Our Love for the Failed Drug War

The war on drugs has failed

Former President Richard Nixon established the war on drugs in 1971. At that time the size and presence of federal control agencies were increased significantly and measures such as mandatory sentencing and no-knock warrants were introduced. Since that time the war on drugs has been a constant reminder of how prohibition fails to address the real problems. The following statistics demonstrate how the war on drugs has failed…

  • Amount spent annually in the U.S. on the war on drugs: More than $51,000,000,000
  • Number of arrests in 2014 in the U.S. for drug law violations: 1,561,231
    Number of these arrests that were for possession only: 1,297,384 (83 percent)
  • Number of arrests in 2014 in the U.S. for marijuana law violations: 700,993
    Number of these arrests that were for possession only: 619,809 (88 percent)
  • Number of Americans incarcerated in 2014 in federal, state and local prisons and jails: 2,224,400 or 1 in every 111 adults, the highest incarceration rate in the world

Essentially, our nation spends tens of billions of dollars annually to imprison drug dealers or drug users. In many cases drug dealers go back to dealing once released and drug users go back to using drugs after they serve their time. In some cases, those drug dealers and drug users commit worse crimes once they are released from prison. And while drug dealers and drug users go to prison, recreational drug use continues to flourish.

Eliminate the war on drugs

Even though the statistics demonstrate otherwise, we still believe that we can solve the drug problem by imprisoning those who use and sell drugs. Unfortunately, the drug problem will never be resolved entirely. Our society has a sin problem (Romans 3:23), which is what has led to a drug problem. And that is the reason that prohibition of substances like drugs or alcohol fails. We cannot prevent people from using ‘harmful’ substances by imprisoning them. Instead drug users and drug dealers need freedom from their sin.

The truth is, some laws are necessary for a society to function (Romans 13:1-7), but not all laws are beneficial to society. There could be some unexpected benefits to legalizing drugs or decriminalizing the use of drugs…

Restoring individuals with the Gospel

Our disdain for those who break the law by using drugs has clouded our vision for helping to restore them. Our desire for restoration has been less of a priority then our desire for justice. Our idea of restoration has been based on government intervention instead of the body of Christ reaching out to those who need help.

We have given up on our love for people in lieu of sending them to prison. We may have great intentions, but we may be making life more difficult for our neighbor by supporting the war on drugs. Only God can restore drug abusers, but he can use us to do so. “Brethren, even if anyone is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness; each one looking to yourself, so that you too will not be tempted.” Galatians 6:1

Once again, we are witnessing the affects of the lack of presence that the Church has in society and the government has filled our role by punishing non-violent criminals. Loving and caring for sinners may sound oversimplified, but it is exactly what Christ wants us to do. There are churches that support ending the drug war and promote individual responsibility among Christians. We should hope that more Christians begin to realize that they can do more to help those who abuse drugs, by loving and caring for them, one individual at a time.

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Respecting Authority

Respect authority

Romans 13:1 declares that God institutes governing authorities.  God cares enough about government that He established it.  We know that there are different types of governing authorities depending on the type of government that has been established in the nation that we live in.  There are all types of different governments in our world.  There are Monarchies, Oligarchies, Democracies, Republics, etc.  Therefore, governing authorities can be people or it can be the rule of law.

God calls us to submit to our governing authorities, while simultaneously understanding that we only do so as long as we are not disobeying God in the process (Acts 5:29).  We can and should be respectful to authority in almost all possible scenarios.  Our calling to love others and to be peaceful should be considered during any encounter with a government official, police officer, member of the military, etc.  It is safe to say that our world would be a better place if more men, women and children practiced being more respectful to those in authority.

The authorities are called to good

Frequently we hear stories about how citizens show a lack of respect for the authorities and many times that is certainly true.  However, there are also times when government officials, police officers and members of the military, abuse their authority.  There are times when they are not looking out for the good of the citizen.  Yet that is exactly what they are called to.  God’s word declares that the authority is a minister of God to citizens for good.

“For rulers are not a cause of fear for good behavior, but for evil.  Do you want to have no fear of authority?  Do what is good and you will have praise from the same; for it is a minister of God to you for good.  But if you do what is evil, be afraid; for it does not bear the sword for nothing; for it is a minister of God, an avenger who brings wrath on the one who practices evil.” Romans 13: 3-4

The definition of good in this context is extremely important.  Good in this context does not mean that the authority defines what is good.  Good has already been defined by God.  The standard for good in this context is the opposite of evil, which means it is a very high and godly standard.  Those in authority often times do not live up to that standard and that should not be so easily accepted.

The authorities are called to oppose evil

The bible teaches that the authority is a minister of God to bring wrath on those who practice evil (Romans 13:4).  That means that those in authority are to oppose anyone who practices evil, including others in positions of authority.  God’s standard to oppose and expose evil also applies to citizens too (Ephesians 5:11).  The truth is we all have been called by God to oppose evil.

Maybe those in authority and the citizens of our nation should promote respect for others in their own lives first, instead of pointing the finger at someone else first.  There is a time to encourage others to be respectful as well, but let’s be as kind as we can about it.  We have a sin issue that affects all of us, not just others that we may have a negative perception of.

Those placed in authority are called to do good and to execute justice on those who do evil things.  And citizens are called to submit to that authority, except when it conflicts with our obedience to Christ.  Respect for authority is a two way street and that is the only way that it works well for everyone.  If you are in a position of authority, then you should be looking for more ways to do things that God calls good.  If you are a citizen, then you should be looking for more ways to respect those in authority.  And we should not be afraid to hold each other accountable.

