Is Smoking Pot A Sin?

marijuanaUp until a few years ago when voters in Washington and Colorado passed amendments legalizing recreational marijuana use, this question would have been easy to answer. Smoking pot was a sin because it was illegal and only in special circumstances are Christians allowed to break the law.

But today there are 28 states that allow for medical marijuana and 8 allow people over a certain age to use it recreationally. The old, “It’s illegal” argument against marijuana isn’t going to cut it anymore. Or maybe it will? Did you know the federal government still forbids the use of the drug. From USA Today…

Marijuana will remain a Schedule 1 substance under the Controlled Substances Act. Substances in Schedule 1 are determined by the Food and Drug Administration to have no medical use. States that allow marijuana for medical use or legalize recreational use remain in defiance of federal law.

The reality is that recreational usage being declared legal in an increasing number of states means that the old arguments (“It’s illegal.”) aren’t as persuasive. Christians will have to wrestle with their position and ask whether it’s okay to smoke or ingest marijuana for non medical reasons?

Some people have argued that Christians shouldn’t smoke pot because it’s addictive or bad for physical health or leads to experimenting with other drugs or dulls a person’s ability to think clearly. My guess is that all of those are true to one degree or another but not ultimately convincing to most people. For one thing the evidence is disputed. There isn’t consensus on some of these questions. In addition no one is saying that the Bible forbids double stuffed vanilla Oreos dipped in Nutella even though that surely can’t be healthy.

But I think the parallel that is most often brought up is the one with alcohol. If moderate consumption of alcohol is permitted, then why not moderate amounts of marijuana? Good question. But I also think there is an equally good answer.

When we say the Bible is all good with enjoying alcohol in moderation what we are deliberately trying to do is distinguish moderate drinking with drunkenness. The Bible clearly says drunkenness is a sin. But why? What is it specifically that the Bible is against? Surrendering to another master, losing control, bad decision making, and escaping life are some of the reasons that drinking in excess is forbidden by God.

Drinking alcohol in moderation is a gift but like anything else alcohol can be misused becoming a curse.

But isn’t getting high or buzzed the whole point of smoking (or eating) marijuana? As Doug Wilson writes, “No one smokes pot because it pairs nicely with the fish.” Unlike alcohol, it doesn’t really make sense to smoke pot in moderation so that you don’t get high. Now that marijuana is legal in more states Christians are going to have to wrestle with this question at a deeper level.

If you’d like to continue to think through this, check out this short book by Tom Breeden and Mark Ward.

One Comment

  1. Randy said:

    Hi Keith,

    I’m former pot smoker. I got high once or twice a day for about 15 years (’76 to ’93). In ’93 the Lord took me down, turned me around, and showed me the right Way. I’ve been following Jesus ever since – a totally greater high.

    Your article, along with Mr. Wilson’s quote, hits the nail on the head, very directly.

    “No one smokes pot because it pairs nicely with the fish.” Unlike alcohol, it doesn’t really make sense to smoke pot in moderation so that you don’t get high.”

    A little alcohol brings relaxation and “is beneficial for the stomach” – says Paul to Timothy. Learning to leave it at that trains a person to have discipline. That being said, we are also commanded to be ready to give a reason for the hope (1 Peter 3:15). Well, with a head full of smoke, it just doesn’t work. I tried it and it doesn’t work. Neither does praising God when you’re high – because the heart can’t connect with the mind. Neither does reading the Bible, because not giving all your attention to the ministering of the Holy Spirit is just plain rude, even blasphemous.

    My view – if a person has a drink, their inhibitions can be relaxed with train-of-thought remaining unaffected (for the most part). When a person takes that first hit, train-of-thought is equally off-set by the high – more smoke = more high = less train-of-thought. It just doesn’t work.

    . . . and I’d sure like to have 15 years worth of dead brain-cells back.

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