31 August 2013

The Theology of Doobage (Marijuana)

The parents are very concerned about the church's choice for the new youth pastors...

 Dude. I wish I had a bag of Funyuns I could eat while I write this.

You know what's never funny? It's never funny to listen to a crackhead talk about how they almost overdosed and died. Nobody laughs when a drunk driver kills someone on the road. A heroin addict waking up in a ditch with a needle in his arm? C'mon, now, that's just pathetic.

But just about everybody's got a great weed story, or knows someone else who does. You're not going to kill yourself with marijuana. Few people use it so much that they can't function in life. Although, to be fair, I've known plenty of people who had a really lame life because they couldn't put down their Bic for more than an hour at a time.

I've smoked it. This would probably be a much "holier" blog if I said I didn't, or that it was a really long time ago, but I've indulged as an adult. I inhaled. I might have tried to get my friend's cat high by blowing smoke on him. I can't say I never cooked a pound of bacon and ate it in bed, only to wake up covered in grease with no memory of the night before.

Hey, the Bible says not to lie.

It's illegal like all the "bad" stuff, but not nearly as addictive, and marijuana shows a lot of promise when it comes to treating medical conditions. No one in the history of mankind has ever died of a pot overdose. Kids who smoke it can supposedly knock off a few IQ points, and that I can believe. But generally, the substance itself is not deadly.

What I want to know is...is it a sin? There's no specific answer to this in the Bible. There is no Book of Cheech and Chong to give us specifics on marijuana. No Song of Pink Floyd. What a shame.

Now, I've got a brother-in-law who uses the following Scripture to back up the validity of getting high. This is proof, he says, that pot isn't just OK, it's freaking awesome in the eyes of the Lord.

And God said, “Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit. You shall have them for food. And to every beast of the earth and to every bird of the heavens and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food.” And it was so.  -Genesis 1:29-30

Every moving thing that lives shall be food for you. And as I gave you the green plants, I give you everything. -Genesis 9:3

And God said, “Let the earth sprout vegetation, plants yielding seed, and fruit trees bearing fruit in which is their seed, each according to its kind, on the earth.” And it was so. The earth brought forth vegetation, plants yielding seed according to their own kinds, and trees bearing fruit in which is their seed, each according to its kind. And God saw that it was good.  -Genesis 1:11-12
This is all fine and dandy, but there are a few problems with using this as a defense for being stoned out of your mind. For one thing, all of this was before the fall of Man. Two, just because something is good in God's eyes, doesn't mean it's good for humans. For example, Poison Ivy. God made it, so it must be good. It's a plant that "yields seed." But you'd have to be a complete imbecile to smoke it or bake it in brownies. You know if someone mentions it in a news story, some sorry sap went out and tried it:

And anyone unfortunate enough to breathe smoke from burning poison ivy may suffer potentially fatal respiratory-tract damage.

Then there is the obvious fact that it's illegal. It might not be illegal for very long, but where I live, right now, it's against the law. This is the part that Christian pot-smokers (and I include myself in this) skim over. They brush it off by pointing out that marijuana laws are constantly changing. True, but the Bible says we're supposed to follow the law, not the law we hope will be passed in the next few years.

13 Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, for he is God's servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God's wrath on the wrongdoer. Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God's wrath but also for the sake of conscience. For because of this you also pay taxes, for the authorities are ministers of God, attending to this very thing. Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed. -Romans 13:1-7
There are a lot of things in this world that will get you high. It doesn't take much for some people. I know people who can only take one Benadryl instead of two because it makes them dopey. When I first started taking Ambien, my husband practically had to guide me to bed by my shoulders. Is it wrong to take medication that gets you kinda high, or at least tired? I don't think so. There is a difference - a HUGE difference - between taking a drug to correct a legit medical problem, and taking a drug just to feel high or to make "South Park" seem ten times funnier.

I'm not against pot for those purposes at all, really. If it helps your insomnia, or eases your cancer pain, or legitimately treats your depression. It's one of the most organic medications on earth. One day - and I suspect it won't be far from now - we might all be able to get THC pills at CVS. Is it a godly thing to take 20 of them and get baked?

Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.- 1 Peter 5:8
I've heard people argue that "sober-minded" has a different meaning in the Bible. If you look up the ancient texts, it doesn't mean what you think it means. It doesn't matter. You can't be sober-minded, aware of your surroundings, and on your guard against evil if you're stoned and can barely move your fingers. So whatever "sober-minded" actually means is beside the point; you can't BE sober-minded if you're baked and all you want out of life is an oatmeal cookie and...those Funyuns.

And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit... -Ephesians 5:18
Don't argue that this verse is only about wine. Don't even make that lame argument. They didn't have Alabama Slammers in biblical times, but I'm sure God is referring to those, too. I'm pretty sure God meant "drunk" to also mean "high" in any sense.

And let's not pretend marijuana is a cure-all, or that there's nothing bad about it at all. In the past, it has given me migraines, made me feel very hung over and out-of-it for long periods of time, and it made me dizzy and nauseous. You shouldn't drive on it. If I can't remember cooking a pound of bacon, then I refuse to believe that driving while high is a safe option. Let's also not pretend that you can't get addicted to pot, OK? Yes, you can. Only a very small percentage of people get hooked on weed, but don't pretend pot addiction doesn't exist. If you have to smoke ANYTHING several times a day or you get grouchy, or pissed off, or sad, guess what? You're addicted to it.

