Tag Archives: Bible

Is Recreational Marijuana Use Moral Even if It’s Legal?

Have you heard about California’s Proposition 19 set to be on our state ballot this November? If passed this proposition will legalize marijuana use in California for persons 21 years of age or older and will also legalize growing the plant in private residences within state borders (NBC ran an interesting story on this yesterday highlighting possible negative ramifications).

Current polling data shows this proposition would pass were it voted on today, but before all you closet potheads load the UHaul to move to California, we need to talk about a couple of things.

The purely medicinal application of Marijuana is valid – it certainly does ease chronic pain better than most pharmaceuticals. BUT … that is being so abused here in California it has become a huge joke. Cancer patients, those suffering from AIDS or MS – it makes sense for them to be able to get a prescription for Marijuana as a pain reliever and appetite stimulant, but when a person can stub their toe and get the “green” light to legally smoke pot (often indefinitely), something is wrong with the system. It’s a joke.

As for recreational use. habitual substance abuse has the potential to negatively define a person’s identity and rule their life.

Before I gave my life to Christ I was a huge pothead. Smoking marijuana every day made me lazy, mentally slow, damaged my lung capacity, and killed millions of brain cells. I viewed myself as a stoner. That affected my everyday decisions and my life ambitions. All I really wanted to do was get high, and I was okay with that – it was simply part of who I’d decided I was. Additionally, I was very addicted to marijuana despite the claims from proponents who tout its non-addictive nature. While it’s true most scientists claim marijuana is not physically addictive, the same say it is highly psychologically addictive. Looking at it simply in terms of personal health, it’s an incredibly stupid habit to develop.

From a spiritual standpoint, a couple of Scriptures should be considered. Galatians 5:19-21 is a good place to start.

Galatians 5:19-21
19 The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery;
20 idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions
21 and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.

This is a heavy Scripture. Written by the apostle Paul, it lists several sins that lead to death for “those who live like this.” That word “live” is an important one, because Paul isn’t saying a single individual sin will sever one’s relationship with God; rather, if a person lives in rebellion to God’s rule they should not expect to be known by Him.

I’m reticent to lump recreational marijuana use in with drunkenness. I believe key differences are present between the physical intoxication afforded by cannabis verses alcohol – namely, alcohol is much more dangerous and severe.

I do, however, believe Galatians 5 speaks against marijuana and all illicit drug usage for followers of Christ for two reasons:

First, the phrase “and the like” is included in verse 21. While it’s true the effects of marijuana are mild when compared to the effects of other drugs or alcohol, it is still an intoxicant that impairs you and is bad for your health. Legal or not, it is “like” other vices listed in this passage.

Secondly, the original Greek word translated ‘witchcraft’ in verse 20 is “pharmakeia” – the root behind the English word “pharmacy.” When most people think of ancient witches or wizards, they think black cats, cauldrons, and spells, but that’s not a historically accurate image. First century witchcraft was associated with the ‘magic’ substances practitioners sold. Magic potions, magic powders, and magic herbs were used with spells and incantations to remedy certain ailments – they would also get you high. Witchcraft is condemned not only because of its tie to idolatry, but also because it involved substance abuse.

Drug use and substance abuse is nothing new. We must take Paul’s statement that “those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God” seriously.

You also have Romans 13 to consider:

Romans 13:1-5
1Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God.
2Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves.
3For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and he will commend you.
4For he is God’s servant to do you good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword for nothing. He is God’s servant, an agent of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer.
5Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also because of conscience.

The Bible teaches it is morally appropriate to follow the laws of the land (of course we are not to when they violate the commands of Christ, but if we are honest we must admit most don’t).

Even if the state of California legalizes recreational marijuana usage, it will still be illegal according to Federal law. California’s state officials do not mind breaking Federal law (they thumb their nose at the Federal system often), but does that mean it’s morally acceptable to follow state officials in their lawlessness? That would be wrong.

I hope this proposition does not pass.

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On Loving Sinners

You know the story of Exodus.

God sent Moses to deliver the Israelites out of Egyptian slavery. He sent the plagues on Egypt because of Pharaoh’s rebellion, and parted the Red Sea allowing the Israelites to cross on dry land. He provided water and food for Israel in the desert, and led them toward the promised land as a pillar of cloud in the day, and a pillar of fire by night.

