Tag Archives: galatians 5:19-21

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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Christians Enjoying Harry Potter – Good Idea, Bad Idea?

Is Harry Potter good or evil?

That question may sound silly to some readers, but there are many Christians who believe it’s wrong to watch movies like Harry Potter (some very close to me whom I love dearly feel this way). I know because I’ve seen every HP movie in the theater, and have had this discussion with more than one Christian after they heard I was a fan.

Some Christians believe it’s wrong because Harry and his friends make witchcraft look like fun, and guess what – I understand their point of view.

Witchcraft is a serious sin as the Bible points out – check it out:

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.

Those who “live like this” – that is, those who practice witchcraft as part of their ongoing, unchanging lifestyle “will not inherit the kingdom of God.”

Wow! Sounds like Harry Potter could be dangerous if it causes someone to want to practice witchcraft, but is it?

Patrick Mead made a post on Tentpegs today that I’d like to share with you … he writes:

… this is a timely question that came in recently via Facebook.

I saw on your Facebook page that you and your wife went to see the latest Harry Potter movie. How could you??? The Bible is very plain in condemning witchcraft. How can you support this evil with your money???

I’ve heard things like this many times since the first draft of Harry Potter was written on the back of napkins over lukewarm cups of tea. Why did I see the movie — and all the others? Because I’ve seen evil, and Harry Potter isn’t evil. It is a fantasy. I am just barely old enough to remember preachers condemning Rex Harrison and “Doctor Dolittle” for talking to animals (and, yes, there was even a Cincinnati preacher who railed against Mr. Ed for the same thing… and claimed that playing the song backwards revealed Satanic messages). I’ve read the articles written against C.S. Lewis for engaging in fantasy, calling him a supporter of witchcraft. Tolkien fought against the same charges.

Some people have a very hard time differentiating between fantasy and fun on the one hand and evil and darkness on the other. In the Bible, the witchcraft being condemned involved ritual murder, the killing of children, bloodletting, serial adultery, etc. I’ve met with witches (self styled), coven leaders, Satanists, people who were convinced they were Warlocks… and found them almost without exception to be sad, lonely people. They are the precursors to the lonely man/woman playing computer games where they are a twentieth level mage… while in real life they work at the Quiklube.

Then I have met others — sorcerers and necromancers and pagans of a different ilk. They were evil. You could see it in their eyes, hear it in their words, and watch them as they spread darkness wherever they could. I have seen photos and films made of butchered men, women, and children; pregnant women whose wombs were ripped open and their babies killed for the amusement of this or that army that stomped its way through their village, raping and burning all the while. THAT is evil.

Harry Potter — and thousands of other like minded books, plays, and movies — are allegories. They are stories of light versus darkness where light is treasured, heroism is lauded, and courage, honor, and loyalty are elevated highly. The characters are told to do the right thing, regardless of personal cost. TRUE darkness mocks the light and encourages people to follow the Satanic slogan of “Do whatever you want to do” (that is translated from their faux olde English styling).

You find witchcraft everywhere nowadays, but it is disguised as comedy, music, and drama. Watch carefully and you see that everyone’s problems are solved by self love, self esteem, etc. and by applying either sex or violence to the situation. Self sacrifice, humility, and grace are never in sight. Light is covered up in darkness. Witchcraft no longer uses brooms and the devil no longer cares about cauldrons and potions. Darkness has moved into the cultural center and calls itself light.

And if Christians can’t see that but, rather, spend their time fighting about Madeline L’Engle, C.S. Lewis, Tolkien, or Harry Potter… if they can’t tell the difference between metaphor, symbol, and reality… then we are in real trouble.

As Patrick points out, I don’t believe enjoying fantasy movies like Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, or the Chronicles of Narnia is the same as practicing real witchcraft.

But could Harry Potter and movies like it still be dangerous? I mean, the Harry Potter stories do glorify witchcraft by practicing it in the books and movies, don’t they? Could the books and movies cause a younger person (or even an older person) to become interested in looking into real witchcraft?

Of course they could.

But could watching the latest season of American Idol or America’s Got Talent influence someone to become obsessed with fame?

Could watching Jack Bauer handle business in 24 influence someone to commit an act of violence?

Could watching Judge Judy influence someone to act like a condescending jerk to everyone they come into contact with?

Yes, yes, and yes – the potential for evil is there in all of those things.

Here’s my feeling: almost any television show or movie a person watches has the potential to influence them for evil. I believe it’s up to individuals to decide how they’ll allow themselves to be influenced, and I believe it’s up to parents to do a good job teaching and explaining things to their kids (like the dangers of real witchcraft, and how Harry Potter is just a story that someone made up).

That’s how I feel, and I’m going to stop right there and ask you these questions:

Do you think Harry Potter be should be completely avoided by Christian families? Why or why not?

If you do believe it’s ok for kids to read the books or watch the movies, do you believe any precautions should be taken (i.e. should you talk to your children about real witchcraft before allowing them to read the books or watch the movies)?

What do you think? I’m interested in hearing from you.

Now, for no particular reason, here’s a picture of Harry Potter smoking a cigarette:

Harry prefers menthols ...

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