Whitney Houston and the Silent Shame of Addiction

by | Feb 15, 2012 | Blogs, Fire in My Bones

The pop diva’s death should remind us of an uncomfortable reality:
People in church take drugs.

Anyone who has listened to Whitney Houston’s rendition of “I Love the Lord”—or who saw her perform with CeCe Winans
and Shirley Caesar at the 1996 Grammy Awards—knows she had an incomparable
voice best suited for gospel music. But Whitney chose a broader path: When the
doors opened for her to make a pop album in the 1980s, it became the all-time
best-selling debut album by a female artist. She became America’s diva.

But all her worldly success didn’t help her overcome her personal
demons. Her stormy marriage was marred by domestic violence. She admitted in
the 1990s that she took cocaine every day. She tried rehab three times over the
course of eight years. Her voice was so damaged by her drug habit that people
walked out of her comeback concert in London in 2010. She became a pathetic
shell of her former self.

“Whitney Houston was not the
only person who talked about Jesus yet struggled privately with cocaine or
other illegal drugs. I frequently meet men and women at church altars who have
never found the strength to kick their habit.”

Christians in the music industry reached out to Whitney and prayed with
her during her up-and-down battle with addictions. But the drugs had a powerful
pull. In 2006, a photo was released of her bathroom sink in Atlanta filled with
crack pipes, drug paraphernalia, cigarettes and beer cans. Even after she
divorced Bobby Brown in 2007, the downward spiral continued.

It all ended last week when Whitney’s body was found in her hotel
bathtub in Los Angeles, just two days after she sang an impromptu version of
“Jesus Loves Me” at a Hollywood nightclub. I’d like to believe it was a feeble
cry to the God of her childhood.

The woman who knew Whitney Houston best—her mother, gospel singer Cissy
Houston—has been deeply concerned about her daughter’s choices for years.
During a 2009 interview with Oprah Winfrey, Whitney recalls her mother’s words:
“I am not losing you to the world. I’m not losing you to Satan. I want my
daughter back. I want to see the child I raised, and you weren’t raised like
this.”

Her mother knew that Whitney’s choices—and perhaps the enormous
temptations that come with worldwide fame—had taken her down a dangerous road.

I can’t judge Whitney, nor can I say whether or not she made it to
heaven. Only God knows her private conversations with Him. I hope that
somewhere underneath the tangled mess of her life she reached out to the Savior
she sang about as a child while growing up at New Hope
Baptist Church back in Newark, N.J.

What I can do is plead with Christians today to stop ignoring the
monster of addiction that is killing so many people, including those who may be
sitting next to you in church.

Let’s not kid ourselves. Whitney Houston was not the only person who
talked about Jesus yet struggled privately with illegal drugs. I frequently
meet men and women at church altars who have never found the strength to kick
their habit. I even know of pastors, youth leaders and worship leaders who live
double lives—hiding their addiction under the cloak of Sunday morning religion.
They hide because they’re afraid they’ll be shunned or shamed if they ever
admit their problem to anybody.

What we need is less judgment and more transparency about this problem.
Drugs, including alcohol, are harsh taskmasters. Crack and crystal
meth are impossible to overcome apart from serious intervention. Once a
person’s brain is altered by these substances, he or she needs a miracle.
Telling them to “Just say no” is not going to cut it.

But we can’t pretend people are OK when they are hooked on drugs. If
the addiction continues, they are likely to end up dead. I agree with Cissy
Houston that Satan was involved in Whitney’s sad journey. Hell is directly
connected to every crack deal ever made.

If you are addicted, please be willing to seek help by admitting your
problem to your pastor or a trusted Christian friend. If you have someone in
your family who is addicted, don’t wait until it’s too late to intervene. Barge
into their lives if necessary to show tough love. (And forward this article to
them.)

