Before I get rolling with this post I want to make a few points clear. I have never abused illegal drugs not even marijuana. I have no desire to abuse drugs. I think drugs are stupid. Drug abuse is irresponsible and drugs tend to lead to poor life outcomes. With all that said and out of the way, I think we as Christians need to reevaluate our stance on the government prohibition on drugs.
Above I’ve posted a video of Pastor John Piper talking about his evolving views on marijuana (the video is from 2009). If you don’t know who John Piper is, he is one of the leading Christian minds in the country on a variety of spiritual issues. I’ll wager that John and I disagree on quite a few things and to the extent that we would legalize things like marijuana, but I applaud John for breaking through the simple-minded approach we’ve taken to drugs for the past 40 years. I think for a long time we’ve decided “drugs=bad” therefore the government should restrict all drugs. I think that mentality does not consider the various different aspects that occur when you take a broad swipe at a complicated issue.
I’ve written here before on the multiple different legal steps we’ve taken to drug prohibition. Like the Single Convention of 1961 for instance. But largely America’s War on Drugs began in 1971 under President Richard Nixon. Nixon’s goal was to change the American acceptance of drugs and create a distaste for it. Instead our usage over the past several decades has increased despite more and more rigorous enforcement. Here is a gallup poll of those who have used Marijuana from the 1960s to the present.
Furthermore, here is the incarceration rate in the United States during that same period of time.
I should also note that most of those arrests are drug related too. Looks like this heavy-handed approach is clearly working right? Anyway, I could hit you with graph after graph and number after number but I do not think I will convince you by these means. In any case, who I want to appeal to here are Christians.
I think we Christians need to remember what is totally crucial to the human condition. It is all about the heart. God is not interested in outward expressions but inward love and the actual struggle to pursue God. C.S. Lewis, one of the most influential Christians of the past century (and one of my personal heroes), said this about outward and inward actions:
“Human beings judge one another by their external actions. God judges them by their moral choices. When a neurotic who has a pathological horror of cats forces himself to pick up a cat for some good reason, it is quite possible that in God’s eyes he has shown more courage than a healthy man may have shown winning the V.C. When a man who has been perverted from his youth and taught that cruelty is the right thing, does some tiny little kindness, or refrains from some cruelty he might have committed, and thereby, perhaps, risks being sneered at by his companions, he may, in God’s eyes, be doing more than you and I would do if we gave up life itself for a friend.”
C.S. Lewis then plunges in the sword to many Christians’ high regard for themselves over others by saying:
“It is as well to put this the other way round. Some of us who seem quite nice people may, in fact, have made so little use of a good heredity and a good upbringing that we are really worse than those whom we regard as fiends. Can we be quite certain how we should have behaved if we had been saddled with the psychological outfit, and then with the bad upbringing, and then with the power, say, of Himmler? That is why Christians are told not to judge. We see only the results which a man’s choices make out of his raw material. But God does not judge him on the raw material at all, but on what he has done with it.”
I am tempted to go further in this post and on how truly inept the government is in stopping the drug problem and how it actually makes the problems worse. But I’ll refrain here and save it for another time. The government is not God, the government is us. Therefore, as C.S. Lewis pointed out, we cannot judge each individual’s decisions and their intentions for its usage. For certain there will be some who will abuse this choice but to do otherwise would be to stop those who might have the correct ambition. As long as the individual does not infringe on another’s right to make a choice, who is the government to decide right and wrong for an individual?
To bring this full circle and complete my point, please take five minutes and watch the video below.