Christians and Marijuana Use

14 Jul

Christians and Marijuana Use

By: Bob Gersztyn

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One of my favorite passages in the New Testament, concerning how Christians should behave, is 1Β Corinthians chapter 10, verse 23. The issue being discussed is primarily communion and the Lord’s table, where communion was served as part of a communal meal. The issue was whether or not you could eat meat sold in the market after it had been used in a sacrifice to a pagan deity. The way the apostle (who said that Jesus gave him the name of Paul, and authored Corinthians and most of the New Testament) put it, was: “All things are lawful for me, but not all things are expedient: all things are lawful for me, but all things edify not” (KJV). I believe that the principle of this passage can be applied to many issues that a Christian, using the Bible as their guide book, may choose. That principle is “expediency.”

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With the legalization of marijuana for recreational use here in Oregon, three other states, and Washington D.C., along with medical use in many others, it pulls the legal rug of “obeying the law of the land” out from under detractors of pot, and lands the issue smack dab in the middle of the expediency category. Thus the above passage from Corinthians applies. It has to apply, because the Bible doesn’t specifically talk about marijuana or any drugs for that matter, other than alcohol –which it says to use in moderation.

That is, unless you use the word pharmakeia, which appears in the English Bible under terms like “sorcery” and “witchcraft” in books like Galatians and Revelation. Pharmakeia was the term the Roman Catholic church used for condemning the mystical and holistic healing arts that non-Christian people had been using for multiple millennia. When Christianity came into being as a state-sponsored religion, it had evolved into something so far away from what the New Testament spoke about, that even Jesus wouldn’t recognize it. So, to make sure there was no competition from the existing faith paths of paganism, they threw the baby out with the bathwater and condemned those who disagreed with them, like they themselves had been condemned in the beginning.

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If the Western version of Christianity wanted to sever ties with the Eastern version, this was one of the ways that it could do it. So, only alcohol was spoken of in the books of the Bible that the Roman Catholic church chose, giving future generations power over the pagans and their pharmakeia. The question I have is, why did Martin Luther and the Protestants accept the Bible as the Roman Catholic Church created it, other than removing the apocryphal books? Sure Luther wanted to also get rid of the books of James and Revelation, but what about adding some books, like the Gospel of Thomas or the Apocryphon of John? Every historian of ancient history is aware of the fact that the oral transfer of knowledge and religious traditions is no less truthful or accurate than a written-down version; however, conservative Bible scholars dismiss latter Christian documents as proof that the earlier ones are more accurate and authentic. However, this article isn’t about the veracity of the Bible and its contents, but about marijuana usage and Christianity. So back to the difference between alcohol and marijuana.

What does alcohol do? It alters your mood to various levels, depending on how much you drink. It can pacify you, make you angry and violent, or it can stimulate your creativity, or it can completely relax you until you go to sleep or even die. What does marijuana do? It alters your mood, with heightened sensory abilities. Food tastes better, music sounds better, films are more entertaining and sex is more intense. At the same time it provides a fresh perspective on mundane or previously exhausted ideas.

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When it comes to comparing alcohol to marijuana, there is no comparison. How many people in the history of marijuana have ever died from a marijuana overdose? Then just look at how many die of alcohol poisoning each year (thousands) and the argument is over. As a veteran former cab driver (http://www.thetranscendenttaxicab.blogspot.com), I dealt with drunks for nearly a decade. I would trade a hostile or obnoxious drunk that puked in my cab for a lethargic or gregarious pothead that had the munchies, any day of the week without hesitation and I bet so would another million cab drivers.

One of the most ludicrous reasons why the use of marijuana is condemned by some, is because it makes you lose control of yourself, and I want to have control of myself, they say. This is an absurd statement to anyone who has ever used marijuana on a regular basis and further destroys the credibility of those who use it in their argument. I will concede that if a first time user ingests an adequate amount of potent pot, they may become disoriented and hallucinate to some degree, but as long as they were warned of the effects prior to ingestion they should be able to cope with it. After that initial episode, marijuana intoxication makes one more aware of their surroundings, rather that oblivious to them.

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Everyone is different and because of this, not everyone will use marijuana, just like not everyone uses alcohol or caffeine. In some cases it makes the user so lethargic and tired that they fall asleep, while in others it creates paranoia suspicion that has a negative effect. People who experience either of these results usually don’t use cannabis except as a sedative, in the case of the former. So the next question that the marijuana user is forced to answer by opponents to its use is, why do they use marijuana? The answer to that is simple. Because it makes you feel good and brightens your perspective on life.

