addiction, Christianity, Health & Wellness, Jesus, the Savior, Recovery, Disordered Eating, Healing Sexual Abuse

Why I Don’t Endorse Secular Recovery Programs

Written by Pamela K. Orgeron, M.A., Ed.S., BCCC, ACLC, Author

John 14:6 New King James Version (NKJV)

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.

1 Corinthians 6:9-11 New King James Version (NKJV)

Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor [a]homosexuals, nor [b]sodomites, 10 nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were [c]sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God.

Are you struggling with a drinking, an eating or other problem? Then I recommend you seek out a Christ-centered recovery program, such as Celebrate Recovery or Life Recovery. This is not to say that good can’t come out of secular programs but secular recovery programs do have their weaknesses. Based on Scripture, the purpose of my writing this article is to highlight the weaknesses of secular recovery programs.

My first concern with secular recovery groups, such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), is their belief in the concept of a higher power. In every 12 step version that I reviewed at, one’s higher power or god can be anything. This contradicts God’s Word. Based on Scriptures, such as I Timothy 2:5, Isaiah 43:11 and Isaiah 44:6, and life experience, I can attest that there is only one true God, the God of the Bible. This is one of the biggest issues I see that secular recovery programs have is their failure to recognize the one true and ultimate God.

The second issue I have with secular recovery groups is in how they require attendees to introduce themselves. For example, in AA meetings, when speaking, one is expected to introduce him or herself as, “I’m XXX (Person’s First Name). I’m an alcoholic.” Using this statement suggests a permanence or an inability to change one’s behavior. This contradicts Scripture and what I was taught in counseling courses as to how to address clients.

First Corinthians 6:9-11 shared previously clearly demonstrates that one can be delivered from overindulgence of alcohol, food, or whatever vice one struggles with. The phrase in verse 11, “And such were some of you” is the key to understanding this truth. Another verse that I believe supports the notion that having “alcoholism” is not a permanent state is 2 Corinthians 5:17. In his commentary of 2 Corinthians 5:16-21, Matthew Henry wrote 

The renewed man acts upon new principles, by new rules, with new ends, and in new company. The believer is created anew; his heart is not merely set right, but a new heart is given him. He is the workmanship of God, created in Christ Jesus unto good works. Though the same as a man, he is changed in his character and conduct. 

In a secular graduate counseling course, I recall the professor teaching that the appropriate way to address a client with alcoholism was not as an “alcoholic” but as “a person with alcoholism”. This approach looks at alcoholism as a disease that can be cured or overcome. In response to this, some may ask, Is alcoholism a disease or a sin? My answer to that question: It’s both. How so? There are genetic links that reveal a person can be predisposed to becoming an alcoholic. There’s also no denying that a person can become physically addicted to alcohol or any substance, for that matter. Thus, support for alcoholism and other addictions as a disease exists. However, whether one drinks or does anything else too much is always a choice. This is where I recognize the sin nature of having the disease alcoholism or other addiction. Because of the sin nature component of any addiction, I believe it is only through Christ-centered recovery groups that one can receive the best help possible.

In my own life recovery from food addiction that I have no doubt stemmed from a chemical imbalance in my brain that was the result of having experienced early childhood trauma, the key to my healing was found in Jesus Christ. Without Him, I believe I would have ended up in a penitentiary, in a mental institute, or six feet under years before now. No doubt, researchers continue to find evidence about how the brain can heal itself from the effects of past trauma. The ability of the brain to heal itself is known as neuroplasticity. Some may ask, what does God have to do with the brain healing itself? I answer that question with another question, who made the brain. According to Scriptures (Genesis 2:7), God created man, which includes our brain.

Are you in need of a recovery program due to an addiction, grief, past trauma, or whatever? Then, again, I encourage you to seek help with one of the Christ-centered recovery groups. After all, these groups point others to the ultimate healing possible through Jesus Christ, the Lord and Savior, the ultimate healer and deliverer through the power of the Holy Spirit. I believe it is only through these Christ-centered groups that one can receive the best help possible in terms of finding support groups to assist in recovery.




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