Summary: Marijuana. Yes, this is a message prompted by the legalization of recreational marijuana use in our state. How should a believer approach this?
Question to be asked: OK, now that marijuana has been legalized, is there anything wrong with using it?
Intro: I’m driving up Perryville. There, on the right-hand side, there’s a line of people standing out in the cold. I’ve noticed them there since very early on this year, nearly every day. They seem to be walking there from several blocks away. Police are even directing traffic around there at times. What is it they’re waiting for? What could compel them to stand there like that? Free medical care? Free puppies? A sale on warm coats? Nope. It’s a marijuana distribution center.
If you’re conscious and breathing, you already know that Illinois became the 11th state of the Union to legalize the production and sale of cannabis - marijuana, weed, pot, grass, Mary Jane, Ganja, 420, broccoli, oregano, and any of about 1,200 nicknames used for it. In Illinois, people 21 yrs and older can purchase it, in limited quantities, and use it, in limited settings, and not be arrested for it. Also, 11,000 people who had earlier low-level convictions of marijuana are now pardoned.
So, I was encouraged to deal with this question as one that’s actually on the minds of a lot of students and young adults. That’s what I want to do today. I want to give you a way to approach this question that will help you be on your feet and make good decisions. And to an older generation, I want to encourage you to listen carefully, to learn, and to give this subject some serious thought for the sake of having solid answers for the younger people around you - your students, your children, your grandchildren, who need you to say something other than, “That’s just wrong and you shouldn’t do it!” Because they’re asking questions like, “Really? What’s wrong with it? Why is it being made legal?”
This question is a good example of dealing with ethics - that’s the study of the principles that govern our choices and behavior. Basically, ethics is trying to answer the question of what I ought to do.
When it comes to making decisions about ethical issues, people might try several approaches. Here are a few common approaches people try to say that certain activities are OK:
• My friends are all trying it. Well, bless their hearts!
• My friends’ parents are trying it. Bless their hearts too!
• Most people think it’s OK. So did lots of people who owned slaves 250 years ago.
• It’s not near as bad as a lot of other things. That’s true. Try picking a spouse that way.
• It’s a personal matter. That’s also true. So is every choice we make, of course!
• Nobody got hurt. “I survived it!” That’s how you decide is something is a good choice?
• It’s legal. That means it’s OK. Let’s talk about that one…
When people in positions of authority decide something, it impacts the way we look at it. In 1998, President Clinton gave a new definition to “sexual relations” that liberated the thinking of a lot of young people. “If the President can get away with that, why shouldn’t I?”
And when the government passes a law that says something is now “legal,” that tends to sanction it in the minds of citizens. But whether something is legal or not really doesn’t settle a more important question.
There’s a whole list of things that are legal in our nation: drunkenness, abortion, adultery, prostitution (in Nevada), lying, cursing, worshiping Satan, eating beets. They’re legal, but that doesn’t make them right.
Here’s why it’s important to understand that today: God wants you to be holy, and the God-given purpose of government isn’t to make you holy. The government is never going to be able to accomplish that. If you’re looking to the government to decide for you what’s right and wrong, you haven’t looked at politics much lately, have you?! If you’re looking to the government to provide the moral compass to society, you’re already lost at sea. Don’t accuse me of getting political here; the point is that politics is NOT the answer!
In 1920, the 18th amendment made alcohol illegal in the US. For 13 years, that was the law. Then, it was repealed. You can argue if prohibition was right or not, but the point is the government couldn’t be relied upon to make that moral decision for you.
Law-giving and Law-keeping will never achieve holiness. You and I have already blown that from the time we first sinned. Holiness will certainly make us people who will keep God’s law, but that’s quite different from thinking that laws or rules are what makes us holy. Listen to how Paul describes what we really need in…
Colossians 2:20-23 If with Christ you died to the elemental spirits of the world, why, as if you were still alive in the world, do you submit to regulations—“Do not handle, Do not taste, Do not touch” (referring to things that all perish as they are used)—according to human precepts and teachings? These have indeed an appearance of wisdom in promoting self-made religion and asceticism and severity to the body, but they are of no value in stopping the indulgence of the flesh.