Philosophy against Misosophy



Essays by Me

Essays by Others

Jesus Is an Anarchist

James Redford


13. Jesus on the War on Drugs (and all Forms of Prohibition)

In the modern era one of the most virulent scourges which has plagued the Western societies in particular is the so-called "drug problem," i.e., the use of, and combating the use of, illegal drugs. Yet, why has the "drug problem" only become such a problem within, predominately, the last century? What is the cause of this?

But first, before we answer this question, the more important issue from the Christian's viewpoint is: what is Jesus's position on the so-called "drug problem," i.e., whether it is called "the War on Drugs" or "Prohibition"? More directly, what does Jesus have to say about prohibiting by law the use of certain drugs, or inebriants?

Most people at this point will probably be thinking that the issue only concerns which drugs or inebriants ought to be prohibited and how severe the penalty for their use should be as those calling themselves Christians have traditionally been at the forefront of not only the Prohibition of alcohol during the '20s in the U.S., but so also with the continuing War on Drugs. So, first of all, what does Jesus have to say about which substances ought to be outlawed?

On this question Jesus is quite clear about it in no uncertain terms although the answer may come as a surprise to some: absolutely no law ought to exist prohibiting the consumption of any substance whatsoever! Jesus says quite clearly in the strongest of terms that there is no substance a man can consume that could possibly defile him thus we read in Mark 7:15-23:

"There is nothing that enters a man from outside which can defile him; but the things which come out of him, those are the things that defile a man. If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear!" When He had entered a house away from the crowd, His disciples asked Him concerning the parable. So He said to them, "Are you thus without understanding also? Do you not perceive that whatever enters a man from outside cannot defile him, because it does not enter his heart but his stomach, and is eliminated, thus purifying all foods?" And He said, "What comes out of a man, that defiles a man. For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lewdness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within and defile a man." (See also Matt. 15:11, 17-20.)

This is the only directive that Jesus gives in the entire Bible as to what substances should be, or should not be, prohibited. Some may claim that Jesus was only talking about food in the above, and not psychotropic drugs.

Yet if this were truly the case then Jesus's above claim is a false one: Jesus saying "There is nothing that enters a man from outside which can defile him" would be wrong, for then there would indeed be something which could thereby defile a man namely: psychotropic drugs!

Yet Jesus is absolutely clear on this issue: there is no substance a person can consume which could possibly defile them! Also, there is not even any clear distinction between "drugs" and "food" in the first place: just about any drug, in principle, can also be made into a food and traditionally often have been and continue to be: thus, the drug ethanol is almost always consumed not by itself, but in combination with non-inebriants as a drink; the drug caffeine is almost always consumed as the beverage known as coffee; marijuana has often been consumed as an edible baked into brownies; cocaine was once an ingredient in the original formulation of the name-brand soft-drink Coca-Cola; etc.

If the modern-day Prohibitionists desire to maintain that Jesus did not mean to include substances such as psychotropic drugs when He gave this clear directive then the burden is on them to show where in the Bible Jesus qualifies His above statement to include the possibility that psychotropic drugs are an exception to His above all-inclusive directive. But search the Bible high and low and no such alternate, qualifying directive is anywhere to be found.

Some may be quick to point out that the angel sent by Jesus to John the Reveler said in Revelation 9:21 "And they did not repent of their murders or their sorceries or their sexual immorality or their thefts" (see also Rev. 18:23; 22:15) and that the word that is here translated as "sorceries" is in the original Greek pharmakeia, i.e., as in "pharmaceutical" or "drugs."

But the original sense of this Greek word pharmakeia meant the mixing of various ingredients for magical purposes, whether or not they were actually ever intended to be consumed by anyone, or whether or not they had what we would call today "pharmacological" properties: in other words, it was for the most part pure spell-casting often black-magic in nature, such as casting hexes on people.

