The Heart of Domestic Abuse {Book Review}

The Heart of Domestic Abuse by Chris Moles

I first heard Chris Moles speak on domestic abuse in Lafayette, IN at Faith Baptist Church during a training conference for the ACBC (Association of Christian Biblical Counselors) an organization, which I’m a certified member.

His opening remarks regarding the presence (or even prevalence) of domestic abuse among professing evangelicals took me back to a time early in my ministry when I suggested to my Sr. Pastor that something seemed amiss in a particular family. He replied that I would not want to know half of what went on in the church.

Chris’ comments about domestic abuse in the church line up with what that pastor said. Domestic abuse is not something most pastors want to deal with or even think they are qualified to deal with even if they wanted to.

Therefore, Chris’ book is a needed resource to the church so that awareness is raised about this devastating sin. Chris does more than raise awareness; he provides the biblical tools to deal with abuse.

The book’s content is as follows:

Chapter 1: The Heart of the Matter
Chapter 2: Behaving Badly
Chapter 3: Motives Matter
Chapter 4: Self-worship, Pride, and the Heart of Abuse
Chapter 5: Beliefs
Chapter 6: Power Plays

The first six chapters set the profile of the domestic abuser. The next five chapters serve as a blueprint on how to counsel an abuser. A case study is part of each chapter as Chris gives a real life example of both the profile of an abuser as well as the heart change that is necessary to stop the violence and convert a man to loving his wife as Christ loves the church.

Chapter 7: Good News for a Troubling Subject
Chapter 8: Hope for the Violent Man
Chapter 9: The Mind of Christ: An Alternative to a Violent Heart
Chapter 10: Wanting Something More
Chapter 11: A Call to Authenticity

Five helpful appendixes follow:

  1. Select Scripture References that Speak to Abuse
  2. Behavior Inventory
  3. Advocate Questionnaire
  4. Church Discipline and Abuse
  5. Teen Dating Violence

Chris’ methodology is familiar to any biblical counselor as he stresses the importance of heart change rather than behavioral modification. The book is rich in Scripture-based diagrams, explanations and the use of specific passages.

Chris is a pastor in West Virginia but also works as a certified batterer intervention group facilitator, contributor and instructor with state agencies and local criminal corrections.

I am sure that Chris’ book will be popular in any church that practices biblical counseling and where the pastor(s) are not afraid to counsel their own people.

Chris Moles Website    http://www.chrismoles.org

Biblical Counseling Training 2015 Attendee Feedback – Part 4

Between February 8th and 13th, 2015, eight members of Missio Dei Fellowship, besides me (P. Bruce Roeder), attended the biblical counseling training conference in Lafayette, IN at Faith Baptist Church.

For some of the people this was a first time experience and for others their second or third time. All are either members of our small group ministry or leaders of one of the groups. Our goal is to train as many people as possible in our small group ministry in the basics of biblical counseling.

I’ve asked those who attended to write some of their thoughts regarding the training. I told them that if lengthy enough I would publish to my Counseling is Discipleship blog that Missio Dei Fellowship publishes.

Below are the thoughts Sherri S., a second time attender of the training at Faith Baptist Church. Sherri will be pursuing certification with the ACBC.


Cross-and-BIble2-300x200Like last year, I was reminded that anything God shows me must first be diligently applied to my own life, before I can ever hope to be helpful to another struggling person. This year’s conference brought a renewed passion to be fervent in prayer for all things, not just a difficult trial.

Every session I attended this year was helpful.  The two that went hand-in-hand for me were:

“Desperate parents make the best parents,” and “Prayer:  Tapping into the Real Power for Change”

I began to see how similar biblical parenting is to biblical counseling.  The premise is the same:  We are called to be faithful to teach God’s Word to our children (and our counsels), and call them to walk in His Ways.  Yet, if God doesn’t move, there will be no power or change.  We were reminded that:

