Saturday, March 27, 2010

Thinking Biblically About Marijuanna - Part 2

if you haven't read it, please read the post below before this one.

The last post discussed the issue with drugs that hinder sober thinking. Specifically, Worship is central to the conversation. When God created men and women, He created them to worship Him with a sound and sober mind. When people are brought into a relationship with Him through Christ, they are given the Holy Spirit, given everything they need to live godly lives (2 Peter 1:3) and this is through the “true knowledge” of Him. Since we are no longer our “own”, we have been bought with a price and we are to “glorify” God in our body (1 Cor 6:20). This touches on the stewardship aspect, but it also deals with what we worship. God desires for His people to be “filled” or controlled by the Spirit (Eph 5:18) rather than be controlled by anything else, including alcohol (and by association, drugs). We are commanded to use our bodies as instruments of righteousness (Romans 6) since we are no longer “our own” but are His.

This idea of not being controlled by anything even goes into the realm of our human appetites. For instance, in 1 Cor 6, Paul lists those who will not be in heaven with God. He shows that those who practice/do (ongoing, habitually, consistently) these evil and sinful actions like fornication, like idolatry, like homosexuality, like drunkenness are not God’s people (1 Cor 6:9-10). But in verse 11, he says that such were some of you, but they have been saved. So they are now Christians, who have Christ. Right after that, he describes how even the things that are lawful but not beneficial should not have control, “mastered by anything” (1 Cor 6:12). He even goes so far as to say that food will not master him, which in context would be the Jewish dietary laws. Because he has a new Master, he will not be mastered by anything. Addiction to alcohol and drugs definitely “master” those who use them. This is the same line of thinking in Romans 6 with sin not mastering you anymore because you are a slave no longer to sinful things but a slave of the most High King, and therefore a slave to righteousness. So one of the biggest reasons drugs are sinful are because of “control” they have (addiction) and the effect they have (altering your mind and thinking). Christ wants you to be a worshipper of Him, living with a sober mind (1 Thess 5:6, 8; 1 Peter 1:13, 4:7, 5:8). The command to be sober has to do with having clear thinking, right thinking which is ready for action and for worship.

One question that I have come across is a Christian telling me that drugs actually help them worship better! Since one has the Holy Spirit, why would one need drugs to help you spiritually? If one thinks that way, that person is saying in so many words that they need something better than the Holy Spirit to enable them to think and worship better. To be sober in spirit, in your thinking and actions is to worship God rightly, through the work of the Spirit. To be controlled by the Spirit, filled, under the influence of the Spirit is in stark contrast to being under the influence of drugs or alcohol. The addictive nature of alcohol is one that makes you its slave rather than the slave of Christ.

As Christians, we need to realize that we are no longer our own but have been bought with a price, the very death of Christ. No one can serve two masters (Matt 6:24), you cannot be a slave of sin, serving money, sex, drugs, yourself and also be a slave of Christ’s, serving Him, using your body as an instrument of righteousness to bring Him glory while also using your body as an instrument of self gratification through drug use. So to re-summarize, drugs hinder your ability to think soberly, they control you, they impede your walk with God and they are show what you worship, yourself rather than God.

My hope is that as Christians, we would strive for “right” thinking. The effect of sin is a depraved mind (Romans 1:28). The impact of Christ is a mind that can now be transformed and renewed (Romans 12:1-2) but this is a process which is why we are to have sober thinking. Interestingly enough, from Romans 1-11, Paul outlines the wonderful news of the gospel that gives us the ability to have right thinking. As Christians we are now called to no longer live in the futility of our minds that is darkened in understanding (Ephesians 4:17-18) (which is a possibility for believers since Paul commands us not to). We are to live in a way that is constantly being renewed in our mind (Eph 4:23) which results in godly living of putting off sinful actions and putting on righteous actions (Eph 4:22-32).
Let me know what you think.

Thinking Biblically about Marijuanna - Part 1

Last July, I posed a question as to how the Christian should view drugs in light of the potential legalization of marijuana. Well, that day may be as soon as November 2010.

A recent article states what I have known for a while now, that legalization of marijuana will be one way which raises funds for California’s never ending budget short fall. Voters will get a chance to decide this November. If it doesn’t pass, which I will be shocked if it doesn’t, it will at some point. And as California goes, so goes the country. In 1996 when California was the first state to legalize medicinal marijuana, 14 other states would follow. Who knows how this will all pan out and how this will interact with the Federal Law. One thing is certain, it is only a matter of time. So, how does one view this interesting issue biblically?

One of the challenges in this is the term drugs is not found in the Bible. But because something is not in the Bible does not mean that it is righteous and not sinful. Pornographic internet sites are not in the Bible either. Abortion is not in the Bible. Euthanasia, stem cell research, child molestation and other contemporary hot topics cannot be found in the Bible. Yet what we do find are principles found in Scripture that transcend culture that can apply to other situations. For instance, Abortion is not specifically in the Bible, but the concept of killing is. Leviticus discusses a situation where a woman is with child and is hurt by a man. Amos condemns the ripping open of wombs of those who are pregnant labeling this as wicked, sinful and appalling to God. So, there would be enough evidence from Scripture to show that God is concerned for the helpless, for the sanctity of life and so on. But what of drugs? Well, the Greek word “pharmakeia” from which we get our English word Pharmacy is found in Galatians 5:20, Revelation 9:21 and 18:23. It is often translated as “sorcery.” To be fair, this is in the context of drugs being used in the context of witchcraft and mind altering states that include deception among other things. So drug use was often linked to some type of witchcraft or pagan worship that would “enable the mind” to worship beings on a higher level. Maybe a good comparison could be drawn to Peyote use among Native Americans.

The Bible also has much to say about the abuse of alcohol and can legitimately apply to the use of drugs because both alter the state of thinking and motor skills. While I believe (though some fight'en Fundies would disagree) that drinking alcohol is not a sin issue, it can become one. The reason is the issue of affecting ones thinking, ability to control oneself, ect. Ephesians 5:18 compares being drunk with wine with being controlled by the Spirit. Drunkenness is compared to “dissipation” which is the same word translated in 1 Pet 4:4 as debauchery and really is summed up in two words…”reckless living.” The issue with alcohol is similar to drug use since it deals with being under the influence. That is why if you are driving under the influence of drugs, you get a similar penalty as if you were driving while drunk. Drugs, illegal drugs, in some form hinder or alter your thinking. Thinking, sound thinking is a pretty big deal in the Bible. In the same 1 Peter 4 passage, verse 7 shows that one needs to be sober, sound in thinking so that one can pray. In Titus 2, both older men, older women, younger men and younger women are called to be “sensible” literally sound of mind, thinking rightly and self controlled. Drugs hinder that.

More to follow.........