Sex, Drugs and the Dark Soul

Posted: February 18, 2011 in Uncategorized

Last night I spoke to a group at Shawnee State University about drugs.  Here is the outline of the talk:

Appalachia has a horrendous drug problem largely fueled by the abuse of prescription drugs.  I was asked to speak about drugs but the problem is that the Bible says very little about narcotics.

Oh sure, you can find those guys at Fish and Tool concerts who live in their mom’s basements and look like Jack Black who will quote Genesis 1:29 that God gave every seed bearing plant but I wouldn’t base your theology on their opinion.

The Bible may not speak about modern drugs but it does address alcohol.  Let’s start by looking at John 2:1-12,

 1On the third day there was a wedding at Cana in Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. 2Jesus also was invited to the wedding with his disciples. 3When the wine ran out, the mother of Jesus said to him, “They have no wine.” 4And Jesus said to her, “Woman, what does this have to do with me? My hour has not yet come.” 5His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.”

 6Now there were six stone water jars there for the Jewish rites of purification, each holding twenty or thirty gallons. 7Jesus said to the servants, “Fill the jars with water.” And they filled them up to the brim. 8And he said to them, “Now draw some out and take it to the master of the feast.” So they took it. 9When the master of the feast tasted the water now become wine, and did not know where it came from (though the servants who had drawn the water knew), the master of the feast called the bridegroom 10and said to him, “Everyone serves the good wine first, and when people have drunk freely, then the poor wine. But you have kept the good wine until now.” 11This, the first of his signs, Jesus did at Cana in Galilee, and manifested his glory. And his disciples believed in him.

 12After this he went down to Capernaum, with his mother and his brothers and his disciples, and they stayed there for a few days.

First of all, just FYI, this was real wine.  Whenever the Bible speaks of wine it means “fermented drink.”  I don’t want to get into an ancient language debate but if you are interested then read Kenneth Gentry’s “God Gave Wine.”  One of the things Gentry points out is that it was nearly impossible to have juice in the ancient world because it naturally ferments and the process to stop that is a fairly modern one.  So, unless you squeezed the grapes fresh from the vine in September then you were drinking fermented grapes or wine. 

Okay, that being said, why would Jesus choose to open the bar as his first miracle?  Isn’t liquor evil? Isn’t it too easily abused?

We’ll get to that in a minute but first you need to understand that Jesus did not perform miracles to show off or just to draw attention to his teaching.  Jesus’ actions were parabolic teachings as well.   He made wine for a very specific reason.  

Now let’s look at Isaiah 25:6-9,

 6 On this mountain the Lord of hosts will make for all peoples
a feast of rich food, a feast of well-aged wine,
of rich food full of marrow, of aged wine well refined.
7 And he will swallow up on this mountain
the covering that is cast over all peoples,
the veil that is spread over all nations.
8 He will swallow up death forever;
and the Lord God will wipe away tears from all faces,
and the reproach of his people he will take away from all the earth,
for the Lord has spoken.
9 It will be said on that day,
“Behold, this is our God; we have waited for him, that he might save us.
This is the Lord; we have waited for him;
let us be glad and rejoice in his salvation.”

What’s going on here? The Bible teaches that one day Jesus will return, judge all creation and then throw a party for his followers who spend eternity with him on the new heavens and new earth.  This party will feature “aged wine” and food.  So, in John, Jesus made wine to claim messiahship.  Thus, it is hard to argue that wine is inherently evil if Jesus will make it to point to his eternal kingdom.

In fact, nothing God has made in this world is evil.  Everything God has created is grace upon grace.

You see, our sin is a horrible crime against God and for each sin we deserve eternal punishment but instead we are offered mercy again and again. 

Yet, God doesn’t just grant us the grace of forgiveness but He also gives us lives full of great gifts.  God gave us wine so that we could drink a glass or two and taste its goodness and realize that we don’t deserve it and be moved to worship Him.  God gave us food so that we could eat it and taste its goodness and realize that we don’t deserve it and be moved to worship Him.  God gave us sex so that we could find a spouse and enjoy its goodness and realize that we don’t deserve it and be moved to worship Him.  God even gave us plants that are narcotics so that when we need medical care we can receive small doses and not feel so much pain and realize we don’t deserve it and be moved to worship Him. 

All God’s creation is given to us as grace upon grace to move us to worship and serve our merciful, loving Father.  

Yet, we drink and drink and become drunk or drift into addiction or we eat until we gorge ourselves and become obese or we seek sex outside of marriage and become addicted to porn or we use narcotic not to medicate physical affliction but to medicate inner emptiness and we become drug addicts.   We abuse the good things God has given us.  The problem isn’t the thing itself but us.

So, when we attack the evil of liquor or drugs or sex or whatever, we are wasting our time dealing with the symptoms rather than the disease–which is sin. 

Any addict has elevated a created thing above the creator.  He or she has turned a good thing into an ultimate thing.  The Bible calls this idolatry.  It is the worship of false gods.  An addict worships the thing he or she is addicted to.  So, in our little college town, in the east end where the majority of drugs and prostitution are, the problem isn’t a substance abuse problem, it’s a god problem.

Wine is good.  Food is good.  Sex is good.  Even narcotics are good when used correctly but they all make lousy gods that never give but only take and take and take.

Now, before we good little college educated Christians become arrogant and look down on addicts as idolaters, understand that we are all in the same boat.  We all have placed something ahead of God as the central concern of our lives at some time if not all the time. 

William Temple wrote, “Your religion is what you do with your solitude.”  Where does your mind go when it begins to drift off? Does it go to God or does it go to the material thing you most desire, or the person you most desire or to the lifestyle you most desire? Wherever your mind goes automatically is, in all likelihood, your god.  It is what you worship.  So, there is no real difference between the meth prostitute and the materialistic “good Christian.”  We are all idolaters.  We all have a god problem.

Idolatry is what happens when we fail to wholly define ourselves by Jesus Christ.   In the end, Jesus died on the cross to pay the penalty for all of our sins.  He lived a perfect life in order to give it to us, so that on our judgment day we are judged by his life instead of ours (2 Cor. 5:21).  This is the Gospel or good news.   

When this sinks into our hearts, we respond with love and gratitude and begin to push false gods out of our life.  This is the way it is for everyone.  So, a drug addict needs the Gospel, as does an alcoholic, as does a porn addict and on an on. 

Revolution Church has begun buying houses in the east end to reach out to drug addicts and even drug dealers with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  We are praying about what to do about the rash of violent home invasions in our area.  We are doing this because we are convinced that what we all suffer from the same disease and we all long for the same cure–the healing, cleansing work of King Jesus, which is a long process wholly dependant on the Holy Spirit.

Until the time our King returns and welcomes us to the banquet with great food and aged wine, we all will struggle with our god problem.

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