A Christian Primer on Marijuana (Part 1)
August 30, 2014 1 Comment
For a long time, the issue of whether or not Christians should consume or support the use of marijuana was a simple one. It was illegal to grow, use, and possess, and therefore not an option. The Bible clearly commands us to obey our government in all cases, except when it requires us to disobey the Lord. (Romans 13:17-7, Acts 5:29).
But with the increasing legalization of marijuana in the world these days, it’s not that simple anymore. It is vital now that Christians educate themselves on this hot button topic. I’ve seen it handled well, and I’ve seen it handled poorly even by Christian leaders that I have tremendous respect for. This is because it is an incredibly complicated issue, and most people simply have not had the time to investigate it fully.
Let’s start with whether Christians should consume marijuana recreationally. As Christians, we are called to be sober minded (1 Peter 5:8, Ephesians 5:18). Smoking a joint recreationally would most definitely defy that command, just as getting drunk on alcohol would. Further, we are not to let substances gain control of us via addiction (1 Corinthians 6:12). But, what about a puff or two before bed to relax and sleep well? How does that compare to popping a sleeping pill or having a night cap? Further, what about medical use, such as to treat chronic pain, chemo-induced nausea and loss of appetite, muscle spasticity, seizures, asthma, and a host of other health problems? This is where it really gets complicated, but I’m getting ahead of myself now.
Probably the biggest challenge we are soon to face in the church is an increase of abuse/recreational use. With marijuana becoming legal, many in the church have started to see it as innocent and just part of the cultural norm. The reality is that while it may seem to be a grey area, it is in fact one that we should be prudent to consider and develop a settled, biblical stand on. The question for the Christian is not “what is permissible?”, but rather, “what will glorify God?”. Does getting stoned glorify God in the Christian’s life? I don’t see how it can, at least not by biblical standards. I assume that any Christian who may read this post does care about biblical standards. Pastors and elders in particular will need to be prepared for this issue as it comes up more and more.
In further posts I will briefly contrast using (particularly smoking) marijuana with consuming alcohol, and also with smoking tobacco. The latter two are already legal for adults. And as the former becomes legal, this is a good time to reexamine all of these issues and what part, if any they should play in the Christian life. All three substances can be abused. All three are addictive. Though it is interesting to note that marijuana is significantly less addictive than alcohol and nicotine. Alcohol and marijuana can alter your state of mind and perceptions. Where we see a contrast between the first and the other two, is that marijuana does minimal if any damage to your health (though there is ongoing debate about this), and actually has tremendous therapeutic and health properties. Alcohol can destroy your liver or kill you if you drink to much. Tobacco can cause cancer, asthma and COPD, among other health problems. But marijuana can actually be good for you.
I also plan to post a detailed exploration of medical marijuana, its uses, methods of ingestion, and how we as Christians should view it. This too is a complicated issue and one we need to think deeply about.
And finally, I want to present some scientific details about the different strains, chemical properties, and potential uses for the plant, as well as why this tremendous diversity adds to the complication of the issue.
It is my hope and prayer that what I present here and in future posts will cause you to investigate this in more detail so that you will have an educated, accurate response to give others, and to share with your brothers and sisters in the church body.
Our fundamental concern must be how we can glorify God in our lives. This requires that we strive to examine this issue with a Christian, biblical worldview, and not with a basal, naturalistic worldview. It is incredibly easy to give in to modern worldly pleasures, to our spiritual detriment. The world is constantly offering us more and more opportunity to stop contending for the faith, drop our spiritual armour and indulge or own selfish desires. It is also easy and tempting to back off and remain silent when worldly ideologies press their way into the church. No one wants to be the seemingly “divisive” one in the group. We cannot afford to drop our guard, but we also cannot simply have knee jerk reactions to new issues as they come up. We need to be fully prepared to give an account in season and out of season.