Finding Each Other Again

“People use drugs, legal and illegal, because their lives are intolerably painful or dull. They hate their work and find no rest in their leisure. They are estranged from their families and their neighbors. It should tell us something that in healthy societies drug use is celebrative, convivial, and occasional, whereas among us it is lonely, shameful, and addictive. We need drugs, apparently, because we have lost each other.” 

Wendell Berry

I saw a commercial recently that showed people making bets on their phones. Not just on which team will win the game–but on whether the quarterback will complete his next pass–which team will score next.

You can bet on anything. And you can’t lose the first bet. Risk-free! But many people will find it difficult to stop after just one try. The commercial’s sponsor is counting on it.

Some drugs are more than chemicals we take into our bodies.

Some are experiences that release chemicals in our brains–chemicals we want to feel again.

The desire becomes a compulsion that is addiction.

For some, it’s food. For others, the images of pornography. Or that thrill of winning a bet. Or an actual chemical teeming through our lungs or veins into our brain.

We act alone. We can’t let others know our secret shame–what we consume, bodily or visually. What we do with the rent money.

And even if we act with others, the result is the same. We find ourselves alone in our satisfaction–and then in our dissatisfaction and shame.

We believe we can find satisfaction by rearranging the chemicals inside ourselves.

What’s changed is that society more than ever allows us to embrace whoever we decide we are or want to be–without moral limitations.

Opportunities to be whatever we want are both growing and shrinking.

They are shrinking in that it is more difficult to find work that we find meaningful. Part of that is that we have lost the sense that honorable work is meaningful even if we don’t enjoy it.

On the other hand, the notion grows that our opportunities to act on our impulses should be limitless. We can be who we want to be in our desires. Opportunities to choose any form of expression–especially sexually– abound.

But that free expression doesn’t provide the meaning and significance we seek. It backfires.

Someone in my area went to a local agency to ask for help with his pornography obsession.

He heard this response: “It’s normal to look at porn.”

He knew he had a problem. He acknowledged the problem. He was asking for help with his problem.

Imagine going to an AA meeting and hearing, “But it’s normal to drink. Go ahead.”

More of us find our lives “intolerably painful or dull” today.

More of us seek a life beyond pain and dullness and manipulations of our brain that further remove us from reality.

Social agencies that buy into the lies of unreality as a balm for the soul are not the solution.

The Church has the solution.

Are we prepared to deliver it to the hurting?

Photo Credit: Unsplash

Nancy E. Head’s Restoring the Shattered is out in paperback! Get your copy here!

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14 Replies to “Finding Each Other Again”

  1. “It’s normal to look at porn.” Seriously?! Crazy how the opinions of others and culture are without any gage for what’s healthy for our hearts and souls and within good limits for morality.

    It surely does backfire as you noted. We see it in our own lives and we see it daily all around us. No addiction heals the human heart or mind. No addiction satisfies the hunger and thirst of our soul. Nothing…no-thing…takes the place of who and what God is meant to be to us as He fills us with good stuff and the right things.

    1. Yes, He does, Karen. Addiction is when people try to fill the holes God is meant to fill. That isn’t just a dismissal of all the reasons people get addicted. Opioid addiction happens because some people need pain relief. Porn addiction can happen when children see things they are too young to process.

      Addiction alters the brain, and it’s very hard to rewire it.

      Thanks and God bless!

  2. The fight for our affections is real. We need daily surrender to the Lord in every area, for the world, our own sin and Satan will go for our weakness every time. May we remain steadfast in prayer and His Word!

  3. So true, Nancy! I was coaching a couple where the husband was struggling with porn. His wife went to her therapist about it and the therapist’s response to her was exactly what you quoted, “It’s normal to look at porn.” If this is normal, then why does her husband feel so alone and degraded? Why does his wife feel so embarrassed and rejected? These feels of despair do not accompany what’s normal. Truly, the church does have the answer, it’s found in God’s word and in a saving relationship with Jesus. The lack of teaching God’s word in the churches today, and only sticking to ‘felt need’ passages are killing our people’s faith in God, especially for the hard stuff people are facing.

    1. So true, Marcie. The world can offer no hope of healing for the shame and division addictions cause. And if it’s normal to look at porn, what hope can we have in our marriages?

      Thanks for commenting and God bless!

  4. Oh my!! This is so sad to think that so many have no idea that they can be set free from these addictions – though apparently this man acknowledged he could be by seeking help that let him down. Even the gambling can bring us to ruin though the world sees it as “fun.” I know that I need to be a better witness for Christ with people who are addicted – so they turn to Him and not worldly “counsel” that will not help.

  5. What a powerful post! With pinpoint accuracy, you analyze the societal ills that tear apart the fabric of our culture. Christ Jesus provides the only solution, and your final question is a challenge to us all. Another great post!

  6. So heartbreakingly sad.
    Reminds me of the warning in Isaiah 5:20 (NIV):
    “Woe to those who call evil good and good evil,
    who put darkness for light and light for darkness,
    who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter.”

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