First, let it be clear that this article is not about the use of steroids for valid medical purposes. Steroids are used to treat many different medical conditions, including severe allergies, arthritis, chronic inflammation, etc. When prescribed by a medical professional for a physical condition, steroids are no different from any other prescription drug; their use is not a question of right vs. wrong but of discernment in light of the possible side effects. The question at hand is the use of steroids for non-medical purposes, e.g., rapid muscle development and increased athletic performance.
Human growth hormone (HGH), testosterone, and many muscle-building supplements should also be included in the discussion of anabolic steroids. First, there is the question of legality. Anabolic steroids, without a valid prescription, are illegal. The Bible commands that we obey the laws of the government (Romans 13:1–7; 1 Peter 2:13–17). Therefore, a Christian should not use steroids without a prescription.
Second, there is the question of health. Steroid use and, especially, steroid abuse have significant health risks. It is one thing to risk the side effects for a valid medical reason. It is another thing entirely to put your health at risk for something unnecessary. The Bible instructs us “honor God with our bodies” (1 Corinthians 6:19–20). Steroids, in bodybuilding and athletics, are essentially a shortcut. They make muscle growth easier and faster. The Bible gives us no reason to believe athletic goals are worth placing our physical health at risk (1 Timothy 4:8). Therefore, a Christian should not use steroids to accomplish such an eternally insignificant goal.
Third, there is the issue of vanity. Generally speaking, excessive weightlifting/bodybuilding is the male equivalent of many women’s preoccupation with losing weight or spending hours putting on makeup. The Bible does not say anything positive about vanity (Psalm 119:37; 1 Samuel 16:7; Ecclesiastes 2:11). To spend too much time on a frivolous activity and to risk physical health in doing so—this is the height of vanity.
While the Bible does not specifically mention steroids, there are several biblical principles that definitely apply to steroid use. Outside of valid medical reasons, steroids should not be used. Christians are called to obey the law, to honor God with the use of their bodies, and to not give into the sins of vanity and pride. No, Christians should not use steroids for non-medical purposes.