Alcohol and drug addiction are just the tip of the iceberg when you talk about being dependent on something. Well, there are a whole bunch of other forms of addiction, and many we are oblivious to.
Some are body induced, like some of the heavy hitters like alcohol, drugs, and nicotine, and others a lot of people do not talk about much like caffeine, salt and sugar. There are substances that can alter your mood, but there are a bunch of others that involve a process of some sort. These would include a “preoccupation” with something like money, sex, relationships, religion, gambling, violence, television and ________ (you fill in the blank).
In such cases, one becomes addicted to the “process”. Let me try to clarify here. Let’s pretend I am addicted to money. It is not that I am addicted to actual money itself, but being concerned with having or not having money is the addiction. Whether you have a “body induced” or “process type”, or both type addictions … all of these interfere with a person’s ability to be in touch with themselves, and their spirituality.
Any addiction changes behavior, distorting reality and fostering self-centeredness. Any addiction can harm, and many do it more slowly than others. We all have a shit-load of addictions, and as addicts we begin to recover from one of the key addictions we have, and start to get sober. As soon as that happens other addictions emerge out of nowhere.
The addictive process is like someone patching up a leaky basement. The main leak may be heroin or some other drug, but when that hole is plugged (with someone finding recovery) the flow of water will apply pressure in many other places and will find a hole to continue the leak, and then it will find another and another.
To recognize a “process” addiction is to acknowledge that society operates pretty much the same way… addictively. Institutions perpetuate the addictive process. Individual addicts are characterized by self-centeredness, dishonesty, preoccupation with control, abnormal thinking processes, confusion, denial, perfectionism, being judgmental, and ethical deterioration.
Well, society as a whole exhibits these same traits. Society does not merely encourage addictions, it regards them as normal. By shutting off our awareness of ourselves and our spirituality, addictions make us as people easier to manipulate and control. The person who is best adjusted to an addictive society is like a zombie, neither dead nor alive.
I was a zombie walking around within the walls of an institutional church building.
The church, as Western Christianity mostly defines it, a building where you go to a service, have a plethora of programs, tithe, sit passively, ect) can also take on the characteristics of an addict. I can debate that the “institutional church” is functioning like an addictive organization. I can see and have witnessed addictive leaders having the power to bring an organization to the verge of devastation. The “church” is like the typical dysfunctional family or organization, which refuses to engage in self-evaluation and self-criticism. When I have had questions and differences among the “church” leaders, my differences are seen as an attack. Therefore the “church” isolates itself and relates only to those who think as it does. Just like a bunch of zombies all searching for the same thing, and instead of eating humans, they search for self-satisfaction.. they want to feel good.. much like being addicted.
Well, I was addicted to “church” in many ways. And it took me a long while to figure it out. I was oblivious to what I was addicted to.
So, what would happen to your spiritual life if “church”, as I have defined it above, just ceased to exist?
I know that will not happen, but let’s say it does for kicks and giggles. Let’s say all “church” buildings are locked and banned from use, and then all “Christian” conferences, concerts, and seminars were no longer permitted, and all children’s youth groups are shut down, and all men and women ministries disbanded.
Also, all presentations, Easter pageants, Christmas plays become illegal, along with organized Christian counseling, food pantries, church-based homeless shelters, crisis hotlines, and church-run childcare & preschools. Then finally, every ordained minister’s credentials are revoked under threat of imprisonment, and the vocation of a pastor providing formal paid instruction to other believers is no longer allowed.
So, would your “walk” with Jesus be serious disrupted if you did not have a “church” to attend this Sunday or ever?
Is your “Christian” life wrapped up in a building, programs, ministries, and meetings?
Mine was, and I got the heck out of that “organized religion”. And you know who I finally found just sitting in the street, or laying in the gutter… Christ.