Christians and Pot: an Introduction

On March 13, 2015, the battle for the legalization of Marijuana in Ohio passed a critical hurdle.  State Attorney General Mike DeWine decided in favor of the issue appearing on the next ballot in November.  Let it be know that I am very much AGAINST the decriminalization and legalization of marijuana. Why?  Because ruined my life and I have more experience than most of my audience will care to know.

With this issue comes a plethora of questions and concerns the50029Rasta-Marijuana-Leaf-Posters church has to address.  As a minister, I’ve been asked questions about weed for years.  “I’m not hurting anyone, so why does it matter?” or “I’m not leaving Christ or His church, so what’s the big deal?  

There are usually two theological cards people will pull out to support their view that puffing the buds is not only OK, but actually sanctioned by God:

Genesis 1:29:  
29 “And God said, “Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit. You shall have them for food.”

and then this one:  Luke 6:37:
37 Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven.

So naturally, my answer is always drawn out of God’s instructions on participation and submission to earthly governments in Romans 13:1-7 where the Apostle Paul writes:

Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God.Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, for he is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer. Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God’s wrath but also for the sake of conscience. For because of this you also pay taxes, for the authorities are ministers of God, attending to this very thing. Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed.

But now, as more states legalize pot and even as legislation sits before Senate and Congress to federalize the decriminalization of Marijuana, I get hit with this:

“The government says it’s legal, so I’m still cool with God and the Church according to Scripture, right?

Well – that kills my “simple argument,” so as a pastor I’m forced to look into this issue with a question of my own:

Is it sinful or wise to smoke marijuana? 

We have to understand that, as Mark Driscoll writes:

Some things are neither illegal (forbidden by government in laws) nor sinful (forbidden by God in Scripture), but they are unwise. For example, eating a cereal box instead of the food it contains is not illegal or sinful—it’s just foolish. This explains why the Bible speaks not only of sin, but also folly, particularly in places such as the book of Proverbs. There are innumerable things that won’t get you arrested or brought under church discipline, but they are just foolish and unwise—the kinds of things people often refer to by saying, “That’s just stupid.”

Now, you need to know this about me.  I wasn’t always a Christian.  I’ve smoked a lot of weed, I’ve even sold it…and for all intents and purposes, I was addicted to it (among many other drugs) and it ruined my life for a season.  That’s where I come from.  I’m not there anymore, so don’t tune me out as a hypocrite yet, but I am all too familiar with the evils that lurk beneath the surface of this “harmless” drug.

As a Christian, I will never smoke pot.  As a dad, I will strongly urge my children to make the same decision.  As a minister, I will never recommend recreational marijuana use to any of our congregation or any human being for that matter  (medical use is a different issue which we’ll look at in another post).

I guess then, as we start this series, we need to ask this question:

Why do people smoke pot in the first place?

The answer, if you’re willing to do the research, live a little, and be honest, is actually quite simple:  Self-Medication.

Human beings are huge fans of self-medication.  Sometimes we use food, drugs, sex, alcohol, relationships, power, politics, or money as a way to forget our problems.  We want to erase our past, forget about that bad choice we made back in the day, or wipe our memory of a traumatic event we’ve been through.

I have noticed that people tend to stop growing when they start self-medicating. Everyone has very hard times  in life, but by persevering through them we have an opportunity to mature and grow as a person, right?

People who self-medicate with drugs and/or alcohol (as well as other things) often stop maturity as they escape the tough seasons of life rather than face them. This explains why some people can be biologically much older than they are emotionally and spiritually.

Another issue is that statistically, young men are more likely to smoke pot to self-medicate, and by all the polling data available end up being immature, irresponsible, and lacking in ambition to better themselves.

Also statistically, young men are far less likely to work a steady job, go to college, finish college, or even go to church.

For the first time in America’s history, the majority of births to women under the age of 30 are now out of wedlock— meaning the majority of those kids have no experience of their father ever being married to their mother.

Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians 13:11 are timeless here:

When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways.”

There is nothing wrong with being a kid, so long as you are actually the age of a kid. But when a man acts like a child, that’s a real conundrum.

A recent article even noted that young men are now less likely than ever to own a car, as taking public transportation allows them to use their smartphone more hours every day playing video games and downloading porn.

The last thing these guys need is to get high, be less motivated, and less productive; instead, they need to “act like men, [and] be strong” (1 Cor. 16:13).

Also, many a lot of folks will try to treat recreational marijuana use as comparable to alcohol. However while Scripture does speak of alcohol, it never mentions marijuana, which means the issue requires a great deal of study before arriving at a thoughtful Christian position.

All that said, the following posts will attempt to look at how we as Christians, not unbelievers (though it would be wise to learn), view recreational pot smoking in light of the seemingly inevitable decriminalization both at the state and federal levels. These posts are in no way comprehensive, nor a comprehensive, authoritative, end-all, “gotcha” argument winner.   simply offer this up in hopes that it will help someone, Christians in particular, to have an informed view on the topic as it becomes more increasingly a part of our daily interactions and relationships.

Stay tuned.

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