Can a Christian Smoke Pot?
The possession and use of marijuana is almost completely legal in Canada, with all indicators suggesting that it will be in a few years. That forces the Christian to think carefully about whether or not it is a sinful activity to buy, sell or use marijuana. This study tries to answer that question biblically.
1. The Possession and Use of Illegal Substances
When the possession and use of marijuana is prohibited by the state, a Christian may not possess or use it under any circumstances.
a. Christians are not commanded to use marijuana in the Bible.
b. Christians are commanded to obey their governing authorities.
c. Where the governing authorities prohibit an action that the Bible does not command us to do, we are under obligation to obey them just as much as we are under obligation to obey the direct and specific commands of the Bible.
• Romans 13:1-3 "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."
Therefore, while the use and/or possession of marijuana is prohibited by the state, it is sinful for a Christian to own, buy/sell (distribute) or intake any form of marijuana.
2. The Use of Legalized Marijuana
When the use of marijuana is legalized (permitted) by the state, a Christian must evaluate using a different grid. Is the use of marijuana similar to the use of alcohol - a matter of conscience before the Lord and consideration before the church?
a. The answer to this question seems to lie in the innate chemical constitution of marijuana. All forms of marijuana contain THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) - the main active chemical and the one responsible for creating a "high." Briefly, THC attaches to certain protein receptors in specific nerve cells in the brain which ignite a series of cellular reactions. (THC levels in marijuana have significantly increased since the 1970's.)
b. These cellular reactions create the following short-term effects: memory loss, learning prevention, diminished problem-solving skills, motor-coordination loss, increased heart rate, weakened decision-making ability and an overall distorted perception of reality.
c. Long-term use of marijuana results in a weakened immune system, higher risk of respiratory cancers, possible mental (as opposed to physical) addiction (i.e. the belief that one cannot "function" without a joint) and significant neurological issues.
d. There is no question that marijuana use is similar in effect to alcohol abuse - "drunkenness." This effect may be described as a loss of self control. The Bible is replete with commands for the Christian to be self-controlled. Unlike alcohol, however, you cannot smoke pot and not get high (i.e. as someone can drink alcohol and not get drunk). The chemical effects on the body are different.
• Proverbs 25:28 "A man without self-control is like a city broken into and left without walls."
• Titus 2:2-7 "Older men are to be sober-minded, dignified, self-controlled , sound in faith, in love, and in steadfastness. Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled. Likewise, urge the younger men to be self-controlled. Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity, and sound speech that cannot be condemned, so that an opponent may be put to shame, having nothing evil to say about us.
Therefore, since any use of marijuana robs the individual of their ability to control themselves at that moment and since long-term marijuana use physically harms the user, we believe that a Christian must never use marijuana.
3. The Possession or Marketing of Legalized Marijuana.
This question is similar to whether or not it is acceptable for a Christian to sell alcohol. Is it sinful for a Christian waitress to mix and serve alcoholic beverages at a licensed restaurant? Is it sinful for a Christian to deal cards at a legal, state-sanctioned casino?
a. The first observation we must make is that the range of possible scenarios is so wide that blanket statements are out of place. Serving one glass of wine to a restaurant patron is certainly different from standing behind a bar helping people get drunk.
b. Secondly, we must acknowledge the inherent difference between marijuana and alcohol. You cannot smoke pot without having it affect significant neurological function. Therefore, to sell or distribute marijuana is to knowingly cause others to lose self-control. This is not love.
c. In regards to the question of working at a casino or selling alcohol, the Christian is best served by asking, "What is best?" Too often, our line of thinking asks, "How far can I go without sinning? What can I get away with?" We would be much wiser to ask, "How can I live as godly a saved sinner can be? How might I keep my life as above reproach as possible in this world?"
Therefore, we conclude that it would be sinful for a Christian to sell or otherwise distribute marijuana to others.