With marijuana use becoming legal in many parts of the world, the Christian argument from Romans 13 about obedience to the law no longer plays a major role in the discussion. If it is legal according to the government, then is smoking weed a sin? Romans 14:23 states that “whatever does not proceed from faith is sin,” so a Christian who would choose to use marijuana would need to do some serious prayer and study first. We of course must turn to God’s Word in order to answer the question.
The Bible says nothing about marijuana specifically, so we will have to get an overview of biblical principles that can be applied to it in order to get an answer. We will also need to be informed about what the research says in order to apply the passages correctly. While there are many forms that marijuana use can take, our focus will be on smoking it, since that is by far the most prevalent method.
Is it Beneficial?
The first and primary verse that we must examine is 1 Corinthians 6:12, which states “‘All things are lawful for me,’ but not all things are helpful. ‘All things are lawful for me,’ but I will not be dominated by anything.” Anything that we are trying to come to a biblical consensus on that is not explicitly mentioned in the Bible should be run through the filter of this verse. Whether marijuana use is beneficial or not to the work of God’s Kingdom must be considered.
What Does the Bible Say About Addiction?
While there is no evidence that marijuana is physiologically addictive, it can most definitely be psychologically addictive in some cases. The National Institute on Drug Abuse shows that “30 percent of marijuana users may have some degree of marijuana use disorder.” Many of these would be classified more as “dependence” than “addiction.” Nevertheless, when we allow ourselves to be “mastered” or “dominated” by something, then 1 Corinthians 6:12 shows that we are not doing what we ought. Those caught in addiction to marijuana sometimes find themselves unable to quit when they want to, and they see real effects of the addiction in their lives such as strained relationships and lost jobs.
When we find ourselves defaulting to something other than God for our comfort or for our way of making it through, then we have set that thing up in His place as a modern-day idol. In addition, marijuana is a common introductory drug. It is often one of the first that people try before moving on to worse drugs such as cocaine. While this is definitely not the case for everyone, it should be considered.
In addition, people who come off of addictions later in life find that they have yet to develop adequate coping skills to deal with the problems that life throws their way. The drug has been replacing that. So, being addicted is definitely not beneficial. But what if someone uses marijuana only occasionally and is not addicted in the least? If it is legal and they are not addicted, then so far the verses that we have looked at do not rule it out. But we must get a complete picture before making a decision.
Is it Good for Health and Focus?
In 1 Corinthians 6:19-20, the same chapter, Paul wrote “Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.” While this passage is talking specifically about sexual immorality, the fact remains that our bodies are the vessels through which God has chosen to glorify Himself.
Both a USA Today article and a study conducted by the Journal of Neuroscience showed that even casual use of marijuana can cause changes to important parts of the brain. The potential damage can also be seen in the fact that children have been hospitalized due to accidental exposure to it. Besides the effect it has on the brain, marijuana use has been linked to heart problems, muscle problems, and even issues with motor skills and car accidents.
In addition to the other physical effects, marijuana is thought to deaden the brain, to cause lack of clear judgement, and to slow reaction time. 1 Corinthians 6:13 says “Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness.” If we allow ourselves to be impaired by marijuana or any other drug, how can we present our bodies to Him to be used for righteousness?
We are to be weapons for God’s Kingdom, constantly taking ground from Satan by the power of the Holy Spirit. But a weapon that does not function properly is not nearly as useful as it could be. Christians must remain alert and sober-minded (1 Peter 5:8), because our enemy seeks to devour us. Paul kept his body under control (1 Corinthians 9:27). These verses show us that we should not do anything to impair ourselves in any way. We are to be focused, attentive people, and marijuana use usually does not benefit us in that regard.
Now, some people have stated that smoking marijuana actually calms them down and helps them to focus. In this case, the other health concerns should be considered. If it is harmful to our bodies, then we should probably not do it because we are called to care for our bodies.
What About Medical Marijuana?
But what about when we are using marijuana in order to do just that; care for our bodies? Medical marijuana has been shown to truly help people with certain diseases. However, there are many issues that plague its use. One problem is that the user may not know if what they are getting is a mild or a strong version of the drug. This can lead to much more of a high than intended. Also, many loopholes have been exploited. People purchase more than they need or stronger doses than they need, and they are often not the only ones using what they receive.
But these problems aside, if it comes down to using marijuana or some other pharmaceutical, then perhaps a comparison should be made based on these biblical principles. Which is more addicting? Which will cause more damage to my health and to my ability to focus? I believe that we have freedom to do what we find most beneficial where the Bible is silent.
1 Corinthians 8:9 must also be considered here. “But take care that this right of yours does not somehow become a stumbling block to the weak.” If someone is seen smoking marijuana, even medically, it may encourage someone else to give it a try. We must always keep in mind that what we do has the potential to affect another negatively.
The primary questions are “What do the biblical principles indicate?” and “Is smoking marijuana beneficial to the Christian life?” There may very well be cases where medical marijuana is a right choice, but what about recreational use?
After studying this, even if marijuana use was legal where I live, I was able to use it non-addictively, and it truly helped me to focus, I still wouldn’t use it solely because of the potentially negative health concerns. God wants us to be free. If we encounter a believer who thinks that it is okay to recreationally use marijuana because it is legal, shaming them is not the answer. Rather, we should ask them “Are you going to just do whatever the government says is okay, or are you going to look deeper? Are you going to do what is beneficial rather than what is just permissible?”
Marijuana use is a bit of a grey area because it is not explicitly mentioned in the Bible. However, when the biblical principles are all considered, it would probably be sinful for the majority of Christians to use marijuana, if for no other reason but it’s potential harm to the body. The only likely times that it may not be sinful is in certain medical situations.