Marijuana, Ganja, Grass, Hash, Herb, Mary J, Pot, Reefer, Skunk, Weed

Are you serious? I can guarantee that I get no comments on this blog! I cannot even believe that I have been driven to write this; however here I go.

Over the past few days I have had more than a few unique conversations concerning “Smoking Weed”. Just yesterday I had 2 youth tell me that smoking weed is not a sin; God created it, how can it be a sin to smoke it? He also told me that it cured cancer, obesity, depression, and other physical diseases. I must be honest, there are a lot of these thoughts going around in our culture. Last week I had a conversation with a co-worker who says smoking is beneficial for her and her boyfriend. Actually her boyfriend deals with anxiety issues when he is around people so he hits the pipe before work and other social gatherings.

I would like to argue (I cannot believe that I even have to) that smoking weed is a sin and does not honor your creator. Just because our laws are getting lighter on the issue, does not make it honorable and pleasing to your creator. In Massachusetts having under an ounce of weed is a $100 fine and they confiscate it. In North Carolina having 1 ½ ounces of weed has the same consequence. That’s equivalent to speeding in your car. However, the question is whether or not Smoking weed is a sin?

Let me clarify something and get it out in the open. In my years of existence, I have smoked my share of reefer. It's been Blunts, Joints, The Pipe, Gotties, Bowls, Bongs, cigaweed; I’ve smoked good weed, dirt weed, laced weed and everything in between. I say that not to glorify my sin, but instead to inform you that I know first hand the effects and will not be fooled with the thought that it just relaxes us and doesn’t effect our judgment. You cannot tell me that smoking a little tree does not have a similar effect as having a few to many beers.

Before you call me a dogmatic, legalistic, fundamentalist; Lets see what scripture says about this.

Ephesians 5:18
And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit,
1 Corinthians 3:16-17
Do you not know that you are God's temple and that God's Spirit dwells in you? If anyone destroys God's temple, God will destroy him. For God's temple is holy, and you are that temple.
1 Peter 5:8
Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.
1 Corinthians 6:19-20
Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.
Romans 13:13
Let us walk properly as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and sensuality, not in quarreling and jealousy.
Titus 3:1
Remind them to be submissive to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good work,
Galatians 5:19-21
Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.
1 Corinthians 6:19
Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own

As Christ Followers, there is no way that people filled with the Holy Spirit can walk without any conviction on this issue. The vast majority of the people who I talk to concerning this issue, usually deal with some sort of peer pressure from a culture that is trying to rob us from God’s very best. Next time your presented with the opportunity of a little “puff-puff-give” Ask yourself why you will absolutely neglect what God has spoken on this issue? Instead, why not rise up and be a leader for the Glory of Christ and stop cowering in the presence of pressure. Again, I say this to those who consider themselves Christ Followers.

Taken from http://www.drugfree.org/Portal/drug_guide/Marijuana

What is Marijuana?
Marijuana, the most often used illegal drug in this country, is a product of the hemp plant, Cannabis sativa. The main active chemical in marijuana, also present in other forms of cannabis, is THC (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol). Of the roughly 400 chemicals found in the cannabis plant, THC affects the brain the most.

What are its short-term effects?
Short-term effects of marijuana include problems with memory and learning, distorted perception (sights, sounds, time, touch), trouble with thinking and problem solving, loss of motor coordination, increased heart rate, and anxiety. These effects are even greater when other drugs are mixed with weed. A user may also experience dry mouth and throat.

What are its long-term effects?
Marijuana smoke contains some of the same cancer-causing compounds as tobacco, sometimes in higher concentrations. Studies show that someone who smokes five joints per week may be taking in as many cancer-causing chemicals as someone who smokes a full pack of cigarettes every day.

Romans 1 says to "Worship your Creator and not his Creation."

31 comments:

LukeShomo said...

cool post man. your confessions made it real. i respect that.
good stuff

Anonymous said...

Jonjo wrote:

"seriously...the holy spirit that we all have access to cannot live in a smoke filled environment! yeah...i'm with ya man."

Brian Hebert said...

While I am not particularly interested in the primary question regarding the morality of smoking marijuana, I am interested in the approach you used to arrive at this conclusion. From what I am gathering, you are using what mathematicians call the transitive property:

If A = B and B = C, then A = C
or
If drunkenness is a sin and drunkenness is similar to being high, then being high is a sin

This is not a bad piece of logic on its own, but it doesn’t really answer the question at hand. Since your case is almost entirely based off of the Biblical argument against alcohol, it makes sense to look there first. Is drinking alcohol identified as a sin in the Bible? Since Jesus drank wine on more than one occasion, I think it is safe to say that alcohol on its own is not sinful. The Bible makes demands of us to regulate our alcohol intake in an effort to keep our judgment intact, but we are judged on our ability to moderation and control that intake, not based off of any inherent evil with alcohol. It is also important to note that there isn’t even a formal ‘limit’ on alcohol consumption in the Bible, as it simply asks that you do not abuse it. In a similar vein, you cannot say that smoking marijuana is a sin for the same reasons you cannot call drinking alcohol a sin. One puff of a joint does not make you high just like a sip of beer does not make you drunk. There is a point for each of us individually when the cumulative effects of the chemicals can potentially override our natural judgment. It is at this point that the Bible demands we stop because that is the last point where we still have control of our actions. If we cross that line, we have sinned according to the verses you placed above, but it is important to note that there was sinless marijuana consumption all of the way up to that point.

Now there may be more that the Bible has to say on the subject that I am unaware of, I just used the case you presented here. The important thing to note here is the confusion that word mismatches can create. Being high is not the same as smoking marijuana just like being drunk is not the same as drinking alcohol. The inappropriate mixing of the two words allowed you to make an otherwise logically incoherent leap.

This of course assumes that you aren’t breaking local laws or disobeying your parents or anything like that. The Bible is pretty clear on the fact that we should do our best to adhere to the rules of both.

Brian Hebert said...

Just anticipating the "if it's bad for you, why do it" objection. The list of potential health risks is irrelevant to the question of sin. That is of course, unless you are making the case that eating a Big Mac or drinking coffee is a sin as well (which would be an entirely different discussion).

