Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Up In Smoke: Exposing the Smog of Pro-Pot Logic Part 2

By Pastor Mark Christopher

It should come as no surprise that there are those who claim that Jesus healed with marijuana. Those who assert this, maintain Jesus healed with oil made from cannabis extract. They further contend Jesus burned incense made from a similar extract. 

So what verifiable proof do proponents of pot-theology have for making such outlandish claims? None. It is pure, unbridled speculation blended with a copious measure of wishful thinking that drives this dagga dogma. Even if there was some validity to the claim, it is still an astonishingly long leap from anointing someone with oil to promoting smoking a joint. 

One can laugh, but given the mass appeal of all things hemp, Christians need to be able to biblically answer whether or not Scripture endorses the recreational uses of dagga. After all, there are professing believers who think that Genesis 1:29’s appeal for humanity to eat all seed-bearing plants is somehow tantamount to a green light for lighting up a joint — Never mind that this context is pre-fall and pre-curse (Rom. 8:18-23), and that eating, not smoking, is in view.

Regardless of whether or not the state sanctions the recreational use of marijuana, the Christian needs to consult the Bible first and foremost to honestly answer the questions related to dagga as a liberty issue. If the SA government should ever legalize the drug, does that mean it is permissible, under the guise of a liberty issue, to imbibe in moderation? 

In order to answer this, there are host of questions that must be asked and transparently answered before a categorical answer can be given: 

1. What is the motivation for smoking dagga? Scripture is quite clear on what the ultimate goal of life is about — to glorify God (1 Cor. 10:31). So can one light up a joint for the glory of God? Well, unlike the person who has the occasional drink, the motivation for smoking dagga is to get wasted. Even those who smoke occasionally do so to get stoned and feel the buzz. The motivation is to escape reality through momentary psychological and physical euphoria. This hardly agrees with the biblical mandate to find one’s joy, peace, and love by walking in the Spirit of God (Gal. 5:16, 22-23).

Given that today’s THC in a joint is at much higher concentrations than a few years ago, it only takes about four puffs of a joint (7mg. of THC) to reach research-tested levels of intoxication. So the notion that one can exercise their liberty and enjoy a joint in moderation is quite frankly a pipe dream.

2. Will smoking marijuana promote the Ephesians 5:18 command to avoid being controlled by any external influence beyond the Spirit of God? When one is in Christ, their life is to be one of being Spirit controlled, Spirit driven, and Spirit submitted. Since the Spirit of God inspired the Word of God, whatever else a Spirit-filled life is, it will be in keeping with the very word the Spirit inspired. All throughout the Bible drunkenness and intoxication is divinely condemned.  In final analysis, to be Spirit filled means one walks in the Spirit displaying some measure of fruit with its whole basket of ripened virtues. On this basis, Paul declared (1 Cor. 6:12c), "... I will not be mastered by anything."

3.  Are mind-altering drugs associated with godliness or ungodliness? In Galatians 5:20 one of the deeds of the flesh mentioned is “sorcery”, which according the Greek text speaks of witchcraft that is coupled with mind-altering substances of whatever kind. The Greek word for “sorcery” is pharmakia which addresses pagan religious magic practices that were aided by intoxicants in various magical potions or mutis. These concoctions were thought to put one into contact with the spirit realm. Interestingly, the book of Revelation uses the related terms several times (Rev. 9:21; 18:23; 21:8; 22:15), indicating the twin evils of the occult and getting loaded will increase prior to the return of Christ.

In the Talmud, the Jewish commentary on the Old Testament, the commentary on Numbers 22-25 on the story of Balaam and Balak explains that the Moabites used marijuana-laced pastries to seduce Jewish men into cubicles with young Moabite maidens. While the story is probably apocryphal, it nevertheless illustrates the point. 

So rather than tending toward godliness, intoxicating substances, like dagga, lead one to the threshold of the occult, even if that is not the intended goal. 

4. Will smoking dagga encourage the disciplined mind required for living out one’s faith? We have already established that the pot of today is much stronger than in previous generations. Yet, the New Testament promotes a sober mind. The exhortation in the epistles is to be “sober minded”: 
  In relation to one’s sin and conduct (1 Cor. 15:34).

·        In relation to end times and return of Christ ( 1Thess. 5:6, 8).

·        In relation to all things (2 Tim. 4:5).

·        In persecution and trials (1 Pet. 1:13; 4:7; 5:8).

The term itself, “be sober”, references a self-controlled thinking that approaches reality reasonably and biblically, rather than responding irrationally and erratically. 

Therefore, straight thinking and unclouded judgment are requirements for the Christian. If one is honest, the use of dagga is antithetical to the sobriety being a Christian demands.

5. Will it harm my body? Paul reminds the Corinthians that as blood-bought believers, the body is a temple (1 Cor. 6:19-20) housing the indwelling Holy Spirit. As such, the body is reserved for glorifying God, not for doing as one pleases. Temple maintenance is, therefore, necessary. Given both the negative short term and long term effects of marijuana, use of the drug violates the temple principle and destroys that which is meant to be a vessel for God’s glory. 

6. Is using dagga for medicinal purposes okay? The Bible does record instances where the use of drugs for medicinal purposes is condoned (Ezekiel 47:12; Rev. 22:2). The balm in Gilead (Jerm. 8:22; cf. 46:16; 51:8) was a drug used because of its healing properties. In 1 Timothy 5:23 Paul tells Timothy to take some wine for his stomach’s sake. Thus, when the motivation for using a drug is palliative (alleviating the ill effects) or curative, it does not pose the same ethical dilemma as recreational drug usage does. This does not imply care should not be exercised when legitimately using prescription drugs.

Finally, the Christian must ask himself/herself what the goal of the Christian life is. As stated in the previous article, we are called to be holy, not high. The child of God should strive by grace to imitate Christ, not conform to the drug-laden culture. The believer is to be characterized by the transforming grace of God rather than conforming to the spirit of the age. For in this is found the sum of being in the world, but not being of it!  


Bill O'Neill said...

Excellent points. Regardless as to whether SA (or USA) permits it, we are to seek a Scriptural basis for our liberty.

Ja Byron said...

Great commentary Mark! I imagine those that disparage the truth will begin worship services by setting the mood with a few hits of dagga. Remember, your church is on a happiness quest not a truth quest. (Andy Stanley, Deep & Wide).

The Radical Watchman said...

Thanks Bill and Jim! I know the states has been fighting this scourge for a while now. But the debate in South Africa is only kicking into high gear now. The lobbyists are using the same worn out arguments used in the US. No doubt trendy churches, seeking to be relevant, will jump on the ganja express. Who knows, maybe some churches will even start having 420 fellowship!