Christians and Cannabis

With approximately 75% of Americans identifying themselves as Christians and many state and local governments moving swiftly in the direction of marijuana legalization, our society is witnessing the unavoidable collision of Christianity and cannabis.

But the prescient question is whether or not these social practices can coexist. Does cannabis consumption make you a sinner? Does the Bible text prohibit marijuana use?

Let’s explore this issue and see if we can find a resolution.

What Does the Bible Say About Cannabis

Christian believers who also smoke “the devil’s lettuce” might be excited to learn that there is no specific prohibition in scripture against smoking weed even though science indicates that the plants have been around for thousands of years. The oldest known written record on cannabis use comes from the Chinese Emperor Shen Nung in 2727 B.C.

But the absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. In scripture, we do find many verses regarding how we should treat our bodies. For example, Leviticus 11 describes rabbits and pigs as unfit for eating. Proverbs 23:20-21 explicitly discourages drinking too much wine. Yet, marijuana is not mentioned anywhere in the Bible.

But don’t reach for your blunt just yet! Being a Christian means to live a lifestyle similar to that of Jesus Christ and we also can’t find any record of Jesus hitting the bong.

So where does that leave believers when there is no scriptural basis for or against cannabis consumption? We are left to explore our motivation for smoking weed in the first place. Our motives will provide a window into our hearts and if our hearts are pure, perhaps an occasional toke is permissible.

Cannabis is Used for Recreation and Medicine

It is naive to think that marijuana is not consumed by people who truly believe in God. With millions of weed smokers and millions of Christians in the United States, the numbers are bound to overlap. But it should be stated that people consume marijuana for various reasons. For the sake of our discussion, we will focus on two: recreational and medicinal.

Recreational Cannabis

In researching this article, I interviewed many devout Christians regarding their opinions of ween and Christianity. Based on their many responses, you would have a difficult time convincing the average Christian that smoking weed for recreational purposes is a good thing. However, when pressed to find a biblical basis for their opinions, most people failed. In fact, it seems as if their opinions are rooted in societal conditioning rather than a scriptural foundation.

But looking to the scripture to find explicit directions on abstinence is the wrong approach because marijuana is not mentioned in the Bible. The proper approach is to examine the reasons why a person would desire to consume marijuana.

Studies show that potheads tend to consume recreational cannabis to feel good, ease boredom, relieve tension or frustration, seek deeper insights, escape problems, or to increase (or decrease) the effects of other drugs. None of these reasons align with a Christian lifestyle. What’s worse is that these reasons invite sinful temptations into your life!

Being High on Cannabis Feels Good

Whether being high on cannabis” feels good” is debatable. While many users describe a euphoric sensation and a sense of relaxation, many others experience panic attacks, anxiety, and extreme hunger. Marijuana also encourages laziness and lethargy, which are reasons that the Bible discourages excessive drinking of wine in Proverbs 23:20-21.

Being High on Cannabis Eases Boredom

Proverbs 16:27 says that “Idle hands are the devil’s workshop; idle lips are his mouthpiece.” Idle hands and idle lips come from an idle mind. Replacing those idle thoughts with intoxicated thoughts opens a spiritual gateway for Satan to enter your life and wreak havoc. No Christian should desire this.

Being High on Cannabis Relieves Tension

As stated above, marijuana also has the potential to increase tension and that is a risk that no Christian should be eager to take. Even if smoking weed provides you with some relief of stress, there are many other available methods that better align with a Christian lifestyle and do not arouse carnal temptations in the way that marijuana can.

For example, a hot bath with candlelight and soft music is an excellent stress reliever. A relaxing massage can remove tension from stressed muscles and greatly reduce anxiety.

Feeling stressed can make you spiritually vulnerable to temptation and impairing your judgment with cannabis can increase those vulnerabilities.

Medicinal Cannabis

Modern scientific advances have revealed many health benefits of cannabis consumption. And although our faith directs us to trust God for healing, we also know that faith without works is dead. Just as we would consume man-made pharmaceuticals with the hope of healing, perhaps the natural alternative of medicinal marijuana is worth considering if our motive is based purely on health concerns.

In recent studies, cannabis has shown positive treatment result for the following conditions:

  • Cancer
  • AIDS
  • Anorexia
  • Chronic pain
  • Spasticity
  • Cachexia
  • Persistent muscle spasms, including those associated with multiple sclerosis
  • Seizures, including, but not limited to, those associated with epilepsy

Modern cancer treatments are known to reduce the appetite even to the point of starvation. In some cases, marijuana is used to increase the appetite to counteract these negative side effects. Is that sinful?