For a laugh, check out the health dangers associated with caffeine. If I jazzed the text up a bit, I could make it sound just as scary as your marijuana list.

Marijuana is just like any other substance in that too much of it will lead to complications. Developing children are most vulnerable to these effects, which is why youth prohibition laws are reasonable regardless of the answer to the morality question.

Matt Chewning said...

There are three reasons that smoking weed is a sin.

1. It is illegal (You cannot argue that)

2. It does harm to our bodies and as Christians we believe that our bodies are not our own. (more harm than McDonalds, Bri)

3. It impairs our judgment. Like Alcohol it can distort our reality. The bible does not forbid alcohol, it forbids drunkenness. Drunkenness is when our reality and judgment is distorted because of alcohol. Same with getting High on anything, including glue.

So there is no way around this argument in America. 1 puff may not get you high but it is still illegal. Also, why smoke weed if it is not to get high? Lets just be honest here... if we're smoking weed, it s to get high. We dont make an illegal transaction and pay all of that money to only hit it but not be effected. You cannot tell me that we smoke weed to "Not" get high.

Of all of our conversations, this is the dumbest.

Brian Hebert said...

1. It is illegal (You cannot argue that)

I already stipulated that in my post, twice I think. You shouldn't eat hot dogs if they are illegal, but that doesn't make hot dogs inherently sinful. You made the statement that smoking marijuana is a sin, not that breaking the law was a sin. If, for instance, I was given a prescription for marijuana in California, would it still be illegal to smoke it? If a doctor's note can fix the sin problem, we are talking about a problem of legality, not of the inherent sinfulness of smoking marijuana. You also make the point that it is decriminalized in some states, making it the same as a parking or speeding ticket. Am I sinning if I forget to feed the meter as well?

2. It does harm to our bodies and as Christians we believe that our bodies are not our own. (more harm than McDonalds, Bri)

It probably does more damage to your body than McDonalds, but how does that make it sinful? Is there an invisible sin line that we cross simply because something is really bad for our bodies? Is smoking tobacco a sin? It has similar health risks AND carries an addictive component that marijuana does not have. If our bodies are temples, shouldn't that mean that ANY harmful thing we do is a sin?

3. It impairs our judgment. Like Alcohol it can distort our reality. The bible does not forbid alcohol, it forbids drunkenness. Drunkenness is when our reality and judgment is distorted because of alcohol. Same with getting High on anything, including glue.

Yes, but having a single beer impairs your judgment slightly as well. Having three cups of coffee will change your perspective as well, for that matter. The point is that they all become sinful once you are so intoxicated that you are no longer in the driver’s seat of your decisions. THAT is the sin, not some arbitrary plant.

So there is no way around this argument in America.

Again, this has nothing to do with the Biblical authority regarding the sinfulness of marijuana. Your exact words were ‘smoking weed is a sin’, not ‘breaking the law is a sin’.

1 puff may not get you high but it is still illegal. Also, why smoke weed if it is not to get high? Lets just be honest here... if we're smoking weed, it s to get high.

This is a little extreme, but again, this does not further your case against marijuana. There is, of course, a short line between smoking weed and getting high. All you are saying here is that most people who smoke marijuana are also guilty of the equivalent of drunkenness. This is probably true in the same way that most people who drink will occasionally get drunk. It just means that if you choose to participate in an activity that has these sorts of risks, you need to be vigilant to keep your wits about you.

We dont make an illegal transaction and pay all of that money to only hit it but not be effected. You cannot tell me that we smoke weed to "Not" get high.

Of course not, but there is a huge different between 'baked beyond all comprehension' and 'buzzed', just like there is a difference in 'blackout drunk' and 'buzzed'. I'm sure there are many people who enjoy either marijuana or alcohol in a very moderated manner, and I don't think they are sinning just judging by the verses you put above.

Of all of our conversations, this is the dumbest.

Watch yourself there, Matt. This is one of those cases where your argument (or at least your explanation of your argument) isn't as strong as your feelings on the subject. Even if you think this case is cut and dry, you should be concerned that the case you laid out is not so clear. As I said in the very beginning, I really don't care about the question, but I am DEEPLY concerned about the manner in which you tried to argue your answer. If we are to continue in our discussions of other - admittedly more meaningful - topics, it is important that we don't get lazy with our explanations. Don't call the conversation dumb (and my comments, by extension, thanks for that) just because you didn’t get to slip a loose argument by.

This is one of my concerns with religion as a whole, by the way. Everything just becomes 'known' so that asking questions frustrates people. 'Of course smoking weed is a sin!', so don't bother asking why! I would suggest that if the case is so obvious, your explanation of your reasons should be equally compelling.

Matt Chewning said...

Bri,
You make me laugh.

Am I sinning if I forget to feed the meter as well?

Key word is forget. You don't accidently buy illegal substances and smoke it. The meter is not a direct disobedience, but the later is.

You made the statement that smoking marijuana is a sin, not that breaking the law was a sin.

Let me clarify. Smoking weed as a means of getting baked (or even a little lit) in a geographical area where it is illegal and without a prescription is a sin. So, for you, me, and our boys to smoke is a sin, unless we travel to Amsterdam, hit the coffee bar and toke only a little. (It's not worth the trip)

Is smoking tobacco a sin?

Good question. I do not think that the act of smoking is a sin however, I think that we should ask these questions. Am I mastered by smoking? (1 Cor 6:12) Can I function the same without it? Does the thought of it master my mind? If so, then I think that yes it is sin.

If our bodies are temples, shouldn't that mean that ANY harmful thing we do is a sin? There are a lot of freedoms in the Christian faith. If we can do things without a conviction of the Holy Spirit and scripture doesn't not speak to it either directly or in-directly, "Go for It"

The point is that they all become sinful once you are so intoxicated that you are no longer in the driver’s seat of your decisions. THAT is the sin, not some arbitrary plant.

Preach it.

Of all of our conversations, this is the dumbest. Watch yourself there, Matt. This is one of those cases where your argument (or at least your explanation of your argument) isn't as strong as your feelings on the subject. Even if you think this case is cut and dry, you should be concerned that the case you laid out is not so clear.

