Christians: Two Questions About Enjoying Pot


A while ago I was involved in an excellent conversation between several Christian men on the place of The marijooanna in the Church. That night we hung out drinking scotch whiskey and smoking tobacco from a hookah (!), but spoke of pot only theoretically. The discussion began with a question from one of the men wondering how much thought their Reformed denomination had given to the inevitable church disciplines sure to arise due to the legalization of pot in Washington state and Colorado, and likely other states soon. Of course, the conversation soon evolved beyond legality and ecclesiology to cover the Christian virtues and vicissitudes of the sacred-to-some yerba.

I want to raise what I think are the two most compelling questions for Christians when discussing pot use. You may think I've totally missed the boat, that other questions are more important. If you do, please do not hesitate to say so below.

First, full disclosure. Because the questions do require some experience with the plant, I will here confess that I have near zero experience. Near zero, but not zero.



I smoke tobacco frequently, never cigarettes, usually a pipe, sometimes a cigar, even more rarely, a hookah. I used to say that I'd never smoked pot in my life. Now that's only kind of true. A couple of years back a friend, who rolls his own tobacco cigarettes all the time, unbeknownst to me sprinkled some pot into one of his roll-your-owns. Then he offered it to me and I took a couple of puffs before being told what was in it. NOW MY SOUL IS TAINTED FOREVER.

Well, not really. I don't even believe I sinned, which some brothers might take issue with. But I can't really say I've never ever smoked pot anymore. There was that one time.

I will now describe my position, as a Christian, on pot. I will, like a dainty fairy dancing from petal to petal, glancingly proceed through a pot progression, then land upon the full flower of my questions.

In some towns it is illegal to neglect your lawn and let the grass grow three feet high. This is silly, and probably immoral, but I do not pick up a rifle to resist the state.

In various times and in various places the great vices of the West have been more or less illegal: alcohol, tobacco, even coffee (a group of "buxome" women in 1674 petitioned King Charles to get their men out of the coffee shops to attend to their wives; according to them these men risked being "cuckolded by dildos"). I am an enthusiastic enjoyer of tobacco, but if the state outlawed it I would not pick up a rifle. I would submit. There are, of course, shades of disobedience. Some things are worth picketing for, still others worth chaining yourself to buses for. Outlawing tobacco or coffee is a gross overstepping of the state's bounds, but so are many other things we as Christians live with, even as we await the Lord's judgments and mercies.

There is a beverage that I would pick up a gun to protect: wine. If wine were outlawed that would infringe on Christ's commands, and the Church's prerogative. Not only because of the sacrament on Sunday, but because the sacrament of the Lord's Supper extends from Sunday throughout the week. It is for that reason that Prohibition is not a laughing matter, but is a national disgrace and a sign of godlessness. This is a point which deserves further development, but which I here elide past.

Because God endorses wine and beer in Scripture, and commands us to drink wine to celebrate and memorialize his salvation for us, I believe that alcohol holds a more sacred place among God's gifts than others might. A place that caffeine or THC might not deserve.

The fact that pot has been illegal ought to have been enough for Christians to abstain. It is not difficult to argue that the state had no business making it illegal, and it is even easier to argue that, business or no, it is dumb to make it illegal. But disobedience to the law for our right to smoke pot, unlike our right to go to church, marry, have children, and drink wine, is not worth the candle. And if our elders wish for us to abstain from pot because it's against the law, that should be more than good enough for us.

But now the legal situation is changing. Hopefully church leaders around the country will recognize the danger in banning pot per se from churches. If marijuana use causes predictable harm to users, under full legalization we would have a better control group from which to be able to document that. But for now, such scholarship is lacking. Meanwhile, the church can discipline for the fruit of a sinful life, pot or no pot. After all, we do not excommunicate a man for being an alcoholic. We excommunicate him for unrepentantly neglecting his wife and children.
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Because of the place that marijuana holds in our culture now, justly or unjustly, I think the onus ought to lie on Christians who wish to use it to defend its use. There is, of course, no scriptural command to take or abstain, so without question it is not unlawful. But it is fair to say that Christians should not do stupid things, and that Christian elders ought to be able to say to their sheep, "please avoid that stupid thing".

