For as long as I've had a personal relationship with God, I've encountered people suffering from religious addiction. They are often folks who have struggled with "other" addictions during the course of their lives (e.g. alcohol, drugs, sex) or are ACA's (Adult Children of Alcholics). Apparently, the transference of one addictive lifestyle for another is fairly common, and when addicts come to faith in Christ, such a transference can occur. This is nothing new, of course, people have been studying and writing on this important topic for many years, producing books like "When God Becomes a Drug", and more recently, "Toxic Faith."
My heart goes out to these dear people. They sincerely want to love and serve god, but are often blind to the grip addiction still has on them. How do they behave? Here's a helpful...
synopsis of common symptoms associated with religious addiction.
Religious addiction is not merely a personal matter. The religious addict affects all the people around them -- family, neighbors, friends, coworkers. They often see themselves as "annointed" and "effective" representatives of God -- "truth-bearers" who, unlike other people, refuse to compromise the mandates of scripture. They oppress people with their words and demeanor, and when a religious addict moves into church leadership, the havoc wreaked is even more tragic -- at least that has been my observation over the years. I've also seen how religious addicts and religious zealots are often confused by people as being the same thing. This may lead some to focus on the outer issues (e.g. excessive use of Christianeese, over spiritualization of things) without getting to the heart of the addiction.
There still seems to be so much to learn about all of this. Have any of you dealt effectively with religious addicts or have any insights which might be helpful?