By Spencer D GEar
Is it a sin to use illicit drugs such as marijuana? I would say, yes, for these reasons:
1. You say that “I don’t’ see God declaring it a sin, so I don’t believe it is a sin”. Just because God doesn’t mention taking illicit drugs such as marijuana, does not mean that He doesn’t give principles in the Bible that apply to illicit drugs. If I am to accept your line of reasoning, I would have to say that I will promote abortion because the word “abortion” does not appear in the Bible. Also, if I pursue your view, I would say that I do not accept the Trinity because the word, “Trinity”, does not appear in the Bible. There are obvious reasons to reject abortion because it is the killing of a human being – yes, a human being from conception. The doctrine of the Trinity, even though the word is not mentioned in the Bible, is taught in the Bible as three persons in one God. The idea that God does not declare the use of marijuana as sin, so it is OK to use marijuana for a Christian or anybody else, has BIG holes in it. These include:
2. You have quoted, “all things are lawful”, but you didn’t complete the verse. The whole verse states: “‘All things are lawful for me,’ but not all things are helpful. ‘All things are lawful for me,’ but I will not be enslaved by anything. ‘Food is meant for the stomach and the stomach for food’—and God will destroy both one and the other'” (1 Cor. 6:12-13a ESV). Here Paul gave the slogans of the Corinthians and then provided his responses:
Slogan: All things are lawful for me; Response: but not all things are helpful
Slogan: All things are lawful for me; Response: but I will not be enslaved by anything
Slogan: Food is meant for the stomach and the stomach for food; Response: and God will destroy both one and the other
You are practising the Corinthian kind of sloganeering when you only quote part of the verse – the slogan. Paul opposed the slogans and gave God’s responses. There are plenty of applications in this slogan-response sequence to apply to illicit drugs. In context, 1 Cor. 6 is referring to food and sexual immorality (especially). However, God’s response through Paul is, “not all things are helpful”, “I will not be enslaved by anything”, and “God will destroy both one and the other”.
We know that marijuana use is NOT helpful. I have already provided you with a list of very negative consequences of marijuana use, based on the research. Since marijuana is a drug of addiction, it fits right in with Paul’s response, “I will not be enslaved by anything”. If you are truly wanting to follow the Lord, you will not want to be enslaved by the THC in marijuana. Therefore, it is a sin to break God’s teaching on what is beneficial for your health.
3. However, you dare to ask, “Why are we making stupid laws?” Excessive alcohol drinking is harmful to one’s health. But 50 glasses of beer in a lifetime do not have the same risk as 50 joints of marijuana: There was a 600% increase in the incidence of schizophrenia in conscripts who had used 50 cannabis cigarettes or more in their lifetime. (Longitudinal Study at Karolinska Institute in Sweden – study over 15 years with approx 55000 conscripts -Andreasson, Allerbeck Engstrom et al -The Lancet – 1987). One joint of marijuana impairs short term memory for at least six weeks. (Dr’s. R. Schwartz, Gruenewald, M Klitzner et al “Memory Impairment in cannabis dependent Adolescents.” 1989 Georgetown University). Please understand that I am not advocating the use of tobacco or alcohol. I have not used either in all my life, but what I’m trying to point out is that moderate use of alcohol does not have the same impact on one’s brain as use of marijuana. Therefore, based on the scientific evidence, far from making stupid laws by making marijuana use illegal, governments are making very sensible laws in trying to prevent severe medical and mental damage to individuals. Your accusation of “stupid laws” in relation to marijuana use does not hold up under the weight of mental illness caused by marijuana use, based on the research. I KNOW the impact of marijuana from 34 years of counselling these people. Please don’t be so myopic as to write anti-marijuana legislation off as “stupid laws”.
4. There is one area in which I substantially agree with you. There are better places than jail for rehabilitating somebody with a drug and gambling problem. Jails seem to be too easy of a sentence for most criminal offences.
5. You say, “But its not a sin for me to gamble”. I don’t know how old you are as a Christian. Have you been truly born again or are you a Christian in name only. It seems that you have an elementary understanding of Scripture. I live in a country, Australia, that has a love affair with gambling. Almost 21% percent of the world’s poker machines are in Australia.