So, what is the point of taking marijuana? If it is a good, Christians should welcome it, whether they personally use it or not. Why take marijuana? Is it salutary? Is it pleasurable? Why is it pleasurable? What do you take it for?

Christians should not drink to get drunk; they should drink for joy. Being given to drunkenness is a sin, even while an alcohol-induced merry heart is celebrated by God.

This is where I leave the realm of my own experience and ask that my brothers who know enlighten me and make their arguments. Because it seems to me that a marijuana high is an escape, not a joy. Yes, go ahead and quote C. S. Lewis at me. Only jailers oppose escape. But the key to escape is what you're escaping and where you're going. Remove vexation from your heart, and take away pain from your body, and drink your wine with a merry heart.

So my first plain question is: does pot make your heart merry? That is to say, according to the dictionary: very happy and cheerful, feeling or showing joy and happiness, causing joy and happiness full of gaiety or high spirits, mirthful, marked by festivity or gaiety. Wine does that. Does pot?

As I mentioned, while we were having the excellent conversation that sparked this post, we were all tasting fine whiskeys. My whiskey palate was clearly outclassed by everyone there, which only made the whiskeys more enjoyable to me. The alcohol certainly made my heart merry, but none of us were there to drink alcohol. We were there to drink whiskey. We don't drink wine or beer or scotch to get drunk. We drink because those things are delicious. Now, the alcohol is a big part of why these things are delicious. This is especially so with liquor. Although many things are done to liquors to make them delightful, without alcohol they would be nothing. I am willing to grant THC the same place when it comes to marijuana.

This is the second plain question: is marijuana delicious? Tobacco is. Perhaps pot is. I don't know.

It has been suggested to me that marijuana is not supposed to be as strong as it is, that the illegal market has led to the production of strains with exponentially higher levels of THC than pot would have had fifty or even twenty years ago. Would a Christian pot smoker enjoy different strains as a pipe smoker might enjoy virginias or balkans? Would a Christians pot smoker prefer a particular strain as a whiskey drinker might prefer an Islay? Would he sit on a front porch and discerningly comment on the excellencies of his smoke? And if he did so, would it be because of the THC, or because it is legitimately a delicious delight?

If the Christian's answer to these two questions is honestly "yes", then I believe he may and even should enjoy a smoke. But I'll ask that Christian to convince me. Because I am very skeptical. Is pot delicious?

Comments

  1. I know many people refer to pot as having a "delicious smell" and that pot, though not joy inducing, causes a relaxation of the mind. Akin to what coffee does for the more intellectually minded. I myself having never personally smoked, have been close enough to marajuana to derive relatively solid conclusions about its nature. Marajuana is like alcohol that it has extremely negative effects if overused. The use of marajuana is, as all things, best done with a discerning moderation.

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    1. Well, the moderation piece goes without saying. Here's a question: did you enjoy the smell? Did it suggest a world sensory delights? Some things are an acquired taste, so whether one person likes it or not is not particularly powerful. On the other hand, the potency of the drug would associatively affect a smoker's perception of "delicious smell". When someone tells me pot smells delicious I tend to take it the way I do when someone describes the delights of vodka. Come on, seriously, vodka?

      But of course, this is the sort of feedback I'm asking for. I hope I get more comments!

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    2. I use THC-free hemp as a herbal incense, so I can say - yes, it smells wonderful.

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    3. Hermann von Hoexter · Altenpfleger / Qualit├Ątsmanager at Christliches Altenheim Friedenshort

      Two Points (totally OT):
      I wonder what Problem americans seem to have with hookahs/shishas. They are MEANT for tobacco, I do not know anybody who uses it for anything else. I do know People who use Marijuana, they tend to roll it, use a bong or a chillum. But hookahs? Come on ...
      And then I really love your mastery of language. It is a delight to read your texts and n ow and again I discover words I did not know before - this time it was "to elide". Keep it coming brother!

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  2. It can make one paranoid and crave Cool-Ranch Flavored Doritos™.

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    1. And, reportedly, make Cool-Ranch Doritos actually seem delicious.

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  3. Could this feedback all be relative? What is pleasurable to some may not be for others. You enjoy smoking tobacco. I enjoy smoking tobacco. Plenty of people detest tobacco. Some would even say that by using it you are knowlingly harming yourself (cancer causing, addictive qualities, etc).

