(the following is a super-long post that I’m afraid no one is going to read. Oh well. Please do keep coming back for more!)
The B.C. Supreme Court has made a ruling that overturns laws that were passed that would most likely have shut down the Insite safe injection site in Vancouver.
Basically, a safe injection site is a supervised place where clean needles are provided – along with trained staff or volunteers – to drug addicts. Drug addicts then take their illegal drugs in this Health Canada and BC Ministry of Health funded program (see: Insite, Wikipedia).
I remember being in a graduate level Population and Public Health class at SFU, where the consensus was that Insite was a vital program. Vital, because it saves lives. Period. In fact, that’s why the B.C. Supreme Court ruled that a person’s (including a drug addict’s) right to life, etc. is more important than a government refusing to be involved in any way with a person’s crime. Yes, it’s illegal and wrong to take illicit drugs. Yes, we should do what we can to prevent and minimize drug use. But the fact of the situation is that we can’t stop drug use right now, and significantly more people are going to die unless we keep operating safe injection sites like Insite.
So the choice really is whether we shut down Insite because we don’t want to have anything to do with helping drug addicts when they’re taking drugs (result: they still take drugs, and some die from overdose [and HIV infection]. not to mention that FEWER drug addicts will end up getting help to get off their addiction). Or, we keep Insite open and save lives, and help reduce drug use to boot.
One thing that really bugs me is what may be the standard North American, middle class, conservative “Christian” response, which is: “a safe injection site is obviously evidence of a godless [and liberal] government. we should be fighting drug use, not promoting it! anyone supporting a safe injection site is simply promoting sin.” Followed perhaps by the lament, “we need more godly, Christian leaders in government.”
Let me humbly suggest that this might be similar to what prompted Paul to say of his Jewish kinsmen: For, as it is written, “The name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you.” (Romans 2:24, ESV)
Now, I’m NOT saying that if you think Insite should be shut down that you’re sinning. You may have purely good intentions, and I might just disagree with you on the facts and principles in this case. But never let it be said of us [Christians] that we are more concerned with the appearance of morality – or our cultural preconceptions of what is proper and right – than with what God really requires of us. Non-Christians already see “Christians” as people who are against things, and not really for anything that’s useful. Against the legalization of gay marriage (I think we should be against that, but that’s not my point). Et cetera, et cetera. But there is a large segment of Christianity, often times the conservative section (I consider myself conservative), that is largely silent or effectively absent on issues like homelessness. Or global poverty and disease. We aren’t even spectacular on getting the word out about Jesus, and how He is the most important thing in anyone’s life, so there remains even MORE room to improve for things like loving our neighbour and being good to our enemies.
He has told you, O man, what is good;
and what does the Lord require of you
but to do justice, and to love kindness,
and to walk humbly with your God? – (ESV)
(Micah 6:8 is a stirringly convicting statement on how we already know what God wants us to do – to give ourselves to help others, and to submit ourselves in everything to the Master of everything)
So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart. Have nothing to do with foolish, ignorant controversies; you know that they breed quarrels. And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, – (ESV)