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Question and Answer

Addictions: disease or sin?


Is it biblically correct to call addiction to alcoholic drinks a disease called "alcoholism"? Can we properly label any addiction a disease?


Your question is very relevant for our time. In our day we are used to viewing things that the Bible calls sin (e.g., drunkenness, and notice it has been changed to alcoholism by modern man) as addictions. Ephesians 5:18 specifically commands us not to get drunk.

It is okay to call it an addiction, because that is what is going on with a drunk, a drug addict or even someone who cannot stop looking at impure images. But you have to begin by calling it sin because only then will you deal with the real problem—a heart that is far from God, indeed that is worshiping an idol. For whatever owns your heart and mind is, functionally, your god. The cure, then, is to turn to Christ for deliverance. He may well use medical means as well as counseling (and it should be a Christian counselor) but ultimately to him belongs the power (and the glory) to save from the power of any addiction.

About Q&A

"Questions and Answers" is a weekly feature of the OPC website. The answers come from individual ministers in the Orthodox Presbyterian Church expressing their own convictions and do not necessarily represent an "official" position of the Church, especially in areas where the Standards of the Church (the Scriptures and the Westminster Confession of Faith and Catechisms) are silent.

The questions come from individuals like yourself. If you have questions about biblical and theological matters, you are invited to send them by e-mail by using the "Pose a Question" link on the OPC home page or by clicking here.

At least one new question is posted each week, so there should always be something new here for you to read. (For those people who would like to look at previous questions and answers, they will continue to be available as well.)

The purpose of the OPC website's "Questions and Answers" is to respond to biblical and theological questions. Matters of church discipline, disputes, or debates go beyond the scope of our work. We recommend that you present your concerns in these areas to the appropriate judicatory. In most cases this will be to a local pastor, elder, or session. We do not want the website to replace personal involvement in, or commitment to, the local, visible church.

While we will respond to every serious questioner, we are not bound to give a substantive answer to every question, should we deem the question to be beyond the scope of our purpose or our own ability to answer.

You will receive an answer by e-mail. Please be patient as many of our respondents are busy pastors. The response to your question may take up to two (2) weeks. Some of the questions submitted will be chosen to be posted here, along with the corresponding answers.

Note that the "Questions and Answers" posted on the site have been edited—all personal references are removed, Scripture references or from some source may be added, and sometimes portions are expanded—to make the questions and answers more useful to a larger audience.

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