|ad Dei Gloriam Ministries|
|What's New||Site Map||Poetry||Photos|
Artwork > Odds and
Ends > Biblical View of Alcohol and Drugs
Skull of Death
The Bible clearly prohibits the abuse of alcohol, but what does it have to say about drugs. We'll look at these topics separately.
Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit. (Eph 5:18)
Wine is a mocker and beer a brawler; whoever is led astray by them is not wise. (Prov 20:1)
So then, let us not be like others, who are asleep, but let us be alert and self-controlled. For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk, get drunk at night. But since we belong to the day, let us be self-controlled, putting on faith and love as a breastplate, and the hope of salvation as a helmet. (1Thess 5:6-8)
You can check out a topical Bible for several dozen additional verses addressing the abuse of alcohol, all consistent with the above.
While we can easily see that the Scriptures explicitly prohibits the abuse of alcohol, we don't find any command that says "Thou shalt not smoke pot" or "Abstain from snorting cocaine". I think we should be cautious when venturing beyond the literal meaning of scripture, however in this case, we'll find the Bible strongly implies this prohibition in several ways.
First, if we look at the nature of the direct commands (the infallible "do" and "do not"), the first thing we notice is that they are based upon the character of God, so we can ask ourselves if our actions are consistent with God's revelation of Himself thru the scriptures and thru His Son (Heb 1:1-2). Next, we see that the commands are not exhaustive, but paradigmatic, that is, they set a classical standard utilizing an example. Much like our own government's laws, it's not practical to address every possible scenario that might come up. We sometimes refer to this Bible interpretation principle as the "pattern of meaning". For instance, in Matthew 12, when the religious leaders condemn Jesus for healing a man on the Sabbath, Jesus replies "If any of you has a sheep and it falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will you not take hold of it and lift it out? How much more valuable is a man than a sheep! Therefore it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath" (v11-12). Now, Jesus declares that it's permissible to lift a sheep out of a pit on the Sabbath, but what if it was a goat or a donkey? Would we be forbidden to lend a hand? It is clear that Jesus is referring to "doing good on the Sabbath" and using the sheep as an example. So, we see that, although the Biblical commands (law) are limited in their letter (wording), they are actually very comprehensive in spirit. The books of Leviticus and Deuteronomy are loaded with additional examples.
Let's look at the spiritual meaning of one of the alcohol related verses. Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit (Eph 5:18). Now, since Paul only mentions wine here, does this mean it's acceptable for us to get drunk on whiskey? Of course not. The word "filled" means "controlled by", so the prohibition is against the effect of the alcohol, and the "pattern of meaning" is that a person should be under the control of the Holy Spirit rather than the substance. When we take drugs, we lose self control, a fruit of the Spirit according to Galatians 5:22 (see also 1Thess 5:6-8, 2Tim 1:7, Titus 2:1, 1Peter 1:13 & 4:7, and 2Peter 1:5-6). Studies have found that the average person will reach the legal blood alcohol content limit by consuming two beers in one hour. The impairment effect of smoking one marijuana joint is about the same as drinking three beers and a snort of cocaine equivalent to seven beers. Additional studies have found that, while the mind-altering effects of alcohol are usually temporary, the mind-altering traits of most drugs can permanently change a person's thinking, personality and beliefs. So, if the Bible prohibits abuse of alcohol due to a temporary loss of self-control, how much more for mind-altering drugs.
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 Cor 3:16-17).
Finally, we should mention that the Bible strongly condemns sorcery and witchcraft in both the Old and New Testaments (Lev 19:6, Dt 18:10, 2Kings 17:17, Mic 5:12, Gal 5:20, 2Tim 3:13, Rev 9:21, 21:8, 22:15 etc). If you are wondering what this has to do with drugs, the Greek word which is translated sorcery or witchcraft is pharmakia, from which we derive the English word "pharmacy". According to W.E. Vine's Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words, the word "pharmakia" refers to "a sorcerer, especially one who uses drugs, potions, spells, enchantments." Vine goes on to state that "In sorcery, the use of drugs, whether simple or potent, was generally accompanied by incantations and appeals to occult powers, with the provision of various charms, amulets, etc, professedly designed to keep the applicant or patient from the attention and power of demons, but actually to impress the applicant with the mysterious resources and powers of the sorcerer."