By Melinda Eye Cooper, Crosswalk.com
Smoking marijuana (or weed) is becoming legal in more and more states. Not only for medical reasons but for recreational use, as well. To date, 33 states and Washington, DC, have legalized marijuana for medical use only. Eleven states have legalized it for both medical and recreational use. Many other states are in debate on whether or not to make it legal.
But does making marijuana legal for recreational use make it right? Is smoking (or vaping) weed a sin? What or how does the Bible apply to the use of recreational marijuana?
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How Does the Bible Define Sin?
The first noted sin in the Bible is found in Genesis.
Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?”
The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.’”
“You will not certainly die,” the serpent said to the woman. “For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”
When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves. – Genesis 3:1-7
The serpent questioned God’s words, “Did God really say that?”
Eve was deceived by the serpent’s interpretation. Then she disobeyed God’s instruction.
Interestingly, the first time the actual word sin is found in the Bible (NIV), God is warning Cain. He also doesn’t listen to God and kills his brother in the very next verse.
If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it. Now Cain said to his brother Abel, “Let’s go out to the field.” While they were in the field, Cain attacked his brother Abel and killed him. – Genesis 4:7-8
In The Message, an explanation of sin found in Numbers 5 states that if a man or woman commits any sin, the person has broken trust with God. This explanation reflects relationship.
Sin is disobedience.
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What is the Difference between Illegal, Immoral, and Sinful?
If something is illegal then it’s against the law where you live. There are consequences for breaking the law, such as court proceedings and jail time.
If something is immoral then it’s unethical or bad morally. God created us with a moral compass whether we are Christians or not. We know there’s a difference between right and wrong.
If something is sinful then we’ve disobeyed God’s instruction. We’ve disobeyed His law. There are consequences for breaking God’s law. Maybe not time spent in the local county jail but we will be held accountable by God. He is a just God.
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What Is Weed?
Marijuana is a combination of shredded leaves, stems, and flower buds of the Cannabis sativa plant. It can be smoked, vaporized, eaten, or taken topically.
It has many known names: weed, pot, dope, grass, reefer, herb, Mary Jane, Aunt Mary, gangster, boom, ganja, skunk, kif, and buds.
It contains an intoxicating chemical called THC (or tetrahydrocannabinol).
According to the Potency Monitoring Project, the average THC content of weed has soared from 1 percent in 1972, to 3 to 4 percent in the ‘90s to nearly 13 percent in 2010. Today, some retail marijuana is nearly 30 percent THC. It’s much stronger than it was in 1972.
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What Are the Risks of Smoking or Vaping Marijuana?
There are risks or side effects to consider when smoking or vaping marijuana.
- Negative impacts to memory and thinking capabilities
- Increased heart rate (can lead to heart attack or stroke)
- Aggravation of asthma issues
- Spasms of bronchial tubes
- Feelings of panic or fear
- Decreased interest in, or ability to complete, tasks that require coordination
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Can Smoking or Vaping Weed Be Medically Necessary?
Yes. Medical marijuana is sometimes prescribed as medically necessary.
This is because it can be beneficial for relieving complications or symptoms of many illnesses and diseases, including: Alzheimer’s, cancer, Crohn’s disease, epilepsy, glaucoma, multiple sclerosis, mental health issues, post-traumatic stress disorder, muscle spasms, nausea, and chronic pain.
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What Should Christians Know about Smoking or Vaping Weed?
God made marijuana. He doesn’t make mistakes. He has a purpose for creating it and it’s useful.
But we have to be careful about how it’s used. Man has manipulated marijuana and increased the potency of the intoxicating chemical THC.
If it’s illegal in your state to use it recreationally then, as Christians, we should obey the law.
If it’s legal, then we should obey God’s direction. He asks us not to become drunk or intoxicated.
For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) and find out what pleases the Lord. Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. It is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret. But everything exposed by the light becomes visible—and everything that is illuminated becomes a light. This is why it is said:
“Wake up, sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.”
Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is. Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. – Ephesians 5:8-20
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What if Someone I Love Seems Addicted to Weed?
Despite what many people think, marijuana is potentially addictive. Those who use it rarely admit to addiction.
Some signs of addiction are:
- Smoking or vaping weed more and more often
- Smoking or vaping weed instead of doing other things they used to love to do
- Choosing relationships and/or activities based on whether or not they can get high
- Risky behavior such as driving while high
If someone you love seems addicted to weed, pray. Then study up on it and learn as much as you can before approaching them. When the time is right, ask them about getting help in a private conversation. Show deep love and great respect for your loved one.
A Prayer for Those Struggling with Addiction to Weed
Thank you for everything You’ve given to us. We’re thankful You created plants with medicinal properties to reduce pain, suffering, and stress. But help us to use them properly and to obey Your instructions in the Bible. Father, break us free from anything that has bound us through addiction. We only want to be addicted to You. In the mighty, powerful name of Jesus Christ. Amen.
“Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” – 1 Peter 5:8
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Melinda Eye Cooper is an award-winning writer. She grew up in the Missouri Ozarks but lives near Nashville, Tennessee. She and her husband have three sons, two daughters-in-law and a grand-daughter—and a spunky dog, Lincoln. Melinda writes articles and devotions. She also writes fiction and is currently working on a middle-grade fantasy novel. She grew up in a large family and many of her devotions and stories are inspired from her childhood. You can visit her website or follow her on Facebook. If you love an old-fashioned Christmas Novella click here.