5 bits of wisdom for the professional Christian woman
Sun May 19, 2013
by Shandel Slaten
Sat May 18, 2013
by Hugh Whelchel
Resurgence roundup, 5/17/13
Fri May 17, 2013
Grace all the way
Wed May 15, 2013
by Justin Holcomb
How to be on mission in the city
Wed May 15, 2013
by Stephen Um
A Q&A with Mike Wilkerson on Addiction and Counseling
Mike Wilkerson, Mars Hill pastor and author of the Re:Lit book Redemption, was recently interviewed over at cbn.com by Chance Campell about addiction and counseling. Here are some highlights from the three-part series.
Part 1: Why does addiction happen?
CBN: Let’s delve right in. Why does it happen?
MW: Addiction is an advanced, complex entanglement of the sin and suffering that even non-addicts experience. I hope to show that we can all relate in some measure to the experience of addiction.
According to the Bible, humans are both physical and spiritual beings. Biblical words that refer to the non-physical aspect of people—soul, spirit, mind, heart—overlap in meaning. Among these, biblical counselors tend to use the word heart to refer to the seat of one’s desires, emotions, values, commitments, and beliefs. While our hearts are the rudders that steer our lives, we are whole people: body and heart, material and immaterial, mind and brain. We express and experience evil as whole people. Two aspects of evil that can be distinguished—but often cannot be cleanly separated, especially in addiction—are sin and suffering.
Part 2: Addiction, a cycle of self-harm
CBN: [Discuss] the way the consequences of addiction “compound and influence future states and desires of the heart and body.”
MW: Spiritually, I’ll experience guilt and shame when I do something that I know is wrong. Shame is often both the consequence of giving in to an addiction the last time, as well as the precondition for giving in to it next time, resulting in more shame. And so the cycle goes. Or even if I don’t know that it’s wrong, my judgment (which involves the whole person, again, but is rooted in the heart) is impaired. I have begun a process of making foolish choices that incline me to make more foolish choices. Foolishness is primarily a matter of the heart.
Physically, I may become dependent on a chemical or experience to feel normal. Now my suffering has compounded. It used to be, perhaps, that my suffering pertained only to something in my external environment; now, it’s also inside me. My body rebels in withdrawal when I don’t have the chemical. And probably, the external troubles have not subsided. Now, I’m far more likely to seek comfort in that addiction. . . .
And it’s my whole person that’s enslaved in addiction: my heart too, not just my body. So even though the heart ultimately drives my whole person including my outward actions, my heart is just as bound up in this addiction as my body is. It’s not as if my heart remains pristine within my addicted body, fully capable of driving a “just stop it” campaign if only I would tap into that deep reservoir of willpower and better nature. It’s far messier than that. That reservoir has long since been polluted.
Part 3: Why are you addicted?
CBN: How central is “belief in a higher power” to overcoming addiction?
MW: Slaves usually don’t free themselves. Addictions are powerful. So yes, it’s essential. There’s a difference between a belief in a higher power as I define it (subjective), and an actual power that’s actually higher and breaks me free from slavery (objective).
True freedom, not only from addictive behavior, but from the underlying sin problem at its root, is only possible through the latter: the resurrected Christ by his Spirit, working powerfully in the hearts and bodies of those he is redeeming from slavery of all kinds, as we respond in belief.