Seven Reasons Not to Smoke Pot

Occasionally people ask my opinion on various personal or church issues. I recently received the following question which I have reprinted below, followed by my response.

QUESTION

Dear Bob,

I consider myself a Christian and I love and trust Jesus.  I also smoke pot.  I know that most Christians don’t do that.  When I smoke, I can still pray to Jesus. Some people say it’s like overeating or smoking cigarettes as far as it not being healthy for you. When I’m high, I wouldn’t act or do anything different than when I’m not. What is your view on this?

 

MY ANSWER

Thanks for asking a question that many Christians are wondering about. This gives me an opportunity to address an activity that was considered very wrong twenty years ago but is considered normal and acceptable by many today. It’s estimated that more than 1 in 3 people in America have tried marijuana at one point in their lives. While I’m confident there are a lot of things worse than smoking pot I want to suggest seven reasons why I think it’s wrong and would advise against it.

1. It’s illegal in most states. The Bible commands us to be submissive to the governing authorities (Romans 13:1). Although police often look the other way, it is still against the law to smoke weed in most states. Even if your indulgence is confined to your own home, if you live in a state where it is illegal to smoke weed you are disobeying the law.

2. It’s wasteful and expensive. The Bible encourages us to be wise stewards of the resources God has entrusted to us (1 Cor. 4:2). One study estimated the average pot smoker in Colorado (where marijuana is legal) will spend around $650 a year. Cannabis users in states where it’s illegal and those who use it habitually will spend much more. Wouldn’t it be a wiser use of your money to give that amount to a missionary or a needy person?

3. It’s damaging to our health and well-being. The Apostle Paul asked, “Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price.  Therefore honor God with your bodies” (1 Cor. 6:19-20).

It took years for science to document the harmful effects of tobacco. The claims that smoking marijuana is harmless are naïve and counter-intuitive. Some recent studies are now connecting marijuana to brain damage and the dulling of the senses. Side effects also include short-term memory problems, severe anxiety, lowered reaction time, increased heart rate, increased risk of stroke, problems with coordination and sexual issues. One study shows a decline in IQ (up to 8 points if prolonged use started in adolescent age).

Research also shows a link between marijuana use and mental health problems like depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts, short-term psychosis, and schizophrenia. While it’s not clear if marijuana causes these conditions, it can make them worse. Since our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, it doesn’t make sense to intentionally ingest a substance which has such negative consequences.

4. It’s potentially addictive. Jesus warned that all sin is potentially enslaving (John 8:34). Though you may have heard otherwise, studies now indicate nearly 10% of people who use marijuana become dependent on it. Some argue that pot in itself is not addictive, but the behavior is too easily repeatable. So at the very least, the pot-smoker develops a dangerous habit that is not easily broken.

Years ago a very sharp high-school teacher confessed to me that he was smoking weed twice a day. He realized his dependency was causing him to lose his focus in the classroom. In his guilt, he brought me a large bag of marijuana and asked me to dispose of it. It was his way of declaring freedom from his addiction. I quickly took it to the dumpster hoping no police officer would interrupt me on the way and ask me what I was doing! That teacher would agree that marijuana was a very difficult habit to break.

5. It’s obviously a gateway drug. Some dispute this objection but common sense and numerous examples indicate this premise is true. A counselor in a treatment center who dealt with hundreds of patients recently stated that he met very few addicts who had not smoked marijuana as the first step to harder drugs like cocaine and heroin. Satan is a crafty deceiver who exploits the law of “increased appetite and diminishing return” to kill, steal and destroy good people (John 10:10).

6. It’s a poor example to the people you influence. If you have children or grandchildren who look up to you, your example of using drugs for recreational purposes enhances their potential to develop a serious problem. Paul told Timothy to “set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity” (1 Tim. 4:12).

7. There’s a better alternative. Christians who are filled with the Spirit don’t need an artificial high.* The Bible doesn’t insist that Christians be total abstainers from alcohol (although I think it’s a wise practice), but it does command us, “Do not be drunk with wine which leads to debauchery, instead be filled with the Spirit” (Ephesians 5:18).

The very purpose of smoking marijuana is to get an artificial high…to escape reality. Our sense of comfort and peace comes from knowing Christ, not doing drugs. You mention in your email that you can smoke pot and still pray to Jesus. Rather than saying, “I can still pray to Jesus” why not ask, “Does this activity enhance my prayer life or improve my walk with Christ?”

Jesus experienced excruciating pain when he was crucified. Early that morning He was offered a pain-killer, wine mixed with gall. But He refused to drink it, apparently because His intent was to die for the sins of the world with a clear head.

Regardless of the pressures you face in life, you really don’t need marijuana. As a Christian, you are filled with the Holy Spirit, and you don’t need to escape reality. You don’t really need the temporary “high” you might get on drugs. You can do all things through Christ who strengthens you.

The Apostle Paul wrote, “So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want” (Gal. 5:17).

I would encourage you to increasingly “walk by the Spirit.” This way you will find it unnecessary to gratify your carnal desires. As a result, your walk with Christ will deepen, and you’ll enjoy the confidence of knowing you are in the center of God’s will for you. – – Bob

*NOTE: It was not my intent to address the controversial subject of medicinal marijuana in this article. If it is proven that cannabis is helpful for the treatment of some maladies and if it is legalized and prescribed by a respected physician, then Christians will need to make individual decisions about its proper use. The danger of any endorsement of medical marijuana is that it will become more readily accessible to those who just crave an emotional high and abuse it.

 

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