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Salt and light at work

"Salt and light at work" Continued...

Issue: "Trailer park blues," Nov. 26, 2005

WORLD Many sex ed teachers say that abstinence among the unmarried is good but condoms also have a role. What's a biblical response?

ANDERSON There are two ways to respond: first with the facts, second with biblical principles. The plain fact is that condoms are less effective than we have been led to believe. By contrast, practicing abstinence until marriage protects against not only physical scars (pregnancy, STDs) but emotional scars.

WORLD Given the problems of enforcing drugs laws, how should we approach calls to legalize marijuana?

ANDERSON First, you don't win a war on drugs by surrendering. If we are serious about dealing with drug abuse, legalizing any [addictive] drug doesn't make sense. Social statistics disprove four primary arguments for drug legalization; primarily drug legalization will not reduce drug use nor reduce social costs. We have had a social experiment in drug legalization in some European countries, and therefore we know what the impact of drug legalization is on society.

Often a comparison is made to alcohol and our experience with Prohibition. It might be worth noting that during that time, alcohol consumption actually declined by 30 to 50 percent. After repeal of the 18th Amendment, alcoholism rose dramatically. Decriminalization increases drug use. Comparing alcohol and drugs actually strengthens the argument against legalization. Alcohol has an addiction rate of approximately 10 percent, while drugs like cocaine have an addiction rate as high as 75 percent.

WORLD What's the hardest ethical question evangelicals typically face?

ANDERSON Perhaps the most difficult ethical question I deal with is euthanasia. It is certainly the most emotionally wrenching, as evidenced by the controversies surrounding the cases of Nancy Cruzan and Terri Schiavo.

Euthanasia is difficult first of all because it seems to involve contradictory biblical statements. On the one hand, the Bible speaks of the sanctity of human life (Psalm 139). On the other hand, the Bible teaches that death is not the end. Death is great gain (Philippians 1:21). It is also difficult because medical technology seems to blur the line between life and death. Our modern technology can often keep people alive a bit longer on machines and therefore forces difficult decisions about ambiguous situations.

WORLD Is compassionate social service an essential function of the church or something to develop with resources left over from worship?

ANDERSON Christians have different gifts and ministries (2 Corinthians 12:4-6) and are not to use them only within the church but in society. We are the salt of the earth and the light of the world (Matthew 5:13-16) and can manifest those gifts by preaching the gospel and meeting significant social needs. In the first century, the local church became a training ground for social action and social service (Acts 2:45; 4:34). Meeting the needs of the poor, the infirm, the elderly, and widows is a responsibility of the church. The church can usually meet these needs more efficiently than government programs and can do so with concern and compassion. I believe this is an essential function of the church.

Marvin Olasky
Marvin Olasky

Marvin is editor in chief of WORLD News Group and the author of more than 20 books, including The Tragedy of American Compassion. Follow Marvin on Twitter @MarvinOlasky.

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