Before we start, I'd like to note that English is my second language, meaning my grammar isn't going to be perfect. Also, I am a Christian, if that happens to interest anyone. Also, the following ackowledgements shall be made: This critique focuses mainly on natural, hallucinogenic substances. I will not address synthetic compounds or stimulants or depressives. Let's get right to it, shall we?
Background: Psychoactive drugs are divided into three main groups: Stimulants (caffeine, nicotine, amphetamines, etc), Depressants (opioids, alcohol, etc) and Hallucinogens (THC [marijuana], LSD, psilocybin, mescaline).
In the second paragraph, the writer basically says that smoking and marijuana are not mentioned in the Bible. This is an honest, but troublesome admission. In the time that the New (and Old) Testaments were being written, smoking existed; perhaps most prominantly in the Native American cultures. So my question to all is: Why didn't the Bible know anything about it? If it is the inerrant word of God and it wished to prohibit smoking, why didn't it do so? God certainly knew what the Native Americans were doing. However, in his book he raised no objections. Now we get to the writer's case that smoking marijuana (or taking any other psychoactive drugs) is a sin.
Is smoking weed a sin? Although the Bible does not address marijuana directly, it does discuss other mind-altering drugs. Specifically, the Bible addresses the use of drugs in the book of Galatians:
Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. (Galatians 5:19-21)
Three things to note here. First of all, it discusses only one mind-altering drug (alcohol), which, one should note, is artificially made unlike all the psychoactive compunds contained in plants. In other words, alcohol is created by man whereas, say, psilocybe mushrooms were created by God. I'll return to this topic in a minute. Second, the writer is quoting a letter which wasn't written by God. I'm sure there might be something in the Gospels (= spoken by Jesus) against alcohol use (and even then it would only address drunkenness). The writer continues:
So, where are the drugs mentioned in this verse? Actually, the word translated "sorcery" is the Greek word pharmakeia,4 from which we get the English word "pharmacy." The primary meaning is "the use or the administering of drugs" (usually associated with sorcery or idolatry). Since this verse comes from a list of things that if practiced would preclude one from heaven, this should be a reasonably strong suggestion that the Christian should not practice drug use. In addition, the book of Revelation lists drug use as one of the things for which the unrepentant will suffer the wrath of God.5
So, the central argument to the writer's case is that the word "sorcery" means "drug use". The evidence he gives is that the word sorcery is "pharmakeia" in Greek. Well, I went to Google Translator and looked whether or not this was true. I typed in "sorcery" and the results were: mageía, máv̱ri̱ mageía, goi̱teía, magía. I welcome anyone to try this and see for themselves. So, since I've refuted the writer's assertion that "sorcery" actually means "drug use", all conclusions that follow are invalid since they're based on an invalid premise. It doesn't matter if the greek word "pharmakeia" means "drug use", since "sorcery" does not translate into pharmakeia.
Thus far every argument against drug use has been invalid (however, I will concede that the Bible does condemn people who abuse alcohol.) That's another noteworthy thing. The Bible, when it condemns drinking alcohol, always makes it fairly clear that the people abusing the substance "won't inherit the kingdom of God", it doesn't extend to people who use it in moderation. So even if the argument I discussed before was valid, it wouldn't extend to every single human being who's ever drunk a single drop of alcohol in their life (only to alcoholics).
The next paragraph is basically filled with arguments that have been already discussed; they require no further discussion since I've already shown their invalidity. But I will address this point: "In the New Testament, those who serve in the body of Christ are not to be addicted to wine or any other sordid thing.15 Even those who do not directly serve in the church are warned not to be addicted to wine.16" Notice that this only condems abusers, not users who drink in moderation.
...Because when one use marijuana, one is legally intoxicated and incapable of clear thinking and reasonable reactions. Being intoxicated is clearly condemned in scripture. So, if one uses drugs or anything else to escape and get high, or is addicted to these substances, it is against the commands of scripture and inappropriate for Christian participation.
