Oxycontin and Money
About that time there arose no little disturbance concerning the Way. For a man named Demetrius, a silversmith, who made silver shrines of Artemis, brought no little business to the craftsmen. Acts 19:23-24
In my drug addiction, I made terrible choices that seemed like good ideas. Drugs literally damaged my brain’s ability to make good decisions. Looking back now, with a sober mind, it’s hard to comprehend how disastrous my thinking was at the time.
It’s not only chemicals that warp man’s ability to think clearly though. Money can derange one’s thinking as much as any drug. In 1995, Purdue Pharma – a pharmaceutical company – introduced a long acting opioid painkiller called Oxycontin. Knowing its addiction and abuse potential, but also knowing how much money they could make, Purdue Pharma lied. They promised the medical world that the new drug would provide long-lasting pain control without creating addicts. Over the next twenty years, the company made billions of dollars . . . and millions of addicts. One study has suggested that a majority of heroin addicts seeking treatment began their addiction with Oxycontin. In the name of profit, the drug company knowingly did horrible things. Physicians of course, bear some responsibility here. We should’ve been suspicious of any information coming from those who would benefit from the sales of Oxycontin.
Money twists people, making them do great evil in the name of profit. This is what happened in today’s passage. In the story, Paul spread the gospel in Ephesus, which enraged Demetrius, a silversmith. Demetrius wasn’t offended on religious grounds. He was offended because he made the silver shrines of the goddess Artemis. Christianity forbade idol worship, which hurt Demetrius’ business. So, he stirred up a riot in opposition to the local Christians. Demetrius didn’t care about faith. Money was his religion and greed twisted his mind, causing him to choose enmity towards God.
When I’m under the influence of narcotics, my thoughts and decisions can’t be trusted. The same can often be said of money. I’ve seen good Christians justify terrible behavior simply because it profited them. I might look down on them just like I look down on Purdue Pharma, but if I’m honest, I must recognize that greed twists my motives too. If there’s a moral choice involved in a financial decision, I likely need outside, objective help. If I want to make good choices, I must embrace honesty, admitting that money can corrupt my thinking as much as any drug can.