 

A Fresh Look at the 2nd Amendment

The original intent

shooter-695324_1280The 2nd Amendment was adopted approximately 225 years ago.  It states, “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”  There has been much debate in regards to the meaning of the 2nd Amendment over the last couple hundred years.  There are many questions that seem unanswered.

What did the Founding Father’s have in mind when they wrote the 2nd Amendment?  Did they imagine a future world in which only muskets were protected under the law?  Did they believe that the 2nd Amendment should only protect hunting or target practice?

While there are multiple quotes that give us insight as to what they intended, there is one that pretty much sums it all up.  “The strongest reason for the people to retain the right to keep and bear arms is, as a last resort, to protect themselves against tyranny in government.” Thomas Jefferson

The Militia

One of the most frequently asked questions regarding the 2nd Amendment has been in regards to the meaning of the word militia.  What or who is the militia?  There are some who would say that the militia is the armed forces or the military.  Although, it seems odd that the Founding Father’s would want to ensure that the military would always be armed, since it generally goes without saying that military forces are armed.

In order to truly understand what the Founding Father’s meant by “militia”, we need to know how they defined it.

  • “A well regulated militia, composed of the body of the people, trained in arms, is the best most natural defense of a free country.” James Madison
  • “I ask, sir, what is the militia? It is the whole people except for a few public officials.” George Mason
  • No freeman shall ever be debarred the use of arms.  Arms in the hands of citizens may be used at individual discretion in private self-defense.” Thomas Jefferson
  • A militia, when properly formed, are in fact the people themselves. They include all men capable of bearing arms. To preserve liberty is essential that the whole body of people always possess arms and be taught alike how to use them.” Thomas Jefferson

Shall not be infringed

The word infringed is defined… “to commit a breach or infraction of; violate or transgress:”  In other words, an infringement is anything that blocks or prevents someone from doing something.  Examples of 2nd Amendment infringements include waiting periods, background checks and banning certain types of firearms or ammunition.  There is no evidence to support the idea that the Founding Father’s believed that the 2nd Amendment would only apply to muskets.  Remember that they passionately believed in the people’s right to defend themselves against a tyrannical government.

Many Americans would probably disagree with this assessment for various reasons.  You may be one and if that is true, I encourage you to research the Founding Father’s quotes regarding firearms.  Maybe you disagree with their words, but it’s difficult to argue that they had a nonchalant attitude regarding firearms.  It is clear that they valued liberty and would have challenged a slow process of restricting gun rights.  “I would rather be exposed to the inconveniences attending too much liberty than to those attending too small a degree of it.”  Thomas Jefferson

The 2nd Amendment has been abused over the last two hundred or so years, but it is still alive.  It is still the law.  Whether you like firearms or not, I encourage you to respect the 2nd Amendment.  And here is why…  Ultimately freedom exists because God allows it to.  God has blessed our nation with more freedom than any other nation in history.  A big reason for that is the 2nd Amendment.

The Things Are Not the Problem

What is wrong with our world?

prison-fence-219264_1280You don’t have to look very hard or far to notice that there are many problems in our world.  People are broken and in need of help.  The problems that exist in our world lead many people to ask the same question.  What is wrong with our world?  There is a popular thought among many that there are too many bad things in the world.

There are a lot of different ideas on what laws are necessary for society to function well.  It is a commonly held belief that by making something illegal, that thing will be diminished or all together go away.  However, it can be argued that the “things” aren’t the problem.  In many instances, making the “thing” illegal only makes it more appealing to more people.

A band-aid won’t stop this flesh wound

I remember several years ago when an employee of a company that I worked for cut his nose with a pocket knife.  The company decided to ban pocket knives from all of its stores.  Did the pocket knife ban stop employees from bringing pocket knives to work?  Definitely not!  Did the pocket knife ban stop people from cutting themselves?  No, not at all.  I witnessed employees cut themselves with box cutters on a few occasions after the pocket knife ban.  The obvious morals to this story are twofold.

  1. Inanimate objects are not to blame.
  2. Banning things doesn’t work.  Consider the prohibition of alcohol, as just one example.

Jesus never promoted the prohibition of things.  God gave us free will to choose between right and wrong.  At some point in the beginning Adam and Eve chose wrong (sin entered the world kind of wrong), but they had the freedom to choose.  We are all sinners… “for all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” Romans 3:23 (AKJV).  However, God clearly gives us a choice between doing right or wrong.  Instead of banning things maybe we should address the root of the issue, which is the heart of the individual sinner.  The problem with our world and our nation is sin.

So do we even need laws?

Should there be laws in our nation?  Of course we should have laws.  Although those laws should be limited to allow as much freedom as possible, as God has done for us.  God gave Moses the Ten Commandments, not the 1,000 Commandments.  Jesus made it even easier for us by summarizing the Ten Commandments into two.  Do you remember the story of the lawyer of who asked Jesus about the great commandment and the law?  “Master, which is the great commandment in the law?  Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.  This is the first and great commandment.  And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.” Matthew 22:36-39

God established government, but he didn’t make it complicated.  God gave his people limited laws through Moses and an abundance of grace to us, which is declared in John 1:17… “For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.”  Laws are needed in society, but attempting to rid the world of things does not fix the problem of sin, nor does it work.

There is a solution to sin and that solution is life in Christ.  Romans 6:23 declares, “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”  As long as there are people there will be sin.  We will never be perfect, but God calls us to be the salt of the earth.  There will always be problems in the world and we will always be sinners until we meet the Lord in heaven.  However, a relationship with God will help us to grow into being more loving and more caring towards others.  Do you believe that other people can change because of the good that God has done in your life?  How can you have a positive impact with others in regards to laws within our nation?