The Bible and Cannabis – Are the Scriptures Against It?

Scriptures: Bible and Cannabis


Does the Bible condemn or condone cannabis? Well, it all depends on how you look at things. On the one hand, the Bible explicitly says that God created all things, including “every plant yielding seed” Genesis 1:29, and that all of it is “very good.”

And more than that, the Scriptures also declare that all things, while not always beneficial, are always lawful 1 Corinthians 10:23. Meaning, it is our task as human beings to figure out what is and is not a benefit to our lives and the lives of others, and then act accordingly.

On the other hand, the Bible also warns against intoxication and drunkenness, and many a good Christian has interpreted this to mean that cannabis—indeed any substance that intoxicates—is to be avoided at all costs. In fact, some even go so far as to suggest that one cannot inherit the kingdom of God if they ingest any substances like this.

So, with such a stark contrast in how the Bible can be interpreted with regards to using cannabis, what are we, as intelligent and open-minded Christians, to do? How are we to discern what is right for us as followers of Jesus?

First off, let’s try to keep it simple and start with the words of Jesus Christ himself. In Matthew 15:11, he warns that “it is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person, but it is what comes out of the mouth that defiles.” In other words, what seems to be clear is that it isn’t so much what one chooses to ingest that is important, what is important is how one treats others, how one speaks to others, how one either respects others or doesn’t respect them. This much should be clear.

For sake of argument, then, let’s say that a Christian uses cannabis and somehow it causes them to defile themselves by speaking words of malice, anger, and hatred against others. In such a case, it should obviously be avoided. But again, what should be emphasized is that it isn’t the plant that is doing the defiling, it’s the underlying contempt that person has for others. In other words, it isn’t what goes in the person that should be our point of emphasis, it’s what comes out of their mouths that counts.

That said, what should be noted is that there is mounting evidence that cannabis is super beneficial for those who consume it. Especially in the form of CBD, or cannabidiol, which has a good number of positive medicinal properties and has, overwhelmingly, been shown to help folks in a variety of areas. Not only has CBD helped people to cope with debilitating diseases like epilepsy and Crohn’s, but it has proven beneficial for those who suffer from nausea and loss of appetite associated with cancer treatments and other harsh pharmaceuticals.

Still, the science on this is still a bit shaky. Clinical trials are being done, of course, but it’s a slow process. As Christians, though, we should be at the forefront of respecting this process and should always hold off on passing quick judgments.

After all, as followers of Christ, our focus should be to help those in need. We are not, first and foremost, to be going around accusing others of being “in sin,” as we have historically been so prone to do.

This line of thinking is emphasized quite strikingly in places like John 9. Here, Jesus is travelling along a road with his disciples when they come upon a man who was born blind. The cultural and religious assumption is that this was a sinful man. Why? Because that’s just how folks viewed things at the time.

The logic goes like this: Those who are afflicted with illness and malady are sinful, otherwise why would they suffer with such affliction? Folks thought this because, among other things, their Scriptures stated as much. For instance, in Deuteronomy 28, there are a whole bunch of warnings that if you are evil or wicked, both you and your children will be punished with lasting maladies: blindness, deafness, and so on.

However, Jesus doesn’t buy into this blessing/cursing worldview. No! What he does is he immediately rebukes his disciples, stating:

Neither this man nor his parents sinned; he was born blind so that God’s works might be revealed in him. John 9:3

Then he goes on to do the work that the Father sent him to do. In short, he heals the man. Verses 6–7 testify to this:

When he had said this, he spat on the ground and made mud with the saliva and spread the mud on the man’s eyes, saying to him, ‘Go, wash in the pool of Siloam’ which means Sent. Then he went and washed and came back able to see.

Now, you may be inclined to ask yourself: Are you saying that Jesus used cannabis to heal the man? Well, no, not really. He may have, but we really don’t know. Either way, that is not at all my point. My point, then, is that when it came to healing, Jesus didn’t concern himself with any cultural or religious assumptions that state how folks who suffer do so because they are living in sin. He did, however, concern himself with how he can bring about healing in the present moment void of any of these religious assumptions.

To that end, if Jesus were walking around the earth right now, I’d have to be inclined to guess that he would always be oriented toward aiding others by any means necessary. And if both scientific and anecdotal evidence pointed toward a plant like cannabis possessing healing properties, then he would probably be on board with it being available for folks to use in the same responsible manner all substances should be used.

Again, as we’ve already discussed, Jesus’ emphasis was not what enters the mouth, but what comes out of it Matthew 15:11.

So, ask yourself: What happens when I personally use cannabis? What happens when others use it? Is God glorified, am I filled with the Spirit, or is God blasphemed, and do I defile myself and others with what then comes out of my mouth? Only you can decide for yourself. Remember, all things are lawful but not all things are beneficial. What’s good for one person may not benefit another. This much the Bible is clear about.

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Matthew J. Distefano
Matthew J. Distefano
Matthew J. Distefano blogs for the Progressive Christian channel on Patheos. He is the author of 4 books, including 2 Amazon best sellers, and co-hosts the Heretic Happy Hour podcast. He lives in Chico, Ca with his wife and daughter.

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