Monday, April 26, 2010

Bits and Bobs - Drugs and Spiritual Experience, Contraceptives

There's some interesting research here about the ways in which some drugs can give people emotional experiences similar to those experienced in worship.

From the point of view of experience, it seems it's impossible to tell the difference between drug-induced and "natural" mystical experiences. Both are powerful. Both enable people to enjoy a transcendent moment. Both seem capable of transforming people so that they feel a greater sense of empathy for and unity with other people—what most people would call love.

That doesn't surprise me at all, because we're made as single entities - we don't have a separate bit of us labelled "soul", so you'd expect that any feeling that can be experienced as a result of something genuine can also be created by drugs or by other forms of artificial stimulation. And though experiences are important and useful, at the end of the day, the key question is one of truth and reality. Is the God we experience real and true? That's why discernment is important.

Meanwhile, Albert Mohler poses some interesting questions about the effect of the contraceptive pill on society. Personally, I suspect things would have turned out much better if its use had been restricted to married (or just about to be married) women.

John Piper argues that the cross has a benefit for unbelievers as well, in this case because it secures common grace and gives them time to repent.

A Christian psychotherapist discusses the problems caused to society by pornography.

Seven Habits of Highly Effective Christians is good for thinking about some of the qualities that help us tell others about Jesus.


Daniel Hill said...

Thanks for this, Custard.

(1) The restriction of the pill to married couples was struck down by the US Supreme Court in Eisenstadt v. Baird (1972). (This case was cited in Lawrence v. Texas in 2003, which struck down the anti-sodomy law then in force in Texas.) The grounds were that it violated the Equal Protection Clause of the Constitution.
(2) I think we do have a separate bit of us that the Bible labels `soul' (this is how Paul can say in 2 Corinthians 5:8 that he would `prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord'). But I am still not surprised by the research, since, obviously, what affects the body affects the soul -- we are indeed single entities, albeit made up of different parts.
(3) What are the grounds for saying that it is the cross that secures common grace for the reprobate? (There was a huge debate about this in the Church in Scotland in the 18th-century.)
I'd have thought that if Jesus had never come to save us we'd still have had common grace?

John said...

Thanks for the information, Daniel.

On 3) - I believe Piper's argument is that even patience requires mercy, and mercy is secured by the cross. If there were no possibility of forgiveness, there would be no need for waiting.