Awesome. The pope has arrived in the UK. That’s just what this country needs – a bill to the taxpayer of upwards of £10 million so a paedo-concealin’ old bloke can patronise us all with his outdated moral code and flagrant disregard for human rights, even though only a quarter of us actively support the visit, at a time when science funding is about to face monstrous cuts. Brilliant!
To celebrate, I thought I’d take a look at what the Bible had to say about drugs. Obviously, I’m no theologian, so I’m basing this post on the interpretation given by GotQuestions.org (GQ from now on), who:
Seeks to glorify the Lord Jesus Christ by providing biblical, applicable, and timely answers to spiritually-related questions through an internet presence.
Their website looks to be quite a big deal, probably getting over 100,000 pageviews a day, so who better to spiritually guide us on our quest for information? Let’s get started…
The Bible doesn’t have anything to say about drugs explicitly, however drug use is covered within the scope of other, broader teachings.
Rule #1 – Don’t break the law
Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and he will commend you. For he is God’s servant to do you good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword for nothing. He is God’s servant, an agent of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also because of conscience.
So, that immediately rules out any illegal drug use, lest an “agent of wrath […] bring punishment”, so that’s a “No” to cannabis, LSD, ecstasy, heroin, etc! GQ helpfully offers up this snippet of wisdom, in case we feel the laws are unjust:
Contrary to popular belief [what?!], simply disagreeing with a law does not constitute a license for breaking that law.
Cannabis should be legal, I hear you scream! But what about alcohol and tobacco, I hear you ask? Hypocrisy! Well, our friends at GQ have already thought of that:
Many have argued that marijuana does not warrant prohibition. They contend that smoking pot in defiance of the law is justifiable on these grounds and in light of (what they perceive to be) the hypocrisy of outlawing weed while allowing nicotine and alcohol consumption. Those who argue this point may be sincere in their conviction, but they are mistaken nonetheless. Heartfelt disdain for the law does not justify impunity towards it, as our Lord Himself made clear. While rebuking the Pharisees for turning the Law of Moses into an excessively oppressive yoke, Christ still required His disciples to submit to their unfairly harsh demands (Matthew 23:1-36, especially 1-4). Dutiful submission to authority and patient perseverance through unjust suffering and/or perceived unfairness (1 Peter 2:18-23 [Partly quoted below]) is God’s high standard for us – even if that means having to abstain from marijuana in compliance with “unfair” legislation.
Here’s the coolest bit of the Bible they reference to support their point, so you don’t have to go looking it up:
Slaves, submit yourselves to your masters with all respect, not only to those who are good and considerate, but also to those who are harsh. 19 For it is commendable if a man bears up under the pain of unjust suffering because he is conscious of God.
1 Peter 2:18-19
Right, ok. So breaking the law is bad, no matter how unjust we think it is. Fair enough. Surely then, we can smoke a bit of weed in The Netherlands or enjoy some coca tea in Bolivia, or consume some legal highs? Right? Right?!
Rule #2 – Don’t harm your body
Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit lives in you? If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him; for God’s temple is sacred, and you are that temple.
1 Corinthians 3:16-17
Everyone knows drugs are harmful. In fact, here’s an old graph listing 20 different drugs ordered by the harm they cause. You’ve almost definitely seen it before.
Notice how no drug in that graph has a harm rating of zero, and according to GQ:
Beyond stewardship, as Christians, our bodies are not our own. We “have been bought with a price” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20), not “with perishable things like silver or gold . . . but with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ” (1 Peter 1:17-19). Having bought us with His own life, Christ has delighted to create in us something entirely new, something somewhat bizarre. By indwelling us with His Spirit, He has turned us into organic temples of sorts. So now, caring for our health is not just a matter of good stewardship. It is a matter of reverential piety. To pollute or harm our bodies is to desecrate the House of God (1 Corinthians 3:16-17 [The bit I quoted earlier]). This is both wondrous and terrifying.
GQ also talk about a number of individual drugs and the damage they cause. Here’s what they have to say about cannabis:
Marijuana, while being the least harmful of all of the illicit drugs, is still potentially lethal. Marijuana enthusiasts (“potheads”) take comfort in the fact that, unlike most other illicit drugs, it is seemingly impossible to fatally overdose on weed by means of normal consumption (i.e. smoking it). But this does nothing to diminish the potentially fatal risks of lung cancer, emphysema, and other forms of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) caused by marijuana smoke. While marijuana can be ingested without smoking it, thereby eliminating these risks, there still remain negative physiological and psychological consequences including damage to the reproductive system, the immune system, and cognitive ability.
At this point I was wondering what their guidance was on alcohol but they don’t seem to have mentioned it. That’s odd, what with alcohol being ranked fifth most harmful on that graph above. Looks like I’ll have to come to my own conclusions without GQ’s help then! Let me think for a moment…
Ok, got it. In John 2:1-11, Jesus turns water into wine:
On the third day a wedding took place at Cana in Galilee. Jesus’ mother was there, and Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding. When the wine was gone, Jesus’ mother said to him, “They have no more wine.”
They did so, and the master of the banquet tasted the water that had been turned into wine. He did not realize where it had come from, though the servants who had drawn the water knew. Then he called the bridegroom aside 10 and said, “Everyone brings out the choice wine first and then the cheaper wine after the guests have had too much to drink; but you have saved the best till now.”
This, the first of his miraculous signs, Jesus performed at Cana in Galilee. He thus revealed his glory, and his disciples put their faith in him.
Crikey, how about that then! If Jesus himself not only condones drinking wine but practically busts out a keg, then alcohol must be the exception to the rule, despite the massive objective harm alcohol causes, right? I know what you’re thinking – one bible quote doesn’t necessarily mean that’s the case. What about other evidence? Well, there’s also the Catholic belief in transubstantiation, which:
means the change of the substance of bread and wine into the substance of the Body and Blood (respectively) of Christ in the Eucharist, while all that is accessible to the senses (accidents) remains as before.
Wikipedia on Transubstantiation
For starters, that’s what Catholics literally believe. The wine they use in church has *literally* become the blood of Christ, despite appearing to be wine and retaining all the properties of the wine, including alcohol content. The fact that Catholics not only drink this fortified Jesus-elixir routinely, and also that wine was selected by Christ to represent/become/whatever his blood both support my conclusion that alcohol is fiiiiiiine compared with the rest of the evil drugs, according to the bible and common church practice.
As I mentioned previously though, I’m no theologian, so I welcome other people’s thoughts on my conclusion in the comments.
Here are some final words of wisdom from my spiritual guides at GQ, this time on addiction:
As for drug addiction, not all illicit drugs are physically addictive. Nevertheless, they are all psychologically addictive. While most people are familiar with physical addiction – the progressive condition whereby the human body becomes physically dependent upon a drug in order to function properly – psychological addiction is less well-known. Psychological addiction is an enslavement of the mind, often characterized by obsessive tendencies and a lack of desire to quit. While physical addiction brings the body into subjection, psychological addiction brings the will into submission. Users tend to say things like, “I could quit if I wanted to, but I just don’t want to.” This attitude tends to ensure a long-term pattern of drug use whereby users become devotees in defiance of a very poignant biblical principle. The fact is, no one can wholeheartedly serve two masters (Matthew 6:24; Luke 16:13). Any time spent kneeling before the god of drugs [Best god freakin’ ever!!1] is time spent with your back towards the God of the Bible.
Finally, be sure to take a look at what neuroscientist and philosopher Sam Harris has to say about Religion & Drugs.