Every Seed Bearing Plant: A Theology of Smoking Weed
First, let me make this very short for those of you who do smoke weed and may find any sort of longer reading to be unbearable. Currently, where I’m living in Reno, Nevada, marijuana usage is for medicinal purposes only. However, that may change this November for recreational usage also. As a pastor, I regularly get questions on whether or not Christians should smoke the dank.
One Thought on Medical Marijuana
One question I’ve been asked a few times is “Alex, my doctor suggested that I smoke marijuana for X symptom and it is legal, what do you think?” Again, I am a pastor, not a doctor, so I’m not qualified to speak to the medical field with any real authority but here’s one reply: You don’t have to do everything your doctor suggests. Remember, it is your body, your mind and your life. Doctors have been known to misdiagnose people or prescribe the wrong medication and the results have been tragic. Just because a doctor suggests something doesn’t mean that it is always the best decision. This isn’t knocking the medical community as much as it is saying to you “Think about what you’re doing.” Get a second opinion from another doctor, family, friends, and even God. “Where there is no guidance, a people falls, but in an abundance of counselors there is safety” (Prov. 11:14).
This doesn't mean that smoking marijuana is strictly forbidden if it has been prescribed by a doctor and is legal in your state of residence. We ought to obey the law. The Apostle Paul admonishes us in the book of Romans to “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” (Rom. 13:1-2) I’m merely suggesting that if a doctor prescribes it to you, that you really think about what you’re about to do. Consider the numerous harmful effects that marijuana has on the body. Use your mind, exercise judgment, and remember, we have an entire genre in our Bibles called “Wisdom Literature.” You might not have to ask “What Would Jesus Do?” Maybe you should just ask Solomon, “Is this wise?”
Recreational Usage of Marijuana
Recreationally, you have to remember that we are to abide by laws of the land. If it is illegal, then it is sin. Beyond this, let’s revisit the wisdom piece here as well.
I’ve heard it argued many times that “God made marijuana, so I can/should smoke it.” That sounds simple enough, right? Two responses here–narcissism and wisdom. First, that is a silly view of Creation and a selfish, consumeristic approach to living in this world. Just because something is in existence doesn’t necessarily mean that you just use it. The existence of something does not mean that we consume it. That simple mindset has wrought more pain in the world than we’d care to admit; from how we use others for our own purposes down to our ecosystem. Honestly, have we learned anything from the constant attention that is called to our incessant destruction of our rain forests? Just because something is there doesn't mean we exploit it.
Second, consider applying this careless logic to other aspects of Creation. God also made grizzly bears but expects you use some judgment when it comes to your relationship with animals that can eat you. He also made mountains with cliffs that you could fall off of, which by his law of gravity will pull you in one direction… down to your death. There are jelly fish at the beach that you could step on out of your own free will and then you’ll have the sting to deal with. You can eat Carolina peppers if you want–however, that too, will likely induce vomiting and immense pain. None of these are wise.
Consider the Corinthians
The letter to the Corinithans was a hard letter for Paul to write and for the church to receive. This is because all sorts of sin had taken hold of people in the church and it had to be addressed. Rather than criticize or throw out pithy fundamentalistic, legalistic moralism to control people, Paul calls them to their identity in Christ first and then lovingly shows them God’s will for how they were to conduct themselves. “All things are permissible but not everything is profitable” (1 Cor. 10.23). For Christians, we have been given not only Jesus’ righteousness (Rom. 10.3) but also the mind of Christ (1 Cor. 2.16). Paul tells us that as a disciple of Jesus that he would allow nothing to be the master of him because the role of master was occupied by Jesus (1 Cor. 6.12). He went as far as to use the metaphor that he beats his body and makes it his slave that he may be conformed to the image of Jesus (1 Cor. 9.27). His bodily cravings would not own him. His value of recreation would not determine all of his choices. He was bought with a price and was going to live like it (1 Cor. 6.20).
Marijuana and the Mission of God
Consider one analogy that is used in Scripture. It is one of war. The Bible tells us as Christians that we are at war with satan, demons (Eph. 6.10-18), and our own flesh (Rom. 8.13). John Piper writes about this in his book “Don’t Waste Your Life” in his section on a “war-time mindset.” Piper writes, “Given the vulnerability of my heart to the seduction of the peacetime mind-set, which is pushed into my mind every day by media and entertainment, I need these images and these reminders. We are at war, whether the stocks are falling or climbing, whether the terrorists are hitting or hiding, whether we are healthy or sick. Both pleasure and pain are laced with poison, ready to kill us with the diseases of pride or despair.”
The repeated biblical warning to “be alert” fits the wartime image. And I need this warning every day.
When soldiers are on the battlefield, sobriety is key for innumerable reasons. You are in dangerous territory, the soldiers next to you are depending on you, and the enemy is seeking your life.
Altering the state of our minds to a degree that we are no longer controlled by the Spirit (Gal. 5.16) but by some other chemical is sin (Eph.5.18) is antithetical to the mission of God. Christians smoking pot is a deliberate way of coming off of the battlefield of God’s mission for us (Matt. 28.18-20) or finding escape, joy, or peace outside of Jesus. Again, please hear me, this does not mean that all recreation is sin. Christ died and sent us the Holy Spirit that we may have true pleasure and peace with God, with others, and within ourselves. We are to be prepared in season and out of season to preach the word (2 Tim. 4.2). We are to be ready to give a defense for the hope that lies within us (1 Pet. 3.15). We are to be eager and ready to give a cup of cold water in Jesus name to someone in need (Matt. 10.42).
Marijuana and Spirituality
There’s a difference between being vaguely “spiritual” (which is celebrated immensely in our culture) and actually being a Spirit-filled disciple of Jesus. A disciple of Jesus is yielded to the Spirit of God, obedient to the Word of God, seeking to be conformed to the image of the Son of God, engaging in the mission of God, loving the community of God, praying for the arrival of the Kingdom of God, all to the glory of God.
Smoking marijuana might cause someone think that they are more spiritual and in some ways, I suppose the person will think in different categories while high. Yet, there’s also a real danger here. The Bible teaches us that Satan and demons are real figures, with whom we are to be mindful of so as to not fall into their schemes (Eph. 6.11). Smoking marijuana may actually invite spiritual attack. Though I don’t know all there is to know about demons and unclean spirits, I do believe in them and it seems to be an opportune time to pounce on someone who has yielded their mind and judgment to another chemical.
“Smoking marijuana causes memory loss, impairs coordination, and causes difficulty in problem-solving.” As a Christian man, I want to remember everything Jesus is doing in his world and through his Church. As a Christian I want to function effectively. As a Christian, I don’t want to create problems. I want to help solve them. Smoking marijuana significantly prohibits me from attaining any of these ends.