With marijuana legalization taking form in Washington state and Colorado, much discussion continues to surround the drug and its continued presence and usage in society. While proponents for decriminalization contend that weed is harmless, others argue that legalization holds numerous moral pitfalls that will profoundly impact society.
Mark Driscoll, pastor of Mars Hill Church in Seattle, Washington, recently penned an article about this very subject for Relevant Magazine. In it, he weighed whether Bible-believers are violating scripture if they use and abuse pot. Considering that his church is located in a state that recently legalized the drug, it's no wonder the preacher, who has known his share of controversy, is commenting so fervently on the issue.
Pastor Mark Driscoll (Photo Credit: AP)
Prior to his state's legalization, Driscoll said that he would tell parishioners seeking answers about the drug that Romans 13:1-7 holds all of the answers. The verses essentially explain that it's essential to follow earthly laws, so long as they don't conflict with God's scriptures.
But Washington's legalization of the drug changes this dynamic, as marijuana is now legal, with some restrictions. And since the Bible doesn't speak explicitly about the drug, it's difficult to discern a definitive answer. After asking a question about whether the act of smoking weed is sinful or wise, Driscoll answered his own curiosity:
Some things are neither illegal (forbidden by government in laws) nor sinful (forbidden by God in Scripture), but they are unwise. For example, eating a cereal box instead of the food it contains is not illegal or sinful—it’s just foolish. This explains why the Bible speaks not only of sin, but also of folly, particularly in places such as the book of Proverbs. There are innumerable things that won’t get you arrested or brought under church discipline, but they are just foolish and unwise—the kinds of things people often refer to by saying, “That’s just stupid.”
The preacher went on to note that he's not in favor of recreational smoking and that he has never taken any drugs, including marijuana. He also noted that self-medicating is not necessarily a positive action and that using anything -- whether it be pot or food, for that matter -- to ease pain is not advised.
"Furthermore, as a pastor I have noticed that people tend to stop maturing when they start self-medicating," Driscoll wrote. "Everyone has very tough seasons in life, but by persevering through them we have an opportunity to mature and grow as people."
A man shows a cannabis sativa plant in Montevideo on December 7, 2012. (Photo Credit: AFP/Getty Images)
Additionally, he noted that his main concern is with young men, who are more likely to use the drug, claiming that these individuals are less likely to attend college, get married and attend church -- all indicators that, to him, could be problematic, should these young men choose to self-medicate.
As for getting to the bottom of the issue, Driscoll warned that figuring out the proper answer surrounding the moral issues associated with marijuana use "requires a great deal of consideration" before a Christian position can be found on the matter. Rather than a definitive call for believers to abandon or refrain from the drug, the pastor hopes that his analysis will help individuals make an informed decision.
Photo Credit: AFP/Getty Images
"It is by no means meant to serve as a definitive word on the subject, nor are these thoughts meant to be comprehensive, or even unchangeable," he added. "I have a lot to learn and consider on these issues, and along with many fellow Christian leaders am seeking to develop thoughtful and helpful answers to these questions."
Read Driscoll's entire analysis of marijuana here. What do you think? Is it permissible for Christians to spoke pot?