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Is using cannabis a sin in Christianity? There are a number of different ways to answer the question. To begin, I want to hone in on one particular passage of scripture – Galatians 5:19–23. These verses describe “the works of the flesh” and contrast them with “the fruit of the Spirit.” And the fruit of the Spirit exemplifies what the Christian life should look like if followers of Jesus Christ are being filled with the Holy Spirit.
Let’s first look at the works of the flesh, and we’ll see whether any of them are exhibited when we use cannabis:
Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. Galatians 5:19–21, ESV
None of these have anything to do with using cannabis. Especially for those who use CBD for medicinal purposes to treat their anxiety, seizures or depression, for example. CBD doesn’t get you high, so there’s no correlation to “drunkenness” here in any way.
The other “work of the flesh” that might possibly relate to using cannabis is a bit less obvious. It relies on the Greek word pharmakeia which is translated in English as “sorcery” and is etymologically related to the word pharmacy.
Some people believe that “drugs” would be a better English translation. But is it really that straightforward? The UBS Handbook: Galatians has this to say about translating pharmakeia:
‘Sorcery’ translates a word which originally meant simply ‘use of medicine or drugs,’ but which had the derived meaning of the use of drugs for magical purposes. Therefore, it came to mean, in the biblical writings, magic, sorcery, or witchcraft.
So, while the word can technically mean any use of drugs, it would be contextually irresponsible to reduce it to that meaning here in this verse. Furthermore, if we were to interpret pharmakeia to mean any drugs, then we would have to include everything from coffee to aspirin, not just cannabis. But it’s pretty clear that this verse isn’t prohibiting any of those.
With the negative works of the flesh out of the way, let’s now consider how cannabis may relate to the positive fruit of the Spirit:
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. Galatians 5:22–23, ESV
As it happens, using cannabis has been shown to improve every single one of these qualities.
Let’s take a look at each of them.
In an article for Fatherly, Theo Wheaton describes how using cannabis made him more loving as a parent:
We like love because, in its most beautiful form, it strips away the need to protect the ego and desires nothing but to give. Being under the influence of cannabis has been one of the greatest gifts of my life…I carry this lesson in my heart: I have a deep desire to love the people around me.
Ever heard of anandamide? It’s a compound in our bodies that helps to regulate our mood and make us joyful. Mike Adams explains that
its primary role in a complex system is to try and make us happy and healthy.
And consuming CBD is one of several ways to boost our bodies’ production thereof, thus making us more joyful.
Justin Gardner describes how a Study Confirms Cannabis Makes You Peaceful:
The results confirmed what has long been suspected—alcohol facilitates aggressive feelings in heavy alcohol users, while aggressive feelings are diminished in regular cannabis users.
Recent research enlisted two groups of people—one of frequent cannabis users and the other of non-users—to undergo a stressful scenario, and it turns out that the cannabis users were able to maintain more patience than the non-users:
The heavy users, in other words, reacted to a stressful situation with equanimity and chill even though they weren’t stoned at the time of the test.
A study has shown that cannabis increases our “ability to recognize, process and empathize with human emotions like happiness, sadness and anger.”
And it makes sense that greater empathy would lead us to greater kindness. Perhaps that’s why “Compassion Programs and Cannabis Go Hand-in-Hand.
Elizabeth Enochs believes:
…It is easier to be thankful, kind, patient, present, and joyful when you feel your best, and cannabis helps me do that…CBD quiets my physical anxiety symptoms, which makes it easier for me to focus on the important things.
Deb Button describes how cannabis actually helps her to be a faithful Christian:
I’m sitting in my living room and the cannabis was kicking in at a higher dose, and I could literally feel God. I was filled with love, an indwelling of love.
I loved everyone I saw. I said, “Thank you, God. That was the feeling I always wanted in church!”’ she recalled.
Studies have shown that cannabis use can actually help violently inclined people be more gentle”
New research from BDS Analytics suggests that:
cannabis users are actually more satisfied, more successful, and even more likely to volunteer in their communities…[and have] healthier habits and a more active social life…
Our passage from Galatians teaches that “the works of the flesh are evident,” and it’s equally evident that cannabis use is not included among them. By contrast, we’ve seen how using cannabis can actually help us better fulfill all of the different fruits of the Spirit, and “against such things there is no law.”
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