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Helping vs Enabling: A Biblical Perspective

The disease of addiction does not just affect the individual but also their friends and families. Part of the impact of addiction is how loved ones respond by either helping versus enabling. It is important to understand the effects of enabling and how it supports dysfunctional and negative behaviors to continue. 

What Does the Bible Say About Enabling?

Enabling is an easy behavior to fall into when a loved one is acting out negatively, including when they are struggling with alcohol and drug abuse. Most family members do not want to see their loved ones suffer, so they feel like they have to step in and help. However, the “help” they provide is actually enabling. 

For example, a parent may make excuses for their young adult child’s behavior because the parent is embarrassed about their child’s alcohol and drug use. So, instead of letting their child face the consequences of their actions, they try to cover it up or downplay the seriousness of their addiction

So, what does the Bible say about enabling? The Bible says that it is okay to want to care for and help our loved ones. However, several verses discourage enabling behaviors because they are unhealthy and do not benefit the individual in any way. Rather, they hinder the individual and prevent them from facing the consequences of their actions. 

What Does the Bible Say About Helping vs. Enabling?

It’s vital to understand the differences between helping versus enabling. Helping is when someone wants to do something for a loved one when they cannot do it themselves. For example, a parent sits and reads Bible verses to their adult child because they just had laser surgery on their eyes. 

Enabling, on the other hand, is when someone does something for a loved one that the loved one should or could do themselves. For instance, a parent pays their adult child’s bills because they got fired. The reason they got fired is because of their substance abuse

Bible Verses About Enabling Drug Addicts

There are several Bible verses about enabling drug addicts and drug addiction we can turn to for guidance as follows:

  • Luke 15:11-32: This is the story of the prodigal son. It is a great example of how the father did not enable his son. Instead, he let his son go out, explore the world, and face the consequences of his actions on his own. When he returned home, the father still loved his son and forgave him. 
  • Galatians 6:5: “For every man shall bear his own burden.” Paul is letting us know that, as Christians, we are responsible for carrying our own burdens and obligations.  
  • Galatians 6:7: “Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap.” Paul is letting people know that they will face consequences for their actions, good or bad. So, if they are enabling their loved ones, then they will continue to suffer, and their loved ones will continue to sink further into addiction. 
  • Proverbs 10:4: “He who has a slack hand becomes poor, but the hand of the diligent makes rich.” This Bible verse reminds us that laziness will result in poverty and negative consequences, while diligent people are more likely to succeed. 
  • 2 Thessalonians 3:10-12: “For even when we were with you, we gave you this rule: The one who is unwilling to work shall not eat. We hear that some among you are idle and disruptive. They are not busy; they are busybodies. Such people, we command and urge in the Lord Jesus Christ to settle down and earn the food they eat.” Basically, this verse says that if people are unwilling to work, do not feed them. In other words, do not enable them.  

What Does the Bible Say About Boundaries?

The Bible addresses the concept of boundaries, particularly concerning sin, righteousness, discernment, and healthy relationships. Here are a few verses that speak to these topics:

  • Proverbs 4:23: “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” This verse emphasizes the importance of setting boundaries to protect our hearts and minds from sin.
  • 1 Corinthians 10:13: “No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.” This passage highlights how God provides boundaries and limits temptations in our lives.
  • Ephesians 5:11-12: “Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness but rather expose them…For it is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret.” These verses stress the importance of setting boundaries by avoiding sinful behaviors and exposing unfruitful actions.
  • Philippians 1:9-10: “And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ.” This passage highlights the need for discernment in establishing healthy boundaries based on love, knowledge, and insight.

Loving Thy Neighbor While Practicing Tough Love

It is important to recognize that loving someone does not mean we have to enable them. Instead of sitting by while we see a loved one hurt themselves, we can lovingly call them out for their actions and encourage them to seek help for their addiction.

In addition, loving thy neighbor also means allowing loved ones to suffer the consequences of their addiction to encourage change. So, if they lose their job, can’t afford to pay their bills, or have other problems, someone can establish boundaries or encourage professional faith-based treatment without enabling them.  

How Can Loved Ones Honor Their Boundaries?

By setting clear boundaries, we put our loved ones on notice that their addictive behaviors will not be tolerated. It also lets them know that loved ones are not going to enable their addiction. Rather, it will show them love, kindness, and compassion but not try to cover up or hide their addiction or support it in any way. Boundaries reduce the likelihood of enabling loved ones and maintain a structured setting. 

A Spiritual Perspective View of Codependency 

To fully support our loved one’s codependency and addiction recovery, we must embrace how addiction affects addicts and their families. It is essential for everyone to actively participate in recovery through family therapy and fellowship sessions. Putting faith in God and Christ and strengthening family bonds without enabling helps support loved ones. They are more likely to achieve long-term recovery success. 

Eliminate Codependency and Addiction in Nashville

At Spring2Life Recovery, we provide compassionate and caring addiction recovery in Christ to help everyone overcome their addictions. Contact us today to discover your purpose in life while restoring and strengthening your faith in God and Jesus. 


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