Weed Wacker: A Simple Biblical Perspective On Marijuana Use

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The universal legalization of pot is, like the recognition of same-sex marriage, an inevitable political reality. Full legalization has always been the agenda of medical use advocates. The relentless push for legal marijuana is eroding the resolve of resisters, and state after state will, if only begrudgingly, eventually allow recreational consumption.

It’s virtually impossible to argue against legalization for health reasons. Though studies seem to show detrimental effects of pot use, as long as cigarettes are legally available this argument falls flat. Besides, health concerns are not really at the center of the debate anyway. Our culture’s acceptance of alcohol also makes targeting pot use a rather feeble exercise, at least if the only standard of judgment is abuse. There are many legal activities with the potential for abuse—eating, driving, free-speech—but most of us would never think of prohibiting them because of potential abuse. For community safety reasons we might rightly legislate against combining permitted activities, such as drinking and driving, or smoking cigarettes and cigars in a public place, but this is a different concern.

In fact, there are really no solid political reasons to prohibit controlled marijuana use. You will not be arrested for having too many beers while watching football on your big screen at home. An officer isn’t going to bust you for smoking a cigar at a cigar lounge downtown. As long as it doesn’t endanger or compromise somebody else, there are no convincing reasons why pot smoking shouldn’t be legalized. Those who point to the failure of Prohibition have a strong case.

So what should a Christian think about marijuana use? I’m not now addressing non-Christians or those (religious or not) who question the authority of the Christian scriptures. If you’re one of them, what follows probably won’t mean jack to you. However, if you’re a Christian who considers the Bible a reliable and authoritative testimony, you might be interested.

I think the Biblical Christian perspective is really quite simple. In his letter to the church in Ephesus, Paul writes, Do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit (5:18). Paul is not condemning wine consumption. (He even advocates its medical use: 1 Tim 5:23) What Paul does reprove is getting drunk. For him, drunkenness is anti-Spirit, a carnal antithesis to the Spirit-governed life.

And this, my Christian friends, is what sets recreational marijuana use apart from our other sanctioned vices. You can enjoy a couple of beers during the game without getting drunk. You can have a glass of wine at dinner without getting tipsy. You can sip a shot of whiskey and hold your mental clarity. You can smoke a cigar or a pipe of tobacco without getting loaded. Even smoking cigarettes—as dangerous, addictive, and stupid as it is—does not lead to critical impairment.

Pot, on the other hand, is all about getting stoned. The whole point of smoking weed is to get high, and although Paul refers specifically to the affects of too much alcohol, it is a chemically compromised state of mind to which he objects. In other words, no matter what the mind-altering agent (whether alcohol, pills, mushrooms, or marijuana), inebriation of any kind is counter to the work of the Holy Spirit in the life of the believer. Those who wish to niggle out loopholes have agendas other than the Scriptures or the work of the Holy Spirit.

As is usual with things pertaining to the kingdom of God, positions regarding marijuana use cannot be reduced to mere questions of health, legality, or even morality. If the Holy Spirit is excised from the equation there isn’t much left but empty arguments and self-serving propaganda. Besides, if you’re opposed to legalization for whatever reason, you’re on the losing side. It’s a done deal.

But if you’re a Christian whose Bible is the great authority for revelation, faith, and practice, then, with regard to recreational use of pot anyway, there is little ambiguity. Pot is a lame substitute for the Spirit. God is, after all, the original high and lifted up.

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One Response

  1. What about the use of psychiatric medication? Essentially, these types of medications change your state of mind. I realize it’s a bit different situation because the goal is to be (for lack of a better term) more normal. I’m not disagreeing or agreeing with you. My opinions on this subject are fuzzy at best. I’m just wondering what your views are of other medications that technically speaking change your state of mind.

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