M.D., M.S., F.R.C.S. (C)
There are two other “Coffin I nails” which have come into common use in our day and age, both of them strong drugs. The one, which has been in vogue some 20 years, is lysergic acid, better known as LSD; the other is marijuana.
First, let us consider LSD. It belongs to a category of drugs called hallucinogens. This is just a fancy term referring to a chemical substance which, when ingested, produces hallucinations, and people who take this drug have weird, exotic, almost indescribable sensory experiences. They enjoy these sensations and have taken up the use of this drug, as they say, “for kicks.” Some people actually believe that LSD gives them greater insight into reality because of these sensual perceptions, the memory of which they retain on coming out of “a trip.”
It has taken nearly 100 years to find out the harmful effects of smoking cigarettes, but in 20 years some of the harmful effects of LSD are already coming to light. What are they? It is now known that users of LSD are prone to mental illness of various kinds if they use it over prolonged periods of time. There are schizophrenic reactions, what is commonly called the split personality; paranoid reactions, the belief that people are all against you, in fact, that the whole world is against you; and there are delusional and chronic anxiety states, where people are fearful of everything that is going on about them whether it is worthy of engendering fear or not. Furthermore, people on “trips” with LSD have been known to actually act out suicidal fantasies and lose their lives. Now it is true that these psychotic reactions, these varieties of mental illness, are in many cases temporary, but some cases have been very prolonged and have required hospitalization in mental institutions. And the chronic use of this drug has led to a solipsistic, negativistic existence in which the LSD users come to think that this LSD situation which they produce upon themselves in synonymous with life itself.
Another effect of this drug, which is only now beginning to be recognized, is what we call a chromosomal damage. This involves damage to those portions of the cells in our bodies which carry the characteristics that make us the person we are, and it is becoming apparent that this chromosomal change can be transmitted to our offspring with the result that birth defects are now being attributed to the use of LSD in somewhat the same fashion as thalidomide a few years ago. Fortunately, these facts have been publicized and they have had a sobering effect on people to the point of being a deterrant, the thankful result being that the use of this drug is beginning to drop off. It is to be hoped that this trend will continue until the drug’s use is put out of existence altogether. However, I fear this is not likely to happen.
Again, how can Christians countenance the use of a drug which is so damaging to our bodies, which are the temple of the Holy Spirit, and especially when we consider the fact that we may transmit damage to our children as well?
This last “coffin nail” to which I would alert you is marijuana, commonly called pot, and its use is referred to as smoking pot. This has been said by many people to be harmless. In fact, lunching with a psychiatrist sometime ago we were discussing this situation and he said if he had to choose which drug his children would take, alcohol or marijuana, he would choose marijuana. I was utterly shocked, because here was a man who is supposed to know. I can only tell you that people who talk like this are far removed from the world of pharmacology and medicine where the precise effects of drugs on the human body are studied.
Marijuana tends to be used by the youth of our day and age. Sometimes they use it out of curiosity, sometimes they are just seeking for a thrill, or “kick,” as they call it. Sometimes they use it because it is the “in” thing to do, or else they use it because they like the dreamy state into which it sends them. Some people think a generation is arising which is using this drug as an act of rebellion against an older generation which uses another drug. They feel the need to be different and to them, at any rate, it is a “must” that they assert themselves as being different.
One of the insidious things about marijuana is that it gives the illusion, the false impression that here is a drug I can take and handle, but this is an illusion only, for marijuana interferes with one’s doing what he ought to do. It prevents him from carrying out what would otherwise be worthwhile ambitions. It produces wishful-feeling fantasies that give the impression of omnipotence, but a pseudo-omnipotence to be sure, and it converts knowledge and attitudes into patterns of behavior which are less than acceptable. Indeed, the situation in which use is made of this drug is such that it is conducive to the use of more harmful substances such as LSD, heroin, barbiturates, and amphetamines.
