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  • Love and Liberty

Should a Christian Support The War On Drugs?

This issue is not about the morality of drugs, for I believe that Christians should avoid and oppose the use of drugs for mind-altering purposes. The issue raised here is about Christians supporting more and more government intervention and coercion on matters of morality. The State has never been, nor will it ever be, a friend of Christians, therefore supporting the growth and empowerment of an entity that has been the greatest persecutor of Christians in history is illogical, in my opinion.

The following article was written by Laurence Vance - Should a Christian Support the War On Drugs?

The article can be found at

*Used With Permission

Christian Inconsistency and Hypocrisy

It is unfortunate that many Christians – and probably most conservative Christians – are supporters of legislation to prohibit the doing of things like taking drugs that libertarians would consider to be victimless crimes and therefore not crimes at all. This support is inconsistent and hypocritical. Getting stoned on crack or tripping out on LSD is, of course, not mentioned in the Bible. The closest thing would be getting drunk, which is definitely condemned: Let us walk honestly, as in the day; not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying (Romans 13:13) And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit; (Ephesians 5:18) Yet, every bad thing that could be said regarding drug abuse could also be said of alcohol abuse – and then some. Alcohol abuse is a factor in many drownings, home, pedestrian, car, and boating accidents, suicides, fires, violent crimes, child abuse cases, sex crimes, divorces, and fetal abnormalities. The number one killer of young people under twenty-five is alcohol-related automobile accidents. Alcohol abuse is one of the leading causes of premature deaths in the United States. It can also be a contributing factor in cases of cancer, mental illness, and cirrhosis of the liver. Although the manufacture and sale of alcohol is heavily regulated by the federal and state governments, anyone is free to drink as much as he wants in his own home without fear of reprisal. Except for a small number who want to return to the days of Prohibition, Christians are woefully inconsistent and hypocritical when they call for the government to wage war on drugs but not on alcohol.

Sin and Crime

We know that murder, robbery, and rape are both crimes and sins, but everything the state or the authorities brand a crime is not necessarily a sin. This has been true in all ages. In the Old Testament, the Hebrew midwives were commanded by the state to kill any newborn sons (Exodus 1:16). But because “the midwives feared God,” they “did not as the king of Egypt commanded them, but saved the men children alive” (Exodus 1:17). In the book of Daniel, we read that King Nebuchadnezzar “made an image of gold” (Daniel 3:1) and decreed that when the music started, everyone was to “fall down and worship the golden image” (Daniel 3:5). The three Hebrew children – Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego – defied the king and refused to worship the golden image, for which they were cast into a burning fiery furnace (Daniel 3:18-20). In the New Testament, the apostles Peter and John were imprisoned by the authorities for preaching and then brought before them and commanded “not to speak at all nor teach in the name of Jesus” (Acts 4:18). But instead of being in subjection, they replied: “Whether it be right in the sight of God to hearken unto you more than unto God, judge ye. For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard” (Acts 4:19-20). After this incident, some apostles were again brought before the authorities and asked: “Did not we straitly command you that ye should not teach in this name? And, behold, ye have filled Jerusalem with your doctrine, and intend to bring this man’s blood upon us” (Acts 5:28). It was then that the apostles uttered the immortal line: “We ought to obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29). No Christian could read these accounts and say with a straight face that everything the state labels a crime is a sin. The Bible is very clear about what sin is. Sin is “whatsoever is not of faith” (Romans 14:23). Sin is transgressing the divine law (1 John 3:14). Sin is knowing to do good and doing it not (James 4:17). Sin is “all unrighteousness” (1 John 5:17). But if not all crimes are sins, then why are some Christians often so quick to nod in agreement when it comes to the state’s war on drugs? The only explanation is that some Christians think that disobeying the state is itself a crime. They have made the state into a god. They have violated the First Commandment. But taking drugs to get high is a sin, says the Christian drug warrior. Agreed. But should it be a crime?

Victimless Crimes

There is another side of sin/crime coin: not all sins are crimes. If they were, then everyone would be in trouble, Christians included, for the Bible says that “there is not a just man upon earth, that doeth good, and sinneth not” (Ecclesiastes 7:20). Saying that not all sins are crimes is just a Christian way of rephrasing what was said by the nineteenth-century classical liberal political philosopher Lysander Spooner: Vices are those acts by which a man harms himself or his property. Crimes are those acts by which one man harms the person or property of another. Vices are simply the errors which a man makes in his search after his own happiness. Unlike crimes, they imply no malice toward others, and no interference with their persons or property. No Christian would be in favor of criminalizing all sins. Not when the Bible says that “the thought of foolishness is sin” (Proverbs 24:9). Why, then, are some Christians so quick to applaud making some sins criminal just because the state happens to select them and not others? There are two types of victimless crimes: the immoral and the moral. This is because God’s law never changes. What the state declares to be a crime one day can be declared not to be a crime the next day. Immoral victimless crimes are crimes that are sins in the eyes of God even if the state one day declares them not to be crimes; moral victimless crimes are crimes that have been labeled as such by the state that are not, in and of themselves, sins in the eyes of God. But either way, every crime needs a victim.

