“The Moth don’t care when he sees The Flame.
He might get burned, but he’s in the game.
And once he’s in, he can’t go back, he’ll
Beat his wings ’til he burns them black…
No, The Moth don’t care when he sees The Flame. . .
The Moth don’t care if The Flame is real,
‘Cause Flame and Moth got a sweetheart deal.
And nothing fuels a good flirtation,
Like Need and Anger and Desperation…
No, The Moth don’t care if The Flame is real,” —Aimee Mann.
Typically translated as witchcraft or sorcery, pharmakeia appears in the New Testament three times: Galatians 5: 20 and Revelation 9: 21 and 18: 23. Its earlier meaning related only to medicine. But by the time of Christ, the word had developed multiple meanings, including the use of drugs, poisoning, sorcery, or the seduction of idolatry.
Paul’s use of the word in Galatians–as he lists the “acts of the flesh”–refers to the “evil use of drugs.”It indicates a mixture of illicit drug use and the occult.
Today, drug addiction holds all the connotations of pharmakeia. Oh, it’s not directly connected to the occult as it was in the days of the apostles. But the evil it carries is profound. It is physically, mentally, and psychologically damaging. It carries all the menaces of an evil spell.
Everyone knows someone whose life has been changed by drug addiction. In the 1980s, First Lady Nancy Reagan’s mantra was “Just say no.” Thirty-five years later, much of America isn’t saying no. Heroin use in America has skyrocketed, especially among young adults. Also skyrocketing are heroin-related deaths that have increased nearly exponentially since 2010.
We have worked to fix the problem; it has only gotten worse. The federal government spends $500 per second on the war against drugs, six and a half billion dollars so far this year. That doesn’t include what state and local agencies spend.
At the same time, the rates of tobacco use have declined significantly. We have managed to convince people not to smoke. We have failed to convince them not to use illegal drugs (not just heroin) that are far worse than tobacco.
Ease of access is one factor. Cigarettes are considerably more expensive and more highly regulated today than they were in the 1960s. My high school peers didn’t do heroin, at least in part, because they couldn’t afford to. Today, still regulated, heroin is much cheaper and more easily available than it was years ago.
But if society as a whole could change its mind about cigarettes, why not about drugs?
It’s important to consider why people use drugs. Peer pressure and media influence are big factors. So is a need to escape. That factor may be bigger than we realize. People who aren’t happy want to be happy. Drugs seem to promise a way out of pain. They are the flame to the moth. And agony they bring breeds more pain to escape.
One university review of drug abuse prevention programs recommends implementing longer-term programs, ones that last years, that teach students not just to say no, but how to say no. Long term mentoring that reinforces the anti-drug message is more effective than short-term efforts.
The Church can help. But that help must be more than “just say no.” It can’t be like an old fashioned tent meeting that is here today and gone tomorrow. Our message is deeper than “Drugs are bad for you.” Our message is “You are a sacred, eternal being who is worth more than what drugs will give you.” We need to back up that message with our lives.
The biggest factor in whether kids get into drugs is how involved their parents are. Some kids just don’t have involved parents. But an involved adult can still make a big difference. Some kids have never had a positive role model. A church program cannot be that model. But a youth leader or neighbor can be.
Understanding the nature of addiction goes a long way toward assisting addicts rather than enabling them to continue on their path to the flame of addiction. Addiction is powerful. God is more powerful.
We have the light. And it’s brighter than the flame that draws the moth.
Photo credit: verywell.com