While, I"m at it, let me also mention this: if you can't have fun without pot, you're addicted to it. If you can't have fun with your friends unless there is pot, ya gotta ask yourself... am I really having fun, or is my life so sad now that I don't know how to be a happy person without drugs?

“All things are lawful for me,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful for me,” but I will not be enslaved by anything. -1 Corinthians 6:12

 My last question, actually, is why I decided to stop getting high and cooking pork in the middle of the night. And getting cats high. And noticing that everything around me suddenly looked like plastic... don't ask. I put this blog out there because I know there are a lot of Christian pot smokers out there that have wondered this stuff, and I don't pretend to have all the answers. But I think pot devotees should stop trying to pretend that it's God's will for us be stoners.

You can make the Bible say anything you want it to, if you look hard enough. Now go smoke a big bowl of Poison Ivy!

30 August 2013

Men Are From Mars, And So Are Women. Possibly.

So, I'm working my way through all the seasons of The X-Files...a show that I've been told is outright demonic...to which I say "whatever"...and I've just arrived at Season 6. At this point in the series, Mulder and Scully have just realized that, based on scientific evidence gathered from a mind-reading, 12-year-old boy, we all carry alien DNA.

What a crazy show. You never knew what they were going to come up with. So far out there, so ridiculous, so....wait, what's this? Some Mulder wannabe thinks maybe we really do have extraterrestrial origins?

I just don't know if I can accept that all of us are martian by nature. I might be able to accept that at least some of us are martian, though, based on my experiences over the years with some pretty loony neighbors. It would explain so much.

But seriously.
Steven Benner of Florida's Westheimer Institute for Science and Technology says evidence is mounting that life on earth actually started on Mars, and we got flung here on a space rock.
OK, let's review. Life on earth. Made on Mars. Big rock survives all of the radiation of being "flung" through space and - LUCKY US! - hits Earth. If it had hit a comet, another planet, or got sucked into a black hole, that would have been some serious bad luck. But, no, it hit Earth. And all without a really good pitcher.


I don't particularly care what vehicle brought us here, I just believe we're here because God put us here. Maybe it was a Big Bang. Maybe God said "boo" and it all fell into place. Maybe it all started with a spot-on space rock. Maybe my great-great-great-great-great aunt really was a monkey. Don't care.

It's just love when a space fairy (a description given to God by an Atheist I once argued with on Facebook) willing the universe (and beyond) into existence actually seems more logical than a scientific theory. It makes my day. My weekend, maybe.

Nanoo, nanoo!

29 August 2013

Sober Mercies: Important Reminders from a "Christian Drunk"

Might as well write an inaugural blog post about a good book!

A friend of mine sent this book to me a few months ago, and I did what I usually do with new books: read bits and pieces while atop the porcelain throne. (My friend, Debbie, suggested this method to me, but it didn't make me read any more than I used to.) Finally, last week, I sat on the couch and actually started at page 1. To my amazement, I finished it in a week. That's a great improvement from my usual 2-3 months.

I could relate to a lot of the book, but one thing in particular stood out for me: author Heather Kopp's struggle to figure out what it means to trust God.

Christians don't like to admit that God is a giant mystery to them. How do tell other people about His love if you don't have the foggiest idea what it means to tap into that love and make it the foundation of your life? Namely, how do you place your trust in a God who doesn't promise that every outcome will be the one you want?

What, then, is the point of prayer? I have always felt that when I ask God for something - whether it's for me or someone else - there is a little voice in the back of my head saying: "...but You probably won't do it anyway." It has never made sense to me that we can influence God's decisions with our prayers, but if He's got His mind made up about something, then that's just the way it's going to be.

I arrived at the end of this book having no new answers, just a better sense of direction. Kopp doesn't have it all figured out, either, and maybe that's why I liked her writing so much. There were no trite answers, nor a step-by-step guide to believing like you really mean it.

On her journey, Kopp discovered what I, too, have discovered: that lost, wounded people seem to have a better grasp on God than the well-versed, well-churched Christians. They come to God with no religious background to speak of. No one has told them what to think or how to feel. They just come and they show up out of pure desperation. A desperation that I have the hardest time expressing to God, no matter how deeply I feel it. Because to be desperate in the church indicates that you haven't been seeking the Lord hard enough to begin with.

This kind of desperation isn't about longing to know God more, or longing to be more like Christ, or longing to see what type of ministry He wants to roll out for you. This desperation is drought-stricken, a kind of starving where the buzzards are circling your emaciated soul overheard. It's a desperation to be recognized by a Maker you can't see, and to know that His love really does reach out to the least of these, not the best of these trying to be even better.

Kopp enters rehab and subsequent 12-step meetings with an urgency to find someone "like her." Someone better than the dirty bums in the gutter with needles stuck in their arms. After all, she never did jail time. She never killed anyone in a drunk-driving accident. She was never homeless. And she looked put-together. It turns out that's the thing keeping her from desperately seeking God.

I can admit to the same thing. When I started Celebrate Recovery, I, too, thought I was better. I thought that all I needed was a little boost in my recovery before I would be ruling the roost with my wisdom and insight.

Sober Mercies reminded me you can't repent of sin until you acknowledge it lives and sprawls in your heart, and that you played a major role in letting it grow so out-of-control. It also reminded me that you can't expect God to fill you until you admit that you're empty. You can't search for God until you realize you are lost.

It reminded me that, to quote a Rich Mullins song, you can't follow until you let yourself be led.