Dumb in the sense that the content of the conversation is dumb and meaningless to me. Maybe not to you and others, but I would much rather chat about some meaningful things about life.

I am DEEPLY concerned about the manner in which you tried to argue your answer.

I can assure you that this was much more of a rant rather than a thought out philosophical argument (which I decline the invitation to do) Not because I don't love doing this with you, instead, like I mentioned before, it's kind of meaningless to me.

Brian Hebert said...

Like our previous discussion regarding homosexuality, my main concern has nothing to do with your particular stance on this issue and more to do with the methodology used in the process. I get very nervous when loose language is used to refer to what god may or may not exact eternal punishment for. You didn’t write a blog post telling us that you do not approve of smoking marijuana, you wrote a blog post saying that god considers it a sin. Labeling something as sinful carries significant weight, and as with all things important, it is crucial to make sure you get the details correct. There is a world of nuance that you gloss over by making statements like ‘smoking weed is a sin’, and you are assuming far more Biblical authority than the verses you quoted justify. As I have said in the past, I would expect believers to be reluctant to label anything a sin unless they have very compelling evidence to do so. If god did not choose to make his stance on this issue clear, why should we take it upon ourselves to fill in the gaps? What if god intentionally left things vague because they just don't matter in the long run?

In the end, the way that Christians interpret their Bible is absolutely foundational to all other aspects of their faith. If I am to thoroughly consider Christ, I have to thoroughly understand his revelation. Catching a glimpse of how believers use the Bible is an important aspect of this study. I wanted to take the discussion in this direction, but I guess we’ll save that for another day.

Matt Chewning said...

In the end, I do not feel it is necessary to provide a drawn out explanation of why smoking weed is a sin. As you have already agreed, in the Christian faith, this would be considered a sin based on the typical circumstance that is drawn out (recreational in America). Few if any of my readers will ever experience a circumstance where smoking week is not a sin.

This argument or conversation should never be foundational to someone's seeking after God.

However, as always you have challenged my thinking and for that I am greatly appreciative.

Matt Chewning said...

Bri, 1 more question. And try to answer the question as honest and straight forward as possible.

Based upon what you know of Christian Faith. Would you say that it is it a sin for me, Paul, Beth, your Dad whoever else you would consider a Christian to buy Marijuana, and get high on Marijuana?

Brian Hebert said...

This argument or conversation should never be foundational to someone's seeking after God.

Agreed. Like I said, I was more interested in the way you went about seeking an answer, not the actual answer itself.

Based upon what you know of Christian Faith. Would you say that it is it a sin for...a Christian to buy Marijuana, and get high on Marijuana?

If it is a crime in your area, it is a sin. If you get so high that you are out of control, it is a sin.

If it is not a crime (like in CA, MA, VT, and others) in your area and you are not out of control, it is not a sin.

That's about as clear as I can make it. Everyone has different points at which they lose control, so it is up to the individual to moderate their own actions.

Matt Chewning said...

If it is not a crime (like in CA, MA, VT, and others) in your area and you are not out of control, it is not a sin.

It is not legal in MA for recreational purposes, I do not know about medical reasons though. The only thing that was changed is that the offense has just been lessoned.

Massachusetts voters approved a ballot initiative to decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana, making getting caught with less than an ounce of pot punishable by a civil fine of $100. The change in the law means someone found carrying as many as dozens of marijuana cigarettes will no longer be reported to the state’s criminal history board. However, it is still illegal

The proposition has not even become law yet. It will become law 30 days after it’s reported to the Governor’s Council, which usually meets in late November or early December. But the Legislature could amend or repeal the new law, as they've done with some prior laws passed by the voters.

All jokes aside, I'm not against legalizing it. However it is not legal.

Brian Hebert said...

You're getting a little legalistic here, but I was being very deliberate when I chose the word crime over saying against the law for this exact reason. Our society makes a very clear distinction between criminal law and civil law. Criminal laws reflect our cultural morals while civil laws exist to keep things orderly. This is why you only get a fine for speeding, but you go to jail if your speeding put others in danger (reckless endangerment). In this case, we raise a moral objection to the endangering of others, not the speeding. Breaking civil laws are not sin because they do not deal with these questions of morality. In a similar line of reasoning it is also not a sin to be late to work or not tipping at a restaurant. These are all guidelines for creating a harmonious society, not moral rules that carry the weight of eternal punishment.

So yes, if smoking marijuana is a civil offense, I would not consider it a sin. Parallel parking is not a sin, failing to inspect your car is not a sin, and loitering is not a sin for the exact same reasons. They are all classified as equivalent by our laws, so you either have to make them all sinful or none of them.

Matt Chewning said...

Brian wrote:
So yes, if smoking marijuana is a civil offense, I would not consider it a sin. Parallel parking is not a sin, failing to inspect your car is not a sin, and loitering is not a sin for the exact same reasons. They are all classified as equivalent by our laws, so you either have to make them all sinful or none of them.

I think that this is turning into more of a theological conversation now. The hard thing here is trying to understand the pureness and holiness of God. We are sinful in thought deed motive and actions. All of your examples could be considered sin in the sight of a Holy God. That is not legalism, that is theological truth. For example, if I know that my car needs to be inspected and I choose not to do it, that is dis-obedience and sin. If I am in such a rush and to parallel park even though there is a "no Parallel parking" sign, I am being dis-obedient which is sin.

Now, we all can make excuses for our sin and do our best to justify it. I do it all of the time. This is religion and pride but not Christianity. Religion it is when I think that I am a good moral person because I have good deeds, follow the rules, etc. However this is not the Gospel. If I am a good and moral person, why be a Christian, I do not need a Savior. The Gospel however says that Christians are not moral people, instead they understand their wicked hearts and sin. Even if I seem to be moral on the outside, I am still sinful on the inside. On our best day, we are nothing but filthy rags in the sight of a Holy God says Isaiah; thus the need for a Savior. I do not understand this supernatural phenomenon in the fact that I recognize the weight of my sin and feel the need for a Savior. The only way that I can explain it is through what is found in scripture concerning the ecclesia. Here are just a few verses from the NT but there are hundreds of more. I share these knowing your view on scripture, however, I will share them anyway.

