God has given each of us just one body, and one brain. We can wisely use or abuse what He has given us. We can choose to be good stewards or squanderers of His gift of life. We are not our own, but belong to Him (Ezekiel 18:4; Romans 14:7-8; 1 Corinthians 6:19-20). We should not want to do anything to ourselves which would hinder, or diminish our capacity to serve Him (Mark 12:30).
Tobacco was one of the discoveries European explorers found in the Americas in the 16th century. Native Americans “believed it to possess medical properties, which was the main reason for its introduction into Europe” (Encyclopedia Britannica, Vol. 18, p. 464, c. 1979).
Today, tobacco use is listed as the number one preventable cause of death (www.healthhabits,ca/2009/05/05/the-top-12 preventable causes of death/). About 20% of all deaths in the USA are attributed to smoking related diseases (ibid). Smokers expose their family members to at least 50 known carcinogens (www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/factsheet/tobacco/ETS). Chewing tobacco makes one 6 times more likely to develop cancer of the oral cavity and hypopharnyx (Charles L. Jarrett, M.D., 1987, Memphis School of Preaching Lectureship, p. 195).
A Christian by the name of Gene Williams once told me to warn the young against starting this habit. He would go out to visit, or door knock with me. He would not be out long before he had to say, “take me home.” He was on oxygen due to a long history of smoking. He had stopped but the effects were still there. He felt that he could have done much more for the cause of Christ, if he had never started the habit of smoking. It had limited what he could physically do.
The hemp plant is useful. Hemp can be made into rope, among the best in the world. The Chinese used the plant for medical purposes 4,000 years ago. It may have some medical value for pain relief, and increased appetite. There is a pill form, marinol, which may give the same benefits without the “high” associated with smoking.
Some think marijuana is harmless. It is not. Smoking it has many of the same respiratory and other issues that smoking tobacco does (www.cancer.org). Some have written that one marijuana cigarette has the same affect as twenty-two tobacco cigarettes (Andy Kizer, The Bible, Your Body and Drugs, p. 31). “It affects reading, math and verbal skills making it harder for young users to learn. It can also affect the physical and sexual growth of young users who have not reached maturity” (ibid).
The Coca leaf was one chewed by the natives of Peru much to the effect as we might get from coffee. However, such has been refined. Cocaine and crack are very addictive, and very dangerous. I once knew a man named Scott, who was a millionaire. He was hooked on crack. He blew his money. He stole from his own family. He eventually was reduced to living the life of a homeless man. Lynn Bias was highly drafted by the Boston Celtics in 1986. Hours later, he was dead from heart failure after partying with cocaine.
Opium is derived from the poppy plant. Its benefits as a painkiller have been long known. Alexander the Great was introduced to such medical benefits in Afghanistan. The Chinese fought two wars against the British in the 1800’s trying to keep the British from selling Opium to the Chinese people. Many Chinese became addicts. The Chinese lost both of these wars, and had to give up Hong Kong to the British. Today, morphine, codeine, and Heroin are all products of Opium. Yes, these drugs have been used medically. Heroin is not used in this country medically. These drugs are highly addictive. They can be deadly. In the year 1969, in New York City, more 15 – 35 year olds died of Heroin than any other single cause (www.time/magazine).
The effects of Meth are shocking. Google “faces of meth”. Look at the mug shots of those arrested over time. Watch the deterioration. It’s one of the saddest things you’ll ever see. In two years, they seem to age 40 years.
LSD and other hallucinogens leave the user in a state unable to discern reality clearly. We have all heard the reports of those who have died in this state.
Other Drugs (legal)
It is not just illegal drugs which can be destructive. Legal drugs can be abused as well. Elvis Presley and Michael Jackson both died from legal drug abuse. Rush Limbaugh’s hearing loss is related to his abuse of Vicoden and Oxycontin. He will never be the same again.
Many people abuse otherwise legal substances to get high. They sniff petro-chemicals, antifreeze, transmission fluid, shoe polish, turpentine, paint thinner, insecticide, cooking spray, spray paint, felt-tip markers, etc. This is criminal activity. This is dangerous activity.
Food is different from the aforementioned things. We must eat to live.
However, many in America eat too much. The third leading cause of preventable death is being overweight or obese (www. healthhabits.ca/2009/05/05/the-top-12 preventablecausesofdeath). Two out of three Americans are either overweight or obese (the difference in these terms concern BMI). In the last forty-two years, the average male has increased in weight by twenty-five pounds, and the average female has increased by twenty-four pounds (www.usgovinfo.about.com/ad/healthcare/a/tallbutfat.htm).
Others are starving themselves to death. Anorexia affects 2.5 million Americans (Newsweek, Dec. 5, 2005, p. 52). It is defined as a body weight of less than 85 % of normal. The singer Karen Carpenter died of this. Her heart failed as a result of this eating disorder in 1983. Some have an unrealistic expectation and this drives them to destructive behavior (anorexia, anabolic steroid abuse etc.). Women see the magazine cover featuring a model 5’11”, 120 lbs. The problem is the average American woman is 5’4″, 163 lbs. Men see the star athlete, 6’3″ 240 lbs. The average man in America is 5’9”, 191 lbs. (www.usgovinfo.about.com/od/healthcare/a/tallbutfat.htm).
1. Remember that we belong to God (Ezekiel 18:4; Romans 14:7-8; 1 Corinthians 6:19-20).
2. Remember our purpose. We are here to glorify God (Matthew 5:16; 1 Corinthians 6:19-20; 10:31).
3. We should avoid things which hinder, or diminish our capacity to serve Him (Mark 12:30).
4. We should avoid things which cloud the mind (1 Thessalonians 5:5-8; 1 Peter 5:8; Proverbs 31:4-5).
5. We should avoid things which enslave (1 Corinthians 7:21-23; 6:12).
6. Understand that intoxicants do not solve problems, but often multiply problems (Proverbs 23:29-35; Habakkuk 2:15).
7. Parents need to be parents. They need to set the proper example (Romans 2:21; 1 Corinthians 11:1; 1 Timothy 4:12). They need to be involved in their children’s lives (Deuteronomy 6:4-9; Proverbs 29:15; Ephesians 6:4; Titus 2:4-5).
8. Respect of laws needs to be taught and practiced (Romans 13:1-ff; Titus 3:1-ff; 1 Peter 2:13-17).
9. Sometimes, young people turn to drugs because they want to “fit in”. Sometimes adults turn to drugs because they are a part of the wrong crowd, or because they are having a difficult time dealing with life. As a church, let us be lovingly involved in one another’s lives (Romans 12:15).
10. Yes, we should care for the body. However, something is even more important (1 Timothy 4:8). Let us especially give attention to the inward man (1 Peter 3:1-ff). Let us understand what true lasting beauty is (Proverbs 31:30; 1 Peter 3:1-ff).