  • It is our human and sinful nature to try to boil everything down to just a few principles.  We want some kind of system or check-list that will put us in control and allow us to operate without God.
  • In parenting (and counseling) your weakness will not keep you from effectiveness if you believe the Gospel. Your delusion of strength will.
  • Fervent prayer is evidence of my desire for real change, (in myself, my children, and my counsels) and also shows my awareness that prayer is the means to receive the grace and power for change.
  1. When we are desperate, we are driven to cry out to God in prayer.
  2. It is good to pray for specific traits or characteristics [i.e. to be willing to stand alone, for sin to be found out quickly, to make the Bible the authority in life, to be humble and teachable, to hunger and thirst for righteousness and holiness]
  3. It is good to pray about specific sins and weaknesses [i.e. pride, stubbornness, unteachable spirit, deceitfulness/exaggeration, laziness, living for pleasure/money]

God doesn’t waste our trials.  He uses them not only to refine us, but often to move us from the place of “prayer”…… to fervent prayer.   We need to pray and pursue a passion for Christ, which is the missing ingredient in our fight against sin.

Idolatry by Another Name – Part 2

John MacArthur attacked the problem of incorrectly classifying addictions and compulsive behaviors as diseases over twenty years ago in his book The Vanishing Conscience:

Perhaps the most prevalent means of escaping blame is by classifying every human failing as some kind of disease. Drunkards and drug addicts can check into clinics for treatment of their “chemical dependencies.” Children who habitually defy authority can escape condemnation by being labeled “hyperactive”or having ADD (attention deficiency disorder). Gluttons are no longer blameworthy; they suffer from an “eating disorder.” Even the man who throws away his family’s livelihood to pay for prostitutes is supposed to be an object of compassionate understanding; he is “addicted to sex.”

These days everything wrong with humanity is likely to be explained as an illness. What we used to call sin is more easily diagnosed as a whole array of disabilities. All kinds of immorality and evil conduct are now identified as symptoms of this or that psychological illness. Criminal behavior, various perverse passions, and every imaginable addiction have all been made excusable by the crusade to label them medical afflictions. Even commonplace problems, such as emotional weakness, depression, and anxiety are also almost universally defined as quasi-medical, rather than spiritual, afflictions. MacArthur, J., F. Jr. (1994). The Vanishing Conscience (Electronic ed., pp. 23–24). Dallas: Word Pub.

As I noted in my blog post titled, “Are Addictions Diseases”, it should not surprise us that the world uses medical sounding language for addictions and bad habits. The world starts with the theories and ideas of men and arrives at the forgone conclusion that addictions must be diseases. Recovery programs of varying sorts then become the abuser’s best hope.

It should surprise us that the church often starts with the same presuppositions as the world does rather than to look at addictions and life dominating sin through the lens of Scripture.

Mark Shaw in his book, “The Heart of Addiction” gives us the biblical names for chemical addiction and substance abuse:

Chemical addiction problems and excessive substance abuse really have two biblical names: one is a general name and the other is more specific. In general, “idolatry” is the proper biblical name for substance abuse problems whether you consider yourself a drunkard, binge drinker, drug addict, substance abuser, or whatever name you wish to call it. The problem is biblically labeled as the sin of idolatry and it is a heart problem from within one’s sinful nature. Webster’s Dictionary defines “idol” as “a person or thing too much loved, admired or honored.” The substance abuser seeks to please himself with his “god of choice” above pleasing God… Shaw, Mark E., (2008), The Heart of Addiction-A Biblical Perspective (pp. viii-ix) Bemidji: FOCUS Publishing

Shaw writes from the perspective of a biblical counselor with a great deal of expertise in the field of drug and alcohol abuse. Yet, in the Scriptures the definition of idolatry is anything a person is enslaved too and not just drugs or alcohol. Idolatry may feel like a disease beyond a person’s control but in reality it’s slavery; it is slavery to a person’s god of choice whether it be pleasure, comfort, control, affirmation or anything else craved and worshipped other than the one true God.

Addictions1The person is so enslaved they believe they can control the idol because they get something they want from the idol (pleasure, control, affirmation, and power, to name a few) but in reality the idol controls them in a vicious cycle.

There are four examples of the word “idolatry” in the ESV version of the Bible in the New Testament:

Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry. (1 Corinthians 10:14 ESV)

Much could be said about verses 1-13 as to why Paul concludes this particular line of thought as to why the Corinthians should flee from idols but perhaps verse 11 offers the best reason why:

Now these things happened to them as an example, but they were written down for our instruction, on whom the end of the ages has come. (1 Corinthians 10:11 ESV)

In verses 1-13, Paul makes reference to Israel’s wandering in the wilderness and despite the fact that Christ was with them in spiritual form (vs 4) their cravings were their undoing and God was not pleased with them and all but a few perished in the wilderness. The idols were not the ones made of stone or wood but rather the idols that reside in the heart or inner man.

