27 June, 2008

A pretty bow for the loose ends...

A short one this week to placate those who felt last week’s blog was a little long and intellectual. I will try to fill this one with a little more opinion and a little less fact…the way a ‘good’ blog should be :- )

After last week’s piece on harm reduction, there were some who felt unsatisfied, and wanted to know for sure what my actual stance was on the issue. Others questioned my thinking behind remaining neutral, while others challenged my neutrality suggesting that a great deal more weight was placed on the side of harm reduction. Oh, and of course there were the complaints of the length!

The problem is…I really am undecided.

I work with many people struggling with addiction. One in particular does her best to provide love and support for her family and, given the circumstances, does a pretty good job. Does she want to be free from addiction? Of course! Let’s get out of our head that the majority of addicts see their use as something rebellious and exciting and that they somehow require direction in the area of good morals. When I work with addicts, I see sadness, broken dreams, broken promises, crime, anger, frustration, disappointment. There is little fun or joy, and often the continued drug use is a desperate attempt to feel ‘normal’ and free, even just for a little while.

I want my people to be free from addiction and to start living life in the way they dream. For them, I want whatever method of help that will be effective and sustainable and that will bring them the fullness and security they seek.

From a welfare standpoint, that could mean either harm reduction or abstinence.

From a Christian standpoint, that means being released from the oppression of sin.

I was talking to someone today about ‘sin’ and ‘grace’. It occurred to me that I spend a lot more time on the effects of sin rather than on ushering the sinner toward forgiveness. Now this can be as large as raising money for the poor of the third world rather than convicting the greedy, or as small as babysitting a child whose parent is MIA rather than pushing the parent to repent so that God would enable them to be a better parent. Essentially, I was thinking the mission should be ‘fix the sinner and remove all ramifications of sin’ rather than constantly mopping up the mess.

How does this relate to drug policy? Well I guess it could be argued that The Salvation Army is in the business of bringing full life through repentance and sanctification. If we believe freedom and fullness is possible in Christ then we should be offering it and trusting it as a solution. The moment we suggest that the bondage of addiction is an option, do we in fact discount the privilege of full sanctification? It is like giving a medication your 100% guarantee whilst offering a coupon for a different product in case the first is unsuccessful.

So…my opinion? I think there is a need for harm reduction policy and methods. I think for many it provides the protection and support many addicts require. Having said that, I am not certain it is in the business of The Salvation Army to offer the service, and instead should promote the possibility of freedom from addiction.

Wow, look at that, it was still quite long!

Enjoy the school holidays people…I most certainly will :- )


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