"Unless the Lord had shortened those days, no life would have been saved; BUT FOR THE SAKE OF THE ELECT, WHO HE CHOSE, He shortened the days."
(Mark 13:20)

"Will not God bring about justice for His ELECT who cry to Him day and night, and will He delay long over them?" (Luke 18:7)

"And He was saying, 'For this reason I have said to you, that no one can come to Me unless it has been granted him from the Father.'" (John 6:65)

"When the Gentiles heard this, they began rejoicing and glorifying the word of the Lord; and as many as had been APPOINTED to eternal life believed."
(Acts 13:48)

"For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren; and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified." (Romans 8:29-30)

"What then? What Israel is seeking, it has not obtained, but those who were CHOSEN obtained it, and the rest were hardened;" (Romans 11:7)

"But God has CHOSEN the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has CHOSEN the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong, and the base things of the world and the despised God has CHOSEN, the things that are not, so that He may nullify the things that are, so that no man may boast before God." (1 Corinthians 1:27-29)

"But we should always give thanks to God for you, brethren beloved by the Lord, because God has CHOSEN you from the beginning for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and faith in the truth." (2 Thessalonians 2:13)

"Who has saved us and CALLED us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was granted us in Christ Jesus from all eternity," (2 Timothy 1:9)

"For this reason I endure all things for the sake of those who are CHOSEN, so that they also may obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus and with it eternal glory." (2 Timothy 2:10)

"Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who reside as aliens, scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, who are chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, by the sanctifying work of the Spirit, to obey Jesus Christ and be sprinkled with His blood: May grace and peace be yours in the fullest measure." (1 Peter 1:1-2)

Again, this is more of a theological issue than a legality issue. You can see the verbiage in this ties back into Steve's e-mail about the different between the Church and God's Chosen or called out children. This is why I would challenge you read through that theology book. I suggested that particular one because it objectively works through the different theological views within the Christian faith.

Have a great Thanksgiving!

Brian Hebert said...

First off, I meant double parking not parallel parking…just had a brain fart there :P

”The hard thing here is trying to understand the pureness and holiness of God. We are sinful in thought deed motive and actions…Christians are not moral people, instead they understand their wicked hearts and sin.”

This is an important point to establish right off the bat, so I wanted to place this first. The Bible makes it pretty clear that we are worthless scum when compared to god. No matter how hard we try, we will never live up to whatever expectations he has for us. It is important to note here, that we are considered sinful here primarily because we are being compared to a holy deity. We are so inferior to a being of that magnitude that it should be obvious that we will never measure up. Should we be punished for this? If god wanted to judge us on our ability to live a life that perfectly emulates his values, shouldn’t he have built us with at least a shot of attaining this goal? You can use the argument that his original design intended for us to be this way, but he has allowed billions of humans to be born with original sin since then, so either he just gave up on us or he isn’t all that concerned with giving us a fair chance.

I don’t want to change the focus of the conversation, but what kind of god would establish such an unfair system of judgment? It would be one thing if the options were eternal bliss or nothing at all, but for the vast majority of humans who have ever lived, god’s existence only leads to eternal suffering. If god really gave humans free will so that we could choose to either accept or reject him, why is it necessary to punish those who choose the latter? I guess you could argue that we sinners need to burn so that the elect have something to contrast with heaven, but that is a pretty cynical way to view things. I would agree that none of us are deserving of any special rewards from god, but I would also say that none of us deserve to be punished by him either. Pardon the imagery, but it would be the equivalent of lighting your dog on fire because he didn’t have breakfast ready for you this morning. You are exacting a horrifyingly sadistic punishment on a creature that is both powerless to defend itself and entirely incapable of performing the task requested of it. We are completely powerless against god and our inherent flaws make it impossible to live a sinless life (in fact, we fail this test at birth). God sees the futility of our plight and still takes it upon himself to punish us in unimaginably brutal ways. I honestly find it hard to have this in mind and still call god benevolent. Part of me even finds it tough call him good. The fact that he extends a lifeline of salvation to the very small clique of the elect just adds pettiness and exclusion to his qualities, not grace.

”All of your examples could be considered sin in the sight of a Holy God. That is not legalism, that is theological truth. For example, if I know that my car needs to be inspected and I choose not to do it, that is dis-obedience and sin. If I am in such a rush and to [double] park even though there is a "no [double] parking" sign, I am being dis-obedient which is sin.”

Where do you draw the line though? Does every arbitrary local law (minus ones that directly contradict Christian morality, of course) automatically become integrated into the moral foundation of your faith? If you are sitting at a stop light, by yourself, at night, with no one around for miles, is it a sin to run it? Would it be a sin if you were sitting there for a minute? What about five minutes? What if you waited five hours and the light still didn’t change? I assume that you will give up and run the light at some point, deliberately breaking a civil law. Are you telling me that god is really going to look at that situation and conclude that your actions warrant eternal damnation? Does god not care about the difference in intent between recklessly plowing through an intersection and the scenario above? You say you aren’t being legalistic, but I am having trouble seeing it any other way. I completely understand that we are inherently evil and that most things we do are tainted as a result. Saying that we can never live up to god’s expectations is very different than saying that every law on the books should be enforced as if Moses personally chiseled them into stone. I think the Bible is commanding us to obey earthly governments in spirit and intention. We should do our best to work with our local governments, which includes doing our best to follow the rules that they set forth. Christianity will spread more effectively if it works alongside governments, but that does not mean that we are judged on our exacting and legalistic adherence to every local ordinance.

”If I am a good and moral person, why be a Christian, I do not need a Savior.”

That is a really interesting question because it points out what I feel is the arbitrary nature of any ‘relationship’ with god. As you mentioned before, being saved does not make you moral, it just provides forgiveness for your immorality. You still carry your sinful nature with you to the grave, fighting the constant battle between your natural instincts and requirements of your faith. What if you were perfectly moral though? What if you were hypothetically able to transcend your sinful nature (and original sin) to live a life without sin? If you are blameless, would you need to accept Jesus? The primary role of Jesus is to bring forgiveness, so if you do not require those services, will god take you as you are? According to my understanding of Christianity, the answer is an emphatic ‘no’. You do not need a savior because you are sinful just like you do not need Christianity in order to be a good person (good relative to humanity, not to god). The only reason you need a savior is because god made an arbitrary decision to make that a requirement for entrance into heaven. God could have just as easily made it so your sins are automatically forgiven when you die, making a savior irrelevant.

