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One in five Americans live in a state where it is legal to smoke marijuana without a medical prescription. Eight states (and Washington DC) have now fully legalized marijuana, including permitting its use for “recreational” reasons. While that sounds like a relatively small number, the list of states includes California, which voted to fully legalize marijuana in 2016, the most populous state in the country with about 40 million residents. Interestingly, in Colorado, there are more marijuana retail outlets than Starbucks and McDonald’s combined, according to Boston Magazine. In our culture today it seems just as easy to get an ounce of marijuana as it is to buy a caramel macchiato.

As Christians we are confronted with the question: If the State has okayed the recreational use of cannabis (the plant from which marijuana is derived) is it still a sin to smoke weed? Who or what decides the morality of the issue?

The answer, my friend, is not blowing in the wind. In these changing times, the answer is firmly planted in the unchanging Word of God. Scripture does not operate on the whims of the State or the moral majority or the court of public opinion. It stands through time as our unerring compass and life manual. While there is no specific reference to marijuana in the Bible, we can draw on general, indisputable principles to decide if, indeed, the recreational use of marijuana is a sin.

Marijuana’s Physiological Effects

Before we delve into Scripture, let’s consider the physical properties of marijuana. Marijuana contains over 400 chemicals with THC being the key psychoactive substance that gives users the high that they crave. Even secular websites have repeatedly addressed the health hazards of smoking marijuana and the harmful effects of THC, listing everything from dizziness and sleeplessness to delayed reaction time and even suicidal thoughts. Web MD reports increased heart rates, sometimes resulting in heart attacks, after the body has absorbed THC. Additionally, reports indicate that about 10% of marijuana users become addicted to it.

As Christians, our bodies are meant to be the temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:19). With the damaging physiological effects of marijuana, we would not be glorifying God with our bodies. We would, in fact, be damaging the temple through seemingly innocuous use of marijuana. Contrary to what the world says, the Bible reminds us that our bodies are not our own. Additionally, with the potential for addiction, even short term use of marijuana gives the devil a foothold.

Yes, Natural, But Is It Beneficial?

The enemy has been working hard to promote the idea that marijuana is a harmless mood enhancer. Mainstream media paints a pretty picture of it, even portraying it as a rite of passage to adulthood. Often times, marijuana smokers justify its use, claiming it calms them when agitated. These ideas have slipped into the Christian world as well.  Most of them hinge on the assumption that God made weed and therefore it is good.

While God did make the cannabis plant, not everything in nature is created for our good. We wouldn’t want to jump into a natural vortex or God-made volcano. We don’t play with fire, literally and figuratively. It may be natural. It may be legal. But the Bible asks the question: Is it beneficial? In 1 Corinthians Paul responds:  ‘I have the right to do anything,’ you say – but not everything is beneficial. ‘I have the right to do anything’– but not everything is constructive.  No one should seek their own good, but the good of others.

Can Marijuana Truly Satisfy?

As for the idea that marijuana makes you more happy and less belligerent? Perhaps, temporarily, marijuana can provide a quick fix. It numbs out the pain, it provides a distraction. But at what cost? Only God can change hearts and fill our deepest needs. When anything else takes God’s rightful place it becomes an idol. While Scripture instructs us to think on things that are true and right, marijuana compels users to focus on a distorted and warped reality.

Conclusion: While public opinion – and even Christian opinion – on the topic is across the board, Scripture reveals that God’s calling for His people is holiness. Ultimately, He is not a God who will force our hand. He gently convicts. He leads us as a loving Shepherd. The rest and refreshment He plans for us is far greater than anything the world gives. God equips us with everything we need for life and godliness. It’s up to us to listen to His still, small voice.

Susan Narjala is a journalist who now works at the non-profit U&I in India. She captures her everyday life with a generous dash of humor on her blog Alliteration Alley.

 

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