Is smoking marijuana wrong?
I understand that anything that is addictive and takes away from God is wrong in God’s eyes, but if he says he can stop when he wants to and only does it once in a while, is it still wrong?
Thanks for writing. Your question seems to be referring only to the recreational use of marijuana, so I’ll confine my answer to that issue. In that context, the short answer to your question is yes, it is wrong for a Christian to smoke marijuana.
A brief detour before I explain. This issue presents a good opportunity to revisit the doctrine of the “sufficiency of Scripture.” Evangelical Christians believe that the Bible is “inerrant,” meaning that its words are inspired by God and that it is all true and contains no error. Believing in the sufficiency of Scripture means something more. Second Timothy 3:16-17 tells us, “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work” (ESV). One implication of this passage is that the Bible is “sufficient” to guide us in all aspects of our faith and life (to equip us “for every good work”). In other words, even where a specific word or concept or scenario doesn’t appear in Scripture, we can draw guidance from God’s Word — at least in broad principle — about how to live and react faithfully in all situations that face us in life.
Neither “marijuana” nor any other term for the drug appears in Scripture, but the Bible has plenty of guidance for us about whether using it is wrong. Here are some biblical reasons why the faithful decision for Christians is to abstain from the use of marijuana:
Smoking marijuana always alters our consciousness. Ephesians 5:18 instructs us: “do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit.” This passage is understood to teach that as Christians we are to positively pursue life in the Spirit and that it is sin to intentionally (and recreationally) alter our consciousness with an intoxicating substance. Still, as I recently wrote, the overwhelming majority of evangelical scholars do not believe the Bible prohibits all consumption of alcohol. Why not? Because (in addition to other passages that show and legitimize its use) it is possible to consume alcohol — in reasonably small amounts — without altering one’s consciousness. In other words, you can drink and not get drunk. You cannot smoke marijuana without getting high; in fact, that is the only reason to do it (recreationally).
Smoking marijuana is illegal. Romans 13:1-2 says “[l]et every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment.” Christians are to obey the laws unless obeying a particular law causes us to clearly violate Scripture, which laws against marijuana do not. Unless you live in Colorado or Washington, it is against your state’s law to possess or smoke marijuana for recreational use. Even in those states, there is conflict with federal law, which still prohibits possession and use.
Smoking marijuana is physically and mentally harmful. Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 6:19-20, “do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.” God calls us to glorify him with our lives, and he has given us physical bodies and minds as one means and tool to use to that end. Therefore, without going to the extreme of “worshiping the temple itself,” we should be good stewards of our bodies and minds, take reasonable care of them, and not do them undue harm for frivolous reasons. According to the American Lung Association and other sources, Marijuana smoke is several times more harmful than tobacco smoke, sharply increases the risk of lung infection, can lead to short-term and permanent memory loss, and can worsen or cause serious mental illness, including depression and psychosis. And then there’s the serious risk of addiction, which opens up a whole new range of issues we could discuss. When compared to the “benefit” of smoking weed — an altered consciousness that Scripture forbids anyway — these risks can’t be justified.
I hope all that helps. I will pray for you to have wisdom as you advise your boyfriend about this. And even though you didn’t ask me about this in your question, if your boyfriend can’t be convinced that he should stop smoking weed and repent of that sin, I would strongly encourage you to seek counsel from a godly person you trust about whether a relationship with this man is a good one for you to be in.
For His glory,
Copyright 2014 Scott Croft. All rights reserved.
About the Author
Scott Croft served for several years as chairman of the elders at Capitol Hill Baptist Church in Washington, D.C., where he wrote and taught the Friendship, Courtship & Marriage and Biblical Manhood & Womanhood CORE Seminars. Scott now lives in the Louisville, Ky., area with his wife, Rachel, and son, William, where he works as an attorney and serves as an elder of Third Avenue Baptist Church.