Marijuana: God’s Creation or Satan’s Lettuce?
Can Christians Smoke Weed?
The process of maturing as a Christian has finally brought me to the question, can Christians smoke weed? When I first became a Christian I was afraid of alcohol. I was brought up to believe that it was best to avoid it because of all the trouble it caused. I would never say it was a sin to consume, however I did mark it as unwise and thought it as another tool for Satan to tempt me with.
After I grew in the Christian faith and established a biblical worldview about areas of life such as civil government, church, individual sanctification, culture, etc, I began to question the things that I had set aside to be dealt with later. One of those things was the issue of drugs. I have seen several attempts at defending the Christian’s liberty to use drugs, but have found none that actually addressed the arguments from the prohibitionists.
I use the term “drug” because it is the term we use in our culture now. The better term would be “substance”, because “drug” has the connotation of official recognition and accreditation by professionals, while fluctuating in it’s application. One minute drugs are bad and illegal, then the next they are prescribed. “Substance” is the better word choice.
Having not used many substances in my former days, I was only well acquainted with alcohol, pills and marijuana. I abused pills, but I don’t believe they are sin in a capsule. Alcohol was certainly used in excess. It’s my fault for wanting to use a lot, because I wanted to be drunk and delusional. Marijuana on the other hand was another issue for my Christian worldview to process, because it had such a bad reputation, not just within the church, but also in the eyes of the world, while also presenting a new set of side effects. I have a logical mind, so lists really help me out. I began my discernment process by first listing out other substances, along with their side effects.
Caffeine: Alertness, heightened senses, suppression of hunger.
Alcohol: Warmness, relaxation, increases creativity, increases humor, increases, hunger increase in sexual desire.
Marijuana: Increase in creativity, increase in hunger, relaxation, heightened sense, promotes critical thinking, causes sleepiness.
Acetaminophen: Pain suppressor, caffeine (see above list).
This is where I had to understand and admit that marijuana was no different than these things, except that I had been using caffeine and acetaminophen with no thought at all. Do you remember the time you first had coffee? Do you feel the same now? No, because you built a tolerance to it. All substances are the same, some are just much worse than others.
So how do the prohibitionists argue their case against marijuana use? There are mainly three arguments.
The “pharmakeia” Argument
This one is the most important argument, because it’s an argument from Scripture. This argument hinges on the definition and use of the Greek word “pharmakeia”. The reason this word is of significance is because of what Paul stated (and what was previously stated in God’s law), in Galatians.
“Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery(pharmakeia), enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.” Galatians 5:19-21
BAM. There it is right? Let’s just drop that verse on anyone that dares justify their sin of smoking weed and getting high!
Oh wait, what does the word actually mean though? According to Strong’s Concordance, the word can be used in these ways:
1) the use or the administering of drugs
3) sorcery, magical arts, often found in connection with idolatry and fostered by it
4) metaph. the deceptions and seductions of idolatry
Fair enough right? Crystal clear eh? No.
Who defines what a drug is? If individuals can just go around slapping “DRUG” on a substance, then how does that establish objective truth? Does the majority dictate what is a drug? More importantly, what did the word mean when Paul wrote it?
“Witchcraft (pharmakeia) began as the attempt to use drugs and potions to harm one’s enemies. (Ironically, on the positive side, it was out of this dabbling in drugs that modern medical science and the pharmaceutical industry originated.) By the time of Paul the word had come to include magic, incantations, drugs, and all the occult means by which men attempt to manipulate the dark powers of the supernatural world.” – Kenneth L. Boles, “Galatians and Ephesians”
“[pharmakeia] carries the connotation of using drugs for nefarious purposes, such as poisoning or in the practice of sorcery. The term is used in this latter sense in this context. Thus, both the practice of worshiping false gods and using drugs to enhance mystical worship experience are included as part of what it means to live according to the “acts of the sinful nature”.” – Tremper Longman, III, David E. Garland, “The Expositor’s Bible Commentary”
“Witchcraft is from pharmakia, which word speaks in general of the use of drugs, whether helpfully by a physician, or harmfully by someone whose purpose it is to inflict injury, hence, in the ense of poisoning. Aristotle, Polybius, and the LXX use the word of witchcraft, since witches used drugs. In Isaiah 47:9, it is a synonym of the word epaiode which means enchantment. In the LXX, the word is uniformly used in a bad sense, of the witchcraft or enchantments of the Egyptians (Ex 7:11, 22), the Canaanites (Wisdom 12:4), and the babylonians (Isa. 47:9, 12). it is used in the New Testament to refer to sorceries (Rev. 9:21). In the present passage [Galatians 5:20], the reference is to witchcraft, sorcery, magic art, without special reference to the use of drugs.” Kenneth S. Wuest, “Wuest’s Word Studies From The Greek New Testament, vol. I”
“witchcraft; any real or pretended league and association with the devil, seeking to converse with familiar spirits, to gain unlawful knowledge, or to do hurt to fellow creatures; which, as it is doing honour to Satan, detracts from the glory of God, and rightly follows idolatry; conjuration, soothsaying, necromancy, and all kind of magic are included and condemned hereby: ” – “John Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible”
“Galatians 5:20 Idolatry, witchcraft – That this means witchcraft, strictly speaking, (not poisoning,) appears from its being joined with the worship of devil – gods, and not with murder. This is frequently and solemnly forbidden in the Old Testament. To deny therefore that there is, or ever was, any such thing, is, by plain consequence, to deny the authority both of the Old and New Testament. Divisions – In domestic or civil matters. Heresies are divisions in religious communities.” – “John Wesley’s Explanatory Notes”
Even well-known Bible commentators have differing opinions about what Paul is really meaning in Galatians, but the general meaning is obvious. God has given man the knowledge and resources to create substances that kill pain for the suffering, reduces inflammation, reduces stomach acid, helps the digestive system, and a multitude of other godly things, that I believe are testimony to the Rock filling the earth. God even gave man alcohol to enjoy, and yes that means that we get giggly and feel very warm and relaxed. The real problem, as I will perhaps elaborate on, is that Christians have lost almost all manner of mature discernment, especially when they’re stuffing themselves with McDonalds.
