There are people, both Christian and non-Christian, who share a common belief that the use of prescribed narcotic-based pain medication is wrong. Some believe that using them has a moral downside. In their way of thinking, anything that makes you feel good just has to be sinful. Others are more concerned with physical addiction. I’ve known of parents who wouldn’t give their children pain medication after surgery, ignorantly believing that the child would become an uncontrollable drug addict, robbing liquor stores to maintain their habit.
Stuff like this is one of the reasons people think Christianity is bogus. We have these holier-than-thou bible thumpers who go around condemning anything that helps alleviate pain and suffering, gets us from point A to point B quicker, and generally makes life easier.
When doctors were investigating anesthesia in the 17th and 18th centuries, preachers were quick to point out that it was of the devil, forgetting that God Himself put Adam to sleep in order to remove a rib. Adam was fortunate that some of these "Christians" weren't doing the surgery.
When I was in Walter Reed hospital, there was an old man in his 80’s, dying of cancer in the next room. The nurses would give him hourly injections of morphine to help relieve his misery as he migrated towards eternity. The rest of us on the ward could set our watches by his screams of agony when his next shot was due. To this day, I remember that poor guy’s screams.
Those who hold to these bogus notions have never had surgery, have never suffered (or seen a loved one suffer) through terminal cancer, or experienced other debilitating pain. I suffered second- and third-degree burns on both legs and feet, spending 2 weeks in a regional burn treatment center. I can only describe the pain as if I had waded into a pool of molten lava. Without such drugs, I would have died of shock.
Folks embrace this belief merely because the medication makes one feel good. They think that the "buzz" one gets from the narcotic is sinful. Never mind that the drug does its job of minimizing or eliminating a person’s agony. The buzz is called a side effect. You don’t take the drug for the side effect, you take it to kill the pain. Such Christians are suffering from a conscience issue. They think that because narcotics make a person loopy, this is somehow wrong, and on that basis alone, should be avoided. The New Testament condemns the idea that staying away from certain substances will make one more godly and righteous:
…why…do you submit yourself to decrees, such as, “Do not handle, do not taste, do not touch!” (which all refer to things destined to perish with use)—in accordance with the commandments and teachings of men? These are matters which have, to be sure, the appearance of wisdom in self-made religion and self-abasement and severe treatment of the body, but are of no value against fleshly indulgence. (Col 2:20-23) (Emphasis mine)
In their opinion, taking Motrin for Stage 4 cancer may not be as effective, but it’ll cleanse your soul. To them, it’s a sin to have a sense of well being brought on by a chemical. Better to writhe on your bed in excruciating pain with a couple of aspirin in your gut rather than enjoy a "sinful" drug high!
Adding to this is the idea that some in the church believe that women should deliver babies without the help of drugs. They base this on God’s pronouncement on Eve:
I will greatly multiply your pain in childbirth. In pain you will bring forth children. (Gen 3:16)
Genesis 3:16 has to do with God multiplying sorrow upon sorrow both during and after pregnancy. It is not so much the physical pain of childbirth as it is that of a mother’s knowing that she’s bringing a dead person into the world, a sinner doomed to die. Men who promote this should look at Adam’s curse: that of doing hard, miserable work in order to eat. I would suggest that if you’re going to insist your wife deliver a child without pain meds, that you give up your cushy desk job and go find work digging ditches or planting crops.
When God made this world, He provided the compounds necessary to make everything we’ve imagined, including drugs. Like guns and knives, drugs can and are used for evil. Guns can bring home dinner or they can murder. In the same way, drugs are a way to get high, but they also provide relief to those suffering legitimate, crippling pain. To condemn their use simply because of a pleasant side effect shows a gross ignorance of the bible and a lack of empathy toward others.