I understand the shaky ground I continue to walk with regards to trying to peer into the nature of god, but I feel it is a necessity nonetheless. Remember now that the entire concept of sin was invented by god either directly as part of creation or indirectly through the granting of free will to human beings. He setup the rules and we are simply marching to his beat. When I look at things from this perspective, I find it difficult to ‘recognize the weight of my sin’ as you put it. If I am doing my best to love those around me and show kindness to my fellow man, why should I feel guilty about not measuring up to god? He made sin a pervasive part of existence, and nothing I do is going to change that. If god is hurt by my sinful nature, he is welcome to take it back; he is, after all, the one who gave it to me in the first place.

Matt Chewning said...

You wrote:
You can use the argument that his original design intended for us to be this way, but he has allowed billions of humans to be born with original sin since then, so either he just gave up on us or he isn’t all that concerned with giving us a fair chance.

God's design of the world and everyone in it was to glorify himself. To many that may sound like we serve a proud and arrogant God. That may be true if he was not worthy of being glorified. Even with us being born with original sin, that does not negate the character of God. God is still glorious in every way. To say that God gave up on us and isn't concerned is as far from biblical truth as we can get. Because God "will not" give up and is "extremely concerned", he sent Jesus to be our ransom. If you look at this through a Trinitarian theological lens, he actually came down himself and bore the wrath that we should bear, on himself. That is a very concerned and loving God.

You said:
but what kind of god would establish such an unfair system of judgment?

The same God who's ways are not our ways and thoughts are not our thoughts. We can criticize his sovereignty and pretend like we could figure out a better plan, however, we cannot even get our lives in order. We are talking about the same God who we all have been trying to figure out for thousands of years. I however chose to submit rather than critique. I tried to critique and it just lead to despair.

You said:
You are exacting a horrifyingly sadistic punishment on a creature that is both powerless to defend itself and entirely incapable of performing the task requested of

You've left only 2 options. Either be sinless or burn in hell. However you have forgotten grace through Jesus. We are not powerless. All through scripture you read about how powerful we are through Christ and the dwelt Spirit to overcome sin in our life.

You said:
Where do you draw the line though? Does every arbitrary local law (minus ones that directly contradict Christian morality, of course) automatically become integrated into the moral foundation of your faith?

God is more concerned with the heart not the external actions. The issue is never the sin, it is the state of the heart which leads us to sin. In my personal experience, it comes down to Love and idolatry. I usually sin because in that moment, I idolize something other than God or love something more than I do God.

You said:
I find it difficult to ‘recognize the weight of my sin’ as you put it. If I am doing my best to love those around me and show kindness to my fellow man, why should I feel guilty about not measuring up to god?

I find the nature of this question interesting. Your verbiage sounds very personal to say the least. My comments may sound wrong, but I think that scripture supports it. Could you actually say that you are doing your very best to love others and show kindness? Are you living a life that is completely selfless and more about loving your neighbor than yourself. Are you more concerned with your status of living or other people just being able to live? Aren't your motives typically selfish or self-seeking, Mine Are!! Actually let me ask you this, do you know anyone who is doing their very best to love others and show kindness in these types of ways. I do not have to convince you or me of this answer. The answer here is an obvious "no". Nobody in all the earth can hide from this? Personally, there is always a selfish motive in me, a selfish thought, a hateful action in me. If one thinks of themselves as a great lover, and completely selfish, those are typically the most arrogant selfish people I know. They always think they have the answers, they are always right, etc. We have to many Christians like that, I hate myself when I act like this. Now on the flip side, when you get around a person who is filled with Christ, mature in Christ, growing in Christ, you always find someone who recognizes his own sin and his love and kindness for others is not a prideful one, it is one of humility. That person is typically extending love and compassion that they have received from the realization of their sin and their understanding of the grace that has been extended through Christ. Big difference.

Mom said...

What??? You smoked weed??
143

Brian Hebert said...

Even with us being born with original sin, that does not negate the character of God. God is still glorious in every way

This is correct, but it doesn’t address the point I was making. The Christian god is defined as perfectly glorious, making all of his actions glorious by default. God could commit the most sadistic and evil (by human standards) acts ever conceived and they would still be glorious. In other words, god’s actions are glorious because he is glorious, not because his actions carry any glory in and of themselves. This means we cannot predict god’s intentions or actions based solely off of this fact.

Because God "will not" give up and is "extremely concerned", he sent Jesus to be our ransom...he actually came down himself and bore the wrath that we should bear, on himself. That is a very concerned and loving God.

Why do we deserve to bear any wrath at all? This is the question that keeps being glossed over and I have yet to hear a reasonable answer. God can certainly choose to punish us as he sees fit, but calling it deserved means that we did something to earn that punishment. To earn something, as opposed to being given it, implies that you took some action or otherwise consciously met certain criteria that you were wholly in your power to accomplish. If you were powerless to either meet or not meet the necessary criteria, it would be impossible to truly earn anything at all. If you still receive something for your efforts in this case, it is given to you despite the fact that you did not earn it. What specific actions have each of us taken to deserve god’s wrath? Our sinful nature was given to us by god (directly or indirectly), so it is hardly in our power to live a sinless life. I understand how evil, defined here as anything opposed to god, could draw his wrath. It is not my argument that god is not justified in punishing those who oppose him; it is only my claim that we are powerless pawns in the process. Sending Jesus after almost 100,000 years of human existence seems just too little too late. If god were really as concerned as you say, why wait so long before giving humanity a way out? Pushing that aside for the moment, why not make the story of Jesus more compelling? There are six billion people on this planet who do not accept the Biblical revelation of Jesus. Wouldn’t a truly concerned god want to reach as many souls as possible? Even if we assume that we still have to keep free will intact, it seems that god could have done much more to help humanity see the light. In the end, any punishment we receive from god will be undeserved, dished out because we failed to meet a set of criteria that we were programmed to reject.