Paul’s warning to flee from the gods that can enslave us via our own cravings (James 1:13-15) is hard hitting. Paul is telling New Testament Christians to not follow the example of the people who perished in the wilderness. Calling an addiction disease or any other life-dominating sin a disease does not serve the person because it creates a victim mentality that says, “I can’t help it.”

Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, [20] idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, [21] envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. (Galatians 5:19-21 ESV)

In Galatians 5:19-21, Paul lists idolatry as a “catch all” for the types of things that enslave us. He makes it clear in verse 21 that a person who is enslaved to these things he lists will not inherit the kingdom of God. It’s a significant warning and it does not serve a person to classify their idolatry as a disease simply because it may feel like a disease and thus believe they cannot control their cravings whatever they might be. Paul is clear that if we are controlled by idols via our own desires (James 1:13-15) we will not inherit the kingdom of God.

Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. [6] On account of these the wrath of God is coming. (Colossians 3:5-6 ESV)

Each one of the sins listed takes place in the heart before they become behaviors. A good example is Matt. 5:27-28 in Jesus’ warning against adultery. He identifies the issue primarily as a heart issue rather than “a change the behavior” issue. The person who refuses to repent of their controlling idols has more in common with the unbelievers who do not know the true God and whom will experience God’s wrath.

In each of the three verses cited above the use of the word idolatry conveys a significant warning. By calling controlling idols “diseases” and giving life dominating sin a medical sounding label gives the person a false sense of security that simply is not biblical. That Christian churches often take the psychology route and use the world’s terminology to soften sin and turn it into a disease should concern anyone who belongs to such a church. Do not soft pedal that which God condemns.

The last use of the word “idolatry” is found in 1 Peter 4:3:

Cross-and-BIble2-300x200Since therefore Christ suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves with the same way of thinking, for whoever has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, [2] so as to live for the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for human passions but for the will of God. [3] For the time that is past suffices for doing what the Gentiles want to do, living in sensuality, passions, drunkenness, orgies, drinking parties, and lawless idolatry.(1 Peter 4:1-3 ESV)

It’s interesting that in two of the Scripture examples the word “passion” or “passions” is used. In Scripture the word always means something bad as opposed to how we use the word “passion” or “passionate” as in, “he or she is passionate about his or her work.”

We use the word usually in a positive sense while Scripture equates the term with evil desires, cravings of the heart or otherwise in a negative sense.

All desires are not evil. They become evil when they become demands.

For example, the person who is passionate about their work may be craving affirmation and if they don’t get it they may act out angrily or vindictively. By the same token a person who is passionate about the work may be perfectionistic and may hold others to an unreasonable standard if they are in a position of authority over them.

In the passage, Peter simply calls the little gods that can control our hearts examples of “lawless idolatry.”

Lawless obviously means “without law” or lack of restraint. A biblical writer never equates life dominating sin with kid gloves and infers some kind of mental illness or sickness.

Instead the Bible calls for repentance and victory over life dominating idols:

Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, [10] nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. [11] And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. (1 Corinthians 6:9-11 ESV)

Verse 11 gives genuine hope from that which can enslave us while the disease model can only offer coping devices. The consequences of ignoring what the Bible says about idolatry and issues of the heart are too terrible to contemplate. A person should know where their church stands on these issues for it reveals what the leadership really thinks about the Bible and the sufficiency of Scripture to deal with idolatry and the issues of the heart.

Biblical Counseling Training 2015 Attendee Feedback Part 3

Between February 8th and 13th, 2015, eight members of Missio Dei Fellowship, besides me (P. Bruce Roeder), attended the biblical counseling training conference in Lafayette, IN at Faith Baptist Church.

For some of the people this was a first time experience and for others their second or third time. All are either members of our small group ministry or leaders of one of the groups. Our goal is to train as many people as possible in our small group ministry in the basics of biblical counseling.

I’ve asked those who attended to write some of their thoughts regarding the training. I told them that if lengthy enough I would publish to my Counseling is Discipleship blog that Missio Dei Fellowship publishes.

