Can Christians Drink, Smoke, or Do Drugs?

One of the best things about being a youth pastor at a parachurch organization is that I can teach on about any subject I choose, or that the students choose. That’s what we did here (…thanks Mark Driscoll for the idea!). I had the students choose 5 topics they wanted me to address biblically, and these are the extended notes from the message “Can Christians Drink, Smoke, or Do Drugs?” in the series YOU ASKED FOR IT. Because they are a bit lengthy, you’ll have to download the PDF. I hope they are helpful!

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5 thoughts on “Can Christians Drink, Smoke, or Do Drugs?

  1. Hey man, I thought your discussion/lesson was well done. I’ve received a lot of helpful insights from guys like Driscoll too. I was curious how guys like Luther, Edwards, Spurgeon, Lewis, etc., somehow could get away with it and have slammin ministries all at the same time? There’s a fun history book called “Drinking with Calvin and Luther” that’s a good read. Also, a more exegetical book is “God Gave Wine.” Not to say the Bible doesn’t already speak clearly, or remain silent, on the same issues. One point of intellectual interest for me is the possibility of illegal substances in our country being used moderately elsewhere when different laws apply. Why would one drug if used lawfully for medicinal purposes be discriminated against? Most drugs, if not all, by nature are toxic and the user runs the risk of being intoxicated when abused. I guess to put into context (so you don’t think I hop the border to smoke a joint in Jesus) is what would be the best way for a missionary to approach such issues where different laws, or lack of laws, apply? Obvious areas would be what the Bible does address: obeying the law, sobriety, self-control, sensitivity to those who struggle, but…what about where its silent? This isn’t exactly applicable to us here in the States, but what about abroad? My major concern is that I, lacking political authority, won’t create “a new law.”

  2. Matt-

    Thanks for your comments/discussion, book recommendations, and checking out my blog! I’m not sure if I addressed it in the extended notes, but I know that I did convey to my students a reason for abstaining from illegal drugs that may be legal in other countries. Ephesians 5:18 instructs believers to be controlled (filled with) by the Spirit. When a person partakes of narcotics it is, to my knowledge, in every case a scenario where the person would assume a state of being “high.” Thus, they lose control of themselves and are under the influence of the narcotic. This state of being can be not only dangerous to one’s self and others, it can also be addicting/enslaving. Paul also instructs the believer not be be enslaved to anything or anyone but Christ (cf. 1 Cor. 6:12). Thus, it is the wiser choice to abstain from illegal substances that may be legal in other countries.

  3. Those are good points. Even within the vague category of drugs there are certainly distinctions to be made, like narcotics. I’m not trying to legalize anything. I guess I find it strange that in the States people can get an assortment of mood altering psychiatric drugs with a Doctor’s signature and not be nearly as stigmatized by the church, or society, as people would with certain other drugs. That opens up another can or worms, doesn’t it? Citizenship aside, as in another country, we should be more concerned about our witness for Christ. This is my conviction, if I were in another country where lets say pot smoking was legal I don’t think I’d make that a major issue anymore than I’d make psychiatric drugs an issue here. Yet, whenever there’s drug use the question of “why?” has to be weighed and considered. Take for example William Wilberforce who moderately took opium for a chronic disability. It can be said that knowing what we know now about opium it wouldn’t be the best choice of painkiller and the one thing most painkillers have in common is some sort of harmful side effect. Nonetheless, in a situation like his I wouldn’t deny him, or bind his conscience, in seeking to alleviate his pain through the use of medicine/drugs. Nor would I conclude that he was an addict, or lost control of himself. Thoughts?

  4. Nice thoughts as well Matt! In those vague/gray areas (or ‘adiaphora’ – matters which are not expressly required or forbidden by the Christian faith), I have to agree with you that it is not right to bind another’s conscience by one’s own. When the question of “why?” is carefully and maturely considered, when what one seeks to do is not enslaving, the use is legal, it is not overtly intoxicating or mind/mood altering to the point of debauchery, and it can be done in faith before the Lord, then I would advise the individual to choose out of their Christian liberty, provided he or she is convinced in their own mind (cf. Rom. 14:5).

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