Morality

Word and Weed

One of the reasons for the length of time between this post and the last is simple disobedience. I KNEW the God wanted me to write this; I simply didn’t want to because of the reactions I am almost certain I’ll get from most readers.

And, no, it wasn’t because I was afraid of offending anyone or because I was overly concerned with being taken the wrong way, or even that I would be ignored or my stand rejected without consideration. Even though the majority of conversations I’ve had on this topic (which is coming up quite often lately) gets one of those responses, my main excuse for not posting this is because, based on previous conversations, I felt it was a waste of time.

“Why, Lord,” I asked, “Should I put all this effort into something that I know will just come to nothing?”

And, of course, the answer was the same as always in these cases. “Because that is what I want you to do, and I know the outcome – you don’t. Read your Scripture and thing back on church history. Are you so arrogant to think that you are the only one I’ve asked to do something that seems silly at the time? Get on with it!”

 So, here’s the question: 

“Is it OK for a Christian to use recreational marijuana in those states that have legalized it?”

There are really two questions to be answered. You will notice that the second presupposes a “yes” answer to the first, and that a “no” answer to the first makes the second irrelevant. Here they are:“Is it OK for a Christian to use recreational marijuana in those states that have legalized it?”  and “How much of a buzz can I get without sinning?”

Before I answer, I want to make it VERY clear that I am NOT addressing the issue of medical marijuana. I am looking at the use of recreational marijuana, even if used for medical reasons but without a prescription. There are legitimate PRESCRIBED MEDICAL uses for it, most of which do not contain significant amounts of the compound primarily responsible for the psychoactive effects.

The reason I stress prescribed and supervised medical use is because over thirty years in various ministries and two decades of my wife working at a resident teen treatment center I can without reservation state that of ALL of the many acquaintances, friends, and family members that I have observed self-medicating with controlled substances (including both alcohol and marijuana), it has NEVER turned out well.

Back to recreational use. As a follower of Christ, the primary authority should be the Bible. However, Scripture does not directly mention marijuana. Therefore, we must look at what God has said in His word about similar substances, and draw a correlation from that.

There are two topics in the Bible that most directly relate to the issue: sorcery, and alcohol.   The first requires a bit more explanation, so let’s look at sorcery first.

Although Scripture does not explicitly mention narcotic and mind-altering drug use other than alcohol, extra-Biblical writings of the times as well as the writings of early church fathers and contemporary historians indicate that the use of such drugs was an integral part of many sorcerous practices. For example, sorcerers and magicians frequently used psychoactive potions to induce visions and help in divination.  The Bible very clearly forbids the practice of sorcery and occult magic in Ex. 22:18, Mal 3:5, and Gal 5:19-21

As for alcohol, we are repeatedly reminded that we are not to get drunk. A few passages that emphasize this are  Rom. 13:13,  1 Cor 6:9-10,  Eph. 5:18, and 1 Thess.5:7-8.

So, the obviously most valid conclusion from these and other passages is that we are forbidden by God to purposely become intoxicated. In other words, getting high is equally sinful as getting drunk.

But, I’ve been asked, since we aren’t forbidden from the use of alcohol as long as we don’t get drunk, doesn’t the same apply to recreational use of other drugs?

That’s a good question, but when the effects and common uses of non-prescribed mind-altering drugs such as cannabis are examined, it becomes clear that the real questions is “Can I use marijuana anyway?”.

Here’s the BIG difference: while for the average adult it takes about two to 4 servings of an alcoholic beverage to become intoxicated, for cannabis clinical studies have concluded that in order to become intoxicated to the point of impaired judgement and reflexes takes on average 4 – 6 puffs. In other words, most adults will get a buzz from less than one joint, and a full one can get you flat out high unless you are using it frequently enough to build up a tolerance.

Coupled with the fact that no one I have interviewed or read accounts from uses cannabis in cooking (brownies or cookies, y’all?) does it as a flavor enhancer or for any reason other than to get high, it is safe to conclude that there is no safe, legitimate, or Biblically sound use for recreational marijuana. Remember, as I said before – self medicating with controlled substances has, in my observation, never turned out well.

But there are other reasons to refrain from recreational use. First of all,  in Romans 13:1-2 Paul reminds us that we are to obey the laws of the land. While Scripture does give us the obligation to break this general rule when obeying the law forces us to violate GOD’S commands, this practice clearly does not fall under that exception. So, since use of recreational use of marijuana is still prohibited under Federal law anytime you use cannabis without a prescription you are willingly disobeying the law.

Finally, Paul spend a large portion of his letter to the  Romans (Rom. 14) giving instructions about how just because we CAN do something it is often the case that we SHOULDN’T.  He emphasized that if indulging in something that is pleasurable or even possibly personally beneficial in some way is likely to cause a sibling in Christ to stumble in their relationship with God WE SHOULD NOT DO IT. 

Additionally, we must keep in mind that Jesus, in Luke 9, talks about the necessity of personal sacrifice even to the point of death and torture in order to be an authentic disciple. If we as Warriors of Faith are not willing to sacrifice even in relatively small ways by refraining from what is clearly not in keeping with God’s will or commands, then are we truly ‘warriors’ at all? I think not.