Below are the thoughts of Elizabeth R.
Elizabeth R. is a small group member, women’s ministry leader, and my wife. This was her third experience at the Faith Baptist Church training.

Pastor Bruce


Cross-and-BIble2-300x200It had been a number of years since I attended training in Lafayette. God had thrown me a few curve balls in the last few years and it wasn’t possible for me to attend the training (Elizabeth is a cancer survivor.). I have a desire to disciple women and with our new counseling ministry getting started at MDF, Offering Hope to the City; I thought this would be a good year to go.

Besides, it was a long, hard winter and I was in desperate need of some spiritual refreshment, but God had so much more for me. I needed some reinforcement from what I had learned in the past, so I decided to retake Track 2 and I was not disappointed. I had the privilege of sitting under some of the most gifted biblical counselors from all walks of life. I was taught how the Bible is sufficient to help our brothers and sisters in Christ with such problems as anger,  eating disorders, bipolar disorder, pornography, homosexuality, and those suffering from sexual abuse, postpartum depression and infertility.

What I heard over and over again is that Christ and the Gospel has to be central in all our counseling and discipleship. The Gospel isn’t just for salvation and taking us to heaven, but for the “in-between” time of just “living life.”  Pastor Steve Viars did a (taped) session on counseling and our union with Christ. Using one of his former counselees as a case study, he explained how we need to make a person’s union with Christ the main emphasis. We need to avoid the 2 extremes in counseling: the purely behavioral model which only focuses on the put ons and put offs by slapping a bible verse on it, and the purely introspective model that only looks at the heart and has no application.

He showed us in Romans 6 how because of our union with Christ (being in Him) we have been:

– baptized into Christ

– baptized into His death

– buried with Him

– so that as Christ was raised

– so we too might walk in the newness of life

– if we have become united with Him

– we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection

In Christ, we have been given a new position and focus in life–we’ve been given a new hope.  Because of Christ’s death and forgiveness of our sins, we’ve been given the gift of  repentance. We have the power to change and can move on from our sins because there is no condemnation in Christ and we can never be separated from His love for us.  Because of the Holy Spirit working in us, we now have the power to offer forgiveness to others because we have been forgiven much. Instead of craving acceptance from the world and man, our joy is in His acceptance of us. But biblical change doesn’t stop there. Because of our union with Christ, we need to start living life serving others and not serving self. As Romans 12:2 states: “present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.”

Biblical Counseling Training 2015 Attendee Feedback Part 2

Between February 8th and 13th, 2015, eight members of Missio Dei Fellowship, besides me (P. Bruce Roeder), attended the biblical counseling training conference in Lafayette, IN at Faith Baptist Church.

For some of the people this was a first time experience and for others their second or third time. All are either members of our small group ministry or leaders of one of the groups. Our goal is to train as many people as possible in our small group ministry in the basics of biblical counseling.

I’ve asked those who attended to write some of their thoughts regarding the training. I told them that if lengthy enough I would publish to my Counseling is Discipleship blog that Missio Dei Fellowship publishes.

Below are the thoughts of Lauren S.
Lauren is a small group member, a relatively new Christian and this was her first experience at the Faith Baptist Church training.

Pastor Bruce


Cross-and-BIble2-300x200I am going to be cliché in my writing and start this off with a quote I spent the week hearing repeatedly: “A good counselor first makes a good counselee”. The first couple times I heard this, I understood the logic behind the statement. I understood that working with the bible meant that I would come under convictions, and I understood that this meant there will be times I am going to need to repent after rebuke. The first couple times I heard it though, I couldn’t bring my mind past the logic of the statement. It wasn’t until I came under some strong convictions while at the conference that I understood what this statement truly means. Despite the fact that I had gone to the conference to learn how to help others in a biblical manner, I found that I was repeatedly confronted with areas where I need to grow. I quickly learned that this conference was going to require a level of self-examination that I am ashamed to say I haven’t done in a while.

So what does it mean to be a good counselee before being a counselor?  It is the constant reminder that as a counselor, I will never be anything more than a starving beggar who is pointing another starving beggar to the source of food (I want to avoid plagiarism by saying this is not my quote – one of the dark haired pastors first said it, but I can’t remember which one). With this in mind, it becomes impossible to see myself as being a better follower of Christ than a person who reaches out to me for guidance. Not one type of sin is more vile than another kind; sin is sin and all of it is equally vile. I am first a counselee – a sinner who is running the same race as a brother or sister in Christ. As a counselee I am learning how to run that race alongside those who are struggling to fight the same desires of the flesh that I fight. The “counselor” title is nothing more than running the race with the bible as my hydration and pointing other weary runners to the same source of replenishment. If that doesn’t put the importance of community and fellowship into perspective, I don’t know what does.