    I enjoy drinking. Some people are alcoholics. Some may enjoy smoking pot. Some are drug addicts.

    Ask me if I enjoy whiskey. The answer is absolutely. Ask my coworker, and he would reply never. Ask someone if they enjoy pot, they may reply absolutely. Ask my wife, she would reply never.

    I've been around enough pot to identify the smell. I never found it off putting. Asking if something is delicious can only lead to opinions.

    I can't find any reason to say it isn't pleasurable either.

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    1. Trustworthy opinions are enough to build at least a little something on. some cooking is bad, no matter what relativist and lazy people say.

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  4. Possibly. But what if the food is cooked well. Four star dining. Does everyone have to like it to make it worth partaking? Am I wrong for loving the flavor of cilantro when others detest it?

    What makes pot different?

    I am more so asking questions than making an argument. If it's legal, and a Christian wants to smoke it, why not just treat it like one would treat alcohol? Convictions would still vary depending on persons and their experiences with the substance.

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    1. I want a convincing argument that it's fine cooking, even if I don't like the food.

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  5. Me too. So who gets to decide? The person eating? The person cooking? Who decides which wine is worth it? I'm satisfied with a $6 bottle of cabernet sauvignon. Does that mean I have less class, a thinner wallet? Do I even care? Who decides whether or not that's suitable beyond myself. I just enjoy the drink.

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    1. You're being obtuse at this point. It's easy to tell good art from shoddy work.

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  6. Yes to both, and I can prove this to anyone willing to eat a sugar cookie made with cannabutter. Some people love the smell of it burning - but some do not. I think the smell of it cooking or the smell of it in a food item is objectively better.

    Paranoia is a sign of overuse, generally due to inexperience and high THC levels in modernized breeds of cannabis. Those that use frequently, do not experience long or short term paranoia under normal use. The cravings are due to THC's affect on blood sugar... which you can greatly decrease with a proper diet.

    I always like to talk Gen 1:29 as you will remember from the initial conversation... I can't remember if I mentioned this or not, but potentially the proper biblical use could be raw consumption. The THC only becomes psycho-active when heated to a specific temp or dried out over a long period, and raw consumption has shown to have medical benefits.

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    1. I would be very willing to try said sugar cookie.

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    2. If you have plans to be in PA, I'd be happy to try to... acquire.

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    3. Only if next time I'm in PA...it's legal.

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  7. A few thoughts, more or less off the cuff--

    [1] I am persuaded that our discussion of pot was helpful, to whatever degree that it was, precisely because it happened over hookah. That should happen more often.

    [2] I am not persuaded that we excommunicate only over the collateral damage of drunkenness, and never over the drunkenness itself. If drunkenness were not condemned in Scripture, and neglect of family were, then your indirect approach would be on track. But drunkenness itself is condemned. Why could we not excommunicate over it?

    [3] "Does pot make your heart merry?" is THE question (rightly conceived, IMO). If the influence of pot is similar in KIND to the influence of alcohol, then we are in a position to begin discussing DEGREE. But if the influence of pot is different in kind than the influence of alcohol, then it has to be evaluated in other terms before we can even begin discussing degree. I have never done pot, but I am told that the influence is at least partly toward PASSIVITY (contra alcohol, for most). If this is true, then I am strongly inclined to say that no degree of it is a good thing. Who will argue for one step vs. one-hundred in the wrong direction? This is my single concern.

    [4] The question of deliciousness is both pertinent and unlikely to produce a trustworthy answer. Taste is somehow both objective and subjective. God has opinions about taste: the fruit of the Tree was good to eat, Rebekah prepared a delicious meal, etc. Yet, is it immoral not to like, say, olives (the one food that I am still failing to acquire a taste for)? I think that there may be an objective answer to the question of pot's deliciousness, but I don't expect to get far with this kind of question in any case, let alone a case in which ulterior motives are probably inseparable. Which leads me to this reforming of the question (despite not being any more optimistic about it): would a significant number of people smoke pot if it did not have, and never had had, any physiological affect besides taste? (A negative answer does not necessarily close the case, but it does make our evaluation of the influence all the more central.)

    Anyway, Joffre, I think that you're approaching this in the right kind of way.

    Pax,

    Scott

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    1. Scott, thanks for reading, and for the excellent comment. In reply to your points, 1) amen. 2) I confess to playing loose with semantics in order to make a quick point, but I chose "alcoholic" over "drunk" in order to convey the image of a struggle with alcohol, not yet a defeat to it; of course being given to drunkenness is a sin, and being a drunk = being a bad husband. 3) precisely. 4) I think you must be right, yet I retain the hope of hearing someone speak of the enjoyment of pot the way I have heard others describe beautiful things I cannot, do not, or have not rightly appreciated: the symphony, saki, Ethiopian cooking, the poetry of Charles Simic. I can be convinced that something is good without appreciating directly its good.

      But, as I said, I remain skeptical.

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  8. I'm by no means a christian, most of you can stop reading here, the rest, follow me!

    .. does pot make my heart merry? .. sometimes, but it's more of the brain and body than specifically the heart. once I catch a buzz, I feel better than I did. am I addicted? no. do I enjoy it multiple times daily? absolutely and without remorse or apology.

    your second question about pot w/o having any THC in it still being good... ask Charlotte Figi if it's got any worth. ( I'll let you do the leg work here.)

    I don't live on the west coast, so I don't call it medicine, to me that's the biggest loophole available, and clearly it's working, but when I smoke a bong, I'm not smoking my medicine, I'm smoking pot... why? because I like to.
    I'll entertain any questions, and build on what I've stated if anyone would like me to.
    Genericsoul

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    1. I'm off to do the leg work. Thanks for reading.

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  9. I am a reformed Presbyterian that lives in Colorado and I occasionally smoke weed... and I like it and I believe from both experience and statistics, that it is better for you than alcohol and certainly better for you than tobacco (I say that reluctantly because I just quit smoking cigarettes last august).

    In my experience: a) Occasionally smoking weed make me a better person, and b) helps me unwind in a way that alcohol never could, without the buzz and the lack of inhibitions.

    On the rare occasion when my wife and I get in an argument and I am getting loud and obnoxious, she usually suggests that I go smoke weed. Without exception, I calm down and am able to see the bigger picture. I'm able to see where I am wrong and approach the conversation with humility. I'm not advocating this approach to dealing with your wife in heated situations, but... it does help me, so I'm sure there are some of you out there that could probably use this equalizer in your life.

    I don't smoke often. Maybe once a month or less, but when I do, I always wonder how anyone could possibly be against it. It's euphoric, but I can actually think more clearly. There is no buzz. Only relief from all of the distractions that burden me from day to day, cloud my mind, and remove my attention from what is important... enjoying life, God, and my wife.

    I do not recommend that anyone take hits from the bong on a daily basis, either. Don't misunderstand me. I feel it could lead to an overly apathetic approach to life, but I also think that those who don't smoke are missing out on one of God's greatest, natural pleasures... outside of sex.

    My final comment is this. Making it illegal is ignorant. Thinking it SHOULD be illegal is ignorant. It is far less harmful than alcohol. It is far less addictive than any drug out there, including prescription meds. It offers relief without the removal of inhibitions and God MADE IT! People who are against it are only against it because they fear the unknown. They believe what their government and pastor tells them without doing the research. My state is BETTER for legalizing it. We have removed the power of the Cartel here. We are bringing in an extra $73 million a year in taxes. Underage use has dropped 20% since it has been legalized. I personally fail to see any valid argument against it at this point. Mainly, I don't see God calling it a sin in scripture, so I have no reason to call it a sin.

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  10. I have one experience of weed similar to yours, Joffre. :-)
    With that said I do burn THC-free hemp as incense - I love the smell. And that does make my heart merry! I woul drink alcohol-free whisk(e)y, wine, beer IF IT TASTED GOOD. In my experience alcohol intensifies the Feelings I already have, already being happy, satisfied, merry it all gets better - up to a Point. I recognise this from some experience with not stopping before that happens (years ago I hasten to add). I therefore do not drink when downcast or frustrated, neither do I drink to relx after a stressfull day. So I would try weed if it were legal and see what happens but my enjoyment of all These things is moe in the sensual experience.

    Shalom
    Hermann

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    1. The whole drink to relax thing is difficult. Who doesn't enjoy a beer after a hard day's work? But why do we enjoy a beer so much after a hard day's work? Likely because it is relaxing.

      Thanks for reading, brother!

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  11. While I have no issue in partaking the delights of the bountiful earth the Lord has given to us [to me, this especially means the strong-yet-tender affections of my husband, a delicious aromatic pipe at the close of fruitful day, or a Glencairn of fine whisky with friends], I think it is important to bring up a reminder of a ground rule of sorts, and that is that Christ *must* be our all in all.

    Psalm 73:25-26

    Whom have I in heaven but you?
    And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you.
    My flesh and my heart may fail,
    but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.

    The arguments above are good ones to a point, but my red flags go up (which prompted me to comment) when I hear stories of wives suggesting their husbands 'smoke some weed' when arguments cross over into 'loud and obnoxious'. It also concerns me when people place such a high value on earthly things that help them physically relax or behave civilly.

    (For what it's worth, I say the same thing to friends who can't go anywhere without vials of essential oils, dabbing themselves here and there in a panic with lavender and bergamot "to help them relax", who insist upon treating themselves to frequent mani/pedis at $40+ each because it "makes them feel beautiful" and they "deserve it", or mentally checking out multiple times a day as they play with their cell phones instead of seeking edifying conversation and acts of service around them. A similar discussion comes up when parents consider masking their offspring's childish behaviors with medication instead of first addressing underlying heart/sin issues both on their part (such as laziness, lack understanding, and unrealistic expectations), or their child's.

    We are not called to be ascetics, but we must be careful not to make "feeling good" an idol. I think it's worth saying because everyone here is talking about marijuana like a panacea for relaxation. The truth is, there are some very miserable pot smokers out there.

    Do we *deserve* to feel good, or is it a gift? Is it right to pout or throw tantrums when we cannot have the pleasure we seek, or are we able to take, "No" for an answer? (I think Joffre made this point well when he said, "I am an enthusiastic enjoyer of tobacco, but if the state outlawed it I would not pick up a rifle.")

    What good is smoking weed if we do not address the sin in our hearts that causes fights and quarrels in the first place?

    What good are a lovely toenails on the feet of a sow?

    What good is making love when it is used for manipulative leverage? (I'm reminded of a woman I met once who bragged about how she regularly withheld physical love unless she wanted to control her husband -- her recent bargaining tool being fellatio in exchange for his helping one of her friends with a hefty outdoor task on his day off. [Yes, I shut her up and buried her for that.])

    I don't doubt that everyone here discussing pot (and its pleasurable, relaxing benefits) has godly intentions, but it would be irresponsible not to temper the conversation with the *premise* of giving God the glory for all pleasurable things and urging people to trust in Him first for daily struggles.

    If pleasure is what you are seeking, all things pleasurable are infinitely more so when enjoyed first from a heart that seeks first the kingdom of heaven and its righteousness (Mt. 6:19-34).

    Y'all know this, I'm sure. Carry on.

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  12. Yes, and yes.I'm a Christian, I enjoy pot daily. It tastes great and smells great, if grown properly. I enjoy discovering the differant fragrence in depth of each plant,what it pulls from its growing environment really effects its taste and smell. Sativa or indica, (white or red) depends on a person taste and accuired like.It makes my heart happy like a great wine or fine brandy. I function normally and am as close in relationship with Jesus wheather I share my moment with a joint or a glass of fine spirits. I cultivate my own garden as if I were pain stakenly crateting a fine wine. Soil, environment and care plus appreciation for the creators gift all come into account on all account I see marijuana as you see wine. That's my convictions. Also want to set many marijuana partakers free from the notion that weed keeps you from salvation which is a nasty lie. I won't even go into what the medical benifits are its easy enough for anyone to find an anabundent of positive medical information. For me personally. I personally cannot drink much alchol or often for medical reasons. But I have enjoyed wine a d shots before I also know what alcholism is from both my parents and ex husband so there is where the difference always lays. If your streag the is already fully in Jesus, the. What you choose to enjoy that is of a positive nature will always honor in your heart the creator. When you do not fully know Jesus then that said substance becomes your streagnth and takes on the negative nature of being the crutch, Jesus is our crutch and He also provides things in life to enjoy. I hope this makes sense.

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