You’ve probably seen this painting before, and it’s exactly what it looks like: a Christian artist tried (and failed) to show that doing drugs hurts Jesus more than it hurts you.
The painting has gone viral several times since 2006 (I’ve commented on it myself in the past), but now the artist is speaking out about his intentions and claiming God “called him” to create it. He also says the painting has caused people to give up drugs “cold turkey,” showing he doesn’t really understand addiction at all.
Artist Stephen Sawyer told the Christian Broadcasting Network that the “junkie shooting up” shows how “when you hurt yourself, you also hurt God.”
“In a way, when people abuse their bodies… so when we abuse that precious part, and the temple is defiled, to me it wasn’t a long stretch just to think it’s kind of like another crucifixion because we’re hurting the Presence of God in our life,” he explained…
The artist shared with CBN News that the model for the addict in the painting is a former user who is now clean and serving and helping others who have been “damaged” by drugs.
To compare drug usage to “another crucifixion” doesn’t make sense at all. For starters, the crucifixion, according to the Christian myth, was a good thing because it was necessary for God to forgive the sins of humanity. Also, a lot of people who turn to drugs will tell you they do it to escape the “evil” that exists in this world, which Christians would also say God created.
Sawyer may have heard stories from addicts who said they gave up drugs immediately after seeing his painting, but any suggestion that other addicts can do the same is dangerous. When your body has developed a physical dependency on a drug, going cold turkey is neither realistic or safe. You need outside help. Finally, Sawyer says God called on him to paint this… which is simultaneously nonsensical and narcissistic.
Sawyer is right to say in the article that the image has gone viral several times over the past decade, but he may not realize why. I have seen it several times — and shared it — in part to demonstrate that religion itself can be like a drug to many people.
That’s the great thing about art. It’s all open to interpretation!
(Thanks to Jay for the link)