A Hazy Dilemma
Hi Family and welcome to July! Now that Oregon has finally made it to summer we can look forward to Independence Day celebrations, vacations and legal recreational use of marijuana! “Wait, what did the pastor just say? Legal recreational use of marijuana? Should a pastor be talking about such things?” Of course a pastor should be talking about such things! It’s our responsibility as shepherds to help navigate the sometimes slippery slopes of living in a secular world.
As many of you already know, as of July 1 legal residents of Oregon are now, under state law, able to possess limited amounts of recreational marijuana for personal use. While it is not my prerogative to investigate every aspect of the law in this newsletter introduction letter, I thought it would be helpful to give us some handles on how to think about the use of marijuana not from a legal perspective but from a moral, Christian perspective.
With the passing of Measure 91 we know that marijuana use is now legal for adults but just because something is legally permissible does necessitate it being wise or biblical. For example I would argue that while it is legal to act promiscuously that behavior would be inconsistent with Gods design of covenant marriage (Mark 10:9) So the question that I want to ask is, is marijuana use wise and is its use consistent with the biblical standards of Christian living?
For the scope of this very brief thought I am not talking about the use of medical marijuana nor the use of marijuana in states in which use is still prohibited, rather I am strictly referring to legal use for the purpose of recreation.
Let’s start with a favorite verse from marijuana enthusiasts, Genesis 1:29 “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.’” I have heard people use this verse to try to argue that all plants that God has made are good and are profitable for use therefore marijuana is no different. I would respond and say this passage was “pre-fall” and I can think of many plants that while they might serve a useful purpose in the forest they would not be best used smoked in a pipe, for example poison oak. Using the same logic with Genesis 1:29 one would quickly realize that just because a plant exists and does serve a healthy function it does not necessitate that its best use or intended function would be to smoke it.
The real, and I believe most important, question that needs to be asked is, “why would someone choose to use marijuana recreationally?” While there are many possible answers to this question the most common answer is certainly for its effects. People smoke to get high. Unlike alcohol where there is a much slower effects gradient (one can enjoy a glass of wine without getting drunk) marijuana use gets one “high” almost immediately.
So the effect that most people desire is a loosening of control. Would the desire to loosen control be a biblical principle? I do not believe so. One would have to get very creative with biblical interpretation to come up with such a conclusion. Rather a good biblical hermeneutic of control would be the opposite. Christians are constantly encouraged to maintain control, and to be in a state of constant self-control.
The Bible says:
1 Thessalonians 5:5-8 For you are all children of light, children of the day. We are not of the night or of the darkness. So then let us not sleep, as others do, but let us keep awake and be sober. For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk, are drunk at night. But since we belong to the day, let us be sober, having put on the breastplate of faith and love, and for a helmet the hope of salvation.
1 Peter 4:7 The end of all things is at hand; therefore be self-controlled and sober-minded for the sake of your prayers.
Galatians 5:22-24 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.
Proverbs 20:1 Wine is a mocker, strong drink a brawler, and whoever is led astray by it is not wise.
Ephesians 5:15-19 Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart.
In brief conclusion, while legal, I do not believe that recreational use of marijuana is wise as its very often intended purpose is solely for the sake of loosening control—a principle which the Bible clearly stands against. So enjoy those Independence Day celebrations, enjoy those vacations but please pass on grass.
Posted on July 1, 2015