If any doubter were going to pick an ideal time in history to live in order to see things that would cause them to believe and trust in God, you’d think the time of the Exodus would be a great one.

You’d think … but you may not be correct.

See, the Israelites had witnessed all these things with their own two eyes. They’d tasted the manna, they’d knelt down and felt the dry sediment at the Red Sea. The water coming from the rock in the desert was sweet, and the presence of the pillars of cloud and fire were as comforting as they were magnificent.

But Israel was quick to forget.

Exodus 32 will mess you up – not only because it reveals the sinister side of human nature, but also because it reveals the great love we should have for fallen people.

Exodus 32 reveals the end of Moses forty-day pow-wow with God on the top of Mount Sinai.

Forty days of his being gone was all it took for the Israelites to lose their faith in Yahweh who’d done so much for them only to begin looking for something else to worship. They’d approached Moses’ brother and spokesman Aaron with their concern basically saying, “Make us gods to follow! Moses is gone!”

And Aaron dropped the ball in a big way.

He had the people gather their gold together and melt it down. Then he crafted a golden calf for them to worship as god, and worship they did. They threw a party with the calf at the center the likes of which Israel had never thrown. If glow sticks and lasers had been invented before 1500 BC, I’m sure Israel would have broken them out at this point.

Here are the very people Yahweh had done so much for and delivered so many times throwing a party of praise around an idol, giving it credit for delivering them out of Egypt, at the foot of the very mountain on which the presence of the real God rested and shown like “consuming fire” at the top. I don’t know about you, but if I were going to worship an idol (and I’m not), I don’t think I’d do it at the foot of the mountain that has a huge, supernatural fire going on at the top that is supposed to be the presence of God.

Of course God took notice of this:

Exodus 32:7-14
7 Then the LORD said to Moses, “Go down, because your people, whom you brought up out of Egypt, have become corrupt.
8 They have been quick to turn away from what I commanded them and have made themselves an idol cast in the shape of a calf. They have bowed down to it and sacrificed to it and have said, ‘These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of Egypt.’
9 “I have seen these people,” the LORD said to Moses, “and they are a stiff-necked people.
10 Now leave me alone so that my anger may burn against them and that I may destroy them. Then I will make you into a great nation.”
11 But Moses sought the favor of the LORD his God. “O LORD,” he said, “why should your anger burn against your people, whom you brought out of Egypt with great power and a mighty hand?
12 Why should the Egyptians say, ‘It was with evil intent that he brought them out, to kill them in the mountains and to wipe them off the face of the earth’? Turn from your fierce anger; relent and do not bring disaster on your people.
13 Remember your servants Abraham, Isaac and Israel, to whom you swore by your own self: ‘I will make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and I will give your descendants all this land I promised them, and it will be their inheritance forever.'”
14 Then the LORD relented and did not bring on his people the disaster he had threatened.

So God Himself was about to destroy them, but Moses interceded on their behalf and God relented, then Moses made his way down the mountain.

Coming to the bottom of the mountain, Moses witnessed the scene. Can you imagine the look on his face when he saw what was going on? Sure, God had told him about it, but he hadn’t seen it yet. Can you feel what he felt at this point?

The Bible says “his anger burned” (v. 19). I have a feeling that’s an understatement. Obviously, Moses wasn’t happy. He threw down the stone tablets God had given him breaking them, melted the golden calf down before grinding it to powder, then mixed the powder with water, and made the Israelites drink it. He then put out a call to all those who’d remained faithful to God, and instructed them to take out their swords and strike down the rebellious. Entire families were killed, and about 3,000 died that day (not nearly as many as would have died if Moses hadn’t interceded on the people’s behalf earlier).

Now comes the part that will mess you up:

Exodus 32:30-32
30 The next day Moses said to the people, “You have committed a great sin. But now I will go up to the LORD; perhaps I can make atonement for your sin.”
31 So Moses went back to the LORD and said, “Oh, what a great sin these people have committed! They have made themselves gods of gold.
32 But now, please forgive their sin– but if not, then blot me out of the book you have written.”

Moses said to God – the One inhabiting this all-consuming fire at the top of the mountain – “I know the people have sinned. I know they’d turned their back on You … but please forgive them, and if you’re not willing then go ahead and send me to hell too.”