Here, I think, a very important distinction should be made. During this entire post I'm only talking about "soft" drugs, which include (but are not limited to) the following: Psilocybe mushrooms, peyote, marijuana, salvia divinorum, etc. I am not referring to hard drugs (since that is a different discussion for a different day.) So, there are 5 points I have issue with. 1: Yes, psychoctive compounds cause intoxication. The problem here is that especially hallucinogens affect each individual differently. Some may be very high or on a very intense trip from a very little dose, while some may be capable of performing tasks which require a lot of mental effort even at high doses. But in no case do soft drugs (at reasonable doses) make someone a zombie with no control over his/her actions. On the contrary, many are capable of "clear thinking and reasonable actions" even while under the effects of hallucinogens. Now, I agree that no one should drive under the influence of anything, but that is beside the point. 2: Intoxication is not condemned in the Bible, it only condemns "drunkenness"/addiction to alcohol (= alcoholism). 3: The two reasons given for drug usage are minor (although many like the high that marijuana gives.) There are hundreds of other reasons why people use hallucinogens (yes, marijuana is a hallucinogen). Some may use it as an entheogen (for religious purposes), while others may want to explore the human psyche. Hallucinogens have also been used as a form of therapy, and it should be noted that it was extremely successful. I could go on and on, but you get the point. 4: (Natural) hallucinogens are not able to be addictive (and it's hard to abuse them as well). It's simply not possible. What do I mean by this? Well, first of all, users build up a very rapid tolerance to hallucinogens (marijuana is a bit of an exception, since it has stimulant, depressive and hallucinogenic properties. However, marijuana doesn't cause physical addiction, only possibly a mental addiction.) When one uses, say, psilocybin just once (regardless of dosage), (S)he will need DOUBLE the amount to get the SAME effects as long as the tolerance is in effect. The tolerance goes away in about 3-5 days, meaning that AT MOST, it can be used TWICE a week. This is just my humble opinion, but if someone uses a substance maybe once or twice a week (assuming they use it every time the second the tolerance disappers), they're NOT abusing it by any stretch of the imagination. Also, there is no possible method by which one could become addicted to ANY naturally occurring hallucinogen (even marijuana.) At most they'll be wanting to use it again, but when they stop using it, there will be NO withdrawal or anything else whatsoever. There is not a single person on this earth who has a physical addiction to (naturally occurring) hallucinogens. 5: I've already explained why this is false, but actually, my reasoning leads me to believe the opposite. I'll get back to that in a minute. This critique is getting quite long, so I won't go into great detail from here on out.
This, again, was not said by Jesus but by a mortal (he was a holy and great mortal, but a mortal nevertheless.) But that isn't my main problem. If we extend this logic to its obvious conclusion, it means that God wanted abortion to be legal (just to throw a random example in here) and we, as Christians, should obey this (if we had lived in the USSR, we all should've obeyed their laws as well. God never prohibited communism, did he?). (Please don't address abortion in your reply, that is a totally different conversation for another day.) Also, God did kind of give us permission to use natural drugs. What do I mean by this? "Then God said: 'I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food." Genesis 1:29, NIV Also, why did God create these plants if he didn't want us to use them for the obvious purpose that they serve? But I will be definitely returning to this topic when I'll make my case that Christians are permitted to use drugs and maybe even encouraged to do so."Every person is to be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God. Therefore whoever resists authority has opposed the ordinance of God; and they who have opposed will receive condemnation upon themselves." The only exception to this command would be if those in authority directly contradicted the commands of God. Since smoking marijuana was never a command of God, Christians should not smoke marijuana where doing so is illegal.
