Time magazine published two startling articles within two weeks. On November 22, the lead article was “The United States of Amerijuana” and the following week the lead article was “Who Needs Marriage?” The tonality of the articles suggests that Time’s editorial board, as a leading magazine in the United States, is not that concerned with the increase of marijuana use or with the fact that marriage is decreasing in the United States.
When it comes to the proliferation of drugs in the United States, I was always on the outside looking in. As a kid, I detested cigarette smoking so much that my good teenage buddies in Yugoslavia burnt my lips in order to force me to smoke. I arrived in the United States in December of 1966 and attended high school until 1970. With Wayne State University in the center of Detroit, drugs were easily available and the supply was good. However, not everyone became a drug consumer or dealer.
I went to a Christian college which had a strict policy against drugs – if you had them in your possession or were caught using them; you were shipped home within 24 hours or as soon as your parents were able to come and pick you up. I became a Resident Assistant and one evening I smelled something burning across the hall. I knew that we were not allowed to cook anything in our rooms. Immediately I called the other Resident Assistant and the two of us went to the room in question only to discover that the student was smoking pot. The other RA stayed with the student and I went to the Dorm Director. The student was gone by the next day. The situation was complicated because the student’s sister was also attending the school, and his parents were well-known missionaries. The picture of this student leaving the dorm is still vivid in my mind almost 40 years later.
The other picture that I have in my mind is of one of the students who grew up in one of our churches. One night the police called me because he was ready to jump from a bridge. They convinced him not to jump, and the first name he gave them was mine. He dabbled in almost every drug that he could find and in the process, burned his brains out. Since then, he has been living all over the United States. He calls me once in a while and we talk on the phone. He had so much promise of becoming a successful entrepreneur. Now, he is scared, has broken all connection with his family, and his life is completely aimless. He travels from shelter to shelter, gets some money from the government and is afraid that he may end up homeless.
One of the ideas in Time’s article is that, for the last ten years, many people have pushed for marijuana to be accepted as a medicinal drug. The article documents how the industry has been developing well in California and Colorado. However, as the push for the legalization of the marijuana is becoming more obvious, many people admit that the push for marijuana to be accepted as a legal drug is a front for nationalization of the drug. Economical profiteering, taxation and medicinal use are only camouflages for the real deal – availability for anyone who wants to use it.
The Netherlands used to be known as the vanguard of marijuana freedom. Yet a newly formed government has started to prosecute tourists who are coming to Holland in order to get high and drunk. They have discovered that there are companies in England that call themselves the Dam Express (short for Amsterdam). For $95, someone can travel from London to Amsterdam, visit one of the marijuana shops, use marijuana to their hearts’ content and then be taken back to London. Instead of traditional tulips, the Dutch government have assessed that it has over 40,000 illegal marijuana farms. Government officials often find these illegal farms because they are using an increasing amount of electricity to run these farms. Sometimes they do it by fixing electric meters.
The other thing that we inherited from the sixties was the sexual revolution. A couple of years ago, while vacationing in New York, some of my kids went to visit the town of Woodstock. When they visited the place, they found that there are a few people who have been there since that infamous concert. Woodstock in the East and Height-Asbury in San Francisco stand as the epitomes of new music, free sex and rebelliousness against anyone in power – parents, teachers, police officers and government officials.
Monogamous relationships culminating in holy matrimony have been barraged by people in universities and in the media for over 50 years. It does not mean that all the marriages before the 1960’s resembled Hallmark cards and it does not mean that there have been no problems. It also does not mean that monogamous marriage has been derailed by the homosexual attempt to be married. The main ingredient for the weakening of the institution of marriage is the separation of sex from marriage. In talking with some people that attended Woodstock, they remember having lots of sex, but not the people with whom they had the sex. It has become something to be enjoyed outside the commitment of marriage.
When I finished college in 1973, I needed a job. For a whole year I worked with over 300 people in a meat factory. It was hard work, but it was also an opportunity to find out what many of my coworkers considered to be the ‘good life.’ Guys would come in and talk loudly about their conquests and the good times they had over the weekend. Two different episodes stand out for me. One guy came in and told us that his girlfriend asked him if he wanted to see an X rated movie. They went to see it at the drive in theater, so they could imitate what they saw in the movie. He just could not resist. However, another young man came to see me in California because his girlfriend became pregnant and he had enough moral fiber that he did not take his girlfriend to an abortion clinic in Detroit.
The solutions to continuing sex outside of marriage have been the pill, condoms and, when everything fails, the abortion. The abortion clinics became profitable, and pills and condoms were distributed in colleges and high schools to promote ‘safe sex.’ Colleges and universities changed their policies so that their students could stay overnight in whatever dorm they wanted because sex, drugs and alcohol became the entertainment of the weekend. College administrators, professors and politicians were behind this sexual freedom at universities across the country.
I chuckle from time to time (sadly) when some of my more conservative friends can give me all the names of Democrats who have been against the sacredness of the family, culminating with Bill Clinton who has soiled the White House (not to mention other candidates such as Gore and Edwards). Yet the pro-family Republican Party does not have a better record - conservative guru Rush Limbaugh has been married four times and Newt Gingrich is on his third marriage. (I think that the competition for being married the most times is between Elizabeth Taylor, Larry King and ZsaZsa Gabor.)
The Bible is very clear that God has created sex to be enjoyed within marriage. In the Old Testament, sex before marriage was called fornication and sex while married to another person was called adultery. This does not change in the New Testament. In the sight of God these things do not change, even though our societal perceptions have changed. He calls these actions by the same name He called them for millennia.
A friend of mine who is a sociologist invites me to lecture on religion in his classes. He does this because he found out that many of his students are against religion and his Socratic method of interacting with the students does not produce anything because students are not interested in the topic. I have been in his class many times, but one class stands out. I asked the students if there is anyone that they admire for their lifestyle of purity. A number of students just laughed at the question and some were not interested at interacting, but from the left corner of the class, one tiny girl spoke, “My example of purity is the Virgin Mary and I want to be pure like her when I get married!” The silence that she produced by her statement was a quiet I have never experienced in any of the lectures that I had in college or in seminary. Here was a tiny girl whose answer was timid when she spoke, yet her conviction was firm. She fully understood that purity, including sexual purity, is a treasured gift that we bring to our spouse.