Monday, July 09, 2007

Drugs and the Bible

The bible, condemns the everyday use of any kind of drugs, potions, or spells, as well as poisoning or witchcraft. It's called pharmakeia in the original text and can be found in Galatians 5:19-21. So, as followers of Christ, should we not take prescription drugs? -Gordon

The word "pharmekeia" is one of the best examples of a thing called "root fallacy" in linguistics. It is the assumption that because a word means something later in it's history that we should import that meaning to an earlier period. It is certainly true that the term "pharmekeia" is the root of our word "pharmecuticals" today as well as "pharmacy". It is also true that when the word was used in the Bible that it meant "sorcery" and that some sorcerers used drugs at that time.

But this does not mean that modern drug use is necessarily sorcery. In between ancient sorcery and modern legal drug use was a time of experimentation with chemicals that is now known as alchemy, which came from ancient sorcery, but was really early chemistry. The difference between ancient "pharekeia" and modern legal drugs are many:
a. There is no worship of other gods
b. There is no attempt to control spirits
c. The drugs today are used to improve humanity's lot, not control them (love potions, curses, etc)

In fact, Paul commanded Timothy to "take a little wine for his stomach". Wine was the most common medicine in ancient times, and is actually a human-made chemical. Does this mean that all drugs, even all legal drugs, are positive? No, of course not. We need to make a determination as to whether the drugs will make us more or less righteous, more or less obedient to the Lord. If they make us more righteous, more obedient, then I might say that we should take these drugs. If they make us less righteous, less obedient, then we should NOT take these drugs, no matter what other benefit they give to us.

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