Discussing
Smart drugs: playing fair or playing God?

Marta Layton

Esther Aspling
April 9, 2013

I like your idea of using the standard of "is it natural", returning the body to its natural state.
One thing I can think of that doesn't quite fit this is pain management. For people with chronic pain, prescriptions are not meant to restore your original state, but to mask the pain you feel. I'd hate for people with chronic pain to feel judged for trying to return to their natural state by using many looked down upon pain management systems.

http://forthisisthetime.blogspot.com/

Coryzipperle
April 9, 2013

This is a good point, but they still have Holy Scriptures explicit backing here in Proverbs 31:6.

Coryzipperle
April 9, 2013

You're right, we have to be careful with the drugs that we're consuming. Holy scripture notes that it's our motive that the Lord judges. If our motive is really Godly motivated, would we be taking these drugs to supplement the quality of focus that the Lord gave us?

I think in some, the answer could be yes. But I think for most, the answer is more self centered - making it wrong.

Coryzipperle
April 9, 2013

It's probably also worth pointing out that Christ was a healer, to propagate the Gospel. He didn't simply heal sick people - there was a more important purpose in his healing. Are we furthering the Gospel with our pharmaceutical practices?

Marta L.
April 9, 2013

Thanks for your comment, Esther. I think you could make the case that chronic pain isn't a natural state either. It may be the common, default setting for that individual, but it's because their body isn't functioning the way human bodies are designed to function. Kind of like a diabetic's body may not produce enough insulin for a long period of time but we compare it to the <i>general</i> human body, the way our organs ought to function, it's clear that the pancreas is supposed to produce that insulin and it's not.

But I also want to emphasize that the "Is it natural?" question is only one piece of the picture. God gave us a brain that we can use to help us live better lives. For instance, airplanes, cars and even bikes help us travel around more quickly than we could manage on our own. So just because something is unnatural doesn't make it wrong - but we do need to remember, we're talking about different things when we talk about curing a disease and improving on what God gave us. :-)

Marta L.
April 9, 2013

Motive definitely matters, Cory! So does humility and remembering that the whole world doesn't rest on our small shoulders. I sometimes think that's what drives our use of drugs like this more than anything.

Idle Chatter
April 9, 2013

I am bothered by the extended implications of this argument.

There is already a lot of shame for people who seek help for psychological conditions.

It is impossible to know the pain of a disordered mind from a distance.

I am tired of seeing the faith community suggest that psychiatric problems can be healed by more and stronger faith. Jesus heals, but couldn't the hand of God also be in the creation and prescription of these drugs?

Why do we so readily accept angioplasty and orthodontia, but tell people with psychological and mood disorders to heal themselves?

Marta L.
April 9, 2013

I'm sorry you saw that implication here; it absolutely wasn't my intent. I think there are two ways people use psychological drugs: first, there's the people with mental illness that those drugs actually address, and then there are people that are mentally healthy but use the drugs to get an edge. I have no problem with the first situation and don't see any difference between taking an anti-depressant to correct a brain chemistry problem and taking insulin to address a problem with your pancreas. Both are curing diseases. (And I absolutely agree there is such a thing as non-physical diseases which need healing.) It's the second situation I was trying to talk about here, because in that case people aren't using the pills to treat a disease, they're using them to try to remove human limitations.

I actually recently wrote a piece for my personal blog about my struggle with clinical depression, and talk about some of the problems the church has discussing mental illness and suicide. (It was inspired by Rick Warren's son's suicide.) It's not directly related to the medication question, but I do try to talk about why I see mental illness as something that requires treatment rather than something the mentally ill person should just get past on their own.

http://www.fidesquaerens.org/blog/?p=1792

Idle Chatter
April 9, 2013

Excellent post on depression.

I'm glad to hear the explicit differentiation between want and need. I've seen life-changing effects of ADHD drugs for people with serious executive function problems, so I worry whenever I see questions about such drugs.

Not that long ago it was a serious problem for a person to admit they were seeking treatment for depression, and the criticism against anti-depressants came from all directions (even groups like Adbusters).

I tend to think that enhancement-level use constitutes drug abuse. Also, there is usually a Faustian bargain when it comes to drugs' long-term effects. To accept future diabetes or bone weakness for daily mental health is a good exchange because of the vast improvements in quality of life, yet making the same trade to "get an edge" with an healthy body doesn't seem worth the long-term costs.

James Gilmore
April 11, 2013

--"It's probably also worth pointing out that Christ was a healer, to propagate the Gospel. He didn't simply heal sick people - there was a more important purpose in his healing."--

I'm just not seeing this in the Scriptural text, to be honest. There are numerous episodes in the Gospels where Jesus heals people simply because He has compassion for them and loves them, and specifically tells them -not- to tell anyone who He is.

To suggest that those healing acts were all a means to an end, rather than a good in and of themselves, is to sell short the value of Christ's incarnational ministry and to make the Gospel kinda empty, in my opinion. If the Gospel doesn't include God's compassion and healing to us in this life, then it seems a bit shallow; if Christ was always this archetypal strategist who couldn't be moved to heal by simply having compassion on another human being who was suffering, then it seems to me that He wasn't fully human.

Why can't the act of healing, making people well, making people whole in body and mind, be a good in its own right? At its heart, "Gospel" is "good news"; in terms of this life on earth, there isn't much better news one can get than "your body is now free of cancer," or "your child is going to make a full recovery." Why should we limit our view such that we don't see healing as a form of Gospel in and of itself?

Charles
January 18, 2017

For me we as a people should leave the healing to Jesus. Why do you think it says we need to pick up our cross... Not one of us is righteous unless by God through Jesus. Jesus is the great healer!

Science is the opposite of faith. We should live basically... why complicate when at it's foundation is so very simple... Judgement belongs to the Lord. I don't say this to judge but to share my feelings. For I have gone in the past to a dr, but nothing crazy as of yet has happened. I have also had an addiction problem to cigerrets, pain pills, stimulants, and marijuana. Know that what you do to your body is between you and Jesus. I pray he simplifies and answers your question for you. For He is the Alpha and Omega! Stay hungry in the ways of the Lord! Repent and pick that cross back up off the ground to walk that straight and narrow path!

I have wondered this question for a long time... It took my grandmother refusing health care to prove to me the will of a God fearing person. Jesus is unconditional Love first and foremost!

Add your comment to join the discussion!