We hear a lot of stories about a person laying down their life for another, but do we ever hear about someone laying down their eternity for another?

Are you ever willing? Am I ever willing?

The apostle Paul was the same way:

Romans 9:1-3
I speak the truth in Christ– I am not lying, my conscience confirms it in the Holy Spirit–
I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart.
For I could wish that I myself were cursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers, those of my own race,

Again, are you ever willing? Am I?

Here’s the challenge for you and for me today – to love those outside of Christ this much … to be willing to let go of your place in heaven, so that they can have it.

That’s the example we’ve been given, and that willingness is indicative of true, delivering love.

The bar couldn’t be set any higher, could it?

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Is Radiometric Dating of Rocks Accurate? A Few Thoughts from Patrick Mead

People have often asked me, “Wes, how can you believe the Bible is true when it says that our planet is only six thousand years old?”

First of all, the Bible doesn’t specifically say that. A long time ago theologians counted up the people mentioned in the genealogies listed in the Bible, added up the number of years between them, and came up with the idea that those listed go back six thousand years to Adam. Therefore, it was taught, “The earth must be six thousand years old and six thousand years only, and if you disagree we may just have to burn you at the stake.”

A problem exists with that (the dating part – definately with the burning at the stake part too, but I’m referring to the dating part). Some scholars believe that the biblical genealogies only list people of historical note. Are the genealogies complete, or do they sometimes skip several generations between names? In some instances, we simply don’t know for sure and probably never will. Also, it could be that the Genesis account of creation wasn’t limited to seven, twenty-four hour periods. It could be that God created over the course of millions or billions of years. After all, the stars weren’t even formed until the third creation day. Whose to say that the first two weren’t limited to a twenty four hour period? The stars we measure hours by hadn’t even been created yet!

Then there’s the problem with the scientific perspective. The six thousand year old theory (or young-earth creation theory) doesn’t jive with the teaching of modern-day science.

Biologists and genealogists will tell you that the world isn’t just millions of years old, but billions of years old, and they have the scientific data to back it up! Radiometric and carbon dating, the fossil record – many consider these to be the nails in the coffin of the “the earth is only six thousand years old” belief.

But can we trust these dating methods?

Patrick Mead’s blog is one I read regularly and enjoy. Before taking a demotion and becoming a lowly preacher, Patrick was a scientist holding more degrees than I care to name (including two doctoral degrees).

I have two posts of Patrick’s to share with you today (reposted with permission), both of which reveal problems with the dating methods mentioned above:

Here’s post #1 entitled “Dating Rocks – Question 183:”

This came into tentpegsquestion@yahoo.com a couple of weeks ago. I think we have time to get to it today…

In a recent blog, you talked about creation and warfare and mentioned radioactive dating. Could you elaborate on the problems with radioactive dating and also give your thoughts on the recent “missing link” fossil discovery?

I’ll deal with the umpteenth missing link story another day. Let’s talk about radioactive dating and why I have a problem with it. Again, to review, this world could have been created to be/appear fully grown (re:old) with all its resources in place or it could BE old. One way it could be old is if there had been a creation that fell into chaos somewhere between Genesis 1:1 and 1:2. This is not the Gap Theory that some hold, but a warfare based theory that Gregory Boyd calls the Restoration Theory. A few blogs ago, we discussed that.

I also mentioned that I am not impressed with radioactive dating. Why not? Remember that science is supposed to work a certain way. The scientist observes the present state of the system (a rock in this instance). Then, they measure the rate of a process occurring in the rock (any change). The scientist must then build a model using assumptions about the past history of this system and then, last, calculate how long it would take the present, observed process to operate — through a long unobserved past — to bring it to the present state.

In other words… here is a rock. How did it get here and how did it come to be formed in just this way? Some of this is science — observation and measurement. Some of this is scientific guess work — done with the best of intentions, usually. But there are real problems with this. Many assume that the model built of the system and the history posited for the rock are as scientific as the observation and measurement stages. Uh… no. John D. Morris illustrates some problems with this in his Parable of the Potatoes (which I have used extensively in discussions with university profs to good effect). With all credit to Dr. Morris, here it is:

Let’s say you were listening to a boring lecture. Your mind wanders and you see a person sitting beside the speaker peeling potatoes. You watch the man and notice that every time the second hand of the clock reaches 12, he reaches into the basket and peels a potato. Just before it reaches 12 again, he tosses a fully peeled potato in a second basket and then reaches in the basket of unpeeled potatoes and gets another one… just as the second hand reaches 12 again. You have observed the process and timed it. So far, so good. That’s science!