Christian Ignorance

The Christian’s ultimate rule of faith is the New Testament, not canon law, church tradition, church councils, papal decrees, creeds and confessions, the musings of televangelists, the opinions of theologians, the sermons of some popular preacher, denominational pronouncements, church covenants, and not even the Old Testament, although “whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope” (Romans 15:4). There is no support in the New Testament for the idea that Christians should seek legislation that would criminalize victimless acts like taking drugs. Specific sins are mentioned that are in fact crimes, like murder (Romans 1:29), stealing (Ephesians 4:28), rioting (Romans 13:13), and extortion (1 Corinthians 6:10). But what we mainly see in the New Testament are admonitions about how Christians should behave: Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men. (Romans 12:17) As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men. (Galatians 6:10) Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth. (Ephesians 4:29) Abstain from all appearance of evil. (1 Thessalonians 5:22)

Then there are the lists of vices for Christians to avoid: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, covetousness, anger, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication, effeminacy, idolatry, hatred, strife, reveling, witchcraft, evil speaking, envy, lying, and bitterness. Should people be fined or jailed for these things if they don’t result in harm to someone else’s person or property? Then why should they be fined or jailed for taking drugs? There are no indications anywhere in the New Testament that Christians should seek or support making these things crimes. Where did the Apostle Paul, in his travels throughout the Roman Empire, ever express support for any type of legislation? When did he ever tell people who were not Christians how they should live their lives? It is unfortunate that many Christians who support the drug war would support legislation against almost anything they considered to be bad behavior – as long as it stopped short of their particular vice.

Christian Failure

It is not the purpose of Christianity to change society as a whole outwardly; it is the purpose of Christianity to change men as individuals inwardly. The Christian is in the world, but not of the world. He is to “have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them” (Ephesians 5:11), not legislate against them. The Christian is to “live peaceably with all men” (Romans 12:18). Christians are to pray for those in authority that they (Christians) “may lead a quiet and peaceable life” (1 Timothy 2:2). The attitude of the Christian should be to mind his “own business” (1 Thessalonians 4:11) and not be “a busybody in other men’s matters” (1 Timothy 4:15). I believe that Christians have for the most part failed to fulfill their calling. Instead of making converts and instructing them in the biblical precepts of Christian living, they turn to the state to criminalize what they consider to be immoral behavior. Instead of changing people’s minds about what is and what is not acceptable in society, they seek to use the state to change people’s behavior. Instead of being an example to the world, they want to use the state to make the world conform to their example. Instead of educating themselves and other Christians about what is appropriate behavior, they rely on the state to make that determination. Instead of being the salt of the earth and the light of the world, they want the state to assume those roles. Instead of minding their own business, they mind everyone else’s business.

Christian Folly

Christians are making a grave mistake by looking to the state to legislate morality. The state is no real friend of religion, and especially not of Christianity. Why do so many Christians defend, support, and make excuses for the state, its politicians, its legislation, and its wars? Why would Christians even think of looking to the state to enforce their moral code? It is not the purpose of Christianity to use force or the threat of force to keep people from sinning. Christians who are quick to criticize Islamic countries for prescribing and proscribing all manner of behavior are very inconsistent when they support the same thing here. A Christian theocracy is just as unscriptural as an Islamic theocracy. But instead of greeting with a healthy dose of skepticism the state’s latest pronouncement about what substance needs to be banned, regulated, or taxed, many Christians wholeheartedly embrace it. Instead of looking internally for funding, they look to the state to fund their faith-based initiatives. Most Christians simply have too high a view of the state. They are too quick to rely on the state, trust the state, and believe the state. Sure, they may criticize the state because it permits abortion, but they generally fail to discern the state’s true nature. Economist William Anderson has summed it up nicely: Most conservative Christians abhor libertarianism because they see it as promoting a permissive lifestyle, from abortion to taking drugs. Yet, what they fail to understand is that the restrictive, prohibition-oriented state that they are trying to create (and also preserve) is much more likely to take away all liberties than a state that gives people permission to live as they wish.


Although drug abuse is a great evil, the war on drugs is an even greater evil. Christians should not compound these evils by supporting a war on behavior the government doesn’t approve it. If getting high is against God’s law. Then, as columnist Charley Reese once said: “Presumably God will enforce his own laws. You won’t find in the Christian Bible any passage that says the responsibility for enforcing God’s laws rests with the secular state.” And furthermore: Christianity is a personal religion, not a tribal or state religion. If you wish to be a Christian, then you have a personal obligation to obey the commands of the Christian religion. Whether someone else does or does not is of no concern to you. You can be a devout, scrupulously pure Christian in the midst of the most outrageous sinners. Your obligation is to obey God’s commandments, not to compel someone else to do it. It is simply not biblical to promote legislation or crusades to punish sin that does not aggress against person or property. The proper approach to the problem of drug abuse was wisely spoken by the late economist Ludwig von Mises: "He who wants to reform his countrymen must take resource to persuasion. This alone is the democratic way of bringing about changes. If a man fails in his endeavors to convince other people of the soundness of his ideas, he should blame his own disabilities. He should not ask for a law, that is, for compulsion and coercion by the police."

That is the spirit of New Testament Christianity. It’s just unfortunate that it is a nonreligious Jew expressing such an opinion instead of the typical evangelical Christian.

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