Addicted To God

angel_0.news3What an odd phrase that is.

To understand it, we need to take a look at what being addicted means. The standard definition doesn’t do much good here, but I’ll offer another. Addiction is usually defined as: “The state of being enslaved to a habit, characterized by compulsive behavior that is damaging to the addict.”

I’d like to introduce the idea of balance into that. There’s a toxic focus that comes with an addiction. The balance of one’s life is shifted so that whatever the behavior is, it takes over. Addicts become one dimensional. In fact, the best description of who they are references the addiction.

“She’s a crack head.”

“He’s a junkie.”

Those simple statements tell you a great deal about the person described.

To maintain this state and to protect it from outside interference, addicts begin to withdraw into a fantasy realm, a place where they can ignore all of their failings and troubles, an oasis created and supported by their addiction. And, yes, this can happen with ideas about God.

There’s a key distinction here. In the 12 step program, we are asked to turn our lives and problems over to a higher power – a source of aid and comfort. But the point of doing this isn’t to withdraw into a fantasy life of spiritual overdose. The point is to gain the help we need to improve our actual, physical life and relationships. The 12 steps aren’t a pathway into a cult; rather, they are tools to repair damaged lives. Without the outside relationships and activities, there really isn’t any reason to follow them.

Someone who is addicted to God is using the concept as an escape from their own lives. The balance is off. Instead of seeking help, they dissolve into an idea that God is directing every thought and action in their lives. They want to be a puppet and destroy those very things that God values in independent human beings. One can admire and appreciate a doll, but just as we can only love a real person, God doesn’t ask us to be robots in his service, but real human beings.

The damage comes in the same way it arrives with other addictions. God addicts sacrifice their relationships, jobs and families in what they believe is service to a higher power. But it’s just as toxic and out of balance as any addiction. And just like other addictions, the obvious problems only seem to have one answer for the addict – increase the dose. Ever more is required to get them into the fantasy life. The answer is more prayer, or reading the Bible more, or striving ever harder to get the satisfaction and release of their own version of an enlightened state.

Here’s a puzzle for you.

Why is it we can see fanaticism and zealotry when we look at other faith practices – and even see them as toxic addictions – but have such a hard time recognizing them in our own faith practices?

For a fascinating account of what a God addiction looks like, I invite you to read this article. At the end, it lists some symptoms of God addiction worth paying attention to.

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