Q: If a person drinks and uses drugs but believes in God, will they ascend? My mother says that she doesn’t feel like it is a sin but I think she is defiling her temple.
A: Your mother is lucky to have a concerned son such as yourself. What I hear in your question is a son’s concern for his mother’s well-being; and this is a natural and normal concern of any loving child for its parent.
On this issue, I think you have to follow your mother’s lead. She is the one who is practicing behaviors that you characterize as “defiling.” She claims to believe that it is not a sin for her, and she does claim belief in God. My short answer would be to pray for her, to keep vigilant for signs that she wants help, and to provide encouragement for her when and if she seeks help. Absent any reaching out on her part, you will have to allow your mother to work this problem out for herself.
A longer answer would entail your deciding whether these behaviors of your mother’s are interfering with YOUR life. Also, whether her behaviors constitute a real addiction on her part. Both alcohol and drugs of all kinds have the potential for being addictive; however, not all people who indulge in their use can be called addicts. There are degrees of addiction and usage, and there are degrees of motivation for such behaviors. All of these things need to be addressed, and your brief letter leaves many of these questions open.
If your mom is truly an alcohol/drug addict, she has a disease of body, soul and spirit. While distressing to loved ones, it is hard for me to ascribe these behaviors to deliberate sin, but rather to a situation in which the addicted soul finds herself unable to cope with a sober life.
Is alcohol or drug use a moral issue? Can we decide this for anyone besides ourselves? While it may be technically true that your mother is “defiling her temple,” is she committing a sin that might keep her from the ascending life? Again, this is an issue that can be rightfully decided only in the mind of your mother, and it really is between her and God only. My gut feeling is that drinking too much is not a behavior that can keep us out of heaven, as it has an element of possible physical addiction connected with it. Once that is activated, quitting becomes—not a moral issue, but an issue of physical need.
Sin is defined in The Urantia Book—and by Jesus—as deliberate disloyalty to God. In your mother’s mind, her substance use or abuse evidently does not qualify as disloyalty to God.
God understands these things—he understands the nature of our mortal bodies, and the kinds of challenges we face in this mortal estate. Most importantly, he understands and knows us each better than we even know ourselves. We have to trust that God is forgiving of your mother’s weakness in this area—especially if she has the disease of alcoholism.
There are all kinds of activities and behaviors that might constitute sin. Defiling one’s temple by polluting it with chemicals might be a sin, but who is to make that judgment? I might ask—do your mother’s other actions in life show her to be a chronic “sinner?” Is she kind? Is she caring of you? Is she a good person overall? These are important questions to ask when assessing this behavior of hers.
Since your mother’s drinking and drugging are so concerning for you, I would suggest that you look into AlAnon HERE . AlAnon is an organization born from the program of Alcoholics Anonymous. It is a place for the relatives and friends of alcoholics where they can receive support while dealing with the problem drinker/drug user.
It is important to realize that it is not up to you to solve this problem. AlAnon can help you to reframe the problem, and to deal with its effects in YOUR life. In this way, we stop being in the position of the “alcohol police,” but rather, we become empowered to deal with the problem in more creative and satisfying ways for our own sanity and mental health through a mutual support network of people who find themselves in this position. In the long run, this is helpful to the drinker as well, as it removes you as the one who is always telling her what she “should” do. It puts the responsibility back where it belongs—on her—while you find ways to continue to love her and help her without enabling her harmful behaviors.
As for help for your mother—there is all kinds of help available for her, (see THIS LINK for alcoholism info) but none of it will be of any use unless and until she recognizes that she has a problem. You cannot make your mother stop using if she is not minded to quit. Certainly, putting her behavior on a moral ground will not be helpful. If she is addicted, she will make any excuse to continue her behavior. Her thinking is clouded. She will not be swayed by morality. As I suggested before, alcoholism is a disease; primarily, it is a disease of denial…addicts will staunchly deny that they have a problem, even though there may be a mountain of evidence to the contrary. Until her own life is seriously impacted, she will not see a reason to stop what she is doing.
Finally, I would suggest that you continue to pay for, and most especially, WITH your mother, since you appear to have belief in God in common. Ask God to bring her to the point where she can see clearly what is happening so that she can make better decisions about her life. But above all, continue to love your mother. The human heart is very complex, and beyond understanding, except by God. Trust that our loving heavenly Father will bring your mother through this problem—both here on earth, and in eternal life.
I hope that my reply has been of some help to you today.