Just a Plant? Marijuana and the Bible
Marijuana and the Bible
Marijuana use is becoming more and more common all around us and leaves many Christian’s asking, “Is this just a plant?” or are there real issues with it. As more states move towards legalization and the use of marijuana continues to grow at a rapid pace, Christians need to have a growing understanding on the biblical response to its use.
So, what does the Bible say about marijuana? Is it okay to use in moderation? How about at all? Is it sinful to use? What about people we know who use it, how should we respond to them? While the Bible never speaks particularly to the issue of marijuana it establishes certain principles that will guide our thoughts.
What is the point of marijuana?
A solid place to start is a consideration on what the point of marijuana use is. Why do people use it? What is the point? Here we are specifically talking about recreational use and the term recreational sums up the purpose of smoking. The normal user of marijuana smokes for the purpose of recreation because of the high it provides. What brings about that enjoyment? While some argue that the enjoyment comes from the social element of smoking, similar to someone drinking at a bar, the more typical purpose of marijuana consumption is to experience a high.
Unlike alcohol, marijuana is effectively impossible to consume without beginning to experience mind-altering effects. While one can consume a few drinks before beginning to become intoxicated, it takes only 7mg of THC in order to become intoxicated. That amount can be consumed in as little as a single puff of a marijuana cigarette. To put it simply, the primary drive, purpose, and reality of marijuana consumption is to become intoxicated.
Why does intoxication matter?
The realty that marijuana use is inseparable from becoming intoxicated is crucial to understanding the principles established by the Bible.
So, what does the Bible say?
“Be sober-minded” (1 Pet 5:8)
“Do not get drunk” (Eph 5:18)
“The works of the flesh are… drunkenness…the fruit of the Spirit is…self-control” (Gal 5:19-25)
“Men are to be soberminded, dignified, self-controlled.” (Titus 2:1-8)
“Not all things are helpful…I will not be mastered by anything” (1 Cor. 6:12)
There are two themes in Scripture that clearly guide us in reference to marijuana use. The Bible consistently declares two realities. First, drunkenness and lack of soberness is sinful and is a work of the flesh. Second, Christians are called to be self-controlled, disciplined, not ruled by the passions or desires of the flesh but instead seeking the fruit of the Spirit. We are called to be under the influence of the Spirit, not a substance. These two realities are often fixed together as in Galatians 5. Why is drunkenness sinful? In part because it makes us a slave to our flesh, causing us to not be disciplined or self-controlled, but instead living in slavery to sin and unable to control ourselves with dignity and righteousness.
Marijuana use is inherently tied to intoxication, not to speak of its growing addictive nature and the rise in marijuana related hospitalizations, long-term health issues, and a myriad of mental health issues. Christians are not to be ruled by the body but by the Spirit. We are not to be ruled by worldly things but be disciplined, self-controlled, and ruled by the Spirit. Marijuana use can not be separated from intoxication and slavery to the flesh and therefore cannot be partaken of or supported by Christians.
What should we do with those who use marijuana?
Individuals addicted and consuming marijuana should be treated like any other sinner we encounter. We are called to love them, to call them to repentance, and tell them the good news of the Gospel. People who consume or are addicted to marijuana are not to be avoided or hated but instead sought out to share the love of Christ.