Thus, the most accurate translation of this word into modern English is indeed "sorceries," and not "drugs" and this is indeed how almost all English Bible translations have handled this word: whether it be the King James Version or almost all modern translations.

But even if such were not the case and one were to maintain that pharmakeia here really did mean "drugs" then this would present such a person with quite a serious problem: which drugs? If indeed one were to maintain that pharmakeia here should be translated as "drugs" then one would logically have to so also maintain that all drugs are thereby meant by it, irregardless of whatever psychotropic properties they may or may not have the reason being is because no type of drug in particular would then be specified in the above Bible passages.

Thus, there would then be no grounds for singling out psychotropic drugs such as ethanol over, say, penicillin, or any other life-preserving medicine for that matter. To be consistent, some may get around this problem by saying: very well, all drugs, including medicine, are thereby meant by it.

But to so maintain this would just create an even bigger problem than the one it just solved: for the Bible teaches that "A merry heart does good, like medicine, but a broken spirit dries the bones" (Prov. 17:22); and Ezekiel, in the description of the Heaven on Earth that Jesus is to establish after the Judgement, writes of it, in part:

Ezekiel 47:12: "Along the bank of the river, on this side and that, will grow all kinds of trees used for food; their leaves will not wither, and their fruit will not fail. They will bear fruit every month, because their water flows from the sanctuary. Their fruit will be for food, and their leaves for medicine."

So quite simply put, if one were to so maintain that all drugs must be meant by the above passages in Revelation then one would be going against Biblical doctrine, as what little the Bible does have to say about medicinal drugs it is nevertheless clear about: that curative drugs are a good thing.

Thus, if these passages in Revelation actually meant "drugs" instead of "sorceries" then the Bible would be contradicting itself here, as the passages in Revelation would thereby be inclusive of all drugs, not just any kind in particular.

But even if we were to here grant for argument's sake that one could somehow narrow it down to some sort of drug types in particular, one still would not be able to derive that such drugs should therefore be outlawed, as nowhere would these passages in Revelation then so much as even suggest that mortal governments make any laws against such drugs.

Thus, even under the most favorable interpretation of the Bible from the viewpoint of modern-day Prohibitionists Jesus's declaration that "There is nothing that enters a man from outside which can defile him" would still stand at least as it concerned all mortal, Earthly forms of judgement.

Some diligent readers may now say at this point, to the effect of: "Wait a minute! The Mark of the Beast is an obvious exception to something which possibly enters a man from the outside which can defile him!" (The King James Version translates the Mark of the Beast as being "in" the hand or forehead, while most modern versions translate it as being "on," although the original Greek can actually be accurately translated either way.

I suspect the reason most modern versions have preferred to translate the Mark as being "on" the hand or forehead is because this then, in almost all cases, covers both possibilities: as in almost all cases, in order to put some identifying mark "in" the skin would require that one also leave a mark "on" the skin.)

But this would ignore Jesus's follow-up elaboration about all such substances under discussion eventually being "eliminated" from the body by its natural excretion processes, as the Mark of the Beast is meant to be a life-long identifier, and thus is not excreted by the body's natural processes, as are eventually all foods and drugs.

But if one still wants to persist in this line of reasoning they may counter that indeed not all drugs are eliminated by the body's natural excretion processes: of those who die of drug over-doses, the drugs which thereby caused their deaths are not then excreted by the body's natural processes.

While although this is quite true, one would still not be able to derive therefore from it that there ought to be laws against certain drugs, as all drugs are capable of causing death from over-dose; indeed, most lethal drug over-doses are not caused by illegal psychotropic drugs, but legally used medicines and hence, one would be presented with the original problem discussed above on this.

And, it should be stated in passing, it would also be completely nonsensical to make a law against taking a lethal over-dose of a drug, as the penalty for taking a lethal dose of drugs would be, by definition, an automatic death-penalty: therefore any such law-breaker would automatically be out of the reach of any Earth-bound, mortal law-enforcer.

