A Better Dialogue…About Pot

Living in Colorado, I’m becoming increasingly aware that we, as Christians need to have a thoughtful response to the idea of pot…especially now that it’s legal, and we can’t hide behind the whole “laws of the land” argument.  I know for some it’s a gateway drug, but for the people know who do it, it’s the opposite.  It’s not the drug they first try that opens them up to a far darker world of drug addictions.  Rather, it’s the drug they stick with after they’ve tried/done all the other drugs.  Whether the other drugs were too scary or they simply outgrew that “crazy” phase, pot seems to be the lesser evil they are left with after they’ve rid themselves of all the greater evils.  And I think its greatest danger lies in the very fact that it seems so completely un-dangerous. 

I had a Physician’s Assistant in the ER tell me that if someone comes in drunk, she can’t trust their judgment, they can’t give an accurate statement and she cannot release them to drive/go home until after they’ve sobered.  If however, that person is high on pot, their judgment is clear, they can give an accurate, accountable statement and they can be released to go home, even if they’re driving.  So what makes pot so bad?

What I have seen is that it is a means of escapism.  I’ve seen more than a few marriages destroyed because one of them was hooked on pot, dis-engaging from their marriage, children, lives in general… rather than engaging.  Sure, it happens anyway, but the pot makes it easier to do so.

On top of that, I have heard testimony after testimony that there seems to be some sort of paranoia attached to it. Not that the users are aware, but loved ones are seeing it.  It seems the pot smokers are suspicious, focused on conspiracy theories of some sort or another—maybe it’s on a global scale, but more often it’s person, they think everyone is against them.  And then I have heard several testimonies of people who quit pot, later had a momentary relapse, and then they realized how it had affected their brain.  They have told me themselves that they were scared, paranoid, thought everyone was against them, etc.  It messed with their perception of reality, something they hadn’t realized before, but was suddenly very clear to them, probably because of the contrast to their recent sobriety.  It scared them enough to never go back.  Interesting, since prior to that relapse experience, they had no fear whatsoever of pot based on previous experience.  (I have heard this same testimony from several people.)

This paranoia leads me to suspect that along with the escapism and the way pot chemically effects your body, I suspect there is a definite spiritual effect as well.  Now, I grew up in a fairly conservative Christian home.  I wasn’t very exposed to a lot of talk about angels and demons and am certainly not predisposed to see spiritual, demonic attack behind every negative thing that happens.  That being said, I still can’t help but wonder if pot isn’t, at least very often, a gateway drug in a spiritual sense.  I wonder if opening yourself up to the drug is also opening yourself up to demonic influence in your life.  At this point, it is simply conjecture, but I do know that I do not conjecture alone.  Many people who have been far more intimately connected with pot, either from first hand experience, or a loved one who used, have told them they suspect the same.

Now, do I think pot is the worst thing out there, or that there is never a time for it?  No.  But do I think that it’s far more dangerous than most people realize?  Yes.  And frankly, I think part of the danger is that it seems so innocuous.

One of the things I have been praying for specifically is that God would set some people free from pot, and that they would become spokespeople, burdened to bring that freedom to others who are enslaved just as they were.  I can share my concerns all day long, but there is something about hearing it from someone who has been there.  They speak the language, if you will. They know what it feels like.  They can relate. Their testimony has power to it because they’ve lived it.  (This is a huge reason why Jesus had to come, in the flesh.  He was tempted in every way.  He can identify with our sufferings in every way.  He was one of us.)

The other thing that I have been praying for is a better dialogue surrounding pot.  That we as Christians would be better equipped to discuss it with the pot-smoking world.  Actually, ultimately, my prayer is that we would be better equipped to discuss Christ with the pot-smoking world.  It’s just that in order to discuss Christ, we will often need to deal well with the issue of pot.  And make no mistake, the WAY that we talk about pot will be telling the world a whole lot about what we think about Jesus and the Christian life—which actually leads me to my real point.  (This was all just a really long introduction…so much for brevity.)

I came across this article about pot in Christianity Today that I think does a great job of starting the discussion.  Ok, it is possible that I just like it because the writer mostly agrees with me and is far more clever than I am, but really, I think it’s a good article.  I think it raises the right questions.  He doesn’t try to define what’s black and white, but instead, challenges us to think about how to think about the issues, and about what our answers are really communicating.

Here is an excerpt from the article.[1]

You have heard it said, “Thou shalt not be ‘blazin’ the ganja.” But I say to you that everyone who seeks pleasure outside of the gospel loses his life….

 We need to bypass the “What are you doing?” question in areas that are morally ambiguous and drive directly into the core: “Why are you doing this?”

“Am I allowed to?” creates legalists. “Am I allowed to?” needs to change to “Is this helpful for my neighbor and me?” The former question forces me into a deadly self-obsession; the latter moves me toward the spirit of goodness and sacrificial love.

This is one reason that I silently welcome legalization; it forces me to thoughtfully help people where they really need help rather than tell them how to bow down to a statute. Jesus did not say, “I am the way, the truth, and the perfect adherent to state and federal laws.”  (Read more here.)

I challenge you to take a minute to read the article and think about your own arguments for or against things like pot that we use to cope with or escape from our lives, whether that be a substance, a video game, a romance novel, a relationship, work, “bad” habits or even “good” habits.  What are the core issues?  How would Jesus see it/approach it?

I also challenge you to pray.  Pray that God would free people from the bondage of pot.  (No need to stop there!  Let’s pray for freedom from any sort of bondage.) Pray that those people would not come to freedom alone, but rather they would bring a host of other captives with them.  It is for FREEDOM that we have been set free!  (Galatians 5:1)

[1]Tertin, Ben. “When Pot is Legal, What Do We Say?” Christianity Today, 2013: online only.

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