many churches are models for how Christians can embrace addicts who struggle, having a solid understanding of addiction and abundant grace for those who are caught in this trap and trying to get out. Many also have programs, support groups and counselors to help addicts, or invite recovery groups, such as Alcoholics Anonymous or Celebrate Recovery, to use their spaces.

However, it may also be necessary to go outside of the church to find the needed recovery resources. This doesn’t mean we are leaving Jesus out of the equation — Christ is still at the center of recovery. But addicts will also need the guidance and support of other sober and recovering individuals — those who have walked a similar path.

If you’re a Christian who struggles with problem drinking or alcoholism, there’s help for you. Christian rehab can orient you toward God and His healing power over your addiction. Despite the position of your church on alcohol, there’s grace and healing for you in Jesus Christ. You, too, can live free of the bondage of addiction.

If the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. — John 8:36