Is The Church Going To Pot?

I Mean No Disrespect to God or MICHELANGELO in this photo!

I Mean No Disrespect to God or MICHELANGELO in this photo!

Marijuana is a hot topic in America today. As I write this article twenty-three states and the District of Columbia have legalized medical marijuana, Connecticut included, and four states have legalized recreational marijuana. The millennial generation, those born between 1980 and 2000, seem to find no problem with marijuana use. There is a certain attitude that my father's generation likes their alcohol and we like our marijuana, and there is no difference between the two. A big question we should ask ourselves as followers of Jesus Christ is, is it wrong for Christians to use marijuana? The Bible never mentions specific marijuana use. However, there are some Biblical principles that do speak to using substances that harm our bodies.

1) Your Body Is The Temple Of The Holy Spirit.

"Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies." - 1 Corinthians 6:19-20

This principle from the Bible reminds us that our bodies are a gift from God. We should take care of not only our spiritual well-being, but also our physical well-being because God dwells inside of us. This goes far beyond drug use. In fact, it means I shouldn't be over weight. I should eat more healthy foods and exercise regularly. It means I shouldn't use alcohol to excess. It also means that I shouldn't knowingly put anything harmful in God's Temple.

Right now, there are many studies that reveal the harmful effects of marijuana use, the following are just a few. In 2012, the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found that marijuana use lowers IQ. In 2014, the same organization found that it shrinks the brain. The Lancet Study found that students who use pot are 63% less likely to graduate high school, have an eight fold increase in the odds of using other drugs (it isn't called the gateway drug for nothing) and had a seven fold increase in chances of committing suicide. As Christians, we should treat our bodies as the Temple of God, which does not include a harmful drug that degenerates our physical being.

2) Christians Should Obey The Laws Of Government.

"Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves...do what is right and you will be commended...But if you do wrong, be afraid, for rulers do not bear the sword for no reason. They are God’s servants, agents of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. "-Romans 13:1-4

Before 1996 and California's legalization of medical marijuana, I would have just quoted the above passage and said that God wants us to obey the laws of the government. There, it is settled! If it is illegal, then it is wrong for Christians too. However, today's political climate puts Christians in an interesting bind. There are many laws that our government now says are legal, but are morally wrong. Abortion is one of those laws. Just because the government says it is legal to murder a human life in the womb, does not make it morally acceptable before God. In the same way, even if many state governments are legalizing harmful drugs, that does not mean that it is right. Sadly, many of our governmental laws are regressing in our day and age. In this case, we should follow Acts 5:29, which states, "We must obey God rather than human beings!" Just because governments are legalizing marijuana doesn't make it right. They could just be trying to raise more revenue through taxes!

3) Christians Represent God Either Positively Or Negatively.

"Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in the way of a brother or sister. I am convinced, being fully persuaded in the Lord Jesus, that nothing is unclean in itself. But if anyone regards something as unclean, then for that person it is unclean." -Romans 14:13-14

St. Paul reminds us that our lives reflect favorably or unfavorably on God's image. The issue of marijuana is also about our Christian image before mankind. What would someone think of me as a Christian if I used marijuana? Would it bring more or less people to Jesus Christ? When I was in Africa, there was a social prohibition against Christians drinking alcohol. Because of the extreme poverty, many people abused alcohol, so any Christian seen even drinking one beer would immediately give Christianity a bad name. Alcohol wasn't illegal in Kenya. However, Paul reminds us that if we engaged in an activity that was social disgraceful and would lead others to think not only negatively about us, but negatively about our God, then we shouldn't do it. The real question is my life should be lived in a way that brings people closer to Jesus Christ. Even if marijuana were legalized all across America, how would using this drug witness to Christ? I think in every case it would be negative. As Christians, we shouldn't put any stumbling block between mankind and our God.

God bless,

Pastor Joel