Progressive Christian blogger and missionary Benjamin Corey recently suggested that the recreational use of marijuana should be legalized. I read it several times because I thought it was satire. Unfortunately, it wasn’t.
Corey points to an increasing number of states legalizing or decriminalizing marijuana, speculating that it’s the result, in part, of “the nation growing in collective awareness that marijuana no longer need be feared,” and that, “the war on drugs has actually destroyed more lives than it aimed to help.”
This “collective awareness” of marijuana use isn’t really indicative of anything positively specific. “Collective awareness” could simply and only amount to the deliberate, systematic attempt to destigmatize its use and destructive social consequences. Which is why, in his words marijuana is no longer feared.
But people aren’t afraid of many things that aren’t good for them or society. The lack of fear isn’t enough to justify marijuana’s acceptance or full legalization.
Further, Corey argues that in addition to the nation’s growing social approval of marijuana, this particular form of drug use – and abuse – should be legalized because, “marijuana is something that was created by Jesus himself, that God declared to be good, and that God granted us permission to consume.”
The Jesus defense for marijuana legalization and use.
Speaking of Jesus in the first chapter of John, he writes: “Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made” (v3). The Apostle Paul affirms this truth in the first chapter of Colossians: “For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him” (v16)….To deny this, one would have to deny that John 1:3 and Colossians 1:16 are true when they claim that nothing exists in nature that was not created by Jesus.
No one denies who created marijuana (and who uses that straw man argument against legalization anyway?). What is in question is fallen humanity using something created “good,” knowing the personal and social consequences of consuming it for purposes not so good.
Jesus also created what’s popularly known as the “forbidden fruit” – from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, and Adam ate it. Again, everything God created through Jesus was “good.” I wonder what God’s response would’ve been if Adam – rather than blaming Eve – simply justified his disobedience by saying, “Well, Jesus created it, and it was good, so…”
Additionally, God through Jesus created a multiplicity of other things that were wholesome that can nevertheless be used for less than noble, even destructive purposes. God created sex, so should Christians argue in favor of legalizing prostitution or other sexual behaviors that undermine the intrinsic goodness of God’s creation and plan for healthy sexual activity?
This is the pre-Fall/post-Fall paradigm that Corey seemingly doesn’t take seriously. Post- Fall humanity is guilty of abusing its stewardship of the created order and it’s why the intrinsic “goodness” of something isn’t enough to argue in favor of its legalization.
Corey proactively defends his support for legalization:
Now, affirming this certainly isn’t free license to do whatever we want. We are called to reject gluttony (over-consumption). We are called to use wisdom. And in some cases, Paul says that just because we can do something doesn’t mean we actually should do it. There is a responsible middle-ground that exists between making something legal and regulated, and encouraging an irresponsible or gluttonous misuse or abuse of something.
However, this idea that marijuana is a dangerous drug that needs to be banned– this irrational fear of a plant God made– is totally unwarranted.
Nice, convenient catch, but this certainly isn’t credible, especially when it comes to drug use. And what for Corey constitutes “a responsible middle ground” of marijuana use? Who defines this so-called responsible middle ground? Corey? Drug counselors? Former drug addicts?
Using this reasoning, what is Corey’s counsel to Christians who currently use marijuana? Or who’re tempted to use marijuana? What about those who’ve become addicted to marijuana – that they probably shouldn’t have used it? Okay, when the “you can use it but probably shouldn’t” suggestion has been ignored, and the threshold of using or abusing marijuana has been breached, what does Corey recommend? Has he given thought to the reality that marijuana use prevents people from coming to Christ, or that it has potentially led people away from Christ?
What about the self-styled chemists and cultivators of marijuana that have successfully increased its potency? How does Corey address this reality?
Legalizing, destigmatizing or decriminalizing marijuana means you’ll increase the number of people using the drug. It will also increase the amount consumed – both individually and collectively. No matter how much one attempts to rationalize it – even religiously – using marijuana has counterproductive social and economic consequences and isn’t a victimless, leisurely activity.
After marijuana was legalized in Colorado, drug use in adults increased.
