One of the core tenets and values of Christianity is forgiveness, but like many other ideals in a world of human frailty, the concept of forgiveness can sometimes be celebrated in concept but practiced less thoroughly. The old preacher’s line about “love the sinner but hate the sin” often gets lost in translation when the sinner actually shows up to service and we fail to extend the same grace to them we once needed ourselves. This can be especially true of addiction, which already carries a stigma in secular culture but can be even worse in Christian circles.
To find recovery, it can be necessary for the addict to address the stigma of addiction in Christian communities.
In long-standing, settled Christian communities, the type where many members grew up in the congregation, steeped in church traditions and Christian behaviors, parishioners can sometimes fail to appreciate the struggles of others from outside the community or even from those in the community who fall by the wayside for a time.
They can be accepting of those who have overcome addiction – no one gives a better testimony about the grace of God than the reformed addict, right? – but can often fail to offer the same understanding to those still struggling with addiction. They’re so used to the way things are, they fail to offer empathy for those who need it amidst the great struggle to overcome addiction.
For the addict, who can use the support of friends and family and other loved ones in their battle to overcome addiction, this judgmental failure to offer understanding and overcome the stigma of consorting with sin can be dangerous.
So what to do?
The addict could reach out to the pastor and hope that the community leaders can offer assistance and, by example, help the addict find acceptance from others as they seek treatment.
Sometimes, on the other hand, it’s important to simply find understanding from those closest to you. If some in the Christian community cannot accept you during your struggle with rehab and treatment, it matters less if your closest friends and loved ones are still there to support you where others may not be.
In the worst case scenario, the recovering addict may need to find a different church and Christian community that is more accepting than their current one. If you cannot find help and understanding from fellow Christians in your darkest moments, they are failing to live up to the example of Christ and you may need to find a church that can live up to that standard where others do not.
You can also find help through treatment at a Christian rehab facility, such as Good Landing Recovery. As a faith-based treatment center, Good Landing can help you find a Christian community that understands your struggle with addiction and is committed to helping you overcome, rather than simply judging harshly from afar.
Overcoming the stigma of addiction in a Christian community can be difficult, but it is imperative to finding the sense of connection and belonging that can guide you to recovery rather than the harsh judgment that can lead to relapse.
Give Good Landing a call and find the Christian community that can help you today.