That's an interesting question, isn't it? Many Christians feel a discussion whether it is "right" or "wrong" to use drugs is solely related to recreational drugs because the widespread use of prescription drugs among Christians is accepted. Because of a major surgery I had in July, 2016, I can attest that most Christians accept the use of prescription drugs. I saw multitudes of Bibles, crosses, prayer beads, etc. as I watched the people in the hospital and in doctors' offices. Many asked me to pray with them, once knowing my background as a pastor. Rarely will you hear someone disavow the use of prescription drugs on a religious basis...unless you research the subject on the Internet. There you will find some very potent and "out there" discussions, and even conspiracy theories, about the use of drugs by Christians. One website says that the pharmaceutical companies are using the billions they make to 'create the governance for their future leader of the world', referring to a Satanic leader. Another website says," This scheme or strategy (using prescription drugs) prepares us for Satan's approaching crux move involving the Beast and the mark of the Beast." So, people have their opinions and interpretations about the use of all drugs. But, that's not important. What's important is this question: What does the Bible say about the use of drugs by Christians?
The most commonly cited scripture about the use of drugs is found at Galatians 5:19-21 (Other scriptures are Rev 9:21, 18:23, 21:8, and 22:15):
19 The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; 20 idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 21 and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God. (NIV)
Where are drugs mentioned in that scripture? If you focus on verse 20, you'll see it says 'idolatry and witchcraft". The word translated "witchcraft" is pharmakeia, or pharmaceutical. The reason for this is, at the time of translating the Bible, drugs were an integral part of many cultures' religious rites, magical arts, idolatrous worship, and spiritistic practices. There was a direct connection between drugs and spiritism, so translators used the word "witchcraft", or something similar, to convey that meaning. And, on down to today, there still is a connection. Rastafarianism, Native American Indians, Greenfaith Ministry, Entheogenic Reformation Church, and Church of Reality, are just a few religions which still use drugs in their ceremonies. But, does it make sense to continue to equate drugs which are used to minimize pain, help the body heal quicker, be able to live longer, etc. with witchcraft? I believe anyone who feels that way would be in a very small minority.
Is it fair to say that the meaning of pharmaceuticals (drugs) is different today than when the Bible was written and translated? Drugs are no longer associated closely with spiritistism. Imagine grandpa saying he's taking his "medication". Would you automatically assume that grandpa is involved in spiritism? This same outdated belief is true of other wrong teachings of today by many, as well. Take the following example.
What do Tony Robbins, Joel Osteen, Benny Hinn, and many other prominent personal development and religious ministers have in common? They use hypnosis in their work, specifically when healing or fire-walking. Yet, like drugs, hypnosis used to have a negative association. Here's a little history of hypnosis; in ancient Egypt, the temples for the god Asclepios were temples of healing dreams. His daughters were Hygea and Panacea. A Kl'nè was a sacred place where the sick person reclined to enter the dream state. From these names we have derived the modern words, Panacea, Hygiene and Clinic. Over time, the priests developed a greater understanding of herbs and how to use them. They slowly moved away from the use of dream interpretation and suggestion to using their growing knowledge of herbs to develop tinctures and medicines. Here you see the association of medicine and healing practices.
The ancient Hebrews used meditation with chanting, breathing exercises and fixation on the Hebrew letters of the alphabet that spelled their name for God to induce an ecstasy state called Kavanah. In the Talmud, Kavanah implies relaxation, concentration, focused attention. People, such as fire-walkers and priests who used the religious practices of laying on of hands use self-hypnosis to bring about an altered state of consciousness by the use of suggestion and expectation. Again, think Tony Robbins' fire-walking, and Benny Hinn and other ministers who are faith-healers. In fact, when Tony Robbins works with one-on-one clients, he uses hypnosis and Neuro-Linguistic Programming.
The Bible never uses the term "hypnosis", even though the Bible writers and translators could easily have done so. The Greek god Hypnos, the God of Sleep, had been around for centuries. When hypnosis is directly referenced in the Bible, you'll notice an interestingly positive connotation. Here are some examples:
Genesis 2:21 - God had a "deep sleep" fall upon Adam to remove his rib and create Eve. This sleep was so deep that it caused anesthesia to develop so Adam felt no pain during the process. From the Hebrew Radam, meaning a lethargy or (by implication) trance. (Strong's Exhaustive Concordance, #8639)
Acts 10:1-48 - Peter "fell into a trance" and from that experience came to see that God loved all people and accepts all people who come to him. God used hypnosis to make a quick change in Peter's belief system so he would follow His instructions and go to the people of the nations.
Acts 22:17 - God put Paul into a trance and, like Peter, God used hypnosis to change Paul's belief system quickly and sent him to the Gentiles. Here are several Bible translations of that verse:
"When I returned to Jerusalem and was praying at the temple, I fell into a trance. (NIV)
"After I returned to Jerusalem, I was praying in the Temple and fell into a trance. (NLT)
"When I had returned to Jerusalem and was praying in the temple, I fell into a trance (ESV)
Later, when I had returned to Jerusalem and was praying at the temple, I fell into a trance, (BSB)
And it happened to me, having returned to Jerusalem and of my praying in the temple, I fell into a trance (BLB)
Lastly, from a Biblical point of view, there are scriptures that lead you to understand that Paul and Peter used hypnosis in healings, such as at Acts 3:4 and 14:9. If you research Paul, Peter and the word "gaze", you'll discover many more passages that connect their actions and staring intently into people's eyes, all for God's glory.
Hypnosis, like prescription drugs, knives, guns, and even words, can be used to hurt or heal. Whether it is beneficial or destructive depends on the person using it. I have used hypnosis to help people with many types of maladies; mental, emotional, and physical. Many of my clients, 90% of which are Christian, have had wonderful healing experiences and journeys.
If you would like to know more about the Bible, hypnosis, Neuroscience, the human brain, communication, and so much more, please reach out to me!
Change you thoughts. Change your life...quickly!
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+++++++++++++++About Dr. Edward Lewellen++++++++++++++++++++
Dr. Edward Lewellen an expert in creating methodologies for people to learn to use their mind; their beliefs, thoughts, and behaviors, and put them back in control of their lives and become top-producers. He is a Master Executive Coach, leadership and sales expert, and keynote speaker for some of the largest global organizations.
Author of The 90-Second Mind Manager