I live in Colorado. Unfortunately here, marijuana is in the news a lot. And given that today is the annual marijuana holiday (4/20), I decided it was due time to write a brief blog addressing how Christians ought to and are permitted to think about weed.
We are never ever permitted to think about any issue with an open mind; rather, we think with open Bibles. How should we understand marijuana?
The Bible does not address marijuana specifically, but does address it principally. In other words, the word does not have to be in Scripture for Scripture to say something about it.
For example, if a father and mother leave their high school children home alone during a date night, they can say something to the extent of, “When we get home, this house better be just as we left it”, and that command would certainly prohibit them from throwing a party, ruining the new carpet, and puking all over the couch, even though mom and dad technically said nothing about the carpet or couch before they left.
There are many deductions one can turn to in Scripture to outlaw recreational use of marijuana.
What I find most convincing is Ephesians 5: 18,
This verse is compelling for two primary reasons. First, the verse clearly condemns drunkenness. To be drunk is to be in sin. To be filled with wine, so much so that one has lost their inhibitions, is to be filled with something other than the Spirit.
Thus, to have our minds altered in a recreational way is called debauchery. And that means to be high is to be engaging in sinful debauchery, to get high is to be in sin.
This would apply to other drugs as well. Not just alcohol and weed. Addiction to getting high by any means is sinful on this basis (there are other routes to take as well, specifically, in regards to bodily self-harm which Scripture does not condone.)
The second reason this is compelling is because this verse is very specific as to what is sinful in terms of alcohol. That is important because it is common to try and compare moderated alcohol usage to moderated marijuana use.
Is it true that alcohol is not inherently sinful? Of course. Jesus not only drank wine, but He even did so in worship (Matthew 26: 17-30). Thus, alcohol is not inherently sinful. Jesus drank, the disciples drank, you are free to drink.
However, we see a consistent condemnation of drunkenness in Scripture, from 1 Samuel 1: 13 to Ephesians 5: 18. Jesus drank, but never until He was drunk.
That is the reason marijuana and alcohol cannot be compared. There is no middle ground with weed. You smoke to get high. It is almost immediate, and there is no middle ground. Thus, smoking weed and getting high cannot be separated the way drinking alcohol and getting drunk can.
However, there are many caveats to this issue that Christians need to approach with understanding and grace. One of those issues is those who would like to decriminalize marijuana. This cannot be viewed as a promotion of marijuana.
Many Christians believe that prison ought to be a place for violent offenders only. Many Christians believe that prison is not the place for a person who smoked one too many joints. Not every law is worthy of that punishment.
On top of that, many non-violent offenders go to prison over pot, and then prison turns them into violent offenders. Thus, Christians ought to be open to hearing and understanding people who do not want people to go to prison over this issue, without immediately branding them as a sympathizer.
2) Sins vs. Crimes
Along with that, there is an entirely different issue we need to work with one another on, and that is, all the ins and outs of Biblical Government. Many Christians take more of a libertarian view of government, and even though they may believe marijuana to be sinful, they may not find it to be a crime.
These Christians believe the government does not have a right to monitor and control what a free person puts in their body. Along with that, we know from God’s Law that not all sins ought to be crimes anyway.
Some sins cannot be proven; take lust for example. Lust is a sin, but it happens all the time without others knowing. A sin of that nature is impossible to identify, and thus control and punish. Internal sins like lust, hatred, and anger cannot be crimes. What we do with those sins can be.
Along with that, even many identifiable sins ought not to be crimes. It is sinful to gossip. That does not mean that every person who complains about their boss needs to spend time behind bars.
Again, even if you disagree, it ought to be possible for Christians to believe marijuana use ought not to be illegal, without being accused of promoting marijuana. It is not always the same thing.
3) Medicinal Value
Lastly, there is the ever famous issue of medicinal marijuana. We need to think consistently, and with grace toward one another on this issue. It does seem difficult to outlaw only this form of medicine, while supporting others. Many pills we take post-surgery, and during other times of healing, alter our minds, why are they exceptions, but marijuana not?
Christians are free to be against marijuana for medicinal reasons, but I would call them to make sure their application of that is consistent across the board. There must be good reasons for the things they except and for those they do not.
Lastly, the reason we make exceptions for drugs in medicinal usage at all is beyond the scope of this blog. But we cannot fall into the error of thinking that because there are areas of difficult application, that they therefore nullify the verse in Ephesians. Just because there are some areas hard to sift through does not require us to ignore the command to avoid debauchery. The guilt trip, or the charges of inconsistency, do not erase the mandate.
Marijuana is an important issue in our culture. Every local church needs to be ready to explain their position, and promote it among the members.
And all of us, even in the areas where we are allowed to disagree, need to think through the filters of our bibles first. The scientists and the culture must take a back seat. They may and should be utilized, but God’s Word trumps man’s every single time.