Question: "How should a Christian view prescription drugs?"
Answer: Many Christians wrestle with their decisions over accepting valid medical therapies, including the use of prescription drugs. The Bible does not give us much on this subject, but if we examine the purposes of prescription drugs we can present an ideal approach to their uses based on biblical principles. We know from Scripture that ill health, disease, and death are the result of sin in the world. Much of Jesus’ earthly ministry involved combatting that curse, as He healed people everywhere He went (see Matthew 15:31). Jesus is the exact representation of God’s being (Hebrews 1:3), and by healing people He showed us God’s compassion and His identity as the Great Physician who will one day restore all of creation to health (Romans 8:18–22).
So, it is clear from Jesus’ ministry that to seek healing is not wrong; in fact, it is very right! Also, Luke, the writer of both the Gospel of Luke and Acts, was a physician (Colossians 4:14). Dr. Luke may not have dispensed prescriptions in the manner that doctors do today, but he was in the business of treating people’s physical ailments, using the medicines and treatments of his day.
In the days before prescription drugs, people sought relief from pain in other ways. Alcohol is mentioned in Proverbs 31:6–7 as being given to the terminally ill and others who suffer. Also, in 1 Timothy 5:23, Paul advises Timothy to drink a little wine to relieve his stomach ailment. Since other drugs had not yet been developed, fermented drinks were often used as remedies for pain and suffering, and the use of such analgesics is approved in God’s Word.
Also, we should keep in mind that most of today’s prescription medicines are based on elements occurring naturally in creation. A doctor may prescribe Amoxil, for example, but where did that antibiotic come from? It came from a substance produced by a blue-green mold called Penicillium notatum. Where did the mold come from? God made it. So, we can say that God created the penicillin mold and gave it the useful property of killing infectious bacteria. God then allowed people to discover this property, isolate the acting agent, and purify it for use in the human body. Is it wrong to use God’s own creation to improve the health of humanity? Not at all. In fact, He is glorified in such discoveries.
All of this should help us decide how we should think about prescription drugs. There is nothing wrong with seeking a doctor’s help when we are sick. There is nothing wrong with taking the drugs that doctor prescribes in the way that they are prescribed. Are there dangers and side effects associated with prescription drugs? Yes, of course, and doctors and pharmacists will explain the risks. Is it possible to abuse prescription drugs, overuse them, or develop unwanted dependencies? Yes, and the children of God must never allow themselves to be brought under the habitual control of a substance (see 1 Corinthians 6:12 for this principle stated in a different context).
In the end, a Christian’s use of prescription drugs is between that Christian and the Lord. The Bible does not command the use of medicinal treatments, but it certainly does not forbid it, either. The child of God should care for his or her body as being the temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 3:16). This means taking preventative care, maintaining a healthy diet, and getting proper exercise. It also means taking advantage of the wisdom that God has given skilled researchers and physicians. We understand that God is the Healer, no matter by what means He heals, and we give the glory to Him.