San Francisco is on the front pages this week as the 49ers seek to win their sixth Super Bowl this Sunday. But the city is making news for tragic reasons as well.
- The San Francisco Chronicle headlines: “San Francisco street horror only grows as drug overdose numbers spike.”
- CNN reports: “Drugs are sold out in the open in San Francisco’s Tenderloin district.”
- The New York Post adds: “Inside San Francisco’s ‘dens of death’ as liberal city faces drug crisis.”
- And this from CNN: “A mother was raising her son in a city she loved. Then San Francisco changed and stole her boy.”
Drug addicts now outnumber high school students in San Francisco.
In an area a short walk from Union Square, the city’s central shopping district, CNN reports that “it’s commonplace to see people using and selling drugs. Human waste, used needles, and bullet casings litter the sidewalks.”
What’s going on in San Francisco?
Why does this matter to the rest of us?
“The extreme of a pro-drug culture”
In 2018, the drug overdose death rate in San Francisco roughly matched the national average. Five years later, it was more than double the national level. Why?
New York Times reporter German Lopez explains:
The [San Francisco] culture has become more tolerant of people using drugs. When I asked people living on the streets why they are in San Francisco, the most common response was that they knew they could avoid the legal and social penalties that often follow addiction. Some came from as close as Oakland, believing that San Francisco was more permissive.
Keith Humphreys, a drug policy expert at Stanford University, told Lopez that San Francisco “is on the extreme of a pro-drug culture.”
Activists in the city argue for “body autonomy,” claiming that people have the right to put whatever they choose into their veins and lungs. They say it’s no one’s business but the drug user’s. Advocacy groups want people to use drugs more safely, arguing that abstinence is not always a “realistic” goal.
“Body autonomy” advocates often cite the drug policies of British Columbia, a global leader in harm reduction. However, British Columbia set a record for overdose death rates last year.
“What we all dread most”
G. K. Chesterton observed: “What we all dread most is a maze with no center.”
But that’s where we are.
As we saw yesterday, Americans now live in a “post-Christian” nation. When your compass has no true north, it points wherever you want it to point. And you’ll be lost and on your own.
As I was praying about a biblical response for today’s article, my attention was drawn to Psalm 36. David begins:
Transgression speaks to the wicked deep in his heart; there is no fear of God before his eyes. For he flatters himself in his own eyes that his iniquity cannot be found out and hated. The words of his mouth are trouble and deceit; he has ceased to act wisely and do good. He plots trouble while on his bed; he sets himself in a way that is not good; he does not reject evil (vv. 1–4, my emphasis).
Doesn’t it seem that he was reading today’s news?
By contrast, David prays:
Your steadfast love, O Lᴏʀᴅ, extends to the heavens, your faithfulness to the clouds. Your righteousness is like the mountains of God; your judgments are like the great deep; man and beast you save, O Lᴏʀᴅ (vv. 5–6).
“In your light do we see light”
Now Americans have a choice to make.
We can persist in our “post-truth” relativism, denying the word of God and choosing our will over his. If we do, San Francisco is a picture of our cultural future.
Or we can seek and submit to God’s word and will each day. We can ask what Scripture says about the issues we face and then “take every thought captive to obey Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5). We can think biblically and act redemptively.
If we do, this will be our testimony:
How precious is your steadfast love, O God! The children of mankind take refuge in the shadow of your wings. They feast on the abundance of your house, and you give them drink from the river of your delights (Psalm 36:7–8).
And we will say to God:
“With you is the fountain of life; in your light do we see light” (v. 9).
Will you make this prayer your commitment today?
Tuesday news to know
- Toby Keith, popular country music singer-songwriter, dies at 62
- California storm: At least three dead, long cleanup ahead
- Iran-backed groups continue to target American bases as US plans further strikes
- 2,500-year-old silver coin discovered in Israel
- On this day in history: King George VI dies; Elizabeth becomes queen
Quote for the day
“The Bible is the book of my life. It’s the book I live with, the book I live by, the book I want to die by.” —theologian N. T. Wright