Do not take this as a ‘woe is me’ argument toward god. As I said earlier, god is completely justified in distributing any punishment that he sees fit. My objection is to the characterization of our place in this arrangement as deserved or earned. The Christian god is not generally presented as an arbitratry entity that only cares about a select few human beings. I generally see him defined as a lover of all men at all times. If this is the claim of Christianity, I have difficulty resolving my questions above.

We can criticize his [god’s] sovereignty and pretend like we could figure out a better plan, however, we cannot even get our lives in order…I however chose to submit rather than critique. I tried to critique and it just lead to despair.

This is a good point, and if I accepted the existence of the Christian god, it would certainly serve little purpose to criticize the decisions he made. From my perspective though, I am trying to see if the Christian definition of god is really logically consistent or not. If Christians call god loving and caring, saying that we deserve the punishments he dishes out to us, but careful analysis shows that to be in contradiction with reality, I have then identified a very big problem. I am trying to reconcile my views of reality with the Biblical god, and there are obviously sticking points. These points are either the result of logical weaknesses in my argument, ignorance of the facts, or the fact that the Christian god does not exist. I hope that the more I study and discuss, the clearer the veracity of these options become.

You've left only 2 options. Either be sinless or burn in hell. However you have forgotten grace through Jesus. We are not powerless

I covered some of this above, but Jesus has only existed as an option for the past 2000 years. God only revealed himself to the Jews roughly 4000 years ago, so we are still working with approximately 96,000 years where humans were, in fact powerless. I would also add that Jesus was revealed in such a way that – even according to the Bible – the vast majority of people will not recognize him as god. God did not empower all of humanity, only a very small group of people existing during a tiny sliver of human history. This isn’t exactly what I would expect from a god who is concerned about humanity in general.

God is more concerned with the heart not the external actions. The issue is never the sin, it is the state of the heart which leads us to sin... I usually sin because in that moment, I idolize something other than God or love something more than I do God.

I couldn’t have said it better myself, and I would expect nothing less from a truly just god. This of course leads us directly back to my original point regarding marijuana. If god is more concerned with our heart and intentions, then it is not necessary to take a legalistic view of things like civil law. God knows when we are speeding, for instance, to rush someone to the hospital versus speeding recklessly for no reason. He looks at our intentions and judges us according to our heart. Moderated marijuana smoking is perfectly permissible for the same reasons. As long as we are not committing idolatry by putting smoking above god and his commandments, why is there a problem? I was never claiming that all marijuana use is acceptable, as it can be abused just like anything else in this world. All I was saying is that you are being far more instructive by making the statement above than by less accurately stating that “marijuana use is a sin”. Judging by your statements subsequent to the post, I think we are pretty close to agreement on this specific issue. (perhaps miracles are possible!)

Your verbiage sounds very personal to say the least…Could you actually say that you are doing your very best to love others and show kindness? Are you living a life that is completely selfless and more about loving your neighbor than yourself…Nobody in all the earth can hide from this?...Now on the flip side, when you get around a person who is filled with Christ, mature in Christ, growing in Christ, you always find someone who recognizes his own sin and his love and kindness for others is not a prideful one, it is one of humility. That person is typically extending love and compassion that they have received from the realization of their sin and their understanding of the grace that has been extended through Christ. Big difference.

It was written from the personal perspective for dramatic effect. Of course I am not living a selfless life (far from it) and I was speaking in purely hypothetical terms. The point I was making – which is a Biblical one – is that all of our actions amount to nothing when it comes to god and his judgment. You had made the statement earlier that if we could live selfless lives, we wouldn’t need a savior, and I was pointing out that this is just not true. In the end, god is not as concerned about what we do, as long as we jump through the hoops he set in place. Now I grant you that some of those hoops require the acceptance of certain virtues like humility and charity, but god never pretended to care about any of these except to demonstrate that we are able to keep the reigns of our sinful nature pulled tight. Christians are certainly encouraged to do some very good things for their fellow man, but this seems more of a byproduct of obedience than the main goal of the faith. Whether or not god exists, there is still power in believing that you have a mandate from a higher authority. If that authority commands you to help the poor, you will be filled with love and compassion to accomplish the task. A person convicted to assist the needy is always a blessing, no matter what their justification is.

I hope it is clear that my intentions here are to help refine my understanding of the Christian god to see if his revealed nature aligns with world around us. If the Biblical definition of god is logically consistent, we should be able to test reality against his nature. My hope is that I will eventually push past these questions and have a better idea of where to take my thought process next.

Drew said...

I've seen the "your body is a temple" verses quoted far out of context too many times to not say anything.

The "your" in those verses is plural. It is not spoken to individuals. Your body, e.g. The Church is the temple of the Holy Spirit. I think that it's trite to stretch the original language, when translated to English, to mean "you should not partake of anything that is harmful to your body".

And that's laying aside the studies that have shown cannabinoids (other than THC) which bond to the CB2 receptors in the body have indeed been shown to shrink tumors and stave off the spread of cancer. I'm talking occasional responsible use for the medicinal benefits, not as a treatment once you already have cancer.

And speaking of CB2 receptors - we have them. That ought to speak volumes about the plant right there. If you believe that we were designed by a perfect creator, well you ought to do more research on how cannabis works. It is not like other drugs. It doesn't play with your body's natural chemistry in ways that narcotics (heroin) or hard stimulants (cocaine, methamphetamines to a lesser extent) do. These other drugs elevate dopamine levels with a mechanism equivalent to a sledgehammer to your glands. None of these other drugs have specific receptors in your body designed to be stimulated by them. The slight dopamine elevation that naturally occurs upon the metabolizing of cannabinoids is actually a by-product, not the main thrust. Why do we have receptors in our bodies specifically designed to only respond to THC and other cannabinoids if our bodies were never designed to partake of them? That's a difficult question to answer, if you do indeed believe that God designed our bodies, as well as the cannabis plant.

Furthermore, there are ways to consume cannabis with little to no carcinogenic material being introduced into your body, e.g. vaporizing or regular old consumption (hash brownies et al).

Matt Chewning said...

