I recently had a discussion with some Christians about the differences between the Scripture’s view of drinking wine and marijuana use. For some, both are prohibited, while for others only the latter. It can be an emotionally charged issue in the broader church, so to have a little balanced and clear-headed perspective is always welcome. Doug Wilson, in an article he wrote years ago entitled “One Toke Over the Line,” that gives just such a balanced perspective. Here’s a couple of quotes to whet your whistle (pardon the pun).
But suppose this is granted, but a further question is asked. What about the fellow who is not wiped out? He smokes marijuana but remains (at least in his own mind) fully functional. He grants that “drunkenness” is always wrong, but denies that marijuana has to produce “drunkenness.” Why cannot cannabis provide an equivalent experience to wine gladdening the heart of man? We have to look at this argument carefully. We have seen that drunkenness is flatly prohibited by Scripture, but we have to recognize that other uses of alcohol are approved and encouraged throughout the Bible.
In order to do this, we must back up. According to the Bible, alcohol has at least five lawful scriptural uses. Let’s look at each, and see if there is a parallel to marijuana at that point. The last one we will consider is the “gladden the heart” argument.
And last, wine has a wonderful celebratory function. “He causeth the grass to grow for the cattle, and herb for the service of man: that he may bring forth food out of the earth; and wine that maketh glad the heart of man, and oil to make his face to shine, and bread which strengtheneth man’s heart” (Ps. 104:15). When a Thanksgiving table is set, when the glazed rolls are brown, when the turkey has reached perfection, and the crystal glasses are filled with wonderful wines, there the hearts of believers are filled with gladness. In contrast, when a room is filled with sweet, sticky smoke, the hearts of those present are filled with nothing but self-deception. True celebration is a discipline, accompanied with hard work, planning, training, and the fruition of joy. The use of marijuana is a celebratory slide downward, indulged in by the lazy and self-indulgent.
But doesn’t this passage say that God also gives herbs “for the service of man?” Yes, but drugs are not at all in view. The word is eseb, and refers to herbs, green plants, and grass. It is talking about plants that work on behalf of man, not plants that cause a man’s mind to become blurry. The lesson here is to eat your vegetables and salads.