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Is It Addiction or Idolatry?

As much as we don’t want to admit it, addiction is nothing short of idolatry. We can sugar-coat it or treat it as a predator, but when all is said and done, addiction is a choice—the choice of putting something or someone above God. Now, please don’t misunderstand me. Addiction is real, and it can wrap its deadly tentacles around people from all walks of life. I am not denying that fact. I’m just sharing with you a truth to which the Lord has recently opened my eyes.

In the movie, Pirates of the Caribbean, Captain Jack Sparrow accuses his newly-acquired sidekick, Will Turner, of being obsessed with treasure. When Turner argues that he is not obsessed with treasure, Sparrow remarks, “Not all treasure is silver and gold, mate.”

The same can be said of idols. We have it settled in our minds that idol worship was a practice that took place long ago when heathen people worshiped false gods made of silver, gold or even wood. While idolatry has evolved in most parts of the world, it is certainly not extinct. An idol is anything or anyone that takes the place of the Lord, in any way, in our lives. And addictions certainly qualify.

As idols are not limited to those of silver or gold. The term “addiction” is not reserved for drugs or alcohol. We can (and have) become addicted to many things in this life. Some common addictions are drugs, alcohol, smoking, eating, working and pornography.

My addiction was sugar-laden sodas and energy drinks. While I only allowed myself a couple each week, I could feel their vice-like hold on me. When I didn’t have one, I wanted one. When I had one, there was never enough of it. The depth of my addiction and its relationship to idolatry hit me one morning as I opened the refrigerator and spotted one of my favorite energy drinks. Upon spying it, I was filled with such elation. My entire mood shifted, and I couldn’t wait to consume the desired drink. But the thought hit me, When was the last time I felt this way about the Lord? Immediately, I was ashamed at what I had become—a slave to a man-made beverage.

Maybe you have a similar vice, but you are unsure if you would go so far as to call it idolatry. For you, I have devised the following quiz. Read each question carefully and answer honestly. Then allow the Lord to speak to your heart concerning your answers.

1) When you are feeling tired or stressed, do you turn to your addiction (cigarette, food, etc.) or to the Lord for comfort and solace?

2) Does your vice bring you joy and pleasure that is lacking in your time and relationship with the Lord?

3) How much time do you spend taking part in your addiction compared to the time you spend with the Lord?

4) When was the last time you craved the Lord the way you crave your particular vice?

5) If the Lord told you to give up your addiction, would you be willing and able to do it?

Addictions are a deadly enemy, and once in their grip, it seems impossible to escape. However, for me, realizing that my addiction was a form of idolatry was exactly the ammunition I needed to set myself free from the enemy’s grasp. In my mind, addiction was a gray area according to the Bible, but there’s no escaping the black-and-white truth about idolatry. God made it quite clear in Exodus 20:3 when He said, Thou shalt have no other gods before me. No gods! Nothing should take His place.

And you know what? I don’t want anything to take His place. It is this mindset that loosened the bonds of my addiction and set me on the path to freedom. I hope it will do the same for you.

What kind of addiction is holding you captive?

About Dana Rongione

Dana is a full-time Christian author and speaker residing in Greenville, SC with her husband and two dogs. In fulfilling her call to evangelize the lost and edify the saints, Dana spends her days writing devotions, devotional books and books for children, as well as recording podcasts on various Biblical topics. She serves in many capacities at her local church, including the roles of church pianist and ladies' Sunday School teacher. Dana has a passion for souls and longs to be used of God in whatever way He deems necessary. When not writing or serving at church, Dana can most likely be found reading or hiking a nearby trail.

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  1. Great article! I agree that we all struggle with something. May God direct and help each of us in this area!

  2. Yes, Dana, the Lord showed me, too, that addictions can be categorized as idolatry. Eating-even healthy food, was what God showed me. Although I am not overweight, I was getting way too much enjoyment out of it. With that, He gave grace to curb the grazing. (smile) He also made me sensitive to the amount of TV I was watching. I wonder about the sports fans that live and breathe their teams, too. I think that would fit as well…and maybe cell phones or computer time!

    • You’re so right, Stephanie. We can turn any addiction into idolatry, and I think food, sports, television and even social media are terrible vices for many of us. Thanks for commenting.

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