You wonder… how long has he been doing this? You get up (everyone else is so bored by the lecture they’ve fallen asleep so you feel free to move around) and go to the basket of peeled potatoes. You count 18 of them. You build a model of the unobserved past and say, “It takes one minute to peel a potato and deposit it in the basket. There are 18 in the basket. Therefore, this man has been peeling potatoes for eighteen minutes.” Most people would nod their heads and say “That makes sense.” Except… it doesn’t.

Too many assumptions were made in this example. You might be correct, but you might be way off. Was the rate of potato peeling constant throughout the unobserved history of this event? You have no way of knowing. It could be that the man peeled potatoes much faster at first but has now slowed down because he is tiring. It could be that he was much slower at first but is speeding up because he is getting better at it. You simply have no way of knowing. For you quantum buffs, you also have to assume that time progresses in a strictly linear fashion and — you know who you are — that just can’t be assumed!

Also… did anyone or anything add peeled potatoes to the basket? Did anyone or anything take away peeled potatoes from that basket? You don’t know. You weren’t there and neither was any other observer other than the potato-peeler himself and he isn’t talking. Were there peeled potatoes in the basket before the peeler got there?

And those are the very same (possibly) false assumptions used by those who use radiometric dating. They assume a constancy in the rate, an isolation from the environment that might have caused a change in the rate, and they assume what the original state of the rock was. All three of these are assumptions made without observation or measurement. They are, then, not strictly science. They are useful assumptions, for sure, but they are open to being wildly wrong. Leeching from water, chemicals, elements, and the action of weather and other environmental causes not only CAN but DOES change the makeup of rocks, the rates of change within them, etc. We can observe this. Why, then, is it assumed to have never happened in the unobserved past when we want to date it?

This was the first thing that bothered me as I studied science (and remember, I am not coming to this subject as a theologian — which I’m not — but as a scientist — which I am). The second thing that really bothered me was when I found out that rocks are dated according to evolutionary theory and NOT by radiometric dating. I’ll explain. Say you found an interesting rock and took it in to be dated. They would tell you it can’t be dated because it isn’t an igneous rock. Only igneous rock — rock that once was heated to the point of being a liquid before cooling again — can be dated radiometrically. Disappointed, you go back to the original site and dig around some more. You find a fossilized clam (they are everywhere) and take that in to be dated.

You are surprised to find out that you don’t get your clam dated by the geologist but are, instead, sent to the biologist. He looks at your fossil and declares it an index fossil. An index fossil is a fossil that once was widespread but then suddenly became extinct providing, as it were, a bookmark in earth’s history that other fossils can be compared to. He opens his book on the history of clams (yes, those books exist) and goes through the evolutionary history written there, declaring your clam to be 50 million years old. You are disappointed because you have just seen the clam dated by Darwin’s theory and not by any real science done on the clam itself. You ask if it can be dated radiometrically and are surprised to hear that it cannot. Only igneous rock…

You go back and find an igneous rock near the original site. You take it in and have it dated. Each dating method used (potassium-argon, uranium-lead, rubidium-strontium, etc.) gives different dates in wide ranges going from 20 — 230 million years old. Really. This is a true story. You are frustrated with that wide range and ask if there is any way to narrow that down. The prof says “Sure. Did you find any fossils near this rock?” You show him your clam, tell him how old the biology teacher said it was and he then declares the potassium-argon dates are right since it gave the closest result to 50 million years.

Frustrated? You should be. That is how it works. Rocks, fossils, and strata are dated by evolutionary theory and not by hard data. The hard data doesn’t exist — or it varies so widely and wildly that it is unusable. There are other problems but I’ll save those for another blog since this one has gone so long.

