In Canada, it’s only been a few months since the federal government made cannabis a legal substance. It’s difficult to imagine really – one day illegal, the next legal. So, whether you call the drug – weed, grass, pot, marijuana, or cannabis, many are left wondering how to approach the issue. So, the question that’s often asked me: “Since, it’s no longer illegal, can Christians use cannabis?” The last time I was asked, I said I would articulate my answer a little better in a post, so hopefully this post can bring some clarity.
What makes this topic fairly challenging, is that Scripture never directly talks about the use of cannabis. So, instead of looking for an aye or nay in the Bible, we have to approach the topic using biblical principles.
How does a Christian navigate the use of cannabis?
First of all, if cannabis is still illegal for you (e.g. Underage or when driving), the answer is: you don’t have to navigate it, because you shouldn’t break the law. That’s pretty simple. You can click here for the government’s regulations regarding cannabis.
If it is legal for you, we can look to Scripture to give us a framework to help us think it through. I think the first thing we need to do is ask some personal questions:
- Have I honestly reflected and prayed about it?
- Will this help or hinder my faith journey?
- Will this help of hinder those around me?
If we work through those questions, I think we can honestly give ourselves a basic answer to whether or not we can engage in consumption. And remember, there are many things that may be alright for some, while not a good idea for others. I’ll look at some scenarios below.
With that said, when Paul wrote about our freedom in grace, he wrote a statement that helps us navigate this conversation:
23 “I have the right to do anything,” you say—but not everything is beneficial. “I have the right to do anything”—but not everything is constructive. 24 No one should seek their own good, but the good of others.1 Corinthians 10:23-24
This is a humbling concept. After answering the above questions, I may actually be able to conclude that it’s alright to use cannabis, but in the same breath conclude that it isn’t really beneficial. And when we selflessly ask these questions, we may actually conclude that using cannabis will negatively impact a friend, and therefore conclude it’s not worth it.
But let’s face it, many people are faced with cannabis consumption for many different reasons. Let’s briefly look a few scenarios.
What about medical purposes?
One of the advantages of legalization, is the regulated availability of cannabis for medical purposes. In particular, products like CBD oil that relieve pain, but don’t include drugs that make you ‘high.’
While the studies seem to be a little premature, some find cannabis products to be highly effective for types of arthritis and other pain. The key here, is actually taking advantage of the refined products that focus on pain relief.
So, you could ask: Should Christians take advantage of medical cannabis products? I would actually say, ‘Maybe.’ Here’s why:
You still need to ask yourself the personal questions mentioned above. If you can answer these questions well, and it becomes helpful for you, and your faith journey, then there’s really no issue.
If, however, you have to almost ‘sell your soul’ (so to speak) in order to bring yourself to use it, it may not be a good idea. You may, in fact, be trading pain, for anxiety. I personally wouldn’t convince anyone to engage if they weren’t comfortable doing so. Likewise, I would never judge a Christian who uses cannabis for medical purposes.
What about socially?
It’s probably safe to say cannabis consumption should be viewed similarly to that of alcohol consumption. While it’s possible to consume it without causing a problem, it’s almost impossible to do so without some clear biblical boundaries.
By boundaries, however, we don’t mean rules. We should be more concerned with learning how to think and navigate life (so as to find ways to pursue holiness), than following rules. We’ll never be perfect, but that doesn’t mean we can’t create healthy and godly boundaries that encourage spiritual growth.
1. Our bodies are a temple for the Holy Spirit
I think we might actually forget this more often than not. I know I forget when I’m cramming my favorite wings down my throat. If I reminded myself, I would probably think twice before eating the second and third pound.
The truth is, as Christians, what we do with our body matters.
9 Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; 20 you were bought at a price. Therefore, honor God with your bodies.1 Corinthians 6:19-20
In terms of cannabis consumption, we need to set boundaries that ensure we protect our bodies.
2. Protecting our minds for worship.
Sometimes we forget that our minds are just as important as our heart or soul. Whether we are watching a movie, sharing in a joke, or something else – we need to remember that God wants us to use our minds for worship, and set effective boundaries for ourselves. I’m just as guilty here as anyone else, but that doesn’t mean we forget Jesus’ teaching:
27 “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”Luke 10:27
In terms of cannabis consumption, we need to set boundaries that make sure we don’t lose control of our minds. If consumption causes us to be in an impaired state, we need to re-evaluate.
3. Debauchery versus Abstinence – pursing self-control.
I find we don’t identify our own debauchery very well. Let me help you define it: ‘out-of-control behavior that appeals to our sensuality.’ It could be anything and everything, and probably very different for each one of us. In any case, it can eventually become controlling (Romans 13:13).
In terms of cannabis consumption, debauchery can lead to further problems – namely, the potential of using other drugs that can be highly addictive and destructive.
Abstinence, on the other hand, is the choice to not consume or engage at all. It creates a boundary that guarantees debauchery won’t be a problem. It’s very important to note, however, that choosing abstinence doesn’t mean you’re better than someone else who doesn’t. It simply means it’s a choice that you’ve made.
That said, whether you commit to abstinence or not, Christians are called to purse self-control.
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is…self-control…24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.Galatians 5:22-24
Sometimes we use ‘grace’ to help us get as close as possible to the line of wrongdoing, when we should be setting boundaries in our lives that help us get as close as possible to holiness. If we try to get away with something, we’ve already missed the point.
So, whether we use cannabis for medical purposes, socially, or not at all, Christians are called to live self-controlled lives that encourage boundaries so that we can pursue holiness and engage in activity that helps us grow spiritually.
How do you navigate the use of cannabis?
Share with me in the comment section below (or on social media). You never know how you may encourage someone else!