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For those who either dispute my assessment of the physiological effects of cannabis, or are unfamiliar with the research, here are a couple of sites to take a look at:

Here is a link to a clinical study discussing average amount needed for intoxication as well as some other information to think about.

Lifehacker has a fairly comprehensive article on the physiological effects of weed

LGBT Responses pt. 2

In the last post, I promised to give a few brief answers to the most common objections I hear to the Biblical worldview concerning the LGBT lifestyle. Here they are:

-) Homosexuality is not a sin.
I expect this one from non-Christians; when you deny God’s right to define sin then anything is acceptable as long as you want it to be. What surprises me is when someone who professes to be a disciple of Christ asserts this.
The Bible is very clear, as is Jesus Himself. I explained that in my first post on this subject, but it bears repeating. Both in the Old and New Testaments, homosexual activity is presented as a sin.

Some relevant passages are: Matthew 19:3-5 (discussed in an earlier post here), Leviticus 18:22, Leviticus 20:13, Romans 1:24-27, 1 Timothy 1:10

-) Homosexuality is not a choice, therefore it cannot be wrong.
This is a not very subtle variation of the “it isn’t a sin” argument, and is far from the ‘fact’ it is usually presented to be. While there are studies cited that indicate that there may be a genetic propensity for homosexuality (cited in the link list below), not only do the most recent concur that the influence is marginal at best, there are no less than eight studies of identical twins that disprove even this theory (also linked below). Continue reading

A Christlike Response to Those Who Support the LGBT Lifestyle

(Note: instead of citing Scripture throughout this article as usual, I will list relevant passages at the end)

The comment I hear quite often about Christians is that we are bigoted/intorlerant/hateful just because we refuse to condone and enable a lifestyle that we disagree with.

Granted, there are a few “Christian” groups and quite a disturbingly large number of people who claim to be Christian that oppose the LGBT supporters and practictioners in ways and with words that are hateful or demeaning in tone. Some of that is in response to the hateful, derogatory, and malicious rhetoric that constantly flows from the LGBT activist community, some out of personal animosity – but all wrong and unChristlike.

The other extreme of Christian response is to either remain silent (and by doing so giving tacit approval) or to actively approve the lifestyle. This approach is often taken out of fear of reprisal or public disapproval, sometimes out of a belief that the LGBT stand is appropriate – but this response is equally wrong, and equally (perhaps even more) unChristlike.

Unfortunately, the constant LGBT rants and name-calling, setting up straw men to knock down, and focusing on the extreme opponents that descend to their methods of public discourse is quite effective in drowning out those of us who attempt to share Christ’s view of this matter in a gentle but firm way.

I’ve noticed that there is a basic reluctance on both sides of the fence to try and really understand the worldview and perspective of the other side. I expect that from the LGBT support side; I find it disturbing from the Christian side. How can we hope to have any kind of an impact, or expect the other side to even consider our view if we refuse to listen to them?

So, here’s a short summary of what I understand both sides to believe. Keep in mind that these are general statements. Continue reading

The Reality of Evil Shows the Existence of God

The single most prevalent objection to Christianity I hear from atheists as well as those from the pagan ‘roll your own religion’ community is the objection based on the presence of evil. It is usually stated like this:

“ If there is an all-powerful, all-knowing and good God, then he would not only be able but willing to prevent evil. But there is evil, therefore God doesn’t exist.”

The dictionary definitions of evil can be summarized by this: “Evil is anything that is morally wrong, or is a cause or source of suffering or destruction.”

In other words, evil is the absence of good, and the degree to which something is evil is directly related to the degree to which it reduces that which is good. For example, calling someone ugly is usually considered mildly bad (or evil), but torturing a child to death just for ‘the fun of it’ is the epitome of evil – or at least close to it. Continue reading

Signpost – Moral Law, pt. 2

Last week, we established that there is absolute moral truth; this week we will propose the necessity of an absolute moral truth giver.

Without a transcendent source, moral truth cannot be anything other than subjective, and changeable. Since there are moral absolutes, there must be a source, and that source must be good, powerful and a person. In short, God.

=) The source of moral law must be powerful enough to enforce that law. The only being both good enough and powerful enough to do so must transcend both time and space in order to enforce a law effective for all people at all times.

=) The source of moral law must be good. Since it has been determined that moral law by definition is good, the source of that law must also be good. Because that source must be a person, it must be God. God is by definition good, so any being that is not good is not God.

=) God must be a person, as moral laws, like civil or criminal laws, can only be enforced by persons. Continue reading

Signpost Series – Moral Law

I’ve recently been asked to give a blueprint for how to present the Gospel to atheists, sort of a ‘Four Spiritual Laws’ or ‘Way of the Master’ approach to those who don’t even believe God exists, much less that the Bible is authoritative.

It isn’t that easy. The atheists that I know are a very diverse group in that they present a wide variety of objections to the existence of God. While most of the time, these objections are little more than a way to avoid dealing with the underlying emotional reasons for their stand, their stated reasons must be shown false before any meaningful look at the Scripture can take place.

So, instead of a blueprint, let’s take a ‘roadmap’ approach. The beginning point is atheism, and the endpoint is discipleship. While the goal is fixed, there can be a variety of roads to get there. I’ve decided to post an article each week detailing one of the major signposts on the map. I call it the Signpost series. Continue reading