What About Weed?
If you have ever been asked, “What does the Bible say about smoking weed?”, you might have found that it is not the easiest question to answer. You might wonder if the Bible has anything to say about the recreational use of drugs at all. While God’s word is not silent on the matter, it should also be known that you will not find the words weed, pot, chronic, dank, marijuana, or any other name for it for that matter. So what does it have to say on the subject? A lot actually!
First and foremost, the Bible was not written in English and finding marijuana or any other slang term used for the drug would be like someone asking you to find a married bachelor. But to understand what the Bible says on the subject we need to look at what the New Testament says in its original language, which is Greek. The term that we are going to examine from God’s word is “pharmakeia”. Pharmakeia was originally used very similarly to how we would use the word “Pharmacy” today. Physicians giving out drugs to help heal the sick (although many doctors are not doing that today and are causing much more harm than good. But that is for a different article). The philosopher Plato even spoke of the different methods of medicine, and even mentioned “Pharmakeia” as one of them. As time went on, the term no longer had to do with the practice of healing the sick with medicine, but rather, speaking of those who would poison others rather than cure them. The change could be likened to the change that the term “Gay” has had in our more modern culture. For example, The Flinstones intro song ends by stating, “We’ll have a gay old time.” This was obviously not a reference to Fred and Barney having a homosexual relationship, but it was speaking of the “happy” time you will have watching The Flinstones. It is nothing new to see words evolve in their meaning and this was the case with “Pharmakeia”.
The later usage would end up being the only way that pharmakeia was used in the writing of the New Testament. It was used in this negative regard to talk of the wickedness of getting high, or even the wickedness of selling drugs. In both Galatians 5:20 and Revelation 21:8 we are warned of those who practice such things and that the end of the road will not lead them into the Kingdom of God. And in Revelation 18:23 we read that drug dealers will be receiving judgment from God!
Contrary to popular belief, marijuana is not a new drug. In fact, just recently marijuana ashes were found in a 2,700 year old tomb. That means people have been getting high longer than they have been using toilet paper! So weed was something most people would know about at that time and it wasn’t as much of a mystery as people would lead you to believe. The writers of the Old and New Testament would certainly know marijuana and the effects that it would have on people. They would know that someone who uses such a drug is no longer of “sober mind”. But for the believer we are called to “Be Sober and vigilant, for your adversary the devil waits around like a roaring lion seeking someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8). The Bible says that “We should LIVE SOBERLY, righteously, and godly in this present world” (Titus 2:11-12). This is a common theme in the New Testament, where it is commanded of believers to be sober at least 17 different different times! It doesn’t take a scientist to realize that it is impossible to be sober and of a sound mind while using marijuana. Medical science has deciphered marijuana’s high by locating tetrahydrocannabinol receptors in the human brain, allowing us to understand how marijuana effects its users.
“Many users describe two phases of marijuana intoxication; initial stimulation, giddiness, and euphoria, followed by sedation and tranquillity. Mood changes are often accompanied by altered perceptions of time and negative effects can include decreased motivation, confusion, acute panic reactions, anxiety attacks, fear, a sense of helplessness, and loss of self control.”
From a biblical point of view, there is absolutely no way to rectify the recreational use of marijuana. It is condemned and disdained by a holy God who sent His Son to die on a cross for our sins. He does not do this to be a killjoy, God does this because He loves us and knows/wants what is best for us. “For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments; and His commandments are not burdensome. For whatever is born of God overcomes the world; and this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith.” (1 John 5:3-4)
While these scriptures make it clear that the believer should not engage in any recreational drug use (somebody taking medicine to heal them is something entirely different), it should also be noted that in my personal life, I have not had a single friend who has had a problem with the likes of heroin who has not only started with the bong, but the bottle as well. Nobody wakes up one day and wants to shoot up black-tar heroin. It is typically a slow progression, and marijuana and alcohol have always been willing to be the helping hand to lead you down that path!