Christianity and Marijuana
At the time of this writing, August 2015 jurisdictions at the state and local levels throughout the United States debate legalization, aka decriminalization of growth, possession, sale and use of various types and quantities of Marijuana. This goes on in the context of a larger national debate over the federal decriminalization of Marijuana. The substance of the debate rests in the effect of Marijuana on individual’s mental and physical health, well-being, productivity and participation in society generally under the peculiar influence of the psychoactive component of Marijuana commonly known as THC. There is more complexity to this subject and this debate than just the psychoactive effects of THC but the psychoactive altered state of mind attained from the marijuana “high” and its impact on youth, on adults, on society collectively is the heart of the matter. What response, what responsible contribution in thought and opinion should Christians offer in this debate?
American baby boomers now entering retirement and facing their geriatric ordeal look back at the 60s, 70s and 80s. Many contemplate a return to that THC lifestyle of their youth, wanting to socialize, make love, get the munchies and listen to the old albums under the influence. As it was portrayed in the movie, Its Complicated with Meryl Streep, Alec Baldwin and Steve Martin a lot of boomers now look back at a life of work and responsibility, decades of disciplined struggle to provide for and nurture their children and perhaps care for their parents. These aging boomers, as they get beyond bearing responsibility for children and parents now ask themselves, “Why not get high again?” From boomers, to Gen X to Gen Y to Millennials, a vast subset of our society, across all racial and cultural lines evaluates marijuana and the psychoactive experience and asks, “Why not?” An enormous number of Americans have been hip casual users of marijuana. Many of them have come to Christian faith. How should Christians respond to this question of the federal decriminalization of marijuana?
This is my answer. Decriminalize marijuana at all levels of government. Regulate, categorize, potency rate and tax the sale of marijuana. Having stated that position unambiguously, I also state that I am as hardcore a Christian man as you will ever meet. That is not a statement of moral superiority or legalistic conservatism. I walk with God as Enoch, Noah, Moses and David walked with God. They were spiritual men but not sinless. That describes me. I support decriminalization of marijuana not because I want to see western civilization tune in, turn on and drop out. On the contrary, with all my heart I want western civilization to come to its spiritual senses, turnabout and return to their Judeo Christian God and heavenly Father. I support decriminalization because marijuana is here to stay and in my humble opinion the effects and benefits of the THC high are far more defensible and far less damaging to society than those of the alcohol buzz. Filling prisons with people convicted on marijuana related charges destroys lives far more certainly than casual recreational use of THC. Though I am now a man of Christian faith I tell you unashamedly, Marijuana blessed my life in my youth, helping me awaken out of an intellectual stupor of adolescent provincial ignorance. Marijuana has the potential to bless lives medically, emotionally, intellectually and spiritually. It also has the potential to degrade the faculties in all these same areas. Adults should bear their own responsibility for managing the risk and the opportunity presented by imbibing THC. Parents should bear responsibility to monitor and contain consumption of all controlled substances by their children as is the case with laws against underage drinking.
Having said all that I want to state reasons why I would not return to the marijuana lifestyle of my youth.
At the time of this writing I am still financially dependent on a day job and might be subject to drug testing to secure a contract. Hence, I will not consume any controlled substance in an illegal manner.
More importantly, ingesting THC by various means does admittedly have adverse side effects on the mind, particularly on the ability to concentrate and on the memory. Smoking THC laden substances may be carcinogenic. Who knows what the long term health effects of eating or otherwise ingesting THC may be?
More importantly, the Apostle Paul wrote that Christians should obey the laws of the government under which they live and currently U.S. federal law still prohibits growth, possession and use of marijuana.
At this point some might mention Peter’s admonition to, “be alert and of sober mind” as a reason not to participate in the psychoactive experience. That passage of scripture promotes spiritual vigilance against the schemes of Satan which may or may not be a separate matter.
More importantly, the Apostle Paul wrote that Christians should not eat meat sacrificed to idols if that caused their brother to stumble. I believe using marijuana might compromise my communal faith and witness among brethren in this way. I do not get high because it might compromise my witness. What other secret sin of mine might compromise my witness. All Christians deal with concealing their stains.
Most importantly by an enormous margin, I hold to the experience of the Spirit of God augmenting my natural mind above all other priorities. The Spirit of God informs my understanding of scripture when I study, when I meditate and reflect upon scripture. The effects of THC might compromise the Spiritual dynamic of my relationship with God within me. That cannot be allowed to happen.
Although it has been thirty-six years since I last got high, if marijuana were totally decriminalized I can imagine being on vacation and in a moment of relaxation lighting up again. I confess, the prospect is titillating. The question in popular Christian culture is, “What would Jesus do?” As I recall on the cross He refused to consume something offered up on a sponge that would help to diminish His pain. That example is always before me but it is not a reason not to get high. Maybe THC is a divine blessing which God has made available like other drugs and there is a safe, appropriate recreational use for it, even for the spiritually tuned in and turned on Christian soul.
What do you think?