I’m sure most of you are aware but recreational use of cannabis (aka Marijuana) became legal in Canada as of last Wednesday, October 17th. Though there are still a couple of things about cannabis use that are illegal, there are loud voices of concern simply because of the unknown health effect of cannabis. According to research, there is a strong evidence linking cannabis use to schizophrenia or other psychosis.
But health effect aside, the begging question for us is: “How are we as Christians to approach the recreational use of cannabis?”
Often many Christians decide their approach based on whether it is sin or not. But there are too many things or behaviors of the 21st century not mentioned in the Bible so it wouldn’t be a good approach, including the use of cannabis.
Some Christians decide based on whether it is legal or not. But we all know that something being legal doesn’t make it right. For example, drunkenness is legal as long as you don’t drive while intoxicated or engage in other activities that could harm others. However, the Bible clearly tells us drunkenness is sin and it is not the best way to demonstrate Christlikeness to the world.
But there is a better approach. Apostle Paul gives us a clear guideline or standard how we decide our thinking or behaviors. 1 Corinthians 10:23 says “Everything is permissible,” but not everything is beneficial. “Everything is permissible,” but not everything builds up.” Apostle Paul is refuting the common notion during his time that “if you could do it, you should do it.” During that time, permission meant recommendation.
However, according to Paul, our primary filter of making decisions is not whether something is legal or not, but whether it is beneficial or constructive for us and for others. In other words, our standard is, “How does my choice affect me and others, in light of God’s mission?”
In the same chapter, Apostle Paul admonishes the readers to eat, drink and do everything for the glory of God, in a way that doesn’t stumble other new Christians from their faith. It is known that it only takes a couple of puffs to be intoxicated by cannabis. It is hard to imagine whether we can make choices to honor God while being intoxicated, whether being drunk or high.
Personally, this verse was the single guiding verse for all my decisions during my young adulthood when a lot of things became legal for me. Many things became “permissible” to me. But this kept me from making wild decisions that my friends regretted after. At times it made me feel like I was missing out but I was always glad once I followed this guideline.