If you are a pastor, extend mercy. Talk about addiction from the pulpit
and make sure your congregation knows your church is a safe place to find
healing. Then, identify effective Christian drug rehab ministries in your area
and refer people there, especially if your church counseling team is not
equipped to tackle hard cases.

Remember:
Jesus has a message for anyone struggling with drugs: “Come to me, all who are
weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest” (Matt. 11:28, NASB).

Whitney Houston’s death was tragic, but perhaps the warning that
emerges from her story will end up saving lives.

J. LEE GRADY is the former
editor of
Charisma and the director
of
The Mordecai Project. You can follow him on
Twitter at leegrady.

CHARISMA NEWSLETTERS

Stay up-to-date with current issues, Christian teachings, entertainment news, videos & more.

The latest breaking Christian news you need to know about as soon as it happens.

Prophetic messages from respected leaders & news of how God is moving throughout the world. 


MORE FROM CHARISMA

Have We Departed From the  Simplicity of Christ?

Have We Departed From the Simplicity of Christ?

Recently I heard a pastor say the following: "When I was pastoring and saw little fruit, I began to call those with potential to reach others for Christ to our home and to mentor them one on one. That's where massive growth happened in the people." Local pastors and...

Take the Fight to the Enemy, Before He Strikes at You

Take the Fight to the Enemy, Before He Strikes at You

Read Time: 3 Minutes 7 Seconds “When the Philistines heard that they had anointed David king over Israel, all the Philistines went up to seek out David; and when David heard of it, he went down to the stronghold,” (2 Sam. 5:17). When David heard that he was under...

Joyce Meyer: Becoming a Prisoner of Hope

Joyce Meyer: Becoming a Prisoner of Hope

Read Time: 3 Minutes 56 Seconds God is good. And He has a good plan for each of our lives. No matter what may be going on right now, God’s plan is unfolding. In the meantime, Romans 12:12 tells us to “be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer,”...

Victimized By Gaslighting? 5 Steps to Finding Freedom

Victimized By Gaslighting? 5 Steps to Finding Freedom

Read Time: 2 minutes 26 seconds The term "gaslighting" has gone viral across social media this year and Merriam-Webster chose it as their word-of-the-year, saying searches for the word spiked 1,740% in 2022 alone. We're breaking down what the Bible has to say about...

RECENT ARTICLES

WATCH: Vlad Savchuck: Life, Health and the Bible

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oZdzLoS3wCM During a recent visit to @HungryGeneration, Pastor Vlad Savchuk asked Bill Wiese to comment on his personal experience applying the Word of God to his own...
Miraculous Divine Intervention Birthed by Thanksgiving and Praise

Miraculous Divine Intervention Birthed by Thanksgiving and Praise

Read Time: 4 Minutes 2 Seconds When I first became a believer in 1970, my mother was one of my first “converts," giving her heart to Jesus as soon as I shared with her the beauty, the power and the opportunity of making Jesus the Lord of her life. However, my father...

I’m Going Defcon G on the Enemy

I’m Going Defcon G on the Enemy

Read Time: 1 Minute 32 Seconds The last six years have been the best of times and the worst of times. I’ve seen more death, destruction, disease and devastation than I care to remember. I’ve also seen the hand of God move in extraordinary ways. Indeed, sometimes I...

Prophetic Vision: ‘Now is the Time of Your Healing’

Prophetic Vision: ‘Now is the Time of Your Healing’

Read Time: 3 Minutes 41 Seconds I was remembering a time when my husband and I were praying over friends who had been in a situation for many years that had caused deep trauma to their souls. As we were praying for them, I became aware of an angel standing over them...

5 Ways to Improve Your Emotional and Spiritual Health

5 Ways to Improve Your Emotional and Spiritual Health

Read Time: 4 Minutes 50 Seconds Do you believe the Lord is concerned about your emotional and spiritual health? He is. He wants you to know how to improve your emotional and spiritual health to be resilient in turbulent times. One of the most powerful things you can...

Pin It on Pinterest