Drew wrote:
I'm talking occasional responsible use for the medicinal benefits, not as a treatment once you already have cancer.

haha. What’s up Drew, Thanks for the post. I will have to disagree with you a little on this. I think we are moving away from honesty here. You are claiming that your reason for marijuana consumption is for healthy precautions. Drew, I only know you so well, but you and I both know this a lame and comical attempt at justification of actions. Actually, probably the funniest I have heard in some time. At the very least, you should be honest enough to claim that you smoke to get high; however, there may be a positive impact on long-term health as well. Don't insult my intelligence (and I don't have much) by trying to convince me that your a health nut. I saw your condiment consumption to know otherwise. haha.

If your claim is true, I would expect that you are also taking the following for their long-term health benefits.

GRAPEFRUIT SEED EXTRACT: cures and prevents sinus infections, flu, toenail fungus, candida and much more.
GUAIFENESIN: Prevents and treats congestion, sinus infections, may help with infertility issues in women (for your wife, not you).
L-CARNITINE: Used for preventing and treating heart disease, congestive heart failure, high cholesterol and athletic performance.
L-LYSINE: Said to cure Chicken Pox, HIV, Shingles, Colds, Viruses, Herpes and much more.
L-THEANINE: Anti-stress amino acid; excellent for PMS & anxiety.
MMS: aka Miracle Medical Supplement.
MSM: excellent for joints, hair and nails; also has serious side-effects which are not typically reported.
OMEGA-3 FATTY ACIDS: Prevents and treats anxiety, beautiful skin, and brain chemistry.
OREGANO OIL: treats and prevents sinus infections, toenail fungus, bacterial infections and more.
5-HTP: for anxiety, weight loss, and migraines.
RHODIOLA: Anti-aging, anti-stress herb from Siberia. Also great for the skin.
Vitamin B-12: treats and prevents Alzheimer’s, dementia, depression; increases energy
Vitamin C: many preventable medical benefits and cures, also a few side-effects reported
Vitamin E: antioxidant, aphrodisiac
Magnesium: Helps cure and prevent racing heart.
Potassium: Prevents cramping and recovery after diarrhea.

There are many more, but we will stop there. You can research these on your own but come on Drew.

Drew said...

Straw man.

Same with drinking red wine. I don't drink it primarly for the health benefits. They're just an added bonus.

Plus it's absurd to take your statement to its logical conclusion: "Unless you cover all known ways converging on N to live a healthy lifestyle, you shouldn't bother doing any."

I never said it is or even ought to be anyone's primary motivation, simply that the reason exists.

I suppose your reasons are not heavy enough to change my attitude towards the substance. There's too much room for interpretation, and we just view reality through two very distinct lenses. Nothing wrong with that, I'd never begrudge you your opinion.

Matt Chewning said...

D,

You can get offended or laugh. That was pretty funny stuff bro. I'm not downing you bro, just pointin out some honesty, u feel me man?

Drew said...

Oh, I'm laughing.

True, rational debate and its concomitant unabashed rhetoric are sport to me. It's like working out - it flexes your brain muscles.

You can't ever take anything that I post on discussions like these too terribly seriously, as I don't take myself all that seriously. It's merely things that I am emboldened to say because writing them down allows me the time to dwell on them and express ideas I wouldn't be so quick to come up with in casual conversation.

Drew said...

I was re-reading the comments here, and I have to say that it saddens me that you cavalierly laughed off a tiny portion of my post, while completely ignoring the parts where I shred your logic. You didn't answer the "your body is a temple" point (and I don't think you can, because if you're getting a theological education, you're learning to read Greek and Hebrew).

I would also be interested in your opinion on civil disobedience. If a law is unjust, it is immoral to follow that law.

I would prefer to have an actual debate, as I feel you are propagating misinformation here.

Matt Chewning said...

I'm not currently receiving a theological education or have I ever. I'm just a guy that is deeply in love with scripture because I believe that it is the full and true word of God.

I would recommend that you as well fall deeply in love with your bible if you consider yourself a Christ follower. If you would like to enter into silly debates about smoking weed and the context of "don't you know your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit" we can do that.

Reality is that, you talk about that verse in context while I don't believe you even know where it is in scripture without looking it up. Now, that is not a bad thing, there are many parts of scripture that I do not know yet.

if I'm not mistaken, I believe that that verse is in 1 Cor chapter 6 somewhere towards the end of the chapter. And I am pretty sure it is not talking about the Body of Christ but the actually human body to avoid promiscuity. I'll have to double check that.

Drew said...

Hey Matt, thanks for responding.

Assumptions won't serve us well. My parents put me through almost two decades of religious schooling. We were made to memorize all the books of the Bible, in order, as well as a number of (trite, looking back) catechisms (though I never went to Catholic school).

I can cite chapter and verse to defend almost any position I would like, regardless of illogical. The other day, I was reading about how Obama declined to have an official celebration of the National Day of Prayer, opting instead to pray privately as he does every day. I suppose some Christians see this as an affront. What a wrong-headed way to view the man's actions! Christ himself tells us in Matthew 6:5-6 that we are to pray privately, and that those who parade around making a show of their prayers are as Pharisees and hypocrites. Proverbs tells us not to engage in "vain repetition, as the Heathen do", but we do an awful lot of repetition in our liturgy.

I'm just a few classes shy of an MDiv from when I worked at Biblical Theological Seminary out of college.

Drew said...

Bah, I can't edit. The above should say "I can cite chapter and verse to defend *nearly* any position I want, regardless of how illogical it is."

Typing too fast, it's been a long week.

Take care!

-Drew

Matt Chewning said...

Drew,

Thanks for hitting me up. Not really sure what it is that has sparked the sudden saddening about our conversation 5 months ago, none the less, I'd be happy to talk through this. I like you bro, and it is always a good time talking together. I really enjoyed having a few beers at Paul's place and grilling out. We had some good conversations that day and maybe when Beth and I move out there, we can get together on occasion. Anyway, here we go...

