Just so that you know, I come at this question from years of personal experience, though it’s not a part of my life now and hasn’t been for a long time.
I’m going to discuss the pros and cons of indulgence, and then some scriptural considerations.
To discuss the “pros” first, I have to say that pastors and parents alike make a big mistake when they label Marijuana/cannabis/dope/blow/weed as being “dangerous” and “addictive”. They’re making a big mistake because when their kids try it they will discover that far from being dangerous, it’s actually much less physically harmful than alcohol, and that it’s not in the least bit physically addictive. They may instead enjoy themselves immensely, and come to the conclusion that the pastor and Dad don’t have a clue what they’re talking about. What is dangerous is causing them to think that you have no knowledge of drugs, and therefore that other things can be experimented with too.
Marijuana is very relaxing, and gives you a feeling of well-being and often one of euphoria and joy. It sometimes causes you to see your world in intricate and amazing detail: you see beauty where before you saw none. It’s a very social drug, helping you enjoy company and conversation far more than you might do normally. In an age where people laugh little but get very serious about so much, Marijuana causes you to laugh easily, and just generally have a good time. It can break the ice in most social situations. It releases inhibitions and can cause even the most timid person to come out of their shell and enjoy themselves.
It can provide a very welcome escape from reality, which- let’s face it- can be dull, boring, depressing and hopeless.
People use Marijuana for many different reasons. While peer pressure may have been a small contributing factor in my own long period of stoned life, I mostly wanted an escape from loneliness and emptiness and the drudgery of my life, and I wanted that release from my inhibitions. I loved the feeling of euphoria, and the extent to which my imagination was energized. I had tremendous fun with my non-Christian friends, that I must reluctantly admit I have never, or very rarely, had with Christians.
There is no painful crash, or cold-turkey. You just gradually come down from your high, until you feel normal again: that’s it.
However, there is a down side, and so to the “cons”, and what the Bible might have to say on the subject.
Is it really such a bad thing to get stoned? After all, so long as you hurt no-one, what’s the problem?
Soon after I’d become a Christian and was doing some witnessing in the streets of my home town, a Rastafarian focused not on my gospel message, but on his alleged Biblical license to smoke the weed – a strong hint of what his priorities were. He told me that in the book of Genesis God gave to man “every green herb”. The Rasta then gave me that “get out of that one” look. He had neglected to quote the rest of the verse, which ends with the phrase:
“To you it shall be for meat” (Genesis 1: 29 KJV).
God gave man plants, seeds and fruit for food, not to get stoned on, and since the Fall there are plants that we will not or cannot eat because they are harmful to us or even fatal. Marijuana is not physically harmful: my point here is that we all tend to defend what we love with any logic to hand-good or bad.
Depending on the strength of what’s being smoked, it can cause some people to feel very sick, dizzy and disorientated, so that they certainly don’t enjoy it. Others will say it just makes them feel tired and sleepy. Some people can be very uncomfortable, embarrassed and uneasy – even disgusted – when people around them begin to lose their inhibitions. This is one of the bad things about users-they can be selfish and insensitive to the feelings of those around them. Users often feel that they are somehow superior to those who aren’t stoned, or even that non-users are boring and dull. I know what I’m talking about- I’ve felt it and witnessed it many times. Those who are stoned often look upon the “straight” and those with self-control with contempt and ridicule.
Those losing their inhibitions can lose them to the point of making complete fools of themselves and others around them.
Escape from reality when looked at subjectively is considered a good thing, but from the outside, I believe that instead of finding ways to escape reality we should be working to make the real world a happy, loving, pleasant and interesting place to live in. Escape is cowardly, self-serving, and temporal. Being high is a trap of psychological addiction for those who are unhappy with life or just plain selfish.
Being high can give us a false sense of security when we need to be facing up to the problems of life and tackling them. As Mike Warnke once said, (and I’m paraphrasing), when you’re two months behind on your rent and the refrigerator doesn’t work, you get high to make yourself feel better, and when you come down, you’re three months behind on your rent and someone’s stolen the refrigerator. Getting high “fixes” nothing, and makes us less determined to try to fix: it saps our vigor and our vitality. It stimulates unproductive imagination and not that which makes our world a better place for all.
