How should a Christian living in Colorado react to legal marijuana?

How should a Christian living in Colorado react to legal marijuana? January 13, 2015

Everywhere I go across the country, I’m hit with the pot question. No matter where you live, you’ve probably heard that here in Colorado, marijuana is legal to purchase and grow for personal use. The question usually starts with, “Dude….”

It started out insidiously a few years ago with the medical marijuana justification. Nearly every medical doctor could write prescriptions for marijuana which could then be “Filled” by the neighborhood “dispensary.”  It wasn’t long before “doctors” set up shops next to dispensaries and began writing scripts by the padfulls to otherwise healthy 22 year old males with “persistent pain.”

Once medical marijuana gained a foothold and was societally accepted, advocates pushed it out to the public for a vote on personal use of the drug. It passed with more than 62 percent of the vote.

It’s true. You can grow up to six plants for personal use. You can’t take it across state lines. You can’t ship it. You can’t sell it. You can also buy it from pot stores, with some heavy regulation. It’s taxed, ironically, to help fund schools.

Medical marijuana is now legal in 21 states. Mark my words, recreational pot is coming to your state, your neighborhood.

So now that it’s legal  — or soon to be legal near you — , how should a Christian respond? For years, parents have used the illegality of drugs to scare their children away.  Now, we need to grapple with this with sound doctrine. Should a Christian toke up? Can a person of faith use marijuana? What does the bible say about weed?

It’s interesting to me that some of the same people who have vilified tobacco use are pushing marijuana.  “It’s natural,” they say.  Well, so is tobacco. And hemlock.

It’s all about the mind

I appreciate the words of Pastor Shawn Johnson who pastors Red Rocks Church in Golden, CO.  This is one of the fastest growing churches in America, with more than 8,000 in attendance. Their audience skews young and they are particularly focused on bringing Prodigals home. That means it’s a messy church with attendees who don’t have clean pasts or perfect presents. No doubt, there are users who attend. And for all us in Colorado, if you don’t use, you know someone who does. There is a big downside for a church preaching on these kinds of subjects. But charging into the lion’s den, he went On the Record.  “My job isn’t to be popular,” he said. “It’s to lead.” Bravo.

For Pastor Johnson, it comes down to the mind. Marijuana users smoke dope to get high. Marijiuana impacts the body, but most of all it impacts the mind. That’s why it’s called getting high, because it sets you apart from the current reality.

There may be some claimed medical uses, but often those could be met with medicinal alternatives like Marinol that use the THC extracts that give the medical benefits. There may be other medical benefits and I’m not going to get too deep into that. Let’s be honest — a small minority of users have a medical necessity.

For the Christian, it’s the escape or alteration of the mind that makes it wrong. Jesus summed up all the expectations of God when he said, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and all your soul and all your mind and all your strength” (Mk.12:30).  The mind is the intellect, but it’s also the intuitive power to analyze, to have intuition, to understand, to react to others, and to respond to God’s leading. Pot ruins all of that.

Many advocates claim that pot is not addictive. The National Institute on Drug Abuse says about 1 in 10 users are addicted. But I think it’s how we use the word. It isn’t heroin, but neither is it like Skittles. The bodies of pot smokers may not be addicted, but their minds are. Other addictions – like food, pornography, gambling and sex work in a similar way.  Looking for an escape from reality, the mind grabs onto the vice.

We get addicted to the comfort, to the ability to run from our problems and hide. That’s not how we take on life.

Pastor Shawn said, “Weed is a dream killer.” If you are smoking, ask yourself, “How’s my ambition?”

What’s the difference between pot and alcohol?

Pot smokers right away point to alcohol. “What’s the difference? Why is that legal and pot isn’t?”

First of all, I can have a drink and not got “high” or “drunk.” So that sets the two apart. Can you smoke dope and not get high? I guess if that were the case, then this line of reasoning disappears. I don’t know the answer, but maybe you do.

I grew up in a church that forbade alcohol use. But a closer examination of Scripture shows clearly that it’s drunkenness that it warns against. So, I can freely drink alcohol and not sin, as long as I don’t fall to drunkenness. And we all know that drunkenness leads to all kinds of things – death, drunken driving, violence, sexual activity, and all kinds of other activities. That’s why we don’t disassociate our mind from our reasoning with a foreign substance.

I believe that increased marijuana use and acceptance is a terrible trend for our children.  Teenagers under 17 who use cannabis daily are 60 percent less likely to complete high school or get a degree than peers who have never taken the drug. They are also nearly seven times likelier to attempt suicide and are almost eight times likelier to use other illicit drugs later in life. And a large long-term study in New Zealand showed that people who began smoking marijuana heavily in their teens lost an average of 8 points in IQ between age 13 and age 38

Christian marijuana

How should a Christian react?