If anybody is looking for a way to squash some pride that has been lingering in the heart – go to this conference. I want to challenge any person who claims Christ as Savior to sit through one day of sessions and see if you can make it through without being confronted on the absolute depravity we have apart from God. Thankfully, we have a God who is full of love of mercy and this was continually pounded into the teaching with the common idols of the heart. The hope we have of being brought out of that depravity is more than sufficient to show why biblical counseling is so important. Praise God for the hope we all share in Christ.

Biblical Counseling Training 2015 Attendee Feedback: Part 1

Between February 8th and 13th, 2015, eight members of Missio Dei Fellowship beside me (P. Bruce Roeder) attended the biblical counseling training conference in Lafayette, Indiana.

For some of the people this was a first time experience and for others their second or third time. All are either members of our small group ministry or leaders of one of the groups. Our goal is to train as many people as possible in our small group ministry in the basics of biblical counseling.

I’ve asked those who attended to write some of their thoughts regarding the training. I told them that if lengthy enough I would publish to my Counseling is Discipleship blog that Missio Dei Fellowship publishes.

Below are the thoughts of Mike S.  Mike is a small group leader and this was his first experience at Faith Baptist Church. 


 

Cross-and-BIble2-300x200What was my reason for attending?

  1. I have not done a decent job of spiritually guiding my family and that is a reflection of my own spiritual growth in Christ.
  2. My wife has turned from the faith and is in extremely serious sin of which I am woefully under prepared to counsel her because of my own immaturity in the word in certain areas.
  3. I love the Lord and do not want to  walk any longer in blindness simply because of laziness, bitterness, self-pity or lack of faithfulness in seeking, knocking, asking Him for wisdom.

What one thing have I taken away from the training?

  1. The word of God has every answer to man’s condition of sin and its effect on our thinking. It can speak into any condition of man and our counseling of ourselves and others must emerge directly from the word and no other place.

What did I learn about counseling?

  1. I  must be a good counselee first before I  can even begin to counsel another meaning we must be students of the word, applying it to our own lives, confessing sin, true repentance and turning away from sinful desires and to God. We must be doers and hearers of the word.
  2. We must understand the Bible and how it applies to each situation, when counseling there needs to be a building up of loving involvement, a sharing of biblical hope, gathering of relevant data and then a biblical evaluation of where a person needs change first and the most.
  3. We need to encourage people to want to imitate our Savior Jesus and the change has to be in the heart and not on the outside.

I am excited and have already begun to quietly counsel my family by applying biblical responses as situations arise. It is a slow process and I need to faithfully seek His guidance and be patient. I am looking forward to attending the conference next year for track 2.

Here is a link to counseling training link found on the Faith Baptist Church website.

Idolatry by Another Name: Part 1

After I posted Are Addictions Diseases and received some feedback, I was curious as to how many bad habits are listed as addictions and therefore diseases if you follow the popular medical model of addictions.

I found a website (http://www.addictionz.com/addictions.htm) out of British Columbia that listed addictions. I was stunned by the number listed and even more stunned when I read on the website that the list was only partial.

The list is organized alphabetically and within it you can find the usual addictions we’ve become accustomed to, like alcohol, drugs, sex, porn, shopping, tobacco and caffeine.

The list is so broad you can also find coin collecting because according to the website coin collecting is; usually a nice hobby but any hobby can become a compulsion in the hands of a multiple addict.

Here are some more samples from the website that I bet most people never thought of:

  • Art
    • Getting high to produce better art is common. Also the lifestyle of an impoverished artist can be addictive.
    • Collecting art one cannot afford may create adrenalin like compulsive shopping or gambling.
  • Imagination
    • A good characteristic in most cases, but a luxury for an early recovering addict … and a self-destructive minefield for a practicing addict.
    • Living in “your head” is common amongst all addicts
    • One statistic is that addicts do approximately 80,000 words of self-talk per day – so this addicted ‘ head ‘ is a very busy place
    • One saying in 12 step programs is that the head is like ‘a dangerous neighborhood, do not go there alone’
    • The lack of reliable structure in today’s daily life leaves a lot of room for imaginative research
  • Religion
    • It is wise to examine ones attitudes in all areas.