The next paragraph ("Freedom in Christ") is basically addressing a straw man; I see no need to say anything about it. The writer continues:
Why should it have to fulfill it? Not everything we do has to fulfill: "YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND" This could easily be expanded into an argument against ANY non-religious activity performed by Christians.Obviously, smoking marijuana does nothing to fulfill this most important commandment. Along the same lines, Jesus said that people should seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness.23 However, these days, it seems that many "Christians" seek first the kingdom of self and its attendant pleasures.
This perfectly describes basic human nature and also any period in mankind's history.But realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come. For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good, treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power; Avoid such men as these.
I don't understand why the writer is so obsessed with marijuana. It is only one drug, and there are thousands more. As far as I'm concerned, 1: Marijuana can also be eaten. 2: Marijuana is just about the only hallucinogen that is (or even can be) smoked. For example, if psilocybin mushrooms were to be smoked the heat would destroy any psychoactive compounds in the plant. Now that I've addressed all the important arguments in the article, let's get to my case.Regarding Genesis 1:29 wrote:Marijuana smokers are especially fond of the King James version, since it uses the word "herb". However, the Hebrew word is much less specific, having the general meaning "plant," with the root word having the meaning "green." Further, the verse talks about fruit trees, indicating that the real meaning of the verse is about edible plants. So, the verse makes it clear that God created the plants for us for eating. It doesn't say anything about smoking them!
I personally believe in theistic evolution, but I'm assuming (perhaps incorrectly) that most people in this site are creationists of some sort. Hence, this case is tailor-made for any and all creationists who believe that god created the universe and the earth as it is now without evolution (so therefore anything that exists was specially created by God.) Also, since it's over midnight I'll only be giving one argument of my own. Maybe I'll go into more detail in a seperate topic.
So, my argument is going to be focusing on mushrooms containing psilocybin/psilocin. These mushrooms are hallucinogic (which is caused by psilocybin and/or psilocin.) Now, it's important to understand something. These mushrooms contain psilocybin and/or psilocin at varying levels. Some contain only psilocybin and abosolutely no psilocin. Now, psilocybin is actually an unactive compound. It doesn't cause ANY hallucinations. Then why do ALL "magic mushrooms" cause hallucinations you ask? It's because the liver converts psilocybin into psilocin. If it didn't, most "magic mushrooms" wouldn't do anything. Now, just so you understand the VERY complex and sophisticated process the liver goes through to convert psilocybin into a hallucinogenic compound, let me quote Wikipedia: "Psilocybin (O-phosphoryl-4-hydroxy-N,N-dimethyltryptamine) is a prodrug that is converted into the pharmacologically active compound psilocin in the body by a dephosphorylation reaction. This chemical reaction takes place under strongly acidic conditions, or under physiological conditions in the body, through the action of enzymes called phosphatases. Oxidization of psilocin by the enzyme hydroxyindole oxidase yields the deep blue-colored compound ortho-quinone. This compound readily undergoes electron transfer, a feature that is thought to play a crucial role in its physiological activity." So just to be clear, the process undergone in the liver (that God created) is certainly no accident. What have we learned? 1: God created plants with hallucinogenic qualities (which serve no other purpose. Hemp is an exception.) 2: God created special mechanisms that allow these to work. He even made it so that some nonactive compounds become hallucinogenic in the liver.
Just one more as an added bonus. The entheogenic properties of hallucinogens have been shown in numerous studies published in peer-reviewed science journals. Now, let me ask you, if someone under the influence of hallucinogens has a life-changing experience (due to the entheogenic qualities mentioned before) that causes him to give his life to Christ and became a devout follower of Jesus, is that evil? Is it something that should be prohibited?
But anyways, thank you all for your time and I hope that the factual errors and invalid arguments are fixed in the article "Is It Okay for Christians to Use Marijuana (Cannabis) and Other Drugs?" I would also like to thank the writer of the article, Rich Deem, for letting me hear the arguments made by some Christians against drug use. I had never heard any concinving arguments against drug use from a Christian perspective, and it was enlightening to hear the other side (which I'm all about).