If you are a Christian and believe otherwise, I don’t condemn you. I just ask that you be open to God’s leading.

Romans 14 says this, “Welcome with open arms fellow believers who don’t see things the way you do. And don’t jump all over them every time they do or say something you don’t agree with—even when it seems that they are strong on opinions but weak in the faith department. Remember, they have their own history to deal with. Treat them gently.

If you aren’t a Christian, hear this. Smoking pot won’t send you to hell. But let me tell you this. You are missing out on so much more. Jesus said this, “The thief comes to steal, and kill and destroy. But I have come that you may have life have it abundantly.”

So there’s the choice. And with great love, it’s offered freely to you.

——-

Watch or listen to the whole message by Red Rocks Church Pastor Shawn Johnson here.

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  • Excellent commentary, David. I’m reminded of something I heard Beth Moore say once. “There’s no high like the Most High.”

    • Thanks Patricia. And I appreciate you putting this on your Facebook, even tho it got ugly quickly. That’s what happens when we engage the culture with truth.

  • 32 and a half years I’ve been clean now, from alcohol, pot, and a host of other substances. During the early days of recovery, I missed the ability to numb out with pot; later on, I would hear what became for me a recognized truth – “pot smokers dream dreams and do nothing.” My musician friends and I would get high and start to play, get a good groove or riff going, but we were never able to do anything with it – and, when we’d listen to the playback tapes? Utter garbage that, under the influence, sounded “divinely” inspired.

    Today? Can it be used as another tool to deal with chronic pain that narcotics can’t touch? Possibly. I’m not a physician – I know many aspects of my own body and how it responds to medications, but I’m not so much a fool as to think I can (or should) suggest to someone else what they might want to do in their case. Those decisions are between doctor and patient, and if the patient is a believer, then God is part of that dynamic as well – none other gets a vote, nor should they.

    On substances in general? Many have a place at the pain management/anesthesia table, but have been classed legal/illegal by government – sometimes at the behest of corporations, fearful of losing their profits (the history is out there – one needs only to be interested in reading it). Legal does not equal moral – alcohol is legal, after all, and we have a uniquely American experience of what happened when those opposed – on moral and ethical grounds – managed to get the legal production stopped. It wasn’t pretty.

    For me? I won’t go back to it (Emphysema rules out any sort of smoking for me), and I have no legitimate need for chronic pain management any more than I have a need to detach myself from my ability to think clearly and feel deeply. I cannot use anything recreationally without becoming addicted all over again and can only share my experience, strength, and hope with others who want a way out.

    Good post, David!

    • “pot smokers dream dreams and do nothing.”

      Lots of truth in that statement!

      • Yes, that was a good statement I think I’m going to quote Rick on it too!

        • Be my guest – I dream today, and do chase them. :-)

    • Rick, I appreciate your honesty here (and everywhere. I’m a big fan of guitar plan man!)

      I’m seeing a huge movement here to make casual pot legit and it’s sad. How many great talented people will suddenly fall for the lowest common denominator. From “changing the world” to “just hangin out” for the sake of a little bud

      • The post I’m working on now may be of some interest to you then as well, David – it picks up a theme Jerry Garcia put out front, and I’ve been having to take a long, hard look at it. Hoping to have it up later tonight, but we’ll see – oh, and I’ll be linking to this post of yours as a part of making one of my points. :-)

  • All I know is that this is getting messier. I lnow someone who has lost her children to marijuana use and someone else, someone considerably wealthier, who sees no problem with it (she’s a mom, too.) I knew people who took it during chemo, but my mom always politely declined when offered in the infusion room. I’ve heard it’s incredibly effective for veterans with PTSD. And I’ve seen it be a gateway drug for drugs so new they aren’t even illegal.

    • “Messier” indeed. I guess I would have no problem with the medicinal part of it. But as you saw in this state, “medicine’ went to “recreational” in no time flat

  • This is an interesting post. I think about this issue more than most because of my chronic health conditions. I had found some relief in the past with using low THC marijuana. I had too many hang ups about the legality, the fact my children are young and wouldn’t understand and the danger surrounded the sale and purchase of product. I do firmly believe it has some medical benefits especially in children with seizures and in cancer patients. As a believer I would never want a personal choice on this issue to cause another to stumble.

    • As someone on facebook pointed out, many of our current narcotics have the same ‘mind numbing’ affects. Are there drugs that numb the pain without also checking out the brain? I just don’t know. And there’s no judgement with me. I know you hurt and want you to have relief.