Clearly the authors of the website are willing to list everything and anything as being addictive or compulsive.

junkie1

The use of the word compulsive (under the subtitle of Art above) is revealing because the word compulsive means “compelling” as if the person has little or no choice. Furthermore, the word compulsive leads us to a minor distinction between addiction and compulsive behavior.

The Oxford Dictionary defines Compulsive this way:

1. Resulting from or relating to an irresistible urge, especially one that is against one’s conscious wishes: “compulsive eating”

Synonyms: irresistible · uncontrollable · compelling · overwhelming · urgent · obsessive · obsessive · obsessional · addictive · uncontrollable

2. Irresistibly interesting or exciting; compelling: “this play is compulsive viewing”

Synonyms: fascinating · compelling · gripping · riveting · engrossing · enthralling · captivating

Both definitions use the word “irresistible” while the first definition uses the synonym “uncontrollable.” Both words are self-explanatory and imply that a person has no choice.

Now let’s look at WIKI’s definition of compulsive behavior:

Compulsive behavior is defined as performing an act persistently and repetitively without it necessarily leading to an actual reward or pleasure. [1] Compulsive behaviors could be an attempt to make obsessions go away. [2] The act is usually a small, restricted and repetitive behavior, yet not disturbing in a pathological way. [1] Compulsive behaviors are a need to reduce apprehension caused by internal feelings a person wants to abstain or control. [3] A major cause of the compulsive behaviors is said to be obsessive–compulsive disorder (OCD). [2][4] The main idea of compulsive behavior is that the likely excessive activity is not connected to the purpose it appears to be directed to. [1] Furthermore, there are many different types of compulsive behaviors including, shopping, hoarding, eating, gambling, trichotillomania and picking skin, checking, counting, washing, sex, and more. Also, there are cultural examples of compulsive behavior.

Now let’s compare the WIKI definition of compulsive behavior with the WIKI article on addiction derived from the DSM-V:

Addiction is a state characterized by compulsive engagement in rewarding stimuli, despite adverse consequences;[6] it can be thought of as a disease or biological process leading to such behaviors.[1][7] The two properties that characterize all addictive stimuli are that they are (positively) reinforcing (i.e., they increase the likelihood that a person will seek repeated exposure to them) and intrinsically rewarding (i.e., they activate the brain’s “reward pathways”, and are therefore perceived as being something positive or desirable).[1][2][5] ΔFosB, a gene transcription factor, is now known to be a critical component and common factor in the development of virtually all forms of behavioral and drug addictions.[8][9][10]

alcoholism

And…

Potential addictions can include, but are not limited to, exercise addiction, food addiction, drug addiction, computer addiction, sex addiction and gambling addiction. Currently, only substance addictions and gambling addiction are recognized by the DSM-5, which uses physical dependence and the associated withdrawal syndrome to identify an addictive state. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Addiction)

And…

The official list of addictions can be found in the DSM-5, psychology’s Bible (http://www.myaddiction.com/addiction_categories.html) where the following are addiction classified as medical disorders:

Alcohol Addiction, Ambien Addiction, Amphetamine Addiction, Benzodiazepine Addiction, Caffeine Addiction, Cocaine Addiction, Crack Addiction, Eating Disorders, Ecstasy Addiction, Gambling Addiction, Heroin Addiction, Hydrocodone Addiction, Internet Addiction, Marijuana Addiction, Meth Addiction, Nicotine Addiction, Opioid Addiction, Percocet Addiction, Oxycontin Addiction, Pornography Addiction, Prescription Drug Addiction, Ritalin Addiction, Sex Addiction, Shopping Addiction, Smoking Addiction, Sugar Addiction, Teens and Addiction, Video Game Addiction, Work Addiction, Xanax Addiction

From these definitions one can deduce the psychology community and the vast majority of Americans believe there are addictions (compulsions) that are behavioral and addictions that are chemical (addicted to drugs or alcohol) and result in physical dependence. The commonality is the perceived “reward system.” In other words we do these things habitually because there is a pleasant pay off even if the consequences can be quite negative.

