by Tad Lindley
Marijuana sales is now legal in the State of Alaska. What does this mean for Christians? What position should the church take on the use of marijuana? Will it now be acceptable for preachers to smoke a bowl before stepping into the pulpit?
Illegal means illegal, but what does legal mean
If you are a Christian, illegal means illegal. As Christians we are to honor the laws of the land as long as they are not contrary to the Bible. I Peter 2:13 lays this out very clearly (also see Romans 13:1-7). We are called to honor the laws of the land. But what about the case where something has been made legal, does that automatically make it legal for us as well? At one time in many parts of the world adultery was illegal. In ancient Israel, it was punishable by death (Leviticus 20:10). Today it is legal in all 50 states. Similarly, homosexual activity and cross-dressing were also illegal in many places (see Leviticus 20:13 and Deuteronomy 22:5). Those things too are becoming more mainstream. Even though the government has become more permissive concerning these things, they are still an abomination to God, and so Christians are bound to a higher law. The use of marijuana falls under a similar situation.
Marijuana not in the Bible
You will not find the word marijuana in the Bible, so we have no direct commandment concerning marijuana. The same is true for the words heroin, hydrocodone, LSD, crack, glue, meth, nicotine, or any other drug that destroys human life. Unlike the State of Alaska, the Bible does not have a list of schedule C controlled substances. It does deal at length with the most widely abused drug on the planet today, alcohol. The guiding principles for alcohol are pretty straightforward and are easily transferable to other mind altering substances.
A heaven or hell issue
Intoxication is a real heaven or hell issue. This is not my opinion, it is straight out of the Bible. Do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men, nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. (I Corinthians 6:9 NIV) We will die lost if we live a drunken lifestyle, the Bible can’t get much clearer on that.
But didn’t they drink in the Bible?
Yes, grape juice both fermented and unfermented was used in the Bible. In fact Jesus first miracle involved turning water into wine (see John 2:1-11). They drank the fruit of the vine at the last supper (Matthew 26:17-30), which is why we use grape juice and some even use wine in communion. Paul even advised Timothy that small amounts of wine had medicinal use (I Timothy 5:23). Also notice that Timothy did not drink wine at all prior to that. At any rate the issue clearly is not with alcohol itself, the issue is with intoxication.
“This is some good stuff man!”
Neither you, nor I have ever heard a dope smoker praise the flavor or the taste of marijuana with those words. When they say, “This is some good stuff man!”, they are referring to the intoxicating properties of marijuana. Except in very rare cases of legitimate medicinal use of marijuana, the purpose of smoking it is to get high. If you went to the local dope dealer and dropped half of your child’s dividend on marijuana that does not impair your brain, you are going to feel like you got ripped off. If you agree, then your purpose in smoking is to get stoned. You are getting “drunk” in a different way.
Legal, but not expedient
To wrap it up, the Christian cannot afford to smoke marijuana, except in very rare medical situations such as an anti-nausea medication for chemotherapy patients. But perhaps you disagree, All things are lawful unto me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any. (I Corinthians 6:12 NIV) Unfortunately, there is no “social” using of marijuana. It is possible for some people to drink small amounts of alcohol and walk away from it before being brought under the power of it. With the majority of mind-altering drugs, glue, heroin, marijuana, methamphetamine, we are either under the power of it or completely clean from it. There is no middle road. This is why Christians will not be able to smoke marijuana without cutting themselves off from the promise and glory of God, even if that marijuana is legal.
Tad Lindley is a minister at the Bethel United Pentecostal Church in Bethel, Alaska.