Sunday, March 29, 2009

Drug Dealers

I spent last week in a Christian community for recovering drug addicts, alcoholics, etc. It's called Betel; they do amazing work there.

One of the things that really struck me was getting to know some of the people there. Great guys, including a fair few who used to be drug dealers, gang members, who have spent a decent fraction of their lives in prison, etc. I think one of the things that really surprised me is that their motivations for doing those things were exactly the same as the motivations that drive "normal" people to do what they do. It was desire for acceptance, looking for meaning and satisfaction, etc.

They weren't outside the spectrum of normal humanity. They made understandable choices and in their situations, I might well have done the same, so might anyone else.

There are all kinds of implications from this.

For example, it strongly suggests the conclusion that drug dealing is symptomatic of a broken society rather than just broken individuals. The breaking of the individuals who deal and take drugs is a product and self-perpetuating cause of the brokenness of society.

But the conclusion I want to think about for now is that the real sin isn't the drug dealing. It's the motivations underlying it - the looking for satisfaction and acceptance in places other than Jesus. Everyone does it, just there are some ways of doing it that are socially very acceptable, and some ways which are not. Drug dealing is a socially unacceptable sin, and it is one which harms others, but I really don't think there's as much difference in terms of underlying motivations as we tend to think between a drug dealer and a typical career-minded professional or a university academic.

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