Mankind has received great blessings and yet also great consternation with the use of drugs. Many drugs are beneficial, saving the lives of millions of people, yet many millions of people are led to miserable lives because of drug abuse. Families are shattered, women are abused, both physically and sexually, and lives are even lost because of the abuse of drugs, some that are considered legal in our society, and others that are still illegal. What, then, should a Christian do about drugs and their use and abuse? Let us examine the different types of drugs available and how the Christian ought to respond to any offers they may receive to try some.
1. “Recreational” Drugs. I am here defining “recreational” drugs as the types that are used generally for recreational purpose, minus alcohol, which will be discussed below. Some of these “recreational” drugs include marijuana, LSD, cocaine, heroin, ecstasy, methamphetamines, and there are many others. The vast majority of these drugs are considered illegal even by our own government.
Drugs such as these ought never even be named amongst the brethren, for not only do they violate the commands to preserve the body (1 Corinthians 6:19-20), but even run afoul of the laws of the government, which the Christian is commanded to obey in Romans 13:1-5:
Let every soul be in subjection to the higher powers: for there is no power but of God; and the powers that be are ordained of God. Therefore he that resisteth the power, withstandeth the ordinance of God: and they that withstand shall receive to themselves judgment. For rulers are not a terror to the good work, but to the evil. And wouldest thou have no fear of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise from the same: for he is a minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is a minister of God, an avenger for wrath to him that doeth evil. Wherefore ye must needs be in subjection, not only because of the wrath, but also for conscience’ sake.
None of these drugs have proven definitively to bring any form of benefit to the body, but all of them do harm the body, causing excessive loss of brain cells and with many, the weakening of the respiratory system. The use of these drugs has no good purpose, and the Christian ought to stay far away from them.
2. Alcoholic beverages. In the United States, alcoholic beverages are legal, although there are age limits (21 in most states) and alcohol limits for drivers (.08 in most states). The consumption of alcohol may be legal, but often the effects are painful: many of the sexual assaults that are committed in America are alcohol-related in some ways, spouse and child abuse, both physical and sexual, are also often alcohol-related, and hundreds if not thousands are killed every year because of accidents involving a drunk driver. Alcohol for many is also very addictive, and the financial, emotional, and even physical consequences of alcoholism are appalling: families are destroyed beyond repair because of alcoholism, and cirrhosis of the liver is common among alcoholics (and even those who may not be addicted).
The problems that alcohol bring are not new to the world, but are even present in Biblical times. Many sins have been committed with wine as a reason (Noah’s uncovering in Genesis 9:21, the incest of Lot’s daughters in Genesis 19:33-35), and Solomon speaks of wine (the most often consumed form of alcohol) in negative ways in Proverbs 20:1 and Proverbs 23:30-32:
Wine is a mocker, strong drink a brawler; And whosoever erreth thereby is not wise.
They that tarry long at the wine; They that go to seek out mixed wine. Look not thou upon the wine when it is red, When it sparkleth in the cup, When it goeth down smoothly: At the last it biteth like a serpent, And stingeth like an adder.
The New Testament also is full of warnings about wine and other alcoholic beverages: deacons are not to drink much of it (1 Timothy 3:8), and drunkenness is condemned as a deed of the flesh in Galatians 5:21. Paul commands us in Romans 13:13:
Let us walk becomingly, as in the day; not in revelling and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and jealousy.
It is argued by many that these verses do not prohibit the use of alcohol altogether, but only the excessive consumption thereof. Such argument is beyond the scope of this article, but it must be noted that even if we were to accept the moderate consumption of alcohol on the basis of the time of Christ, we would be forced to dispense with the alcoholic beverages of today: the Roman world did not drink wine as it is sold today, at full strength, but diluted it significantly. The alcoholic content in a glass of wine that would have been drunk in the time of Christ was negligible, and in no way compares to the alcoholic content of one glass today. Further, there is no need for the consumption of alcohol like there would have been in ancient times, where alcohol was effective at killing the germs present in their water. We can drink many beverages without alcohol and also without fear of germs, and because of the ease in which alcohol can be abused, it is best for the Christian to leave it alone, conforming to the message of 1 Thessalonians 5:22 (Note: the Greek word translated as “form” is also translated as “appearance” in many versions):
abstain from every form of evil.
While some good may exist from moderate consumption of wine, the same benefit may be gained from unfermented grape juice and with alternative methods, leaving the Christian no good reason to consume alcohol. It is best to take the advice of Solomon and avoid alcohol as much as possible.
3. Tobacco. The use of tobacco, either smoked or by chewing, is common in America, despite the constant warnings over the past 10-15 years about the health risks caused by its use. Tobacco is legal in the United States, and represents a very wealthy business.
The appeal of tobacco is in the nicotine contained therein; it is this nicotine that is addictive, and the reason why people continue to smoke/chew for many years. There is no evidence that anything in tobacco or nicotine provides health benefits; in fact, only negatives can come from using tobacco: smoking has been directly linked to asthma, emphysema, and lung cancer, and chewing leads to infected gums and cancers of the mouth. Even if one does not feel these consequences of tobacco use, they still suffer from yellowed teeth and a pervasive stench of smoke or chew that does not conform to the cleanliness that should be the mark of a Christian (Ephesians 5:3, Colossians 3:5). Therefore, having seen that much is to be lost and nothing is to be gained from the use of tobacco, do you think that using it conforms to the message of Paul in 1 Corinthians 6:19-20?
Or know ye not that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit which is in you, which ye have from God? and ye are not your own; for ye were bought with a price: glorify God therefore in your body.
5. Medical Drugs. By medical drugs, I refer to those drugs both available over-the-counter and those available only by prescription. Most all of these drugs have proven medical benefits, and ought to be used when health problems arise. As with all drugs, however, these medical drugs can be abused, and some of them can prove just as deadly as so-called “recreational” drugs when they are abused. The Christian ought to obey the orders of the doctors and pharmacists when it comes to the use of medical drugs, so that he may be restored to his health without causing harm to his body.
Having seen many of these drugs and the problems they cause, one might wonder why anyone would be induced to use them in the first place. Unfortunately, many people are easily pressured into using drugs, and they then find themselves addicted to them. Others do so in order to “fit in” with a group of friends, or to put forth an appearance. Some do it simply to gain the pleasures derived from doing so– why would anyone in their right mind set out to drink alcoholic beverages, for instance, in great quantity, when their taste is less than pleasing, in order to get drunk, when more often than not they know that they will be vomiting the next morning? Why would anyone do such a thing, and, more importantly, why would anyone do it again after it happened the first time? The only answer that can be given is that they have given themselves over to the pleasures that supposedly derive from being drunk or being high or whatever they are doing. This type of attitude and activity is exactly what Peter says we ought no longer do in 1 Peter 4:3-4:
For the time past may suffice to have wrought the desire of the Gentiles, and to have walked in lasciviousness, lusts, winebibbings, revellings, carousings, and abominable idolatries: wherein they think strange that ye run not with them into the same excess of riot, speaking evil of you.
Even though the pressure placed upon you may be strong, if you have named Christ as your Savior and desire to please Him, recognize that the use of drugs (save for medical purposes) ends in great wickedness and unrighteousness, causing great harm physically, emotionally, and spiritually to yourself and those around you. Be strong in the Lord, and endeavor to preserve and keep your body, the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, recognizing that you are not owned by yourself but Christ. Avoid those things that derive no benefit but bring only misery and despair.
Ethan R. Longhenry