And here’s post #2 entitled “183a – More on the Whole Rock Dating Thing:”

The Parable of the Potatoes I used in the last example has real world application. I live a few hours away from Niagara Falls. Before it was somewhat stabilized by a vast engineering project, the Falls eroded the escarpment as they wore away the rock at a rate of 4 or 5 feet a year. Eventually, the Falls would meet Lake Erie if they hadn’t been stabilized.

The Falls are seven miles (37,000 feet) from Lake Ontario. So…. how long have the Falls been eroding that cliff? Simple math would put it at 9000 years but, as we saw in the last column, that requires making several assumptions about the unobserved past. Was the rate of erosion constant? Was the amount of water constant? Did the erosion start at the end of the gorge or did the land tilt somewhere in the middle causing the water to speed up before it got to the edge? What if there was more water at one time… or less? If there had been a global Flood of Noah, there would have been a LOT more water at one time. And how long ago had the bedrock been laid down? If millions of years, then the rock would be hard (or as hard as it was likely to get). If it was recently laid down — say within a couple thousand years — it would be softer and, therefore, erode more quickly.

When the father of modern geology, Charles Lyell, visited the Falls in 1841, he asked the Native Nations there how fast the Falls were eroding. They insisted that it was retreating at the rate of at least 3 feet a year. When he did the math, he didn’t like what came up so he discarded their observations and summarily declared that the Falls were eroding at the rate of only one foot a year. He then wrote that that made the Falls 35,000 years old and, therefore, the Bible was wrong. The dishonesty he showed was breathtaking. By the way, modern geologists say he was wrong… and date the Falls much older. They ignore the observed evidence whether it comes from Natives or from those who came here from Europe and watched the Falls erode for generations. Why do they ignore them? because their observations do not match the theory of evolution. Observed history is tossed aside and unobserved “history” is treated as fact. I have a problem with that.

This is easy to check out. There are many documents out there on how radiometric dating was used on recent lava flows on Hawaii and at Mount St. Helens. Each time, the dates given for the rocks were in the millions or billions of years… even though they had just been formed or laid down in the last century.

Or how about that whole geologic column thing? You’ve seen it in books… and that is the only place it exists. No place on earth has more than half of the sections you find in every geologic chart… and the ones we observe are not in the same order as the ones in the books. This is true regardless of where you dig anywhere in the world. Some graduate level geology text books admit this and say that less than 1% of the history of the earth is found in the rocks and it is shuffled into random order… but they go on to say that through “imaginative reconstruction” of those layers, they can reveal the wonderful tapestry of the world’s creation. Sure.

Everything told you about how many eons it takes to carve a canyon, restore a living environment after a catastrophe, etc. has been disproved by Mount St. Helens, Krakatoa, and other living laboratories. It doesn’t take millions of years to make or fill a canyon or to wipe out a rich environment of flora or fauna or to see it return back, more vibrant than ever.

People like me who just like looking at evidence and thinking about it aren’t trapped by all those presumptions. Whatever is… is. However, the modern evolutionist is like a man who is given the use of a cabin in the woods. He is told that no one has used that cabin for five years. When he unlocks the door, he sees a cigar smoking in an ashtray on a table. Instead of assuming someone has used that room recently, he must figure out a way to make that cigar be the kind of cigar that can burn unattended for five years. He is trapped. I am not.

I will go where the evidence leads. So far, I see nothing in nature or science that makes me want to toss Genesis aside.

Can we fully trust the dating methods science prescribes to? Short answer: not exactly.

Personally, my faith hinges neither on the viewpoint that the earth is six thousand years old or on the viewpoint that it’s much, much older. My faith hinges on the resurrected person of Jesus, and I hope He’s the linchpin of your faith too.

But this issue is a killer for many – that’s why I believe there’s value in examining it. Patrick reveals things in the above posts that I simply hadn’t heard or thought of before, and I hope they bless you as they’ve blessed me.

If you’d like to read more of Patrick’s writing go here, and if you have a question you would like him to answer on his blog email him at tentpegsquestion@yahoo.com.

Quick sidenote: Patrick Mead is slated to be a featured speaker at the 2010 Campus Ministry United Workshop and will be spending several hours with college students and campus ministers teaching on the subject of christian evidences. Sound like fun? Plan to join us July 8-11, 2010 at Harding University in Searcy, AR! Email campusministryunited@gmail.com for more info.

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