Monday, May 10, 2010

Knowledge is Power

A few days ago I wrote about drinking wine. I think it's one of those subjects that evangelicals don't talk about because they all are doing it but would rather no one know. Kind of silly, actually. Most of us need to come out of the wine cellar. I respect those who are teetotalers, though. They probably have more arguments in its favor than those who drink.

But it has come to my attention that many sheltered Christians don't know about the opposite subject. Dealing with alcoholism is not to be taken lightly. Yes, as I am often reminded, alcoholism is a sin but all sin is sin and it's no different from my gossiping or another person's fudging on income taxes. Yes, theologically that is true (I hear the same argument about homosexual incontinence and heterosexual incontinence). Yes, Christ died for all of it, and Christ offers us forgiveness for all of it. And yes, gossiping et al can be harmful. But practically speaking they are not the same, and to put alcoholism, addiction, or homosexual/heterosexual "lack of chastity" in the same boat as gossiping is, excuse me, ignorant.

I will not address the sexual one here, because everyone knows that both kinds of sexual practice have massive numbers of associated problems. My concern here is alcoholism. Anyone who has lived with an alcoholic or drug addict knows that the problem is not just drinking too much. Their problems are denial, lying, deception, and priorities. Everything pales in comparison to getting the booze or the drugs. The alcoholic's relationship with his/her child or spouse or anyone comes second or third or fourth. They will lie to get the drugs; they will lie about having taken the drugs; they will lie about what happens or what they did when they took the drugs. They will leave a path of pain and disappointment and despair with "loved ones" and act like they themselves are the victims, more than anyone whom they have hurt. They will steal or worse to get the drugs.

Do not tell me that "we are all sinners and shouldn't judge the alcoholic." The alcoholic and drug addict doesn't need to be told he/she is the victim of a disease beyond his/her control or about which he/she has no responsibility. That's what stokes the disease. He/She doesn't need to be told that my filching a candy bar when I was six (I don't recall doing that, but might have) is the same as the choices they make to get a drink no matter whom it hurts. They need reality, reality, reality, and hope--and lots of accountability.

I am an adult child of an alcoholic, if there's any doubt there. But my father spent the last five years of his life stone cold sober, thanks to AA, a group I believe deals in reality (although many who come are still in denial and only there because they were ordered to be). I have at least two living alcoholics in my family and have seen others die of it. Perhaps someone who lives with addicts is not as clear-sighted as the experts, but the experts often have a monetary incentive to hold the views they do.

Yes, to put alcoholism in the same league as eating two pieces of pie once in a while is the same kind of denial the alcoholic is practicing.

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