Homelessness increased also, as more drug tourists – otherwise known as marijuana migrants, or vagrants – trekked to Denver to panhandle and get high. In pursuit of consistent recreational highs, these vagabonds overwhelmed homeless shelters and have ended up on the streets as eyesores and public nuisances. Logically, this increased localized poverty because of the lack of jobs for perpetually high people, which lead to the inability to afford high housing/renting costs in the area, combined with being vulnerable to penalization from using weed and not having one’s own residence.
And it isn’t just in Colorado. Anyone who has walked the streets of San Francisco, California, knows full well the social consequences of de facto decriminalization of marijuana use – and none of it is good.
And yet, both of these cities are predominately white. What about areas that are disproportionately black? Does Corey suggest these areas, many of which already suffer from family collapse combined with moral and economic squalor, continue using a drug that leads to and reinforces anti-social, self-destructive and criminal behaviors? Ending the ‘war on drugs’ won’t mitigate these realities.
Further, what is Corey’s Christian counsel about long-term marijuana use? What’s his response to a study released by the World Health Organization regarding the devastating, long-term effects of smoking weed?
Not everyone can or will observe to the prohibitions against gluttony and warnings against abusing personal freedoms.
I am a devout Christian. I affirm the goodness of God. I affirm the goodness of God’s creation. I affirm the inspiration and authority of Scripture. And I think marijuana should be legal.
Jesus created weed and he saw that it was good, so it should be legalized, despite the personal and social consequences. Corey’s argument is breathtakingly illogical and profoundly foolish – and he is serious.
Self-identified progressive Christians continue to damage Christian integrity by bending theology in attempts to normalize and give moral legitimacy to social and “social justice” issues including the redefinition of marriage, social acceptance of homosexuality and transgenderism, Black Lives Matter and “racial justice,” and an open-border policy of immigration. Now it’s marijuana.
What happened to the moral commitment of progressive Christians to reject the kinds of activities that disparage and weaken the imago Dei? Whether he wants to admit as much or not, Corey’s recklessness is giving legitimacy to an activity that has a history of corrupting and destroying God’s image bearers.
Increasingly, it seems that progressive Christians are willing to religiously legitimize just about everything except the Bible and its corresponding morality.
Comment by Jeffery Lucas on November 6, 2016 at 5:49 pm
Colossians 2:16 “Therefore do not let anyone judge you with respect to food or drink, or in the matter of a feast, new moon, or Sabbath days – these are only the shadow of the things to come, but the reality is Christ! Let no one who delights in humility and the worship of angels pass judgment on you. That person goes on at great lengths about what he has supposedly seen, but he is puffed up with empty notions by his fleshly mind. He has not held fast to the head from whom the whole body, supported and knit together through its ligaments and sinews, grows with a growth that is from God.
2:20 If you have died with Christ to the elemental spirits of the world, why do you submit to them as though you lived in the world? “Do not handle! Do not taste! Do not touch!” These are all destined to perish with use, founded as they are on human commands and teachings. Even though they have the appearance of wisdom with their self-imposed worship and false humility achieved by an unsparing treatment of the body – a wisdom with no true value – they in reality result in fleshly indulgence.”
1. Colossians: -In col a great deal is said regarding a false teaching, an insidious theosophist doctrine, the teachers of which were alienating the Christians in Colosse from the gospel, and were disseminating their speculations, which led to the worship of angels in contrast to the worship of Christ, to esoteric exclusiveness wholly opposed to the universality of the gospel, and to an asceticism injurious to Christian freedom, and derogatory to the human body as indwelt by the Holy Ghost. These tenets are identical with the more fully developed Gnosticism of the generation succeeding that of the apostles; and at the root of the Colossian false teaching there lay the same error which the Gnostic mind had no way of meeting, namely, that there could be no connection between the highest spiritual agency, that is God, and gross corporeal matter.
-This ascetic tendency is wonderfully widespread; it reappears century after century, and shows itself in many forms of religion, not merely in distorted forms of Christianity
-In the Epistle to the Colossians, accordingly, there are definite references to ascetic practices which were inculcated by the false teachers at Colosse. The very terms which they employed have been preserved, “Touch not,” “Taste not,” “Handle not.” It was in this way that these teachers had “at their own hand” invented a worship different from that of the Christian faith, which endeavored to attain the deliverance of the soul by “the neglecting of the body” (Col 2:21,23 the King James Version). These Gnostic teachers showed these tendencies still more boldly when Paul wrote his First Epistle to Timothy, for he describes them as “forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats”