Marijuana and Religion: Christianity
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There is no definitive text on cannabis in the Bible. Yet many scholars use these writings to justify their position, for or against. Since 2012, there are more Christian religious orders who use the weed to pray than ever before and weed nuns and cannabis-themed Bible study is on the upswing. But what does the Bible actually say about cannabis?
Many Christians take their right to use cannabis as God given, while others abstain because they believe it is a sin. So why isn't there a clear answer, decision or policy? And what is the skinny on Christianity and cannabis?
A lot of discussion and debate is based on interpretations. What exactly does the word of the Bible mean? Especially when referencing cannabis. It can’t be denied that the Bible mentions hemp in many places. And for many uses. Discussions and debates go on about whether Jesus smoked pot to this day and probably will for a long time.
But what does the good book really say? And how do the sacraments stack up against practice?
HISTORY OF CANNABIS AND CHRISTIANITY
According to the Bible, Christians are allowed to use the plant for everyday use. And why wouldn’t they? According to some, the anointing oil in the Old Testament references was actually made of hemp.
In Exodus 30:22-23, reference is made to a healing oil made out of ingredients including kaneh-bosm. This is supposedly one of the earliest known names for the plant.
This is hardly surprising. Cannabis has been used as medicine for thousands of years. Those who wrote the Bible were probably not isolated from the world around them and the use of the plant was clearly common in the societies in which the Bible was written.
How it is used, and by whom is another question altogether.
OFFICIAL STAND ON CHRISTIANITY AND MARIJUANA
There are two lines of thought about this. On the first, there are those who argue that the Bible endorses the use of all seeds and herbs blessed by God. Cannabis (also known as hemp) was mentioned in Genesis (1:12 and 29-31), Ezekiel (34:29) and Revelations (22:1-2). Use of the same is allowed.
Different sects of Christianity look to other Bible verses to make their case. The Rastafarians have also used marijuana as a ritualistic sacrament. They point to Bible verses such as Revelation 22:2. The Tree of Life bears leaves “for the healing of all nations.”
On the flip side there are those who argue that even hemlock and poisoned mushrooms have been created by a higher power. However these are clearly deadly as food. There are many justifications for why hemp or cannabis should not be used. And these also range in focus and in church, from belief and sect to Bible study.
Truth be told, there isn’t a single “official stand” on cannabis. Just as there is not one “official” church or branch of Christianity.
CANNABIS AND CHRISTIANITY IN MODERN DAY
Cannabis has been labeled a sacred plant by many and played a role in many religious rituals over time. Christianity is just one out of many religious beliefs that has encountered the plant.
Depending on where you are, this is also interpreted very differently. In some places, it is even possible to find churches that are specifically dedicated to cannabis. Also there are more than a few Bible studies and prayer groups related to the practice.
On the other hand there are of course many places where professed Christians strongly believe that cannabis use is “sinful.”
The Bible is also used frequently to help addicts overcome their addiction to drugs and alcohol. Although Jesus makes wine at a wedding in Cana, in John 2:1-10, there are also plenty of references to abstinence from alcoholic drink. In the Old Testament, intoxication is clearly not allowed. In the New Testament, drunkenness is forbidden.
The arguments on both sides of this are legion even today, and this is far from a settled issue. Some argue that cannabis is not mentioned enough, or that there do not seem to be guidelines for its use. Others argue that references to the plant used as an everyday medicament and food justify its use.
These days, 58% of Americans in general believe that marijuana should be legalized. Christian denominated, affiliated groups tend to only support this issue by 40%. However when further broken down, it is also clear that there is a split within these groups. Only 29% of Evangelical Christians believe that cannabis use should be legal.
A good example is for instance televangelist and two-time presidential candidate Pat Robertson, who called for marijuana to be treated the same as alcohol in 2012. The response from the mainstream? Cannabis churches and weed nuns became media darlings.
It is clear that the general stigma on cannabis usage is slowly being broken. Also among Christians.