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A common position among many Christians in America is that the use of tobacco, alcohol, and other types of drugs (marijuana, etc.) is immoral and sinful. Paul seems to indicate that, in the context of food at least, nothing should be considered forbidden:

Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons, 2 through the insincerity of liars whose consciences are seared, 3 who forbid marriage and require abstinence from foods that God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth. 4 For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, 5 for it is made holy by the word of God and prayer. 1 Timothy 4:1-4 ESV

What, then, is the Biblical basis for why the use of tobacco and other types of drugs are considered by many to be immoral or sinful?

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up vote 12 down vote accepted

Mason Wheeler's answer covers a lot of ground. There are some other approaches to this that are also worth considering though.

One is to look at "the law of the land" - in many countries, many drugs are illegal and therefore the Bible passages that urge us to obey and respect the laws of our countries therefore apply to drug use/misuse as well. (Example passages: Deuteronomy 17:2; Ecclesiastes 8:2-5; Matthew 22:21; 23:2-3; Romans 13:1-7; Titus 3:1; 1 Peter 2:13-17; 2 Peter 2:9-11).

Another consideration is that self-control is listed as one of the Fruits of the Spirit - something we should strive for. Many drugs diminish, remove or inhibit our ability to control ourselves - either as immediate results of taking them or by causing us to become addicted to them - and this can be construed as a Biblical argument against them.

Thirdly, there is 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 (ESV):

Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.

The context of this passage is actually talking about sexual immorality, but it's frequently used to support a wider assertion that we should look after our bodies.

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First, beware of false premises. Food provides sustenance to the body. It contains calories and vital nutrients. Drugs do not, so it would be a mistake to equate them with food. In fact, drugs tend to have the opposite effect from food: instead of nourishing the body, they harm it.

Second, simply because "everything created by God is good," that does not mean that every possible use of everything created by God is good. Otherwise, there would be no such thing as sin at all. Hemp contains very useful fibers that make it good for building ropes, for example, and tobacco has medicinal properties that make it quite good for treating bruises. Neither of these require the plants to be taken internally.

Third, as I pointed out in another answer to a related question, a lot of modern drugs were not known in Biblical times, but abuse of the one they did know about, alcohol, is strongly condemned in the Bible. (Including by Paul, the same guy who wrote the 1 Timothy passage quoted in the question.) So it stands to reason that the use of other drugs should likewise be considered sinful.

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The use of no substance is inherently sinful, rather it's the state of mind that it produces in the user. If one is engaged in unrighteousness and rebellion against God's glory, then if he smokes marijuana, that will only serve to amplify the feeling of rebellion.

Some drugs are so intensely pleasurable to the flesh that they will suspend one's normal inhibitions against sinning, such as "it's wrong to rob people or steal their stuff," in order to experience the pleasure of the drug again. And many drug users neglect their familial obligations just to repeat the experience of the drug, just to be alone with the substance that they want to use.

But there are some folks, some, believe it or not, who are able to use certain drugs in moderation and not let them take over their lives. The number of people who are able to do this decreases exponentially with the addictive strength of the drug in question. For example, a crack cocaine user has basically zero chance of attaining glorification while using crack. But a marijuana smoker might have a better chance, if he doesn't engage in sinful activities.

This is all with an important caveat: That one must first acknowledge that he is a sinner and has fallen short of the glory of God, and is in desperate need of Christ's saving grace.

There is also another wrinkle to the problem. Certain drugs cause physical dependence. Like for example heroin and the opiates. God undoubtedly created the opium poppy, from which morphine and all the related drugs come, but he did not intend for it to be used as a 24/7 escape from reality. But some people find themselves trapped in that addictive cycle, after having developed a physical dependence on the drugs, because their flesh nature has deluded them into thinking that they are doing something good ("it must be good if it feels so good and helps me to interact with my fellow men on such a mellow plane"). So, would God condemn someone for being sick with diabetes or asthma? No. Definitely not. The same rules for salvation apply to drug users as everyone else. One must accept Christ's sacrifice for their sins and believe on Him in order to be saved.

If one continues to use drugs after he has accepted Christ's sacrifice for him, then it's not a "salvation-breaker," because it's the nature of the behavior that the drug use causes that's the real issue, not the drug use itself.

And I'm going to tie this in with a biblical citation. Where Paul admonishes against drunkenness and sexual immorality (and other particularly grievous sins) in I Cor. 5:11.

This would seem to suggest that just being drunk in and of itself is not a sin per *se*, but rather what one does or thinks while under the influence of alcohol (or any other drug, such as possibly opium - which were the only drugs known to first century people in the Holy Land).

That's just my personal experience.

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I'm with you that the evil is in the heart not in the created thing, but in your penultimate paragraph, you're saying the sin is no being drunk but the sinful thoughts and actions that occur while in a state of drunkenness. Are these a necessary consequence of drunkenness? If you're a "happy drunk," is it ok to get drunk from time to time? – metal Jan 8 '14 at 13:49
Ya I think so as long as it doesn't provoke you to engage in too much indecent thoughts (pornography, gambling and really bad sexual promiscuity, sado-masochism), then it's basically o.k. (and by "thoughts" I also mean actually engaging in the behavior). – Ztucker Jan 9 '14 at 0:38

Very good question in which this is a prime example of the bible working together and I will address something crucial that I'm surprised no one has mentioned before!

Let us begin with first two commandments: "You shall have no other gods before me" - Exodus 20:3-6 (in summary idolatry is condemned)

now if you were to read verses saying sorcery/witchcraft in Greek namely, Galatians 5:20 it will come up as Pharmakia, guess what word we get? Pharmacy so sorcery/witchcraft and drugs are heavily related, hmm

okay so here's the deal with sorcery/witchcraft, it is allowed for you perform miracles and healing in God's name and you give him credit but not if you practice sorcery/witchcraft, meaning if you: a)use the magic to deify or call yourself a god (for example someone like Lord Voldemort maybe and certainly extends to false messiahs) b)use it (as mediums and false prophets) to deceive people and make them turn after other gods, spirits, stars, or any other form of idolatry, including drugs themselves instead of seeking God for answers and guidance c)back then pagans used drugs to try to reach nirvana-like states or contact gods (Rasta would fall into this category)

so as you can see, drugs and sorcery is heavily linked!

Also as mentioned previously, 1 Corinthians 6:19-20, drugs are harmful to mind and body (including death), so discernment tells us to avoid them altogether

conclusion? recreational use of drugs is forbidden as that falls into the umbrella of idolatry, that is you are using drugs to cope problems instead of turning to God for assistance (category b) or the unlikely chance that you follow a religion like Rasta or paganism (category c) or otherwise you are just harming your body

the only times you should use drugs are for medical purposes

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Some of the information contained in this post requires additional references. Please edit to add citations to reliable sources that support the assertions made here. Unsourced material may be disputed or deleted.

Welcome to Stack Exchange, we are glad you are here. Please consider registering an account to fully take advantage of what this site has to offer. Also, be sure to check out the site tour and read up on how this site is a little different than other sites around the web. This is not a comment on the quality of your answer, but rather a standard welcome message. – ThaddeusB Jan 17 at 2:52
Welcome to Christianity.SE, and thanks for offering an answer. However, for this answer to work well here, you would need to provide better references to support the statements you are making. See: What makes a good supported answer? As it is, your answer doesn't provide a very solid connection between drugs as understood today and the Bible passages you quote or refer to. – Lee Woofenden Jan 17 at 5:16

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