In April last we drew attention to the modern scourge of drug addiction and in particular to the growing use among young people of pep pills and the like. The matter has received further publicity by Press reports of prosecutions of certain prominent personalities in the entertainment world. At the Court of Appeal, Lord Parker, Lord Chief Justice, drew attention to the large number of young people who idolize these so-called "stars", some of whom openly advocate the use of hallucinatory drugs. This feature of the problem gives grave concern to all who are concerned with the physical and moral welfare of the rising generation.
Before the parliamentary recess Miss Alice Bacon, Minister of State, Home Office, discussing the menace of the hallucinatory drugs said: "Our young people do take what some of these pop stars say quite seriously. What sort of society are we going to create if everyone wants to escape from reality into a dream world?", she asked; and went on: "Today there are th9se who see in society's attitude to drug-taking the opportunity for questioning traditional values and social judgements of all kinds. For some young people drug-taking is a way of life to which they beckon the impressionable, the curious, the frustrated, and the demoralized. Insidiously or openly, unwittingly or wittingly, the young are being taught the paraphernalia of psychedelic experience and the catch-phrases of the drug cult. This seems to be the real challenge of soft drugs, and it is growing. The Government believes that it is time for responsible influence to check this trend. It is time to make clear that teenage drug-taking is ill-advised, if not dangerous, to personality and health. It is time to rebut the claim of those who profess to make mystics out of the immature. This is the challenge which all sections of society must take up, and the Government is prepared to do its part". These are grave words. They bring into focus the dimensions of the problem.
There is, of course, beneath every moral problem the root of human depravity. While it is the proper responsibility of Governments to endeavour to control human conduct when it becomes anti-social, no human legislation, secular or religious, can touch the root from which that conduct springs. After being challenged by critics who were most precise in the performance of their religious formalities, our Lord stated this truth pointedly when He said:
"That which proceedeth out of the man, that defileth the man. For from within, out of the heart of men, evil thoughts proceed, fornications, thefts, murders, adulteries, covetings, wickednesses, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, railing, pride, foolishness: all these things proceed from within, and defile the man" (Mark 7.20-23).
These solemn words are verified in human experience since man's fall in Adam. In the Christian Faith they are basic and fundamental. The Christian gospel is meaningless unless this analysis of man's predicament be accepted. And they place his malady beyond human solution. It needed the incarnation, atoning death, and triumphant resurrection of the Saviour to provide the glorious divine answer to this great problem. It is a tragedy of our times that many turn away to other expedients and miss the contentment peace which full committal to Christ brings. The privilege of born-again believers to live and testify the gospel and to commend the Christian way of life in this 20th century remains a instant challenge. Let us not fear being dubbed as different. Men of the world are unimpressed by our testimony unless they observe the inner strength which makes us independent of the modern props they consider so essential to life: Let it be seen that
"Lowly hearts that lean on Thee
Are happy anywhere."
Many modern addictions which are harmful to body and soul arise from the restless quest to escape from the bondage to which we have referred. If "man's chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy Him for ever", then other objectives will leave him unsatisfied and frustrated. The longings of the human heart can only be realized in the knowledge and enjoyment of God: "This is life eternal, hat they should know Thee the only true God, and Him whom Thou didst send, even Jesus Christ" (John 17.3). The apostle Paul discovered this wonderful secret as he testified, "I count all things to be loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord" (Philippians 3.8). Faber's beautiful lines capture the same theme:
"Only to sit and think of God,
Oh! what a joy it is!
To think the thought, to breathe the name,
Earth has no higher bliss.
There's not a craving in the mind
Thou dost not meet and still;
There's not a wish the heart can have
Which Thou dost not fulfil.
0 little heart of mine! shall pain
Or sorrow make thee moan,
When all this God is all for thee,
A Father all thine own?
With gentle swiftness lead me on,
Dear God! to see Thy face;
And meanwhile in my narrow heart
Oh! make Thyself more space."