In cases of chronic pain, marijuana has proven to dull the pain and provide patients with a degree of functionality that they would otherwise lack. Is that demonic?

In cases of insomnia, the effects of marijuana have been shown to induce a state of mental relaxation that encourages deep sleep. Is that Atheistic?

These are just a few examples of how cannabis consumption can provide relief from physical ailments that might otherwise inhibit one’s ability to be an effective witness for Jesus Christ. How can we bear witness to God’s goodness when we are writhing in pain? How can we share the love of God when we can’t even get out of bed? How can we exemplify a fruitful life to others if we can’t get a good night’s rest?

These questions and many more are worth exploring among Christians who wish to remain relevant and effective in a society that desires to normalize marijuana use.

Bible Verses About Drunkenness and Sobriety

As we have noted, the Bible does not address the specific issue of marijuana use, but it has a lot to say about drunkenness. The effects of drunkenness are the closest biblical reference that we have to the conditions of a cannabis high. If we use these verses as a reference point, we get a pretty good idea of whether or not Christians should “get high.”

Ephesians 5:18 — “And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, . . .”

Galatians 5:21 — “Envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.”

1 Peter 5:8 — “Be sober-minded; be watchful.”

1 Corinthians 6:10 — “Nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.”

Proverbs 23:20-21 — “Be not among drunkards or among gluttonous eaters of meat, for the drunkard and the glutton will come to poverty, and slumber will clothe them with rags.”

Proverbs 23:29-35 — “Who has woe? Who has sorrow? Who has strife? Who has complaining? Who has wounds without cause? Who has redness of eyes? Those who tarry long over wine; those who go to try mixed wine. Do not look at wine when it is red, when it sparkles in the cup and goes down smoothly. In the end it bites like a serpent and stings like an adder. Your eyes will see strange things, and your heart utter perverse things.”

Isaiah 5:11 — “Woe to those who rise early in the morning, that they may run after strong drink, who tarry late into the evening as wine inflames them!”

Hosea 4:11 — “Whoredom, wine, and new wine, which take away the understanding.”

1 Corinthians 5:11 — “But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler—not even to eat with such a one.”

Isaiah 28:7 — “These also reel with wine and stagger with strong drink; the priest and the prophet reel with strong drink, they are swallowed by wine, they stagger with strong drink, they reel in vision, they stumble in giving judgment.”

Matthew 24:48-49 — “But if that wicked servant says to himself, ‘My master is delayed,’ and begins to beat his fellow servants and eats and drinks with drunkards . . .”

Conclusion

The headwinds of American society are shifting. As Christians, it is not enough for us to simply turn our backs on weed smokers and declare them as lost sinners. We must educate ourselves about the shifting tide and be prepared to witness to the world from a point of knowledge.

People consume marijuana for different reasons and those very reasons should define our approach to the discussion. For example, it would not be sensible to treat someone with a critical illness who consumes cannabis for pain in the same way we would treat a wayward stoner who smokes because their life lacks direction.

If smoking marijuana is a sin, what about edibles and smokeless options? Is the smoke problematic or the mental effect? Are CBD oil extractions permissible?

It seems that the most logical answers lead to more questions. But as believers, it is our responsibility to prepare ourselves to spread the love of God to everyone – even those whose life choices we disagree with. Smoking weed doesn’t mean that you don’t love God. Moreover, it does not disenfranchise anyone from eternal life in Heaven.

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2 Comments

  1. Hi Gerald, you said “Yet, marijuana is not mentioned anywhere in the Bible.” That’s simply not the case. I know that in your english bible, Exodus 30:23 says “calamus”, but that is not a correct translation and you should look this up. The word is “qaneh (h7070) besem (h1314)” and pronounced “canna bosem”. It’s cannabis that was used in the incense in the tabernacle (there is some disagreement over this, but the fact is, you can’t make clothing from calamus, you can’t eat calamus, and you certainly don’t burn it for incense). This shows us that The Almighty himself deemed this substance something that was spiritual in nature. Now I have my own theories about why this is, but that’s not the point. The point is that it IS in scripture. And let us not forget Genesis 1:29 where he calls all seed bearing plants ours for “meat” or “oklah” (strongs h402). It means to consume, eat, consume by fire… You get what I’m saying. Blessings my brother. Shalom.

  2. Lisa McDonald

    Smoking cannabis is not a sin. Genesis 2:29 Behold I give you herb bearing seeds.
    It is God’s plant for us. You cant compare cannabis to alcohol. 95,000 deaths a yr in US due to alcohol.
    Cannabis zero deaths. Some people use it to relax. Some people dont get high just only take one of 2 puffs.

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