The Bible’s View
Why Not Take Drugs?
NARCOTICS, or drugs that allay sensibility, have had a long and varied history. They have even been used for religious purposes. For instance, Dr. Lawrence Stager, associate professor of Syro-Palestinian archaeology at the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago, has reported:
“At Carthage we recovered poppy seeds, suggesting opium use. That got us looking for more evidence. We soon found that drugs were used in temple rites. In Lebanon, a big jar of marijuana was found in a temple ruin. In Crete a terra-cotta goddess was found with three big opium bulbs sprouting from her head, so the practice of using opium was widespread.”—Popular Mechanics, May 1978.
Many may be surprised to learn about ancient religious uses of narcotics. Of course, they probably realize that present-day drug use is globe encircling. In fact, so prevalent is the use of narcotics that some might ask: “Why not take drugs?”
The Same as Using Alcohol?
Some may contend that at least the use of “soft” drugs, such as marijuana, is not wrong. They may reason that the Scriptures permit the use of alcohol, and say that it also is a drug. Don Phelps of the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (in the United States) has stated: “More and more [18- to 21-year-olds] are turning on to drugs and alcohol at the same time. . . . Then they overdose on two types of drugs instead of one.” (Italics ours) So, some sources would classify both alcohol and narcotics as “drugs.” But can a person really justify the use of narcotics by trying to class them with alcoholic beverages?
Since narcotics are not foods, they have no nutritive value. However, alcoholic beverages such as wine are of some benefit nutritionally. Hence, from that standpoint, there is no correspondency between alcoholic beverages and narcotics.
Narcotic abuse is detrimental to health and may even result in death. Yet, an alcoholic beverage such as wine has some medicinal value. The Christian apostle Paul told his co-worker Timothy: “Do not drink water any longer, but use a little wine for the sake of your stomach and your frequent cases of sickness.” (1 Tim. 5:23) Accordingly, while cautioning against overuse of wine, Dr. C. Raimer Smith said: “As a stomachic, it may be used in dyspepsia, anorexia (poor appetite), fatigue, vomiting, senility, etc.”—The Physician Examines the Bible, p. 138.
While the Bible does not prohibit the moderate drinking of wine or other alcoholic beverages, it does condemn drunkenness. For example, it states: “Do not come to be among heavy drinkers of wine, among those who are gluttonous eaters of flesh. For a drunkard and a glutton will come to poverty, and drowsiness will clothe one with mere rags.” (Prov. 23:20, 21) Moreover, the apostle Paul condemned “drunken bouts” as being among unchristian “works of the flesh.” And he pointedly stated that drunkards “will not inherit God’s kingdom.”—Gal. 5:19-21; 1 Cor. 6:9, 10.
Since the Bible condemns drunkenness, is it not reasonable to conclude that it would be wrong in God’s eyes for anyone to get “high” on narcotics? To drink alcoholic beverages in great quantity just to ‘drown one’s sorrows’ clearly would be wrong from a Scriptural standpoint. And this is so even though such beverages can have nutritional and medicinal value. How much more improper it is to seek a state of euphoria by using addictive drugs!
A Thought-provoking Comparison
In some ways, drunkenness and drug abuse are similar. A person who drinks to the point of intoxication may disgrace himself in the eyes of others. Alluding to his unstable, harmful and highly irresponsible actions, the Bible says: “Who has wounds for no reason? Who has dullness of eyes? Those staying a long time with the wine . . . Do not look at wine when it exhibits a red color, when it gives off its sparkle in the cup, when it goes with a slickness [when everything looks red to the drinker and the beverage slides down the throat easily]. At its end it bites just like a serpent, and it secretes poison just like a viper [for alcohol abuse can make one physically and mentally ill, and it can actually kill]. Your own eyes will see strange things [even hallucinations are possible], and your own heart will speak perverse things [as bad motives take control].”—Prov. 23:29-33.
Comparably, a person using narcotics becomes unstable. He is being harmed physically and mentally. Certainly, addiction to narcotics is defiling and therefore Scripturally improper. (2 Cor. 7:1) Moreover, the drug user is very likely to act irresponsibly, to experience hallucinations and to yield to bad motives. Such an individual can bring disgrace on himself. Hence, just as drunkenness is wrong in God’s eyes, so is the misuse of drugs.
What About the Mind?
Continued use of narcotics may impair one’s mental processes. At least while a person is under the direct influence of narcotics, his mind is affected, often to such an extent that he is unable to reason properly. It is noteworthy that before Jesus Christ was impaled, “they gave him wine mixed with gall [and evidently also myrrh] to drink; but, after tasting it, he refused to drink.” (Matt. 27:34; Mark 15:23) Why did Jesus refuse such wine? Because it was drugged.
Interestingly, Vine’s Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words comments: “Christ refused to partake of any such means of alleviation; He would retain all His mental power for the complete fulfilment of the Father’s will.” Just before dying, Jesus did accept undrugged wine. (John 19:28-30) His rejection of the drugged wine shows that he desired to be in full possession of all his faculties during his supreme test of faith.
Similarly, followers of Christ should endeavor to maintain control of their mental faculties so that they will retain the ability to shun immoral conduct or other actions that could ruin their relationship with Jehovah God. Also, they are to love God with their whole mind. (Luke 10:27) That rules out the use of narcotics in order to produce hallucinations or other mental reactions sought for the sole purpose of experiencing euphoric pleasure.
While the foregoing points do not preclude proper medical use of drugs, they do indicate that godly persons must avoid all drug abuse. Such factors merit serious thought when an individual is confronted with the question, Why not take drugs?