The 86th Texas legislative session ended this past Monday with the House’s passing but the Senate’s not voting on a bill related to decriminalizing some possession of marijuana. My News Herald colleague Rev. Will Wilson argued for the bill in his May 12th column, which teased my different perspective that now follows.
To Rev. Wilson’s theological arguments on the basis of Genesis 1 and Acts 10, I reply that God’s characterizing all creation as “good” preceded both humankind’s fall into sin, by misusing God’s good creation, and the fall’s consequences, which included weeds of various kinds (Genesis 3:17-19), and that God’s declaring certain animals clean did not include any plants, which long before were given to people to eat, not necessarily to smoke (Genesis 1:29-30; Acts 10:12; 11:6; confer Genesis 9:3; Mark 7:19; Romans 14:20).
The focus can be on use and possession. Texas already allows the use of some medical marijuana, and those so entitled to use it can legally possess it. However, if the government finds no legal use for something in the hands of others, then their even possessing it rightly can be illegal, as is the case in Texas for minors who possess alcohol, the moderate use of which the Bible explicitly permits. As we love and serve one another, government is free, on God’s behalf, to approve of those who do not possess marijuana and punish those who do possess marijuana (Romans 13:1-7), which the Bible does not explicitly mention.
We should only disobey the government when it tells us to go against God’s commands (Acts 5:29; confer 4:19-20). And, we should remember that not even every legal thing is necessarily beneficial (1 Corinthians 6:12; 10:23).
When it comes to marijuana, there are still other Biblical considerations. One author identifies the evil of seeking pleasure in marijuana and not in God. Another author contrasts marijuana’s disconnect to the goal of experiencing God in glory. To that end, God would have us all both repent of all our sins and trust Him to forgive us, for the sake of His Son Jesus’s death on the cross.
The Rev. Dr. Jayson S. Galler is Pastor of Pilgrim Lutheran Church in Kilgore. You can reach him through the congregation’s website: pilgrimlc.org.