To worship something means to treat it like it were a God, and in no place do we worship things more than in our friendships and relationships. We worship the people in our lives, from our friends, siblings, parents, teachers, and in our worship, we expect people to behave like God, too. We expect perfect morality, perfect treatment, and perfect everything. We give up on those people when they fail to meet our lofty expectations. We deny them the ability to be human, and what greater injustice is there, then?
When we worship someone, we will be destroyed, because they will always fall short of our expectations. But that, too, is a two-way street. We will destroy the people we worship because we treat them as projects to fix, fine-tune, and adjust to our likings. Worshipping someone makes them innately inhuman, denies them the ability to live their lives and make their own choices. People have needs and meant to be listened to. They are not meant to be idolized.
I have witnessed a fair amount of drug and alcohol interventions in my day, whether for myself or for my friends. I do not believe they work, most of the time. I believe that society has a misconception about addiction. The addiction is usually not the problem, but is a band-aid solution to deeper issues. I believe you cannot make people change, as they need to want to change themselves. You can walk with them. You can listen. But you cannot worship, or you expect too much. You cannot worship, or you will try to control their lives.
Idolatry is considered the "worship of false gods," but I have found, recently, that the word applies not only to religious contexts, but to life. I have plenty of idols in my life, from my friends, my family, running, to TV, caffeine and alcohol. I worship myself: my character, pride, and reputation. I worship my grades in school, my scores on tests, my paycheck at work, my career, my future. The moment something falls through and goes disastrously within one of these idols is a time when I have to check myself, like when I get a B or C on a test, is a time I have to stop, reflect, and tell myself: this isn't everything. It's a huge problem if it is everything.
The good Christian and company line I'm supposed to say is that God and Jesus Christ are the only things we can worship. There is a difference, a strong difference between loving someone and worshipping them. Loving someone allows them to be human, make mistakes, take risks, and inevitably fail. Loving someone means telling them "I'm going to let you go in that direction, even though I disapprove. I will be with you regardless of whether or not you fall." Loving someone is the ability to disagree about almost politics, and disagree almost to the point of getting into a fight, and hug it out at the end of the day and acknowledge that that person is too precious to lose, no matter what they did, no matter what they believe. Worship is conditional. Loving is unconditional.
Sure, the ideas in the articles are good in theory, but what about in practice? The truth is we go through stages of worshipping people in our lives before we can actually love them. I experience this with my friendships and relationships all the time: I sometimes expect too much from people, and get disappointed too easily when they don't meet those expectations. But then I realize I'm no better, that I would make the same mistakes in the same situation. The worst, sometimes, is when I worship myself. I hold myself to unrealistic standards and expectations. Every semester, I start my first class saying, "Ryan, you need to get a 4.0 GPA this semester," and only start to fall apart and destroy myself when I start to fall short of the mark. Part of me gives up, even when I'm doing more than fine.
We have a black and white image of what it means to sin in contemporary society and Christianity. Sin is bad, fundamentally bad, and means solely doing things awfully wrong. In Biblical Greek, sin meant to "miss the mark." It was often used in contexts of archery and spear throwing to denote missing the center of the target. If that is what it means to sin, then I sin all the time, and you, too, sin all the time. We sin especially when we worship things, or other people as if they were God.
I once had an upper-level chemistry professor who said that "if you fail and miss your goal, just move the goal."
I would go on to fail his next exam, but learned a valuable life lesson regardless (and did fine in the class). Remember that quote especially in terms of what you expect for other people. Give them space and permission to be human, not only so you don't destroy them, but so they won't destroy you when they don't meet those expectations. Love people by changing your mark, because the most valuable lesson I have learned in life about people is this: no matter what, they're too precious to lose.