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PostPosted: Mon Apr 14, 2008 6:00 am    Post subject: VOICES OF FAITH Reply with quote

US CA: Voices of Faith

http://www.mapinc.org/drugnews/v08/n383/a11.html?397

Pubdate: Sat, 12 Apr 2008

Source: Record Searchlight (Redding, CA)

Contact: letters@redding.com

Website: http://www.redding.com/

VOICES OF FAITH

Editor's Note: Each week, the Record Searchlight will pose a question to the religious leaders of our community. We will print the responses as space allows and then post the remainder on Redding.com. We invite all faith leaders in the north state to participate and share their beliefs with our readers. Those who would like to participate are asked to contact Community Editor Debra Moore at dmoore@redding.com or call 225-8224.

Q. How does your faith tradition view substances, such as caffeine, alcohol and marijuana? Does the legality of the substance make a difference?

From a Buddhist perspective, is there a difference between a triple-shot no-foam latte, a fruity Merlot or some groovy ganja? Not really. They all artificially alter perception and thinking and as such are discouraged. A primary tenet of Buddhism is a clear look at reality uncluttered by false attachments to transitory things and from addictions to harmful behavior.

While the use of caffeine - green tea, a common staple of many Buddhists, contains caffeine - or the consumption of alcohol as a social lubricant is legal, and marijuana is not, it is not the legality of the substance that is determinative. Rather, it is the effect of the substance on one's clarity and mindfulness that is a challenge for a Buddhist. Legal or not, any substance that alters one's clarity of thinking is discouraged in Buddhism.

The Buddha wrote: "There are six results of drinking: decreasing wealth, increasing quarrels, danger of disease, gaining an evil reputation, indecent exposure and ruining intelligence."

However, even the Buddha wouldn't criticize or harshly condemn a social drinker or one who is addicted to a substance, legal or not. He would, and we should, work to minimize harm to ourselves and to assist those who are abusing their thinking with mind-altering chemicals.

Dennis Kessinger

Buddhist

The key phrase might best be described as "all things in moderation." The primary principle is to avoid overuse of any particular substance, such as stimulants or liquors or even prescribed drugs, in order to prevent serious physical and mental harm to the body. Substances used for palliative purposes are generally prescribed under the advice and supervision of a medical practitioner. The person using those substances should both follow the physician's directions and ask appropriate questions regarding the short- and long-term effects. Otherwise, common sense as well as general information and understanding of the effects of legal drugs, alcohol, nicotine, caffeine, vitamins, herbal supplements and energy enhancements should be a person's guide.

Deacon Mike Evans

Sacred Heart Church, Anderson

When we lean on a stimulant, it often clouds our thinking and makes it difficult to hear what God is telling us. It's hard to feel how loved, capable and satisfied we are when we lean on something other than God. Being stimulated by caffeine, alcohol or drugs lessens our ability to function as "God's beloved son." Mrs. Eddy writes in her main work "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures" that "To those leaning on the sustaining infinite, today is big with blessings." What a beautiful promise for us all.

Christian Scientists feel, as do many others, that any stimulant is not in keeping with the commandment "Thou shalt have no other gods before me." Of course, we don't judge or condemn those who are still learning how much God loves them. Christian Scientists respect the many views on this subject.

There are many sad stories about the abuse of legal and illegal stimulants. Mrs. Eddy, Founder of Christian Science, wrote in a collection of writings "that [their] slightest use is abuse." As a Christian Scientist, I value this wisdom. As a teenager, I was once a passenger in a car that went careening down a mountain road veering toward the cliffs as I feared for my life, because the driver was under the influence. All interest in the "slightest use" of stimulants disappeared.

Joanne Bennett, Assistant Christian Science Committee on Publication

Northern California First Church of Christ, Scientist

I cannot speak for all Islamic communities, as there exist several opinions regarding this issue. The Quran says ,"O' ye who believe, intoxicants, and gambling, and the alters of idols, and the game of chance are abominations of the devil, you shall avoid them that you should succeed." Sura 5:90. The consumption of pork is also a no-no for the believer, but G'd being a Merciful G'd through His Mercy has permitted the believer to eat it only to save his/her life. It has to be life-threatening, where you don't have control of the situation. Then eat only enough to sustain life, G'd knows best. Islam teaches the believer to be intelligent, so my opinion would be to any believer use your intelligence in the matter, if it is life-threatening or not. G'd judges us by our intentions, so if our intent is to get high, then the use is unlawful.

Imam Abu Bakr H. Salahuddin

Resident Imam, Islamic Center of Redding

The Christian perspective takes a wider look at what is good for us and what is not. Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 3:16, "Don't you know that you yourselves are God's temple and that God's Spirit lives in you?" If we accept the full import of this verse, then we should never do anything that would injure our physical bodies.

This spiritual mandate encourages us all to remember how fragile and how precious our bodies are as a creation of God. We should go to great lengths to stay healthy, both physically and spiritually.