So, what about the argument that marijuana simply “looks and feels” like witchcraft? Well, I think that’s a lot of imposing your preconceived notion of the substance. Just because you think something about it, or if it makes you feel a certain way, does not mean that it’s the same for everyone else. A subjective argument is a bad argument.
Below is a short comparison of beer and weed, in preparing and making the end product.
High as a Kite and Drunk as a Skunk?
The typical Hollywood film depicts smoking pot as this lucid, delusional experience in the same way that it depicts alcohol. Their intentions are not to ward off individuals from using these substances, rather to show them how to abuse them, because that’s the only way to have a good time, right? Christians do the same. Christians are so afraid of alcohol that they lie about the effects of it, not to correct but to instead scare their children away from it. Instead of teaching others to be mature and to handle alcohol in moderation, they find it easier (or what they call “wiser”) to give the most radical illustration of it’s effects, while ignoring the plethora of biblical passages that call it a blessing.
This is the only basis that one could even attempt to argue the case for prohibition, both for marijuana and alcohol. However, the argument cannot in anyway be arguing for objective, universal prohibition, since biblical passages prohibit such legalism. Instead, marijuana has to be handled in the same way that alcohol does. The issue with marijuana in moderation is that the effects are much different than alcohol. Just as with caffeine and music, marijuana can entice the mind to think more creatively. There’s nothing wrong with that. Marijuana may also make you hungry, just like alcohol. There’s nothing wrong with that. It may even make you laugh a little, just as a child with a sugar rush. The bottom line is that if taken in moderation, the line of drunkenness will not be crossed, and I would even argue that it cannot be crossed. To be drunk with marijuana takes a large amount of really good substances and a few hours of smoking. Trust me, I learned that in high school. When one crosses the line to judge another’s tolerance level for them, they are essentially judging the heart. That is the sin.
You don’t have to have a beer to have fun
And you don’t have to have coffee in the morning, but wait…you do because you really don’t want that headache. Plus, that morning cup of coffee (or two cups) really does get your butt in gear real fast. What would you do without it? I don’t HAVE to have my coffee at all, but I want to. It makes me more productive, keeps me alert, helps me think better and faster, and even helps my digestive system. I don’t HAVE to have an alcohol beverage at social gatherings, but I want to. If I’m in a large group of people I shut down real fast, so alcohol helps me open up and socialize. It also relaxes me, makes me happy and merry, so I really enjoy alcohol. But, there are ways to abuse both. One leads to drunkenness, the other health issues.
I’m not sure why, but for awhile I was ashamed to say that. A few years ago it would have been embarrassing for me to say “I really enjoy alcohol.”, because I didn’t have the understanding and critical thought about it that I do now. Instead of just going with what the majority of Christians said and did, I decided to see what Scripture said, and it was quite an eye opener. We are living out a post-prohibitionist tradition that demonizes joy. It’s a pseudo-Christianity that is set on killing peace and joy on earth, because hey, Jesus said this is not our home so let’s not set up camp and build, right?
Why is this so important?
Primarily, this issue is important because God’s Word is on the line and legalism is attempting to trample it. Legalism has throughout generations reared it’s ugly head, binding the conscience of Christians and hindering the God mandated dominion covenant. Just as the Women’s Christian Temperance Union attempted to argue for alcohol prohibition with God’s name attached, Christians still do the same, and will continue to, until they let the Truth of God’s Word speak instead of their ignorance and misconceptions.
Look, pot (marijuana) is a plant. I am well aware that there is some really, really strong pot out there, but that’s still irrelevant. The issue is drunkenness; period. It’s not smoking that’s a sin, or the fact that it’s illegal. It’s a plant, that when smoked affects your body. Witchcraft? No. Hallucinogen? No. You’re having the same reaction that people had to alcohol when they first discovered it. It’s new to you, and you’re scared. Just admit that that is the issue, then examine God’s Word, and stop assuming that Christians are trying to find ways to get around God’s will.