1. Pertaining to weed, It will be hard to argue that that it is not illegal as much as you may try to convince me that it is. Just last week, Arnold Schwarzenegger commented that his next task will be to try and get Marijuana legalized, which indicates it is indeed illegal. Lets not let the technicalities of the punishment get in the way of our definitions of what is legal or illegal. It is still illegal to drive over the speed limit, smack your wife, pee outside even though the punishments are not to drastic. I can tell that you are extremely passionate about this topic. I know that from our conversations when I came to visit Paul and we talked about it. I wonder if you are just as passionate about reaching lost people? Or maybe about your wife? What about your personal walk with Christ, do you share the same passion for that? What about your bible? I know that your passionate about condiments, that is a given (just some humor). I ask these questions, not knowing the answers, however, I am sure that they will expose or confirm some things in you. I say that because I continually keep those questions in front of myself because Paul says to "Watch your life and your doctrine." In order to be a faithful follower of Christ, we have to continually evaluate ourselves.

2. Pertaining to your comment towards "Your body is the Temple of the Holy Spirit." I know that you can reference many scriptures, you are a very bright man with a lot of good information, however, you were wrong about this one. That scripture is clearly speaking of the human body, and not the Body of Christ, as you posed in a previous comment. It's context is talking about sexuality because the Christians in Corinth were living in a pagan, sex saturated culture where people would go to the temple and have sex with prostitutes as an act of worship to their Gods. The 2 major deities at the time was Aphrodite, goddess of fertility, and Cybele, the Mother Goddess. The worshippers of Aphrodite worked as prostitutes in the temples.... these temples held over one thousand prostitutes (CRAZY). The purpose of these prostitutes was to earn money for the temple and to worship Aphrodite (they used sex as worship). So over 1,000 prostitutes were cultic, and that's just from the worshippers of Aphrodite. In that time, they used sex as worship; my question to you and I is what do we use as worship? We are all worshippers of something; what are you a worshipper of?

3. Lets move on past the weed and body conversation. I'm pretty sure that we will disagree on it and will not be able to convince each other of something different than where we currently stand. However, it is a decent conversation to have. From our previous conversation, you may want argue the health benefits of smoking it which I will not argue against. There probably are benefits to it, however, our judicial system thinks that those benefits do not outweigh the negative effects (I'm not as smart as they are, so I will submit to the authorities above me.) For the record, I am not against the legalization of it. However, that does not mean that the consumption of it is a Godly thing. 1 Cor 6:12 says that "everything is permissible but not everything is beneficial." Again, the context is sex, but the thought still fits the topic. I don’t smoke week for 2 reasons.

- It is against the law for me to buy it and smoke it.

- Similar to too much alcohol consumption, it clouds my judgment and makes me morally loose. In which I want to uphold the upmost integrality in my walk.

4. I am curious to what the real issue is? It cannot be weed. Martin Luther used to say that behind every issue is a deeper underlying issue. For example, he would say that lying was never a persons issue, what the real issue is, is ones self idolization which forces one to lie and not expose their true identity. So, for you, is there something deeper? Are you searching for something deeper? I'll give you a personally example. When I struggle with having a little too much to drink, the issue is not alcohol, the issue is my contentment with Christ and the reality in which I live in. Why do I look to get so our of reality? Typically it is because I am not satisfied and content in Christ as the one who fulfills, so I run to a substance to bring the temporary fulfillment. That’s me. I wonder how that plays out in your life?

5. This is an honest question, and one I would like to pose. I only know you so well, so I am serious about seeking the answer for this question. What does your walk with Christ look like? Do you consider yourself a Christian? If so, what is it that makes you a Christian? Typically those are questions that people get offended about; I trust that you wont and understand that I am truly curious. I also trust that you will understand (From your religious background) that if you do not consider yourself a Christ Follower, most of what I say will be considered foolishness to you and you may think I am a legalistic, bigot, which is typically the light that most Christians live in. (Which I can assure you that I am not.) If you are a believer in Christ and his atoning work on the Cross and the belief that he is the "way, the truth, and the life and nobody gets to the Father but by him"; then how has that effected your life? In other words, what hard decisions have you recently made because of your faith in Christ as Lord?

6. This is pertaining to your comment about your education. As you stated in a previous post, you are very educated with almost a Masters of Divinity, you went to a Nazarene College, and were in religious schools almost your entire life. You also stated that you "can cite chapter and verse to defend *nearly* any position you want, regardless of how illogical it is." I wonder how that has effected you? Has that gathered information brought you to a deeper and more passionate love for Christ or just created you to be a very informed person. How has your heart been transformed as you became more informed? Are you more patient, loving, kind, compassionate, gentle, selfless, etc because of all of your information? Again, I will not act like I know the answers to those questions, that’s for you to answer, not me. You already know that all the degrees in the world does not make a differences in ones walk with Christ. One cannot inform themselves until they become a Christian, because it is not about information; its about a heart transformation. As you also already know, a Christian is not a very informed person, but one who has a heart for Christ and his Glory. God typically takes uneducated ordinary men and does marvelous things with them. Psalm 19 says that "The statutes of the Lord are trustworthy, making wise the simple." So my question to you is this, how are you glorifying Christ with all of your education? Are you walking closer with Christ because of all of your information, or has your information hindered your walk with Christ?

Drew, man to man, I say all that I do because I believe in you. It is possible that God wants to use you in ways that will greatly impact his Church. God has given you wonderful insights and you are such a bright young guy. I wish that I had half as much intelligence as you do. It sounds like you have Godly parents who dearly love you. I want nothing more than to see a guy like you deeply in love with Christ and living out the Gospel daily. Christianity is quite simple and for too long our culture has turned it into a moralistic, dogmatic, fundamental (with no fun) religion, that lacks life, depth, and real love. Christianity is so much more than that. Instead it is a risky, rebellious, love affair with Christ, that propels you to do things that in your right mind you would never do (Such as write a blog comment as long as this one.)

Be Blessed. Matt

Drew said...

Thanks for your response again, Matt.

I enjoyed reading it (in its entirety, no less), and will respond very soon. I have back-to-back meetings starting in a few minutes where I'm the principal mover so I've got to get my A game on, so to speak.

You be blessed too.
-Drew

Matt Chewning said...

Drew, Where you at homie?

Drew said...

Portugal, believe it or not.

I'm home now though :)