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The question of “going to heaven” after we die is something that often distracts us from the bigger picture of life here on earth. We’re usually concerned about what actions or thoughts may keep us from enjoying the joy of God’s eternal presence – or, if we’re honest, more often than not we’re concerned about what actions may doom us to an eternity in hellfire.
Depending on your view of hell – and there are three basic Christian views about hell and the afterlife – the answer to this question is a bit complicated.
The short answer is that the Bible really says absolutely nothing about cannabis whatsoever. So, you may really have nothing to worry about.
The fact is: the union of heaven and earth is something that God will accomplish, regardless anything we may or may not do. So, rather than worry so much about “going to heaven,” perhaps a more meaningful question to ask is whether using cannabis aligns with life in the kingdom of heaven right now?
To start with, we must remember that God created all plants, including cannabis, for our use:
And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat. Genesis 1:29, KJV
Also, the Bible nowhere specifies any prohibitions against using cannabis. Instead, Jesus and Paul specify a very simple principle to guide all of our actions:
Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets. Matthew 22:37–40, KJV
Owe no man anything, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law. For this, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Thou shalt not covet; and if there be any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore, love is the fulfilling of the law. Romans 13:8–10, KJV
According to both Jesus and Paul, our only requirement is to love God and love our neighbor. Love fulfils the entire law because, as Paul explains, it “worketh no ill” (or causes no harm) to our neighbor.
When considering whether any action is sinful or whether it is appropriate in the kingdom of heaven, we need only ask a simple question: “Is this action loving toward my neighbor, or does it cause my neighbor harm?” If it causes harm to a neighbor, then avoid it. If not, then you are free to partake and give glory to God in the process.
This is especially true, for example, if you’re using CBD, or Cannabidiol – an oil derived from cannabis which produces no hallucinogenic reactions. As of 2018, the Food and Drug Administration approved CBD as a prescription drug – called Epidiolex – for medical use. CBD oil has also proven to be remarkably effective treating a variety of illnesses and maladies, including epileptic seizures, anxiety, and insomnia, to name just a few.
So, can you use cannabis and still go to heaven?
A lot more goes into this question than you might realize. In order to answer it, we’ll need to first ask, what is heaven? And then, what does it mean to “go to heaven”? And finally, does using cannabis in any way affect this?
Part of the difficulty in defining heaven is the fact that the Bible itself uses the term in several different ways.
First, the most basic definition for heaven is the sky or the expanse of outer space. Heaven is the physical location up above the earth, in which can be found the clouds and, further out, the moon, sun, planets, and stars. This physical space, distinguished from earth, is the “heaven” referred to in the creation account:
In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. Genesis 1:1, KJV
Second, per ancient Hebrew cosmology, God was perceived to dwell out in the heavens, rather than on Earth, as this illustration demonstrates:
Then hear thou their prayer and their supplication in heaven thy dwelling place, and maintain their cause, 1 Kings 8:49, KJV
Because God, they believed, lived in the heavens, heaven became a term used to denote the literal physical dwelling place of God.
Third, as humanity’s perception of God continued to evolve, the Hebrew people came to believe that God is everywhere, not merely in the heavens:
Whither shall I go from thy spirit?
Or whither shall I flee from thy presence?
If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there:
If I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there.
If I take the wings of the morning,
And dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea;
Even there shall thy hand lead me,
And thy right hand shall hold me.
Psalm 139:7–10, KJV
As this shift took place, they continued to use the term heaven to symbolize the spiritual realm all around us, in which dwell God and the angels, but which we cannot see.
Fourth, in order to avoid blaspheming God’s name, many of the Jewish people began replacing God’s name and titles with various euphemisms. In particular, they would sometimes use the term heaven in place of God or to represent God’s authority. Note, for example, how the Gospel according to Matthew—written to a largely Jewish audience—often though not always uses the phrase “kingdom of heaven” where Mark or Luke use the phrase “kingdom of God”:
But Jesus said, Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven. Matthew 19:14, KJV
But when Jesus saw it, he was much displeased, and said unto them, Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God. Mark 10:14, KJV
But Jesus called them unto him, and said, Suffer little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God. Luke 18:16, KJV
So in this sense, heaven refers to God or to God’s ruling authority.
In summary, when the Bible uses the term heaven, it could mean either the sky, the place where God lives, the invisible realm all around us, or God himself. However, the Bible never uses heaven to refer to a place people go when they die, despite this being such a common meaning many people give to the term today.
Based on the biblical understanding of heaven, as described above, “going to heaven” would mean either entering the sky or catching a glimpse of the spiritual realm.
Technically speaking, we go to heaven every time we fly in an airplane. As for getting a peek into the spiritual realm, it’s uncommon, but the Bible does offer a few examples, such as Ezekiel’s vision, Paul’s mysterious reference to a man “caught up to the third heaven” 2 Corinthians 12:2, KJV, or John’s visions in the book of Revelation.
But when most people talk about “going to heaven,” what they really mean is going to a good place when they die. The Bible never really speaks of heaven in this manner. This is actually a conflation of two different biblical ideas.
The first is the concept of a resting place—Sheol in Hebrew or Hades in Greek—where all the dead await the resurrection. References to this place are vague and at times contradictory. While some texts suggest consciousness, with a peaceful rest for the righteous and torment for the unrighteous such as in Luke 16:22–23, other texts suggest there is no consciousness for the sleeping dead such as in Ecclesiastes 9:5 with John 11:24.
Whatever may be the nature of that in-between state, the second and more important concept is that of the resurrection, followed by life in the New Jerusalem on the renewed earth. Most of the imagery that we wrongfully associate with “heaven” actually refers to the New Jerusalem, including the “pearly gates” and the “streets of gold” Revelation 21:21.
But crucially, the New Jerusalem comes down out of heaven to be established here on the renewed earth Revelation 21:2. The New Jerusalem is not itself heaven, but it represents a joining together of heaven (God’s spiritual realm) with earth (our physical realm). We do not “go to heaven”—heaven comes to us.
So ask yourself, if you used CBD, would that be causing harm to your neighbor? Well, no, it wouldn’t affect them in any way. Therefore, on the authority of Jesus and Paul, using CBD is perfectly acceptable within the kingdom of heaven.
And using CBD certainly won’t stop you from experiencing the resurrection, nor will it keep you out of the New Jerusalem.
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