Thus it is a tragedy in our day and age to see our young people making use of marijuana at a time when they are being called upon to make up their minds about their careers, when they are making life-molding decisions that are of vital importance. They are becoming drug-oriented at this crucial time, and this insidious drug is blocking constructive planning and the execution of worthwhile ambitions. It is in this sense that it is leaving its damaging effects upon the youth of our generation. Finally, in heavier doses than are prone to be used in this country, this drug can also actually produce psychosis or mental illness. This is seen appreciably more frequently in the Middle East and the Far East where it produces a state not unlike the terminal stages of alcohol, the skid row type of person and personality.
Let me again remind you of Paul’s words, “What? Know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom ye have of God, and ye are not your own?” The Apostle, of course, was addressing the Christians at Corinth where licentiousness was rampant on every hand. At Corinth the philosophy of these educated, sophisticated, civilized Greeks was one of self-indulgence and self-gratification, and there was a tendency on the part of the Corinthian Christians to carry over into their new life in Christ their old pagan patterns of thinking and behavior. As you read 1 Corinthians 6 carefully, you will find that Paul is speaking to these people about the ill-advised indulgence of some of their appetites in relation to such things as food and sex. He is warning believers against the dangers of these things. Since our bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit, how can Christians subject them to these noxious, detrimental, deleterious influences? We are stewards of our bodies and it is up to us to take proper care of them. This cannot be done if we subject them to chemical influences which tear down and destroy them prematurely. This is not Christian thinking, nor is it God-honoring, and Christians of conscience can have no part whatsoever in such harmful and unholy influences.
Now, how are we going to reach those who are not true Christians, who neither know nor understand the truth of 1 Corinthians 6, let alone the rest of God’s Word? Sometimes it is said that in our assemblies we are losing our evangelical outreach because we are not preaching the Gospel as faithfully as we might at our Sunday services. I have two thoughts on this topic. First, I think that so-called Gospel preaching is in large degree out-moded today. It is extremely difficult to get people who aren’t Christians into church buildings, so much so, that at best they only come in small dribbles. Second, I think if we are going to have any outreach at all it must be on a personal basis. As we rub shoulders with those with whom we come in contact we should be exerting an influence for Christ and His kingdom.
Sometime ago I was at a wedding banquet and a young lady sat just across from us. She told about being on the ski hills of a distant country where there was a group of Christians who had a cabin. They both met and stayed in this cabin and got up early each morning for Bible study and prayer. Then they went out to the ski slopes for the express purpose of seeking to cultivate the acquaintance and the friendship of those who were around them in order that they might get them to listen to the claims of Christ. She then described their success, and it was astonishing. People on the ski slopes had a ready ear for what these young people had to say, especially after the skiing was over and they were ready for coffee and relaxation. This I think is the way evangelism has to be carried out in our day and age, midst our various areas of life. Then when people are interested and we have at least in some measure gained their confidence, let us seek to bring them to our church buildings. Let us have them meet our Christian friends and let them see that we are not after all a bunch of numbskulls with our heads in the sand. Let them see that intelligent people honor God’s Word and take it at its face value, and that we can show its relevance to the life we are living in 1969. I think this is the chief way we shall reach people today.
If you cannot truly say that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, then I would direct you to the Gospel of John, chapter 10. It is there that we read of the Lord Jesus Christ who said, “I am the Good Shepherd; the Good Shepherd giveth His life for the sheep” (v. 11), and just prior to that He said, “I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly” (v. 10b). This is why Christians don’t need these ancillary things that “hep” people up and make them feel good. We have a well of water within us springing up into everlasting life. We have a peace, a joy, a knowledge that we have contact with the living and true God who alone can fill this God-vaccuum in these human hearts of ours.
If you haven’t accepted the claims of Christ on your life, and your body is therefore not the temple of the Holy Spirit, then these things are, of course, quite foreign to you.
The only way that you can have the indwelling of the Holy Spirit and have your body become the temple of God here on earth is to accept the claims of the Lord Jesus who said, “I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.” Let me remind you that in John 10 there is also a reference to the thief that came to steal, and this is the very thing we have been considering in relation to some of the agents Satan uses to steal and to destroy. Which are you going to choose? Are you going to choose Satan and what he has to offer, or are you going to choose Christ and eternal life?