What is God’s view on gambling? Games of chance are not approved by God. Here are some biblical reasons:
I cannot locate a Scripture which states, “Thou shalt not gamble,” but the concepts of chance, luck and fortune should not be in a biblical world and life view. Support for gambling as we understand it today is foreign to the Scriptures for these reasons:
a. The Christian view of godliness
According to Matthew 6:33, believers are to “seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness and all these things [material things] will be added to you.” We are exhorted to pray, “Give us this day our daily bread” (Matt. 6:11). How is it possible to use gambling for help with daily necessities and still rely on God to supply our needs?
b. The Christian view of work
Ephesians 4:28 says: “Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labor, doing honest work with his own hands, so that he may have something to share with anyone in need.” Could it be said that the modern concept of gambling, reaping many dollars for a small investment, is akin to stealing from others – legally? The Christian work ethic is one of labouring with one’s own hands or abilities to raise money or goods to maintain one’s individual life and family, and to share with those in need. Receiving $40 million as a gambling jackpot for spending only a few dollars sounds more like a “rip-off” of other people than an honest day’s work. But, of course, it is all done legally and governments receive their share of the “rip-off.”
c. The Christian view of stewardship
Hebrews 13:5 states that believers are to “keep your life free from love of money and be content with what you have, for he said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.'” This is in contrast to the ones seeking big bucks from all sorts of gambling, with the investment of an infinitesimal amount.
The gambler seems to be like the greedy person. What is the biblical view of greed? The greedy are “the unrighteous who will not inherit the kingdom of God” (1 Cor. 6:9). But there is good news for the greedy. They can be redeemed by being washed by the blood of Jesus, justified and sanctified. “Such were some of you,” said Paul of the greedy (I Cor. 6:11).
The common jargon these days is that gambling is supposed to be for fun – entertainment. Second Timothy 3:4-5 warns us that Christians are not to be “lovers of pleasure.” Instead they are to be “lovers of God.” Those who love pleasure are to be avoided (v. 5).
d. The Christian view of love for your neighbours and enemies
Jesus told us, “You shall love your neighbour as yourself” (Matt. 22:39). How can we as Christians truly love our enemies (Matt. 5:44) while we contribute to taking money away from them? Approximately half of the revenue at poker machine venues in Australia comes from problem gamblers according to the Productivity Commission Report in 1999. How can we justify gambling when it is causing devastation to the individual and 5-10 other people associated with the problem gambler?
e. How the Christian views his/her influence on others
How can Christians be the “salt of the earth” and the “light of the world” (Matt. 5:13-14) while greedily wanting big bucks and ripping others off – legally, of course – through 21st century-style gambling? How can you “love your neighbour as yourself” (Matt. 22:39) while at the same time taking money from him/her through gambling?
Biblical Christianity promotes the view of Jesus, “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35), which is a life-style that, it seems to me, is impossible to reconcile with a 21st century approach to gambling that is promoted by governments.
f. Luck and fortune are not part of God’s kingdom
Isaiah 65:11-12 warns:
But you who forsake the Lord, who forget my holy mountain, who set a table for Fortune and fill cups of mixed wine for Destiny, I will destine you to the sword . . . You did what was evil in my eyes and chose what I did not delight in.
Luck, chance and fortune are not in God’s worldview. Neither should they be in ours. These are essential to the gambling kingdom! Christians should set a godly example and not participate in any games of chance.
Pastors and churches that approve of gambling should be called back to biblical Christianity.
6. Acts 5:29 states that “we must obey God rather than any human authority” (NLT). There are times when governments make unjust laws that conflict with God’s laws. At these times I must obey God rather than government. If I had been Corrie ten Boom in World War 2, I would have told lies like she did to prevent the slaughter of Jews and others in the Holocaust. But that is not what we are doing when we defy government laws against marijuana use, as the THC in marijuana is a very dangerous drug.
- “The drug menace: What can parents do?”
- “Marijuana is not a soft drug: Here’s the evidence”;
- “Summary of the effects of marijuana”;
- “The Christian and drug abuse”;
- “How to talk to your children about alcohol and other drug use”;
- “One drug addict’s story: Set free”;
- “Signs that your child might be using drugs” (Teen Challenge of Southern California);
- “Teaching children about drugs” (Teen Challenge of Southern California).
 “Russell Crowe rallies against gambling,” China Daily, 2008-01-03, available from: http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/showbiz/2008-01/03/content_6368802.htm (Accessed 15 November 2008).
 Senator Jeannie Ferris 2000, 3rd National Gambling Conference, Rex Hotel, Sydney, 12 May, available from: http://www.aic.gov.au/conferences/gambling00/ferris.pdf (Accessed 15 November 2008).
Copyright © 2012 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 16 October 2015.