The 12 Steps of AA and the Bible: Connecting the Big Book to the Word of GOD
Recovery from addiction is a transformative journey that often requires guidance, support, and a solid framework for personal growth. Two sources of inspiration that have provided solace and structure for countless individuals are the 12 steps of recovery and the teachings of the Bible. While these two paths may seem distinct, they share numerous correlations that can assist individuals on their quest for sobriety and spiritual growth. In this article, we will explore the parallels between the 12 steps and the Bible, highlighting how these powerful resources complement and enhance each other in the realm of recovery.
Step 1: We admitted we were powerless over alcohol (or our addiction) - that our lives had become unmanageable.
The first step of the 12-step program acknowledges the need for a power greater than oneself, as outlined in the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous (p. 59). Similarly, the Bible emphasizes the importance of recognizing our powerlessness and surrendering to God’s will, such as in Proverbs 3:5-6 and Matthew 19:26.
Step 2: Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
In step 2, individuals in recovery come to believe in a Higher Power who can restore them to sanity. This aligns with the Bible’s teachings on the significance of faith and finding restoration through God’s grace (Ephesians 2:8-9, Psalm 34:17-18).
Step 3: Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.
Step 3 emphasizes the decision to surrender one’s will to a Higher Power. The Bible teaches the importance of surrendering to God, trusting in His care, and seeking His guidance (Proverbs 3:5-6, Matthew 16:24-25).
Step 4: Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
The fourth step of the 12-step program encourages individuals to conduct a thorough moral inventory and examine their shortcomings (Big Book, p. 63-71). Similarly, the Bible promotes self-reflection, the examination of one’s heart, and the pursuit of righteousness (Psalm 139:23-24, 2 Corinthians 13:5).
Step 5: Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
Step 5 involves admitting one’s wrongs to God, oneself, and a trusted confidant. The Bible emphasizes the importance of confession, seeking forgiveness, and making amends (James 5:16, 1 John 1:9).
Step 6: Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
In step 6, individuals in recovery become willing to let go of their character defects and allow God to transform them. The Bible teaches that God can renew our minds and transform our hearts (Romans 12:2, Ezekiel 36:26).
Step 7: Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.
Step 7 involves humbly asking God to remove our shortcomings. The Bible emphasizes humility and the need to rely on God’s strength rather than our own (James 4:10, 2 Corinthians 12:9).
Step 8: Made a list of all persons we had harmed and became willing to make amends to them all.
In step 8, individuals make a list of those they have harmed and become willing to make amends. The Bible teaches the significance of making amends, seeking forgiveness, and reconciling with others (Matthew 5:23-24, Colossians 3:13).
Step 9: Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
Step 9 involves making direct amends to those individuals harmed during one’s addiction, except when doing so would cause further harm. The Bible emphasizes the importance of reconciliation, forgiveness, and making restitution (Matthew 5:23-24, Luke 19:8).
Step 10: Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong, promptly admitted it.
Step 10 encourages individuals to engage in ongoing self-reflection, promptly admitting their mistakes. Similarly, the Bible promotes introspection, accountability, and the willingness to acknowledge and confess one’s sins (Psalm 139:23-24, 1 John 1:9).
Step 11: Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.
Step 11 emphasizes the importance of prayer and meditation to deepen one’s relationship with a Higher Power. The Bible teaches the significance of prayer, seeking God’s will, and cultivating a spiritual connection (Philippians 4:6-7, Psalm 119:105).
Step 12: Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics (or others in need), and to practice these principles in all our affairs.
The twelfth step speaks of a spiritual awakening resulting from working the previous steps. It encourages individuals to share their experience, strength, and hope with others in need and to live out the principles of recovery in all aspects of life. The Bible emphasizes the importance of sharing the good news, helping others, and living a transformed life (Matthew 28:19-20, Galatians 6:2).
The correlations between the 12 steps of recovery and the teachings of the Bible are profound. Both offer guidance, support, and a framework for personal transformation. By combining the principles of the 12 steps with the spiritual wisdom found in the Bible, individuals in recovery can access a powerful synergy that addresses the physical, emotional, and spiritual dimensions of their lives. Whether one finds solace in the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous or seeks guidance from the scriptures, these resources can provide a roadmap for recovery and a path towards spiritual growth and wholeness.