(In a 1990 survey 87% of Americans believed the disease model of addictions.)

We can also observe there is some level of debate between those who believe certain behaviors are genuine addictions and others who categorize the same things as compulsive behaviors and would therefore fall under the heading of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder rather than a genuine addiction.

The DSM-V is the latest edition of the DSM and in each upgrade the list of disorders and addictions has multiplied. This accounts for the assumption of what is called the medical model of addictions and compulsive behaviors. What that means is if I have a behavioral addiction or a chemical addiction the critical component is: ΔFosB, a gene transcription factor, is now known to be a critical component and common factor in the development of virtually all forms of behavioral and drug addictions.

In other words, addictions and compulsive behaviors are connected to DNA via gene transcription factors.

I should point out that even within the psychological community there is some level of disagreement between those who emphasize choice (minority) and those that emphasize the disease model.

What is the Bible-believing Christian to make of this trend that classifies everything as an addiction or compulsive behavior and is treated as a disease? I’ll discuss that issue in Part 2.

Are Addictions Diseases?

The other day I was half paying attention to what was on television when I heard someone refer to a drug addiction as a disease.

It immediately reminded me of what one of my biblically counseling teachers said when he noted, “if it’s a disease then it’s the only disease you can catch voluntarily.”

Whether the issue is porn, spending, overeating, video games, a lot of time on the internet, modern America is quick to call these behaviors “diseases” as if they are something we catch, like cancer.

If they are diseases then my instructor was quite right is saying they are the only diseases we catch voluntarily.

The disease model of addictions first gained notice with AA.

The folks that started AA made the observation that the symptoms of alcohol abuse and addiction looked like a disease and thus implied that the user was under attack by something beyond his or her control. It was assumed that because it looked like a disease it must be so.

Addictions1Today the disease model is accepted as “truth” and applied to everything that looks like addictive, compulsive or habitual (I’m addicted to chocolate) behavior.

There are many downsides in accepting the disease model as truth but perhaps the most obvious is the implication that the abuser can’t help it. In other words you can’t hold someone responsible for catching a disease. The disease model makes the abuser a victim rather than someone who has been irresponsible and makes poor choices.

The disease model is controversial in secular circles. This link to The Disease Model of Addiction at Addiction Research explains.

The disease model is a far cry from the biblical model where an addict is an idolater who is slave to his or her lusts and really only concerned with serving self. Addicts of all sorts are pleasure seekers and the pleasure they seek has come to dominate them or in biblical language is a slave to. The slavery to the idol of pleasure is what the world calls a “disease.”

It should not surprise us that the world has adopted non-biblical terminology to describe problems common to man. It should surprise when the church of Jesus Christ does.

To help the church think biblically about addictions Mark Shaw has written a book titled The Heart of Addiction, a Biblical Perspective where he takes the disease model to task and provides scriptural solutions for addictive behavior. Although the book deals primarily with drug and alcohol abuse there is wide application to other behaviors like porn and anything else labeled additive or compulsive.

Mr. Shaw has a little extra credibility to write such a book because is a certified Master’s Level Addiction Professional (MLAP) with the Alabama Association of Drug and Alcohol Addiction. He is also a member of the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors the same organization I am part of.

The book is divided into four parts following the 2 Timothy 3:16-17 model:

All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, (2 Timothy 3:16 ESV)

Section 1: Teaching

Section 2: Reproof

Section 3: Correction

Section 4: Training in Righteousness

Eleven appendices follow 214 section pages to bring the total number of pages to 253.

The book is comprehensive and unlike popular books like Celebrating Recovery, The Heart of Addiction (Mr. Shaw’s book) is all Bible, unlike Celebrate Recovery which takes an “admixture approach.” (Admixture means psychology plus Bible.)

I highly recommend the book as a “Bible only” counseling resource. A workbook can also be purchased.

Amazon is selling the book for $12.50 and the workbooks for $8.95.

For more insight by Mr. Shaw follow this link, Is “Addiction” Rooted in a Disease, Demon or Decision at the Grace and Truth Blog. The comments following the article are worth the time to read.

Although this link, Do Christians Overhype Porn Addiction  deals with “porn addiction” it’s well worth the read because it deals with same controversy of the disease or (medical) model versus Scripture.