Marijuana and the Bible

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What is happening in America?  At least 20 states and the District of Columbia have legalized marijuana for medical purposes (these are restricted).  Two states (Washington and Colorado) have legalized marijuana for recreational use.  Other states are watching this experiment and will have to decide if they will legalize this drug or not.
The President of the United States minimized the use of marijuana comparing it to alcohol and cigarettes.  He said, “As has been well documented, I smoked pot as a kid, and I view it as a bad habit and a vice, not very different from the cigarettes that I smoked as a young person up through a big chunk of my adult life.  I don’t think it is more dangerous than alcohol” (Huffington Post, 1/19/2014).  Please refer to the article that I wrote on this blog site titled, “Alcohol and Marijuana” to see the dangers of alcohol and that 88,000 Americans lose their lives each year to heavy drinking of alcohol.
What is Marijuana?
Marijuana refers to the dried leaves, flowers, stems, and seeds from the hemp plant Cannabis sativa, which contains the psychoactive (mind-altering) chemical delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), as well as other related compounds. This plant material can be smoked or concentrated into a resin called hashish or a sticky black liquid called hash oil (National Institutes of Health).
Facts About Marijuana
1.  Marijuana is the most common illicit drug used in the United States.
2.  The drug is being used more among young people (since 2007) and at the same time viewed as being less harmful.
3.  Marijuana is usually smoked (rolled in cigarette wrappers) called “joints” or in pipes called “bongs.”
4.  Marijuana smoke has a pungent and distinctive usually sweet-and-sour odor.
5.  Marijuana can be mixed with tea or used in food products.
General Effects of Marijuana
1.  Short-term memory loss.  Slowness of learning.
2.  Impaired lung function (similar to that found in cigarettes).
3.  Extended use–causes cancer and other lung disease.
4.  Causes decreased sperm count and sperm mobility.
5.  Impairs immune response.
6.  Adverse effects on heart function.  Increase of heart rate–20-100 percent after smoking.
7.  Developmental effects in children and adolescents:  amotivational syndrome–energy loss, poor school performance leading to dropouts, harmed parental relationships, behavior disruptions and psychotic episodes.
Effects on the Brain
1.  THC acts on specific molecular targets on brain cells called cannabinoid receptors.  These in turn affect other neural receptors and play an important part in brain development and function.  Marijuana affects every part of the brain.
2.  THC affects the parts of the brain responsible for pleasure, memory, thinking, concentration, sensory and time perception, and coordinated movement.
3.  THC produces altered perceptions and mood, impaired coordination, difficulty with thinking and problem solving, and disrupted learning and memory.
4.  THC also affects brain development.  Prolonged use can have permanent results.  A long-term study in New Zealand showed that heavy users lost an average of 8 points in IQ between the ages of 13 and 38.  (National Institute on Drug Abuse).
Is Marijuana Addictive?
Contrary to public myth, marijuana is addictive.  It can also lead to the use of more potent drugs like cocaine or heroin.  It is referred to as a “gateway” drug for this reason.
Is Marijuana Medicine?
Clinical evidence has not shown that the therapeutic benefits of the marijuana plant outweigh its health risks (NIDA).  There are many harmful ingredients in marijuana that have not been fully evaluated at this time.
Marijuana and the Bible
The Bible teaches that the body of a Christian belongs to God by virtue of redemption through Jesus Christ (I Cor. 6:19-20).  The body must be used for the glory of God and not for drug abuse or fornication.
Christians are not to pursue the lusts of the flesh, but rather the spiritual things of God.  Rom. 8:5-10; Col. 3:1-5.
Christians must not be brought under the power of any illicit drug that impairs judgment and compromises personal restraint against sin.  When a person is “high” there is a loss of self-control (temperance) II Pet. 1:6.
Marijuana is a means of seeking  pleasure through a mind-altering drug.  The pleasures of sin must be rejected.  Heb. 11:24-25 (The example of Moses).
“There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.  For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death” (Rom. 8:1-2).

The Nature of Lust

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“This I say then, walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lusts of the flesh” (Gal. 5:16-18).  In this text, lusts refers to unlawful or inordinate desire or desire that God forbids.  Lusts of the flesh war against the Spirit.  Lusts of the flesh war against the soul (I Pet. 2:11).  Lusts of the flesh can be overcome through being led by the Spirit.
In C.S. Lewis’, The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe, Edmund (one of the four children in the story) enters a wardrobe in an old house, only to discover that the wardrobe is a gateway to another world.  He meets a witch queen who asks him what he would like.  Edmund chooses Turkish Delight and the queen conjures up a box of it by magic–a box containing several pounds of pleasure.  Edmund has never tasted such delicious Turkish Delight.  The queen knows that Edmund’s brother and two sisters are aware of the wardrobe, and she wishes to lure them also into her power.  The Turkish Delight is her weapon, her means of control over Edmund.  It is enchanted Turkish Delight that never can satisfy and “anyone who had once tasted it would want more and more of it, and would even, if they were allowed, go on eating it till they killed themselves.”  Edmund’s desire for the Turkish Delight is kindled.  It becomes a powerful force within him and a temptation.
Lust is never satisfied.  Edmund desired more and more.  He would have consumed Turkish Delight until it destroyed him and his brother and sisters.  Such is the nature of lust.  Solomon wrote, “He that loveth silver shall not be satisfied with silver; nore he that loveth abundance with increase: this is also vanity” (Eccl. 5:10).  Covetousness is the desire for more and more.  Lasciousviousness is a work of the flesh (Gal. 5:19).  It is lack of restraint or uncontrolled desire.
Lust becomes a god when it consumes us.  There are many forms of idolatry.  Paul says that covetousness is idolatry (Col. 3:5).  When we permit our lusts to master us, then they become a god.  To worship food is food lust.  To be enslaved to exotic sensations represents sexual lust.  Pornography can become a god (Matt. 5:28).  Drugs and alcohol can become a god.
Lust gains control over a person.  Lust continues to increase its grip on the soul of man.  Once is never enough!  Although, temptation often begins with “just once.”  Addictions are born through the indulgence of the lusts of the flesh.  “Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof” (Rom. 6:12).
Lust is always destructive and ruinous.  This is true because it is sin.  Paul states emphatically, “…we should not serve sin.”  Sin is destructive to the soul (Rom. 6:23). It is also true because lusts rob of us peace and unity.  “From whence come wars and fightings among you?  come they not hence, even of your lusts that war in your members?” (James 4:1-2).  Finally, the works of the flesh will keep us from inheriting the kingdom of God (Gal. 5:19-21).
Lust destroys our appetite for the normal and the sacred.  Let’s reconsider Edmund’s story.  Edmund’s craving for Turkish Delight destroyed his normal taste for food.  Later in the story, he shares a meal of freshly caught fried fish.  “He had eaten his share of the dinner, but he hadn’t really enjoyed it because he was thinking all the time about Turkish Delight–and there’s nothing that spoils the taste of good ordinary food half so much as the memory of bad magic food.”  When we substitute evil for good, this distorts reality for us (Rom. 1:21).  Our hearts are darkened and we can no longer be trusted to perceive things the way they really are.  Our desire for the sacred and holy is diminished if not completely destroyed.
Lust can be overcome.  Life in Christ results when we are led by the Spirit.  “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death” (Rom. 8:1-2).  True freedom is freedom from servitude to the lusts of the flesh.  Yet, how many believe that freedom is the license to indulge the flesh?  Only Christ has the power to break the bondage of sin and set us free in Him!