Is the Drug War a Second Prohibition?

Children holding up "Drug war is a Failure" signs.

Photo credit: sari_dennise/flickr/license

The drug war, so called, has become a fixture in the news cycle as every city, county, federal agent, cop, detective, undercover agent, or agency hack of whatever stripe, has stacked up his career arrest record picking up anybody that has a bit of weed or a little package of naughty powder stuffed under a seat. This is a war alright, but for what precisely are we fighting? More importantly, what Biblical principle are we attempting to enforce?

Difference Between Sins & Crimes

If there is anything we can understand clearly from Biblical law it is this: that for anything to be a crime punishable by civil penalty it must be a sin. Sin is a violation of God’s law (Romans 7:7 and surrounding scripture make this sparklingly clear). It is God’s law that defines sin for us. Nothing else can. Without the law we would have no knowledge of sin. With God’s law we have a concise and complete definition. God has not asked us to add to His list other ideas we think important. We are not mini-gods who are supposed to be dreaming up a few more good items to forbid or new ways to punish. God has defined all those things as He saw fit. He has not changed the principles for righteousness. Somehow we have allowed this drug war to convince us otherwise. We ought also to note that not every sin God names is punishable by civil means. Many sins are simply to be repented of by the individual, but not punished by the state. You shall not covet does not carry a jail sentence or a fine under the Law of Moses. A failure to tithe did not merit any civil punishment, though God Himself could choose to go after you. A failure by a farmer to leave food for the gleaners was a sin, but the government could not punish that farmer. Hence, we may learn that we also, our civil governments, ought not punish every behavior we find obnoxious. This lesson is hard learned now because the government views itself effectively, as do we, as the god of our time. We no longer look to the God of the Bible as our living God of law, grace, and life. Rather, we view the civil government in that role. We think that morality and law ought to come from the government without reference to the Creator of the universe. His opinion is outdated, but our opinions are wisdom incarnate in legislatures of sinful men.

Are there Illegal Substances in the Bible?

As I look through my Bible I find nothing whatever in God’s law forbidding the ownership of any type of plant or mineral. I see that God declared everything He made, “very good” (Genesis 1:31). This being the case I am wondering how it is that the things God declared as very good can be construed by man to be irrevocably evil. Ye olde hemp plant was created good , even very good, but now is so dreaded as a focus of moral evil that if you are found to have one growing wild on your farm the government can seize your land and never give it back. This is somehow construed to be more just than allowing that plant to do whatever God intended it to do in its natural state. If you cultivate this plant that God declared very good, you could spend years in a steel-barred gaol wondering when you might see the light of day. All of this is supposed to be for the enhancement of public morality. Yet, these treatments rudely violate multiple precepts of God’s law. This would be the same law scripture declares to be God’s perfect law, wonderful law, and other complimentary terms which would be mere flattery, except they are true. If we simply assume that God is right, and that He is right about everything, we will come to better behavior everywhere, including in our civil government. It has been argued that legalizing these plants that God has called very good would surely lead to rampant crime, thefts and murders awash as these sellers of very good plants foist them on unsuspecting humanity. Seemingly, no one has noticed that the actual law of God punishes theft (the thief must re-pay two to four times the value of what he stole?Exodus 22:7) and murder (capital punishment?Numbers 35:31). For causes unknown these stripes are deemed insufficient or perhaps unwise. Rather, we are convinced it is of a superior logic to convict our citizens of crimes that are not crimes and give them punishments that are not righteous punishments. Why then, is it these purported malefactors we consider mad? How is it that they are the demons and we are the angels? It is a system run crazy.

gods of the Drug War

This war we are fighting is more a war against the God of heaven than it is a war against violators of His law. As a nation we hate His law. We hate the idea that our Creator defines good and evil and that we do not. Our hearts have risen up to the heavens demanding to be as gods in our own right. We lust for the power to create and enforce law on our self-appointed standards. We will set the measure. We will establish righteous bounds. We will be our own god, while the Maker of all things is shoved to the outskirts of society. Our arrogance must astonish even the angels. Yet, for us, our behavior feels blithely normal. This should scare us all. Biblical law establishes boundaries for liberty. This is the way God’s law always works. The forbidden behaviors are named. They are the definition of sin. In all else we have liberty from God Himself. This terrifies sinful men. We imagine dark evils unnamed in Scripture and make lists. We forbid what God has not mentioned or even what He calls very good. It was the Pharisees and scribes who asked Jesus (here we land with both feet in the New Testament),

Why do your disciples not walk according to the tradition of the elders?


