Drugs & the Christian
A response to the article by Rev. Dale A. Robbins from Derek Potter.
Robbins has provided seven reasons why Christians should not take drugs:
- Drugs have a Proven Connection with Sorcery and Witchcraft
- Drugs have an Obvious Affiliation with the Desires of Satan
- Drug use will Cause Others to Stumble
- Christians are no Longer Their Own
- We're not to be Infected by Mind Bending Stimulants
- We are Warned not to Defile God's Temple
- Addictions Are Not Pleasing To God
Of these, 2, 3, 4, 6 and 7 all amount to the same thing: "Drugs are harmful and Christians have a special responsibility, so don't do them." 1, 4, 5, 6 and 7 touch on the spiritual aspects of drugs.
It is, of course, debatable whether even hard drugs are particularly harmful in themselves. Much harm is caused by the fact they are illegal, which immediately puts supply into the hands of criminals and forces the addict into a deplorable lifestyle. This might not happen if smack were freely available without stigma! However, the scenario of a nation of happy healthy hop-heads is probably as repugnant to most people as one where "drugs are linked to virtually every evil and criminal activity". This reaction should not be dismissed lightly and is Christianised - quite legitimately - in reason #7.
If the "drugs=crime" equation needs qualification in the case of hard drugs, it comes completely unstuck with non-addictive ones. Many are legal, many are physically harmless and many do not pose any more personal risk than competitive sports. Robbins is clearly mostly concerned with addictive drugs but the majority of readers are probably more interested in recreational and psychedelic/entheogenic use. Robbins does not help his arguments by lumping all such materials together under the perjorative term "drugs" which he then equates to criminalised addictive narcotics.
As far as recreational use of drugs is concerned, although Christians are often shy about mentioning it, the fact is that our experience of God can and does lead to continuous deep-felt joy and occasional hilarity. Indeed, the first account of the Holy Spirit coming upon the Disciples specifically states that onlookers thought they were drunk. Peter, however, quickly showed his clear-headedness with an impromtu sermon. Reason #5 is fully applicable to recreational drug use: Christians have a better high than any artificially induced one. Furthermore, it comes directly from the Most High and therefore always has a point to it even if we don't know what it is immediately. Seeking euphoria for its own sake indicates there is something amiss. For the Christian, a desire to get stoned should be a warning bell: get back to your roots in Christ, draw close to Him and then see whether you still want anything else.
"every believer should seek to put on the new creation of Christ, and to put off the old life, including the continued use of mind altering drugs and narcotics."
The new life is undoubtedly the core reason why Christians should not take drugs. However I do not think that Robbins adequately explains why drug use is to be regarded as part of the old life. Indeed, many people regard drugs as a gateway to another world - and therefore as a way of casting off something which could easily be termed "old life". Clearly Christians need to explain why drug-assisted spirituality is a sham.
For our purposes, a herbal DMT/MAOI mix (ayahuasca) typifies the witch's brew, despite the fact that in temperate Europe witches probably used atropine-laden plants for a very different psychological effect. Nevertheless, the principle objection in the Bible to witchcraft is the invocation of spirit beings. It's probably fair to say that whether you trip in order to get help from animal spirits for a specific situation or whether you fool around on the first bardo bartering memes with machine elves (!), either way you are effectively calling on spirit beings outside yourself.
"I can call spirits from the vasty deep" "Why so can I, or so can any man; But will they come when you do call for them?" (Glendower and Mortimer in Henry IV Act III Scene 1). Well, they'd better not come and you had better not go to them either! Christianity raises the distinct possibility that they are purely out to deceive you. Unfortunately, psychedelic experiences are pretty convincing and it's not possible to be dogmatic whether all such experiences are pure fantasy out of the mind alone, a meeting with real demons pretending to be something else or a total fantasy obligingly provided by a malevolent intelligence - in order to persuade you that the cosmos is radically different from the created world believed in by Christians. (There are other possibilities, but these are the ones that would be plausible to a Christian.) It seems more than likely that if you call upon spirit beings you will get them but they will hide themselves from you. If you experience such beings it is probably an illusion. In short, the problem with this kind of drug use is not so much the drug but the fact you actively seek to meet with spirit entities despite being warned that they are malicious.
For many people the prize jewel of entheogenic use is a profoundly spiritual experience of God Himself (as against any lesser entity). It seems far-fetched to attribute such a thing to malicious spirits - especially if the experience is unsolicited. However, it's not ruled out and, in any case, the possibility of our wrongly interpreting a state of mind when highly suggestible is as strong as ever. We need an independent measure of the experience's validity - it may be unquestionably valid subjectively, but is it true in an absolute sense? Have you really experienced God or was it just a vivid hint with quite mundane causes? (On a trip the distinction may become meaningless: this should tell us something...)
St John provides an acid (!) test: "Every spirit which acknowledges that Jesus the Christ has come in the flesh is from God; but any spirit which will not say this of Christ is not from God." Unless an experience points directly to belief that Jesus was God made flesh - and by implication that he came as man to die for our sins - then it is not God. LSD has been described as making a "run around Jesus Christ" bypassing the need for Calvary and faith in Christ. For the Christian this is simultaneously absurd and blasphemous.
Where does this leave the experimenter who regards extreme states of mind as interesting or enlightening but who doesn't actively seek contact with external non-corporeal intelligences - other than as a fantasy sequence that can be dissed at any time? Well, probably in a much safer place! But the fact remains that most drugs produce overwhelming impressions of being in another world or state and these are bound to excite spiritual ideas. Simultaneous feelings of oneness and otherness, of empathy and alienation - even at quite low levels of intoxication - are breeding grounds for a pantheistic mysticism which is diametrically opposite to the Biblical concept of a creator God. Of course, some people think their philosophy can transcend and encompass the Biblical view, but the Biblical theology claims to be a monopoly so they can't both be right. The Christian should have made up his or her mind. It may even be with some regret that we have to say we won't experiment with mind-expansion. After all, it's a fascinating subject, yet at its heart is a world-view that is incompatible with Christianity - as I can vouch for out of my own experience.
Christianity is quite clear about this. We are redeemed as a free gift through the death and resurrection of Jesus. Robbins is absolutely correct to say that addicts can be set free through Christ - there are many well-documented examples. It is also true that Christ will set you free from the illusory spirituality provided by entheogens. However, redemption is not merely a matter of changing your mind-set, it is a rescue operation in which God replaces your very heart.
The Christian does have specific reasons to avoid all drugs that have a significant effect on perception - which would include most "highs". These reasons are to do with the nature of the experiences and their effect on our relationship with the creator God who submitted to death by torture - in our world - in order to undo the evil within us.
Nectar of Delight
The Drug Test FAQ
Beer versus Drugs
A Site for Stoned Eyes
Perspectives on Cannabis
Free Cannabis E-Mail Service
Marijuana : Assassin of Youth
Jesus 'healed using cannabis'
The Pros and Cons of Drug Smuggling
Was Shakespeare a Coke-smoking Pothead?
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