There may or may not be long term effects on the brain: I’m not familiar with the medical research. Speaking from my own experience, I can often relate to what I heard one preacher say that I did agree with. When speaking of a man he knew who had once been a long term “pot smoker” but who was now a cleaned up Christian, he said “he’s saved and free, but the gears are slippin’ boy – the gears are slippin”.
I find that there are many times when I act or think irrationally, or my brain seems to get stuck – and I notice that others notice. I’m often indecisive, I think (joke) and find it hard to think some things through to a conclusion, even when I struggle to. Of course, I may have been like that before I was a smoker. People who have been Marijuana or Cannabis users often go on to have successful professional careers, but just think how much more productive they may have been if they’d kept a clear head in the past.
I will agree that Marijuana does not cause people to be violent or abusive, any more than alcohol does. I’ve been stoned and drunk many times, but never once hit or threatened anyone, and neither did any of the friends I associated with at the time. However, drugs, as I have observed, do release inhibitions, and if someone is inclined to be violent – if he has it in him – there’s a good chance that certain drugs will bring that violence out.
I’ve known professing Christians who smoke dope, declaring that they are not doing anything wrong. I’ve heard people say that there’s nothing in the Bible against Marijuana use. But really there is. Oh I know that the words “Thou shalt not smoke dope or get stoned” are nowhere to be found, but when we use Scripture as our instruction manual and not as a source of ammunition for our personal views, we can find some clear guidance on what the state of our minds should be. Non-believers who are users will see my following comments as rubbish: but they are written to the professing believer.
I’ve heard people say that as Jesus spent time with drunks and hookers, Jesus was obviously okay with booze and free sexual expression. Therefore, so the logic goes, had he access to Marijuana, he would have enjoyed it himself.
Just because Jesus sat with the drunks and the sinners, it doesn’t automatically follow that he got smashed with them: it means that he wanted to rescue them from their weaknesses, habits and addictions, by loving them anyway.
The Bible speaks of the need for self-control. Paul said that the fruit of the Spirit is “self-control” (Galatians 5:22-23).
Peter said “Be self-controlled and alert…” (1 Peter 5:8).
What did Peter mean when he said that we should be alert? He was talking about being spiritually alert. When you let down your guard, and lose your inhibitions, you are opening up your mind and your spirit to compromise, unbelief, sin, and deception.
The entire verse reads as follows:
“Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour”.
If your mind is running wild, you just may not realize what is happening to it. It can go off on many wild journeys of imagining. If you were able to be honest with yourself, what you consider to be amazing and insightful thoughts may really be nothing more than nonsense. You can come to some very faulty conclusions. Your judgment is impaired, even when you think that your mind is the size of the universe.
Jesus said that one of the significant signs of the last days would be spiritual deception (Matthew 24: 4, 11, 23-24), and Paul said that Satan and his angels pose as angels of light, or ministers of righteousness (2 Corinthians 11: 13-15). It’s significant that when you are stoned you have a lot of astoundingly deep and meaningful thoughts and thought processes, or so you think. It’s at times like this that any spirits who choose to can plant all kinds of false and deceptive ideas into your mind, and you are not together enough to question them, or to even notice them.
I’ve noticed that when you’re stoned, your guard is down and you are open to all kinds of falseness. I’ve also noticed that regular users are usually so open minded that their brains are falling out. Their moral and spiritual sense is so relaxed that they will accept almost anything and anyone – except the concept that there is only one Narrow way to Life. They generally have no stomach for Biblical doctrine or for drawing hard and fast lines in the spiritual sand: all roads lead to God – if there is one – and how dare you be so judgmental to assume that your view of God is right?
I’m not saying that one smoke will send you to hell. I’m saying that a drug such as Marijuana will war against the Spirit of God in you, if He is in you. If he is not, then you really are open to all kinds of nonsense and deception.
On a practical level we as Christians are supposed to obey the law of the land (Romans 13: 1-7; Hebrews 13: 17). Christianity is not about rebelling against authority, unless that authority conflicts with the word of God.
Apart from complete legalization, by smoking what you acquire from who knows where, you may be helping to fuel a supply chain which involves theft and murder.