“Spiritually, addiction is a deep-seated form of idolatry. Addiction displaces and supplants God’s love as the source and object of our deepest true desire.”
Gerald G. May
Sugar. I’ve devoured more than my fair share of it this holiday season! The past few years I’ve been fairly committed to the Paleo Diet, eating mainly meat, fruit and vegetables. I had forgotten though how easy it is to become addicted to sugar. Now I crave sweets and chips and have less energy and focus.
According to one website, food addiction is second out of the top five addictions in the United States, while technology ranked number five. Years ago when I first purchased my Blackberry phone a friend called it a “crackberry” because we can become obsessed with checking emails and text messages. It’s not uncommon to eat at a restaurant and see people engrossed in their phones instead of conversation with their companions.
Addictions are a form of idolatry, gods we bow down to instead of worshipping the one true God. There is idolatry in my life when something controls me more than God. When my affection for it is greater than my love and devotion toward God, then I know I’m staring at the face of an idol. Where I spend money, time and attention gives me clues of possible idols.
What we’re addicted to doesn’t have to be destructive in and of itself. We can become addicted to exercise which is good for our bodies. The question is, does it control you to where you have to have it? Even good things can become bad without moderation.
The Word of God clearly states God’s stance on idolatry. In fact, the first two commandments in Exodus 20:3-5a highlight this truth. “You shall have no other gods before me. You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God.”
Fasting anything that takes the place of God is helpful. I need to give up for a season whatever has more control over me than God, until the “hold” on me is broken. In the past I’ve fasted reading, coffee, food, shopping and television, for I know whatever I “starve” will weaken. Likewise, the converse is true. Whatever I feed becomes stronger, such as spending time with God strengthens my relationship with Him.
Initially giving things up or inserting a more disciplined approach causes a tug of war between my flesh and the spirit. Relinquishing my rights is difficult, but eventually anything I surrender releases its hold on me, allowing peace and freedom to reign once again in my heart. When I choose to give something up in obedience to the Holy Spirit’s prompting, the enemy whispers to me what I’m losing, when in reality I’m gaining so much more.