Rightly did Isaiah prophecy of you hypocrites, as it is written, ‘This people honors Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me.’ But in vain do they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the precepts of men. Neglecting the commandment of God, you hold to the tradition of men.

Those Pharisees we deride as hypocrites? We have become them. We are the hypocrites who neglect the commandments of God (restitution, capital punishment) and hold to the traditions of men. We are the ones.

Prohibition, Phase 2

This drug war is phase two of the unBiblical Prohibition foisted on the nation by religious Progressives early in the last century. The Progressives were religious liberals who thought they could improve society by banning that which God never banned in His law. Their battle against all alcohol was particularly ludicrous when we read in Deuteronomy 14:26 that God’s chosen people (that would be the church according to the New Testament) were to use their tithe money to buy wine or strong drink for their celebrations. In the New Testament the Lord they purportedly were following, used wine in an ordinance of the church, but to aberrant churchmen, serving grape juice, made us believe that wine without alcohol was something other than an oxymoron. The absurdity could make you run straight up the wall but the church latched unto it like a hungry crappie on a minnow. Now, here we are, roughly fourty years into the drug war, with no progress and a litany of lost freedoms and innocent lives ruined as the consequence.

Repentance & Liberty

We really do need to stop this madness. Our brethren often express fear that a return to God’s law as the standard for society will be oppressive or cruel. There is an assumption that our own invented statutes will be superior, granting greater liberty. This is a false dream. The laws of man quickly become cruel and are by definition unjust. They do not promote liberty nor do they build up the kingdom of God. They are in fact a hindrance to the progress of His kingdom. Those of us who have supported these unbiblical laws ought to change our direction and repent. We are the Pharisees if we do not. The Pharisees were consumed with special washings of cups and bowls while forgetting the laws God had given them. They held to the traditions of their elders but rejected the Biblical law of liberty. We must end this immoral drug war and return to God’s law as our standard everywhere. Our liberty hangs in the balance.

Suspender Man™, Don Schanzenbach, has long been an outspoken advocate of recapturing culture for Christ. He holds a MA in applied Biblical studies and a doctorate in applied theological studies in the field of political philosophy and government from New Geneva Seminary. He has been thinking, writing and speaking on Christian culture for two decades.

Posted in God's Law, Liberty
8 comments on “Is the Drug War a Second Prohibition?
  1. Hi Don!

    Hope you and yours are well.

    I have ever considered adding a print button. I don’t like reading of my computer screen and usually don’t find time for extra reading until after I shut down my computer and have left my office for the evening.

    Blessings, Ted

  2. John c cummins says:

    Super article, may I put it into an audio format?

  3. Thanks, Don!

    Read it last night. Excellent! I hope it gets a wide distribution.

  4. Lisa Townsend says:

    I have always wondered the same thing going, how can man deem evil what GOD has declared good, I find this upside down and backwards. The demonization of a plant that can provide food, medicine, shelter ,clothes, rope, oil, building materials, ect, ect, evil. Only in the eyes of greedy corporations that know by legalizing a single plant their products would fall by the wayside scares them to death.The pharmaceutical companies are quaking in their boots and every paid off politician they have bribed to keep it illegal.This needs to stop and our freedom to choose restored.Great article keep reminding folks of the truth it’s refreshing.

  5. Sam says:

    Yes, I agree with everything you shared in this post. The argument appears straightforward and easy when dealing with alcohol, which is expressly praised in the Bible, and also with hemp, which has many well known beneficial uses. But is it so straightforward with crystal meth or heroine, neither of which is mentioned in Scripture, and neither of which has a beneficial use? This is a genuine question, not a challenge.

    • Don Schanzenbach says:

      Meth and heroine are not mentioned in Scripture at all, plus they are not regulated in Scripture through any directly applicable law principle. hence there is no biblical regulation. This should be our position – no regulation.

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