|Vol. 15 No. 6 June 2013||
Louis Rushmore, Editor
“Is it permissible to celebrate one’s birthday?” The English word “birthday” appears three times in the Bible. The first occurrence pertains to the birthday of an Egyptian pharaoh (Genesis 40:20). The other two incidences relate to “Herod’s birthday” (Matthew 14:6; Mark 6:21). In addition, other passages refer to birthdays. “And his sons would go and feast in their houses, each on his appointed day, and would send and invite their three sisters to eat and drink with them” (Job 1:4 NKJV). Hosea 7:5 may also be a reference to a birthday celebration.
Apparently, the Bible is impartial regarding the observance of one’s birthday. However, anything permissible can be wrong if it is associated with sinful activity. In the case of Herod’s birthday celebration, it was corrupted with sensual dancing by his daughter and the murder of John the Baptist (Matthew 14:6-11).
Louis Rushmore, Editor
“May Christians use marijuana?” The answer to this question really is the same biblically based answer respecting the use of any drug. First, is it legal to use marijuana, though legal permission alone does not necessarily concur with divine permission to do something (e.g., marriage, divorce and remarriage)? Secondly, the context of the drug use must be considered; is it for medicinal use only, or is it for recreational use?
Only recently, in some localities and under certain circumstances has it been legal to use marijuana. It is certain that wherever marijuana use is illegal that a child of God must not use it. Christians have a biblical obligation to obey the laws of the land (Romans 13:1-7), except when a law of the land contradicts the law of God (Acts 5:29). Even then, only in an instance where such a conflict occurs may a Christian exercise this exception, while at the same time continuing to abide by all other laws.
In principle, the biblical prohibitions for the use of another drug – alcohol (Leviticus 10:8-11; Habakkuk 2:15; Ephesians 5:18; Galatians 5:21) except for medicinal purposes (Proverbs 31:6; 1 Timothy 5:23) apply to the question of Christians using marijuana. The biblical definition as well as the English language definition of “drunkenness” is “intoxication,” which occurs in degrees beginning with the first introduction of alcohol into the body. Intoxication is forbidden to the child of God under normal circumstances (i.e., excepting possibly for medical use); intoxication is not a biblically sanctioned recreational activity, but instead, it is sinful. It matters not at all by what drug (e.g., alcohol or marijuana) that intoxication may be achieved.
In addition, especially the New Testament directs Christians through positive instruction rather than only by prohibition to be “sober” (1 Thessalonians 5:6, 8; 1 Timothy 3:2; 1 Peter 1:13; 4:7; 5:8). “Sober” means to be free from intoxicants, irrespective of the particular drug (e.g., alcohol or marijuana) that would lead to intoxication. Furthermore, generally Christians also refrain from doing activities that though they may be neither immoral nor biblically unlawful that nevertheless are viewed by others as vices or as unsavory (Romans 14:13 “a stumblingblock”).
In summary, Christians sin if they use marijuana, except where it may be legally used for medicinal purposes. However, like the subject of “alcohol,” there are doubtless acceptable alternatives to using either alcohol or marijuana for a medical application. Therefore, because of the question of legality, because of resulting in intoxication and because of the bad influence on others, the child of God ought to opt for some other form of treatment than marijuana even for medical purposes.