A Proper Use of Marijuana?
Question: "I have heard Paul’s statement that ‘every creature of God is good’ when it is ‘received with thanksgiving’ and ‘sanctified by the word and prayer’ used to justify the use of cannabis/marijuana. Is that a legitimate argument or a stretch of this principle?"
This question is prompted by an article in the last News where I discussed the proper use of alcoholic beverages. I made the point that wine and other alcoholic beverages are gifts of God to be received with thanksgiving and sanctified by the Word of God and prayer (I Tim. 4:3-5). The reader now asks concerning marijuana: Does this principle hold true of marijuana also? Is there some way in which it can be put to a good use?
We are getting into an area here where it is not so easy to find one’s way. It seems to me that it is possible for things to be manufactured from things present in God’s world in today’s technologically advanced age that are used only for purposes of sin. I do not mean that these manufactured items are used for sin while they may also have a good purpose. An example of such a thing would be a computer, which, though used for vicious sins, can be and is used for God-honouring purposes. But I mean something manufactured which can be used only for sin. No good purpose can be found for it.
An example of something that can be used only to sin is the so-called "morning-after pill." So far as I know, this pill has no good purpose. It is manufactured for one purpose only, and that is to abort an unborn baby. That is clearly abortion and the murder of a person.
In the field of medicine, there may be certain "mind-altering" drugs, the sole purpose of these being to do things to the mind that are neither natural nor helpful, but can be used only for evil purposes. An example of this may be methadone. I know of no good purpose this drug serves; its use is and can be only to create a state of euphoria. That use is sinful.
Whether marijuana can be used only for evil purposes is another question. I am by no means an authority on the use of drugs, but I have read that marijuana can be used for medicinal purposes and can serve a good function in restoring to health.
The same may be true for heroin. I understand that some narcotics, such as morphine, can be manufactured from heroin; these help in the control of pain. I am quite sure this is true and that God gives us these gifts to help endure severe pain. There is no sin in that, and we may very well give thanks to God for such a gift.
However, as everyone knows, marijuana and heroin can be used (and usually are) for devilishly wrong reasons as well.
There is another remark that is worth making here. We live in an age when many, if not most, people live on pills. And doctors find pills for every ailment, every pain, every mental problem, every quirk of health, every sorrow or disappointment, every inability to sleep, etc. I find this extremely dangerous. The danger is underscored by several pages of possible "side effects" that could result from the particular drug being prescribed.
The evil of this is that people think this life ought to be a life of unrelieved happiness in which each person has exactly what he or she wants. They view their life in the world as one in which they deserve the very best; and when they cannot have what they consider the very best, they take refuge in pills to escape the difficulties of life. Their skies ought always to be blue and only breezes that cool and refresh ought to blow on them. They think it their just lot in life to walk a pathway along gurgling brooks, through grassy and flower-strewn meadows where they can skip and jump happily as they make their way in the world.
But life is not like that, for we live in a world of sin and death over which hangs the dark clouds of the judgment of a furious God who looks in scarcely controlled wrath upon the wickedness of men. The escape from this judgment of God, say some, lies in—of all things—pills. Take the right pills; take enough of them; take them regularly. In that way, all the agony of God’s fury against sin can be avoided; and perhaps, as some science fiction writers have portrayed it, man can live his life in perpetual bliss without a twinge of suffering—when the right pill is found.
To paraphrase Psalm 20:7: "Some trust in chariots, and some in horses, and others in pills ..." Every little twinge must be assuaged; every disappointment requires some medication to cope with it; every unpleasant experience must be averted or medicinally eased. I fear that sometimes God’s people fall into the same pattern of thinking. Side effects are risky, but tolerable in our mad pursuit of pleasure and avoidance of suffering. Asa, after all, though a God-fearing king in Judah, was chastened because he trusted in physicians and not in Jehovah (II Chron. 16:12).
I am not saying—and do not want to be interpreted as saying—that a Christian may take no medication, but must bear the afflictions of life as his just lot for his sins. He may (and must) seek such help as is possible from doctors. But doctors, for the most part, cannot be trusted to look at things as a Christian looks at them. The believer knows that the sufferings of this present time are sent by God to mould and shape him spiritually for his place in glory. And so, if medical assistance is available that will alleviate his suffering, he must make use of these things. And he must receive them with thanksgiving and sanctify them by the Word of God and prayer.
That is, he must receive them as gifts of God, not to escape what God is pleased to send, but to enable him to continue to perform the duties that arise from his responsibilities in his home, in the church and in the world in which he lives.
Of course, if the civil government forbids the use of marijuana, we are to obey the government (Rom. 13:1-7; I Peter 2:13-17) and not use it even for medicinal purposes. Prof. Hanko