What Does the Bible Say About Recreational Marijuana Use?

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Increase Mather (1639–1743), a Puritan preacher and President of Harvard University for two decades, spoke out against the intoxicating influence of alcohol in his time. In a pair of sermons titled “Woe to Drunkards,” based on Habakkuk 2:15, Mather conveyed his message with conviction and warning, saying, “The drunkard is a transgressor against the first table of the moral law, in as much as by this sin he is rendered unfit to worship God in any religious duty; for wine taketh away the heart.”

Although alcohol remains as prevalent today as it was in Mather’s time, the discourse surrounding marijuana—its usage, legality, and moral implications—has become increasingly intricate, particularly within Christian circles. Pot smoking has become increasingly prevalent among younger demographics.

Based on a comprehensive meta-analysis of 17 studies involving nearly 200,000 adolescents, recently published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) Pediatrics, the prevalence of cannabis use among teens has shown alarming trends. From 2013 to 2020, the lifetime prevalence of cannabis vaping has doubled (6.1% to 13.6%), while past 12-month use has also doubled (7.2% to 13.2%). Furthermore, the 30-day prevalence of cannabis vaping has increased a staggering 7-fold during the same period (1.6% to 8.4%). These findings shed light on the concerning rise in cannabis use among teenagers.

As marijuana use becomes more prevalent among younger generations, Christians find themselves grappling with a dilemma: seeking biblical guidance on a topic that is not explicitly addressed in the Bible. While there are no direct scriptural references to marijuana, including its various names like weed, pot, herb, ganja, bud, Mary Jane, reefer, skunk, blaze, spliff, kush, or the chronic, we must explore what insights the Bible offers regarding recreational marijuana use.

Does the Bible offer any answers on the topic of recreational marijuana use?

From Confusion to Clarity

Admittedly, in the Bible, there is no explicit mention of marijuana, and this absence has confused some Christians regarding how to approach this matter. However, it is crucial to understand that the Scriptures offer us timeless principles that can guide us in navigating the complexities of contemporary life.

When it comes to the topic of marijuana, applying the biblical principles of wisdom, sobriety, and stewardship of the body becomes paramount. As followers of Christ, we are called to seek discernment through fervent prayer, diligent study of Scripture, and seeking godly counsel. By doing so, we can make well-informed decisions that align with God’s will and bring honor to His name.

According to the National Institute of Drug Abuse, 30.7% of high school seniors have reported using cannabis (marijuana) in the past year.

In our pursuit of understanding, it is crucial to recognize that the use of marijuana can have varying implications depending on the circumstances and individuals involved. The effects of marijuana on individuals can differ, and the legality and cultural perceptions surrounding its use can vary.

Transitioning from adolescence to adulthood, a staggering 73 million Americans have acknowledged marijuana usage, with 55 million confessing to recent consumption within the last 30 days.

It is crucial to evaluate our actions not in light of cultural norms or societal pressures but by aligning them with the teachings of God. Ultimately, we aim to lead lives that bring honor to God and exemplify our dedication to following Christ.

The Current Landscape

The prevalence of marijuana use among adolescents and young adults has seen a notable increase, attributed to several factors, including legalization in various states, the destigmatization of pot smoking, and the ease of access. According to the National Institute of Drug Abuse, 30.7% of high school seniors have reported using cannabis (marijuana) in the past year. The same source also noted that there’s been a steady rise in daily marijuana use among college-aged young adults. Transitioning from adolescence to adulthood, a staggering 73 million Americans have acknowledged marijuana usage, with 55 million confessing to recent consumption within the last 30 days. If this data is indeed accurate, it signifies a significant 50% surge in the number of individuals using marijuana compared to those consuming tobacco.

The increasing prevalence of marijuana reflects a significant shift in societal norms and legal frameworks, resulting in its widespread availability and social acceptance. At present, a considerable majority of Americans, accounting for 68%, are in favor of legalizing marijuana. Of this percentage, 59% believe it should be legal for recreational purposes. Conversely, only 10% of individuals hold the belief that marijuana should remain illegal in its entirety.

At present, medical marijuana has been legalized in thirty-eight states, with twenty-four of them also approving its recreational use. This progressive shift in legislation reflects a growing acceptance of and changing attitudes toward cannabis.

The Christian Perspective

In light of evolving societal attitudes, should Christians also adapt, or does Scripture offer a distinct perspective for comprehending and navigating this matter?When we delve into the pages of Scripture, we are confronted with a resounding message about the significance of sobriety and the perils of intoxication, which alters our mental state. In Ephesians 5:18, we are cautioned with the words, “And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit.” Although this verse explicitly addresses the consumption of alcohol, it carries a broader principle that applies to all forms of substance abuse, including marijuana usage. Similarly, in 1 Peter 5:8, believers are advised to be “sober-minded and watchful,” emphasizing the necessity of vigilance and mental clarity in the Christian journey.

Furthermore, Christians are called to regard their bodies as sacred temples of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:19–20). This verse implies caring for one’s physical well-being and avoiding actions that could harm or defile the body. In Galatians 5:21, although drug use is not explicitly mentioned, the appeal to live by the Spirit and resist the desires of the flesh can be interpreted as encompassing the avoidance of all forms of substance abuse.

Finally, in Romans 12:2, we are given the appeal not to conform to the world but to be transformed by renewing our minds. While not explicitly mentioning marijuana, it is essential to keep in mind that drug use will impair one’s ability to determine what is morally right and pleasing to God.

Increase Mather, fittingly named, drew his inspiration from scripture. Considering the prevalent drug use today, it’s conceivable that if he were among us, he would have crafted and preached a third sermon on the vices of drug use, explicitly addressing recreational marijuana. Perhaps he would have exclaimed, “Woe to you who indulge in drunkenness and marijuana consumption.”

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Virgil Walker

Vice President of Ministry Relations G3 Ministries

Virgil L. Walker is the Vice President of Ministry Relations for G3 Ministries, an author and conference speaker. His books include Just Thinking About the State, Just Thinking About Ethnicityand Why Are You Afraid? He co-hosts the Just Thinking Podcast with Darrell Harrison and is a weekly contributor to Fearless with Jason Whitlock on the Blaze Media platform. Virgil has a Master of Business Administration and a Master of Theological Studies from Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. Virgil and his wife, Tomeka, have three children. Listen to his podcast here.