  • “Pastor Shawn said, “Weed is a dream killer.” If you are smoking, ask yourself, “How’s my ambition?””

    I have to agree with this statement. Although I’ve never used marijuana, I’ve known a lot of people who have. As a general rule, people who smoke pot regularly tend to lose their ambitions and dreams.

    I’ve seen very bright young people, who excelled in school and participated in ‘Gifted and Talented’ programs, who started smoking pot and simply stopped caring or putting forth any effort.

    • I have seen the same thing too. I’m sure there are “Casual” pot smokers, but the ones I’ve seen, it has been a consuming desire. It’s not physically addictive but mentally, it can strangle a person

  • I’m glad you’ve brought up this important topic. For far too long Christians have stuck their heads in the sand when it comes to politics. Legalizing pot is a political issue (as well as health, moral, and social issue) but that doesn’t mean this is something Christians should turn a blind eye too. Christians need to be engaged in the world around them. Christians need to pray, seek God, and obey what He says. Christians have a responsibility to the community to be engaged and involved, to be light and love. Being politically correct and “tolerant” hasn’t gotten the church very far in our standing in the world, so instead of trying to please the world, why not try and please God?

    • Yes! Where has political correctness got us? It’s only caused the truth to go underground and to be silent. But as Jesus said, “The rocks will cry out!”

      • Yes, the rocks will cry out and narrow is the way…even inside the church, narrow is the way!

  • Excellent and informative essay. Funny all the years it’s been easy to watch pot take the life from people. They trade living for existing…

    Interesting point that anything that is a distraction from reality is a vice. Gotta ponder that one and take a look inside…

  • David, you are a brave man for posting on this issue. Interesting to read others comments. I don’t think anything that numbs the mind is good for anybody. Yet, if my child or grand child were suffering with intense pain I would want what ever it took to numb the pain for them. I have family members try to get me to try it for my fibromyalgia pain but I don’t like that numb minded feeling. Those family members are addicted big time. In fact one of them moved to California just for the soul purpose of getting a medical marijuana card. Now to me that is addicted.

  • Wow. You’ve done a great job with a tough topic, David. Alabama will probably be one of the last states to legalize marijuana (we’re often last in many things–sometimes good, sometimes bad). But this issue does affect us all even now, wherever we are. Thanks for helping me think through different aspects of it.

  • David, thanks for this, it’s needed and it’s a truthful approach. I’ve been thinking about this for some time since I heard MacArthur and Al Mohler discussing pot at last years Shepherd conference.

    From what I see how it’s been used in the States, “medical” marijuana has very little to do with medicine and a lot to do with money and getting high.

  • We do not share the same views but I appreciate how beautifully-written this piece is! I just wish you could also factor in the use of marijuana for medical purposes, since I believe that a lot of people subscribe to weed use for that purpose only.

    Thank you.

  • The hard part in all of this is that most people actually start taking it up for legitimate medical purposes. But since it is an addictive drug, those people feel they are forever dependent on the drug way after their medical reason to use it have gone.

    I think the Church should have their own counseling and therapy sessions for people undergoing these challenges?

    What do you think?

    Great piece, by the way!

  • OLD TESTAMENT REFERENCE

    Genesis 1:12

    The land produced vegetation: plants bearing seed according to their kinds and trees bearing fruit with seed in it according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good.

    Genesis 1:30

    And to all the beasts of the earth and all the birds in the sky and all the creatures that move along the ground–everything that has the breath of life in it–I give every green plant for food.” And it was so.

    Genesis 9:3

    Everything that lives and moves about will be food for you. Just as I gave you the green plants, I now give you everything.

    NEW TESTAMENT REFERENCES

    John 8:7

    They were saying this, testing Him, so that they might have grounds for accusing Him. But Jesus stooped down and with His finger wrote on the ground. 7But when they persisted in asking Him, He straightened up, and said to them, “He who is without sin among you, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.”

    Matthew 15:11

    What goes into someone’s mouth does not defile them, but what comes out of their mouth, that is what defiles them.”

    (Stop judging other Christians,)

    “Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.

    “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?

    ( It is the Holy Spirit’s work to discern to work in the spiritual development of everyone who excepts Christ’s gift of MERCY. This is why people are against us Christians. We don’t simply listen to God’s most important commandments, spoken through Jesus Christ in) Mark 12:30-31:

    Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’

    The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”

    (PLEASE check out my new blog at https://johnmulquinjr.wordpress.com/ called The Next Step with any questions or comments to my references whether agreed or disagreed)

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