Thoughts on Anthony Weiner: Addiction Is No Laughing Matter

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If you’ve ever made an Anthony Weiner joke, ask for forgiveness from God.

So, Anthony Weiner lost his bid for New York City mayor. This comes as no surprise to anyone. You can read about the craziness that ensued after the race was over, including him flipping off some reporters.  Weiner shot himself in the foot more times than I can remember and was the punching bag for all the late night comedians (Letterman, Leno, Fallon, Conan, etc.). Everyone made fun of him, and most people (like me) were shocked that he did not remove himself from the race.

After his first scandal a couple of years ago, I figured he just messed up—stayed up too late one night, maybe had one too many drinks and did something stupid. When he decided to run for mayor, I knew he really didn’t have a shot (even though I believe in grace and second chances). But when new scandals started to emerge and we came to realize that he was still messing up, it dawned on me that he is a sex addict. This, my friends, is no laughing matter. He’s sick. I mean that sincerely. He’s a sick man (mentally—there’s a chemical imbalance in his brain) and he needs help.

Anthony Weiner doesn’t need anyone around him telling him that how he acts is okay. He needs no encouragement in the sexual realm. What he needs is a true friend to look him in the eye and say, “Let’s get you help, buddy.” He needs to go to a recovery center and be in serious therapy for a year or more. This is what he NEEDS. I’m not sure if he’ll hit rock bottom and reach out for help or what his future holds. Right now, I know his world is spinning out of control.

As a pastor, over the years and even currently, I’ve worked with a ton of addicts. I’ve helped people find freedom. I’ve taken people through small group studies on addiction and freedom, Celebrate Recovery, one on one discipleship and I’ve promoted organizations like People of the Second Chance and XXXChurch. I think they are great resources and I highly recommend them.

In the last year, I’ve helped people with addictions to pornography, sex addiction, alcoholism, gambling, food addiction, ecstasy and marijuana. You name it, I’ve pretty much seen it and been to the lowest of lows with people helping them back on the road to recovery and freedom. Right now I have three alcoholics that I’m working with and praying for. One goes to AA (and I’m so proud of him and have tremendous hope for him), the other two don’t go to AA and think they can beat it on their own. As you can imagine, I don’t have as much hope for them.

Addiction is powerful and it’s ripping our nation, schools and churches apart. What can we do? First: Stop making fun of them and offer them a helping hand. Second: Take the shame out of someone confessing a struggle. At my church we say, “No perfect people allowed.” Our church is for messed up, jacked up people. The worse they are, the more we want them to come. We need to remove the stigma of “your sin is worse than my sin” and be a place of healing and hope for those that are at their worst.

If you’ve ever made an Anthony Weiner joke, ask for forgiveness from God. Anthony Weiner is precious to God, and we need to pray for him. In churches all across America, there sit people struggling with any number of addictions. We need to be sources of hope, inspiration, grace, healing and forgiveness. This is why we exist!

When the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?”

On hearing this, Jesus said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” – Matthew 9:11-13 (NIV)

Greg Atkinson Greg is a pastor, author, speaker and consultant. Greg has started businesses including the worship resource website WorshipHouse Media, a social media marketing company, and his own consulting firm. As a consultant, Greg has worked with some of the largest and fastest-growing churches across the United States. Greg is the author of Church Leadership Essentials and Strange Leadership.

More from Greg Atkinson or visit Greg at http://www.gregatkinson.com/

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  • sam

    How do you know that he’s got chemical imbalance in his brain? Assuming that is true, then he is not morally responsible for his actions, is he?

    • mkdb

      There is a great book by a biblical counselor called,”Blame it on the Brian” that tries to help us understand a lot of this. It even has an eerily similar situation where a politician blames his brain for his bad behavior … and the media takes him at his word.

      Sadly, while our bodies–not our soul/mind–are made up of chemicals, too many Christians are also blaming “chemistry” for sin (or a “disease” … notice the author is a big fan of AA … and they call this sin a “disease.”). [There was another fascinating book written 40 years ago by a non-christian called, "What ever became of sin?" in which he laments the decline of personal responsibility]

      Even bad behavior among children (which is not unheard of) is now a “disorder” (“Oppositional Defiant Disorder”), and now medication is the answer (i.e. it is a chemical problem). Personal responsibility–at least the accuracy here–has declined in our society, and in the church, to the point that it is essentially dead.

      If responsibility is not accurate (not too much, not too little) there is there really any hope going forward?

      • Hobbes And Bella

        sam and mkdb,

        Aside from the fact that you disagree with Greg Atkinson’s statement about there being a chemical imbalance in Anthony Weiner’s brain, or that you feel him being “a fan of AA” somehow makes the author less credible, don’t let that keep you from discovering the pearl of wisdom contained within this article.

        ” Addiction is powerful and it’s ripping our nation, schools and churches apart. What can we do? First: Stop making fun of them and offer them a helping hand. Second: Take the shame out of someone confessing a struggle. At my church we say, “No perfect people allowed.” Our church is for messed up, jacked up people. The worse they are, the more we want them to come. We need to remove the stigma of “your sin is worse than my sin” and be a place of healing and hope for those that are at their worst.”
        This is Powerful stuff!

        • mkdb

          Hobbes and Bella,

          I agree that “Addiction is powerful and it’s … etc.” That is fine. I agree, for the most part, with your quoted paragraph. Although I would not exactly call it a “pearl of wisdom” or “powerful stuff.” And here is why:

          Just because someone sees a problem, and is deeply concerned about and rightly describes the importance of said problem, does not meant that his or her approach to, definition of, and solutions for the problem is good or accurate. He may be well intended, and very motivated, but zeal without knowledge is not good.

          The church and church leaders–when it comes to so many of the problems in this world, and in individual lives and relationships–have emphasized “caring” and the world’s ideology and notions of “acceptance,” etc FAR more than biblical ideology, love, and accuracy when it comes to addressing these very real problems. That one error could be the single greatest reason why these problems are so bad, and continue to get worse and worse: the church/Christians, those who are suppose to be light and salt, the bearers of God’s power and truth, are often making it far worse by accepting, applying, and exalting the ideology of the world over God’s love and truth. They have fallen for the colossal error of pragmatism (e.g. “Yeah, but …. it works” “Yeah, but these people stopped drinking”)

          So, this is like a well-intended doctor who sees a big problem, but gives an inaccurate diagnosis, and then attempts a harmful treatment.

          If you (or I, or the author, or someone else) truly wants to help someone (in this area, or another one) then I hope you would agree that we will be more harmful than helpful if we are not accurate (no matter how much we care). That is the colossal error of liberalism–which not only perpetuates the problems, it makes it continually worse (all while blaming someone/something else). [For the record, I'm not saying you/him are liberal (that's not the point), it is that this falls into that pattern/mindset.]

          I hope you can see this, and see how ABSOLUTELY vital accuracy is.

  • brianmaddox

    Very thoughtful and insightful article. It is far too easy to pile on to a public figure’s failings as though they were not actually real flesh and blood humans. But Jesus would call us to a higher standard. Thanks for reminding me of that.

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