Thus, any which way one slices it, it is simply quite impossible to justify any form of drug-prohibition whatsoever from a Biblical perspective. But even far stronger than such drug-laws being merely unjustifiable from a Biblical perspective, all such laws go directly against Jesus's clear directive that all things which a person may consume cannot possibly defile them!

And thus, not only are all drug-laws extra-Biblical in origin, they are all also extremely anti-Christian in the most literal sense of the word! If there should be the slightest shred of doubt left in one's mind as to the veracity of this, then hereby, once and for all, let Paul slay that misplaced sense of doubt:

Colossians 2:20-23: Therefore, if you died with Christ from the basic principles of the world, why, as though living in the world, do you subject yourselves to regulations "Do not touch, do not taste, do not handle," which all concern things which perish with the using according to the commandments and doctrines of men? These things indeed have an appearance of wisdom in self-imposed religion, false humility, and neglect of the body, but are of no value against the indulgence of the flesh. (See also Rom. 14:14.)

So we see in no uncertain terms that all forms of drug-prohibition are completely unjustifiable from a Biblical viewpoint, and indeed anti-Christian. If then such drug-laws are extra-Biblical and anti-Christian, how is it that many self-professed Christians came to be on the forefront of all the various forms of drug-prohibition within recent history? Quite amazingly, this very question was already answered almost 2000 years ago by Paul, and in shocking but no uncertain terms:

1 Timothy 4:1-5: Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons, speaking lies in hypocrisy, having their own conscience seared with a hot iron, forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from foods which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth. For every creature of God is good, and nothing is to be refused if it is received with thanksgiving; for it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer.

As was already pointed out above, there is no clear distinction, in principle, between "drugs" and "food": just about any drug, in principle, can also be made into a food and traditionally often have been and continue to be. Indeed, the first truly large-scale form of drug-prohibition in a Western society in the modern era was what was known as simply "Prohibition" in the U.S., which was the outlawing of consuming the drug ethanol, i.e., "alcohol."

Yet alcohol is consumed almost exclusively as a food-stuff in mixture with non-inebriating potables! Indeed, strait laboratory-grade ethanol is virtually inedible, if not actually quite painful to so consume.

So how very true and accurate Paul was when he wrote the above words, as it was predominately self-professed Christians who lead the movement to outlaw the food of alcoholic beverages!

And to grasp the awful extent that these self-professed Christians must have been truly deceived by demons in order to prohibit the food of alcoholic beverages, just consider that the first miracle recorded in the Bible by Jesus was to turn water into wine during the wedding at Cana (see John 2:9-11)!

What absolute blasphemy for them to prohibit the resultant product of the first miracle of their self-proclaimed God! Deceived by demons indeed!! Truer words could not have been written by Paul to describe such a perverted situation.

Indeed, it was Paul himself that counseled to "No longer drink only water, but use a little wine for your stomach's sake and your frequent infirmities" (1 Tim. 5:23). And Psalms 104:14,15 says of God: "He causes the grass to grow for the cattle, And vegetation for the service of man, That he may bring forth food from the earth, And wine that makes glad the heart of man, Oil to make his face shine, And bread which strengthens man's heart." (See also Judges 9:13.)

Many in the Temperance movement responsible for Prohibition had falsely claimed that these Biblical references to "wine" were in reality grape juice. But the Greek word for wine in the New Testament, oinos, is a fermented drink, whereas the Greek word for fruit juice is khymos. And besides that, this claim demonstrates either an appalling ignorance of Jesus's own parables or outright deceit, as Jesus even referred to the fermenting of wine in one of his parables:

Matthew 9:16,17: "No one puts a piece of unshrunk cloth on an old garment; for the patch pulls away from the garment, and the tear is made worse. Nor do they put new wine into old wineskins, or else the wineskins break, the wine is spilled, and the wineskins are ruined. But they put new wine into new wineskins, and both are preserved." (See also Mark 2:22; Luke 5:37.)