But why do you have to smoke or ingest something to make you feel good? The Bible states in Galatians 5:22 and 23, “But the fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance; against such there is no law” (KJV). Yes, that is true, but why can’t a modality be used to obtain an augmented state of these same qualities? Sure you could pray in your native language, use glossolalia, or meditate for an hour or more to obtain this state, but if you take a few hits of some really bomb weed, you can achieve it instantaneously, the proponent will argue.

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I think it is the instantaneous issue that bothers opponents more than anything. How can anything be valid if it can be achieved instantaneously, without suffering? The problem with this mentality is that it ignores the fact that one must learn to take advantage of the opportunities that pot presents, just like in the rest of life. Sure, millions may smoke weed and get the same innovative ideas, but there are only hundreds that actually act on what they think. Those are the ones who achieve excellence in the categories in which they operate.

What proof do I have to support this thesis, some would ask? The fact of the matter is that pot smoking in the U. S. has been going on at an exponentially high rate for 50 years with more people incarcerated for using it under the guise of drug crimes than any other drug. At the same time, we’ve continued to lead the world economically and socially, even with all the disparity. So, what is the great concern about? I do understand that there are those who will never be convinced that it is okay to use and it is just another gift that the Creator of the universe gave us to use. Some industries would not exist at all, or at the stage that they do, without pot smokers. When it comes to naming some of the industries that fall under the category of being created by people who use pot or even mind expanding psychedelic drugs, the first that come to mind are computer science, films, music, photography, and video games. (Check out the Playboy interview with Bill Gates about LSD usage, which by the way does make you lose control, big time! http://www.businessinsider.com/scientists-and-geniuses-who-used-drugs-2013-8)

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Back in the 1930s, a religion rose up in the Caribbean that advocated the use of marijuana for spiritual enlightenment. That religion was Rastafari (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rastafari). Primarily based in Jamaica, the religion was influenced by the Ethiopian persuasion of the Coptic theological school of Christianity. It was one of the Christian factions that existed at the time that the Roman Catholic church established its supremacy in the 4th century. The initiating event that spurred the formation of Rastafari was the coronation of the Emperor Haile Sellassie I of Ethiopia. Marcus Garvey had already established the doctrine necessary to help integrate the Black freedom movement with ancient Christian doctrine. Then in the 1970s, reggae music began to influence the masses after Eric Clapton recorded “I Shot the Sheriff” by Bob Marley. Bob Marley became the primary prophet of Rastafari who spearheaded the creation of reggae along with Burning Spear, Jimmy Cliff, Toots & the Maytals, and Peter Tosh, to name some. Today, reggae is a genre which is usually associated with smoking marijuana.

Since Rastafari is another perspective of Christianity, just like Mormonism, the Jehovah Witnesses, and Christian Scientists, we can expect there to be theology that supports their views. So then the question asked in the beginning of this article, based on 1Β Corinthians 10:23 has to be applied. Why does a Rastafari smoke marijuana? The answer is, as a sacramental spiritual act accompanied by Bible study to bring them closer to God. They believe that it heals the tripartite person, exalts consciousness and elicits the fruit of the spirit as listed in Galatians 5:22 and 23. It was legalized in Jamaica for sacramental use by the Rastafari church on April 15, 2015.

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I’m sure that some young, enterprising, spiritually tuned-in persons will eventually form what will become a major Christian denomination of pot smoking, Bible believing, church going parishioners, using Genesis 1:12 and 29 in their statement of faith. If the last Christian epoch that leading religious periodicals like “Christianity Today” labeled as the “Post Christian Era,” then we are now in the “Post Pot Prohibition Era.” All that some Bible College Graduates have to do is fire up and advertise a legal pot smoking Bible Study, for those over 21 years old, and start a new Christian denomination.

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With all the racial issues that have been in the news over the past few years, it is especially interesting that the legalization of marijuana is taking place during the administration of the first black American president. The reason why marijuana was made illegal initially was to replace alcohol prohibition with marijuana prohibition to save government jobs during the “Great Depression.” At the time, marijuana was used primarily by “Negroes and Mexicans,” so the White establishment society didn’t care, until music and racial integration brought the races together. So, blame pot legalization on rock & roll.

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