The Bible tells us that a little wine is acceptable, but alcohol use often becomes a matter of what I can get away with rather than responsible usage. There are medicinal purposes behind the use of wine and it can lower a person's stress level. Proverbs 23, however, makes us keenly aware of cyclical drinking that so often is seen in an alcoholic.

Caffeine is also acceptable unless a person is consumed with the idea of getting large amounts in their system daily. This is not "taking care of the temple" as we should.

When you consider the effects of smoking and the fact that marijuana is still illegal in many states, it is obvious that godly people should avoid such drugs. The Bible tells us to obey the laws of the land, and it makes it difficult to call yourself a follower of God and break the law.

We live in a land where many people have no belief system and live each day seeing what they can get away with today. As spiritual people, if we are to be an example to others, our lives must be lived in obedience to God's Word, living lives of moderation and responsibility.

Pastor Lyle A. Faudree

Pastor at Large

From the Jewish viewpoint, there are two possible questions here. The first question would be the Jewish view regarding the use of mood-altering substances and the second would be with regard to the use of illegal substances that have positive medical value.

Judaism places a great value on the practice of a healthy lifestyle. Our bodies have been given to us by God and it is our duty to respect that gift.

Within that overarching theme, Judaism believes in choices that promote safety and lawfulness. The moderate use of alcohol and caffeine is not a problem in the Jewish tradition. Wine is used as a part of Sabbath and Festival celebrations as well as at some life-cycle events. However, substance abuse is rejected. At Temple Beth Israel, and many other synagogues, both grape juice and wine are served for those who dislike alcohol or have substance abuse concerns. The Jewish community is supportive of efforts to assist individuals with substance abuse concerns. Some synagogues host AA meetings. A national organization, Jewish Alcoholics, Chemically Dependent Persons and Significant Others ( JACS ), exists to provide resources and support for individuals and the broader Jewish community in response to substance abuse.

A Jewish response to the second question would be that individuals should live within the law. If the law interferes with logical medical treatment, then the law should be changed. Unfortunately the law and courts have given confusing messages with regard to medical marijuana. The Jewish tradition would seek clarifying the law. It would also support fact-based research to determine if the law should be changed to allow for the use of medically prescribed marijuana. This would apply or any other substance of potential health value.

Rabbi Matt Friedman

Temple Beth Israel Redding

The broader Christian tradition addresses the differences between use and abuse rather than the things themselves. There are two principles. First, we are called to be filled with the Spirit of God and not with spirits that distract or substitute for Him. The famous verse is Ephesians 5:18, "Do not get drunk with wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit ( of God )." God's made us for joy and for abundant life - only truly available through His Spirit. Anything less is ultimately deadly and abuse is forbidden for that reason. Second, we are created for intimate fellowship with God and - again - anything that dilutes that fellowship is toxic and to be avoided. The famous verse would be 1 Corinthians 6:19, "Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, who you received from God?"

Neither of these principles are absolute prohibitions. Paul urges Timothy to take a little wine for his health; many Christians use wine in the Supper of the Lord. We take medicine and God has no quarrel with it. But he says we were set free for the sake of freedom; addiction perverts us. He calls us to intelligence - the health benefits of marijuana are debated and none say why medicinal weed is not available in a tablet of THC. Finally, he calls us to obey the laws - like them or not - unless to do so compels us to defy his clear will.

Jim Wilson

PrayNorthState

The humanist philosophy is aimed at living a happy and fulfilled life and helping others to do the same. As much as possible, humanists use reason and base their decisions on evidence.

Substances that alter mood, including caffeine, alcohol, nicotine and drugs ( whether legal or illegal ), have a range of physical and psychological effects. Some of these effects are mild and beneficial, while others can be destructive to one's health.

The conclusion that most would draw based on reason and science is that moderation is key to enjoying any of these substances. Assuming no addictive tendencies, small amounts of alcohol are a pleasant addition to a meal and can help us relax. Moderate consumption of caffeine can increase alertness. Marijuana has a variety of valid medical uses and may be used for relaxation as well, though the fact that marijuana is currently illegal would discourage many humanists from its use based purely on practical grounds.

Larger or excessive consumption of these and similar substances can result in physical or mental harm to oneself or others. Addictive drugs may even lead to criminal behavior and incarceration. No good can come of this.

Rationally, one must conclude that "moderation in all things" is most conducive to overall contentment and happiness.

Elisabeth Steadman

Humanist Peace Society

Next week's question: Do you believe that we are living during the last days of earth?
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David
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 14, 2008 4:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

It always confuses me why cannabis is called a mind altering drug. It makes me feel good thats it.
Chocolate, is not a mind altering drug, yet when women are depressed, once they eat chocolate their mood lifts.

I get the feeling of the tower of babel, and drugs are that tower. In the bible god destroys the tower, but in this story god doesn't destroy the tower, so man takes it upon his self to destroys it.

I think the moral of the story is: if god thought that drugs were the damnation of man he would eradicate drugs. If they are here for temptation, then I have been tempted, he certainly has not given the right for the government to destroy my quality of life. Drugs are drugs there are only different drugs, not acceptable and unacceptable ones, that is argued by the ones who want to dominate.
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