In ancient times goatskins were used to hold wine. As the fresh grape juice fermented, carbon dioxide would be generated by the living yeast's metabolism, increasing the volume of gas contained in the wineskin, and so the new wineskin would stretch. But a used wineskin, already stretched, would break.

Not only that, but before 1869 it was impossible to store grape juice in temperate to hot climates (which are the climates grapes grow in) without it either quickly going bad or becoming wine.

If grape juice is left exposed to the open air then it will quickly go bad due to mold and bacteria sealing grape juice from the open air protects it from these aerobic microorganisms because the yeast which is present naturally in the grapes creates an atmosphere of carbon dioxide while at the same time making alcohol.

Consequently, storing non-alcoholic grape juice was an impossibility until 1869, when Dr. Thomas Bramwell Welch succeeded in applying the process of pasteurization to freshly squeezed must.

About the only people who may have been drinking grape juice before 1869 were those who pressed the freshly picked grapes themselves (without refrigeration grapes will quickly go bad, unless they are dried into raisins).

It is for this reason that the suggestion that the fruit of the vine that Jesus and the twelve disciples drank during the Last Supper on Passover (Mark 14:23-25) was grape juice is absurd, as the growing season for grapes in Palestine is from April to October (the dry season), yet Passover starts on the 14th of the Jewish month Nisan (the actual Last Supper occurred either on the 14th or 15th of Nisan, it's debatable which day it actually was), which is a lunar month that roughly corresponds with the latter part of March and the first part of April so quite simply, there would have existed no unfermented grape juice at this time, as no grapes would have existed, since the growing season for them had just started.

In the beginning of this discussion on drugs, it was first inquired as to why the "drug problem" has only become such a problem within, predominately, the last century. The reason is precisely because of the very laws against drugs!

The government's War on Drugs has turned what once was an individual problem into a social problem by inventing new make-believe "crimes" that aggress against no one, while spawning a whole true crime industry associated with it (just like during Prohibition).

The effect of libertarian legalization would be to make drugs an individual problem again instead of the grave social problem that it is today. As they say, we don't have a drug problem, we have a drug-problem problem.

Were it not for the government's War on Drugs, the gang turf-wars, theft, and other various true crimes that are associated with the distribution of drugs and the procurement of money in which to support habituations to drugs, of which the price has been artificially inflated, would not exist.

How many liquor stores have shoot-outs between each other? Yet when alcohol was illegal the black-market distributors of alcohol found it necessary to have shoot-outs and murders between each other on a regular basis.

This was because, being that their business was illegal, they did not have access to the courts in which to settle their disputes; as well, because their business was illegal, this raised the stakes of doing business, for if they got caught then they would go to prison thus it became profitable to resort to murder in order to solve problems which would otherwise lead to prison.

And how many tobacco smokers resort to theft and prostitution in order to support their habit? Yet clinical studies have shown that tobacco is more habit forming than heroin. The reason you don't see tobacco smokers doing such things is because tobacco addicts can afford to support their habit.

When Russia experienced an artificial shortage of cigarettes over a decade ago due to its socialist economy, tobacco smokers took to the streets en mass rioting requiring emergency shipments of Marlboros and other cigarette brands from the U.S. in order for it to cease.

If heroin or crack were legal it would cost no more (and probably less) than a tobacco habit, and so heroin and crack addicts would be able to support their habit by working at a regular job instead of resorting to theft and prostitution.

If one should doubt this last statement, it should be born in mind that the original laws in the U.S. against the use of opium were to punish the Chinese opium-smoking immigrants in the early 1900s, who were so productive that they were taking railway construction jobs away from native White Americans.

As a parting note on this subject, I will leave you with what Peter counseled us: "But let none of you suffer as a murderer, a thief, an evildoer, or as a busybody in other people's matters" (1 Peter 4:15). How very much this last admonition applies to all forms of drug-prohibition!


14. Woe to Lawyers!