Very sad. Everything surrounding Whitney Houston’s tragic death is sad to me. Her life was sad, too, for a variety of reasons. I wanted to write this blog many days ago but waited until some of the emotion has died down before commenting. I always liked and admired Ms. Houston in many ways so the following thoughts on this situation as related to the Bible and addiction are not meant to be derogatory toward her as a person because we all fall short, but meant to help us think about this in a different, biblical light:
1) Nowhere in the Bible does it label Whitney’s problem as an “addiction” as though it were some disease or demon that plagued her. What plagued her was her own will. She was a determined and stubborn woman CAPABLE of saying “no” to drugs and saying “yes” to live for God and others. Her determination and stubbornness was a good thing in that it made her successful along with God’s Hand first and foremost. Too bad she did not direct those qualities toward sobriety and living for others – and ultimately, living for God.
2) Those comments above may seem harsh but at the end of her life, Ms. Houston was obviously not living for Christ. She was living for herself. She was living for the creation rather than the Creator. Now, that does not mean she was not saved or truly born again – I do not presume to know her heart – but it does mean that she was choosing to walk in the futility of her own mind following her sensual, fleshly desires rather than the Holy Spirit of God.
Here is a passage written to CHRISTIANS about how we choose to live in Ephesians 4:17-24 states: Now this I say and testify in the Lord, that you must no longer walk as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds. 18 They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart. 19 They have become callous and have given themselves up to sensuality, greedy to practice every kind of impurity. 20 But that is not the way you learned Christ!— 21 assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus, 22 to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, 23 and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, 24 and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness. (all verses are from the ESV)
Christians CAN still make selfish, sinful choices to live for their own fleshly desires (lusts) and must CHOOSE to put off the old self, be renewed in their minds/thinking by the Holy Spirit, and then to put on the new self – right living that glorifies the Lord.
3) The biblical name for Whitney’s problem (and yours and mine) is sin. Specifically, it is drunkenness (Eph. 5:18-21; Prov. 23:29-35). Generally, it is idolatry (I Corinthians 6:9-11; I Cor. 10:14; Galatians 5:16-21).
If we do not label the problem correctly, then we will not be able to solve the problem. In this instance, Whitney Houston was not an “addict” but a willful, stubborn, and rebellious idolater who chose drunkenness over Christ – meaning she chose to live to please herself rather than choosing to live to please Christ. Her problem (and yours and mine) is a problem of the heart – our own heart’s will, desires, and passions. We are all capable of choosing what she did and all of us need God’s grace and mercy!
4) While it may have SEEMED like Ms. Houston was a victim of a disease and hopelessly trapped, she was not. Help was readily available and she had the means to get help IF she had wanted to do so. She did NOT want to do so and merely chose to live for herself.
5) Personally, I do not believe she tried to kill herself but lived in such a reckless manner that eventually something would be her undoing. Our sins can lead to death when we fail to confess, repent, and ask God for forgiveness and the power to live for righteous reasons. I John 5:16-17 states: If anyone sees his brother committing a sin not leading to death, he shall ask, and God will give him life—to those who commit sins that do not lead to death. There is sin that leads to death; I do not say that one should pray for that. 17 All wrongdoing is sin, but there is sin that does not lead to death. Whitney’s sins lead to death which is very sad because she was so young (48) and so gifted by God. She chose to squander those gifts He had given and it sadly and ultimately caught up with her.
5) Ms. Houston is now face to face with her Creator. Matthew 7:21-23 is a remarkable statement made by Jesus Christ Himself about false prophets: “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ 23 And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’” Whenever I read this, I cringe because this means that some people who say they are doing “mighty” things in the name of Christ are in REALITY only seeking to serve and please themselves and do not KNOW Jesus personally.
Ms. Houston is now either hearing 1 of these 2 statements:
“Well done, good and faithful servant” (Matthew 2:21 &23)
“I never knew you; depart from Me, you worker of lawlessness” (Matthew 7:23)
Let’s not kid ourselves here and believe what we want to believe. I do not know what He is saying to her but I guarantee you that God is not surprised at how gifted He created her to be but is a Righteous and Holy Judge knowing her heart. I hope and pray she trusted in Christ for eternal life.
6) Are we a nation of pill poppers? The answer is “yes, of course we are.” Sad but true. But the problem is not the drugs or the manufacturers of the drugs or even the drug dealers – the problem is the human heart. People are not victims (or “addicts”) but are truly responsible for their decisions.
7) Now, her estate is being auctioned off. Eternity is all that matters now to Whitney Houston because that is her reality and all she has. Material possessions do not last and after you die, they just sell your stuff. Sad. Where is your focus: on eternity or on the stuff of this earth?
8- I certainly hope the Gospel was preached at her funeral. If “addiction” was talked about as a “disease,” then there was no Gospel preached through that message because there is no need for a Savior for an “addiction.” There is a need for a Savior for our sins and God saves sinners from their sins through Jesus Christ, our Savior and our righteousness.
9) When I read the lyrics of her songs, I am deeply saddened at the man-centered message. “The Greatest Love of All” is a love yourself anthem and is not TRUE! The greatest love of all is Jesus Christ who laid down His life for His friends (John 15:13; John 10:11). Self-love and self-esteem is crushing the church because it is hindering the Gospel.
10) Even the song, “I Look to You” is off theologically-speaking. It is a “last minute, come and rescue me, God” song so that I can be blessed and free to do what I want. God wants us to live for Him and His glory alone. Did Whitney Houston’s life reflect someone who was living for Christ? You and I do not have to answer that – God already has and He alone will judge Ms. Houston.
You may not be able to tell, but I am deeply grieved by this whole situation, the response of so-called believers, and how un-biblical Christians are thinking about this issue. James 4:4 reminds us that friendship with the world is enmity with God and Colossians 2:8 warns us about adopting traditions of our culture that do not line up with the teachings of Jesus.
One scary note is the lyric in her song, “I Look to You” that says:
About to lose my breath, there’s no more fighting left, sinking to rise no more, searching for that open door.
Did you catch what that song said? It was prophetic in a sense because Ms. Whitney Houston lost her breath and is no longer fighting. Sinking in her bathtub after taking too many prescription drugs with alcohol, she will rise no more on this earth. She has found the open door to eternity: no more searching is left.
My hope is that she is in heaven and NOT hell but it is too late for her. Yet it is not too late for you and I to repent and trust Christ alone for the forgiveness of our same sins of idolatry so that we might be “born again” with the indwelling of the Holy Spirit!
-Mark (“Lord, please grant us all repentance from our sins so that we might find eternal life in Christ alone.”)