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Some years back, I had a conversation with a fellow Christian as to whether using cannabis is a sin or not. He, like many of my brothers and sisters in the faith, argued that it was, 100% of the time.
No. Questions. Asked.
I, on the other hand, didn’t think it was. Let me rephrase: I said it wasn’t necessarily so, but could be, depending on the circumstances. Sadly, after I said this, the person ended the conversation without allowing me to explain myself. If he had heard me out, this is what I would have told him:
First, I don’t find it to be well worth our time to try to make a list of all the sins, all the dos and don’ts, and then try to orient our lives and the lives of those around us accordingly.
Why? It frankly doesn’t work. Humans aren’t really designed to live in such a way. Plus, I don’t see any evidence that Jesus or the early Christians lived like this. They didn’t have in their minds a catalogue of all the possible sins one could engage in—if they did, Jesus probably would have been thought of as “sinful,” given that he did work on the Sabbath (a huge no-no according to both Torah and the so-called religious leaders of his day).
Rather, they had an ethic of love, and so, when it then came to sin, believed that anything that didn’t fit within this ethic was deemed sinful. See the difference? It’s about having a proper starting place.
A few New Testament passages affirm this line of thinking:
12:30–31: ’You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength. The second is this, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.
1 Corinthians 13:1–3: If I speak in the tongues of mortals and of angels, but do not have love, I am a noisy or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give away all my possessions, and if I hand over my body so that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.
Matthew 15:11: It is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person, but it is what comes out of the mouth that defiles.
What I think we can conclude from these passages, and those like them, is that love is the most important thing in the world. Without it, we are nothing. That is to say, without love, no matter all the other good stuff we think we are doing, we are still engaging in sin.
So, I suppose the questions to ask ourselves are as follows:
Now, the issue I see here is that each of us will probably give different answers. And that’s okay. It’s okay that for some, using cannabis would drive us to becoming less loving while for others, it may do the opposite. Most substances are like this. Alcohol, for example, causes some to become irate over the smallest issues, and indeed even causes one to become addicted to it, while for others, makes social situations tolerable, enjoyable even, and doesn’t become an addiction for them.
That’s not to say that we should play fast and loose with all substances. As Ephesians 5:18 warns, we should not get “drunk with wine.” Not because God is against wine, but because drunkenness tends to get in the way of loving others as ourselves. When we apply this to cannabis, the same rings true.
But again, we can’t paint this picture with the broadest of brushes. To reiterate, while some may not be able to tolerate cannabis, others do just fine and in fact find themselves more loving whilst under the influence of cannabis. Again, discernment is the key.
The Apostle Paul’s words come to mind when thinking about this:
‘All things are lawful for me,’ but not all things are beneficial. ‘All things are lawful for me,’ but I will not be dominated by anything. 1 Corinthians 6:12
‘All things are lawful,’ but not all things are beneficial. ‘All things are lawful,’ but not all things build up. 1 Corinthians 10:23
And yet again:
I know and am persuaded in the Lord Jesus that nothing is unclean in itself; but it is unclean for anyone who thinks it unclean. Romans 14:14
To that end, when it comes to cannabis, it is indeed lawful (in most states). And it is clean. But does it build up? Maybe. But maybe not. That depends on the person. But what about talking about cannabis?
For many people, cannabis not only builds them up, it heals them, restores them, and returns them to a normal way of life.
CBD, an oil created from cannabis and used to treat acne, seizures, anxiety, depression, and even opioid addiction, is not only beneficial for many people, its also non-addictive and non-hallucinogenic. People who suffer from MS, Parkinson’s and epilepsy depend on CBD to live normal lives. So, why would anyone – especially any Christian – be opposed to someone using CBD to find relief from their pain?
What we have to figure out as Christians is whether or not using it helps build others up, whether or not it helps bring about peace and tranquility – the lynchpins of the kingdom of God.
I can’t answer this question for you, just like you can’t answer that for me. We have to answer that for ourselves and always remember that our focus should be on our own sin, not the so-called sins of others (Matthew 7:1–5).
This is one way we can start living at peace with one another, just as Paul commanded of us.
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