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  • Daniel Botkin

Dino Dan & The Dope Debate

Starting January 1, 2020, it became legal in Illinois to use marijuana for “recreational” purposes. So for over two years now, it has been legal to smoke pot for the sole purpose of getting high.

Some believers think if it is legal, then it is okay for disciples of Jesus to smoke pot to get high. These believers argue that the Bible does not specifically forbid the smoking of marijuana. Furthermore, they say, when the Bible lists some of the blessings that God bestowed upon mankind, one of those blessings is “wine that maketh glad the heart of man” (Ps. 104:15). Apparently drinking enough wine to “make glad the heart of man” is permissible, so long as it does not lead to drunkenness. If it is permissible to make the heart merry with wine, what’s wrong with making the heart merry with merry-juana?

Someone suggested I address this topic. I will do that, but first let me tell you some things about myself to help you understand why I oppose smoking marijuana for non-medical reasons, even if it is legal.

In some ways I am a dinosaur. Not a literal reptile, of course, but a dinosaur in a figurative sense. When people refer to someone as a dinosaur, they mean someone who has very old-fashioned ideas and is resistant to change.

I freely admit that I have some very old-fashioned ideas and that I am resistant to change. Some changes I welcome, but other changes I dislike. I generally do not like change unless it is an improvement. If it is not an improvement, why change it? “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” that’s my motto.

I am comfortable holding onto my old-fashioned ideas about morality because my old fashioned ideas are firmly based on the Bible, and I believe the Bible. I view life through the dual lenses of the Old Testament and New Testament Scriptures. These two collections of inspired, canonized writings are my binoculars that give me God’s perspective on human life and behavior. Therefore I have very old fashioned ideas about morality and behavior.

I believe in the traditional nuclear family and traditional roles for males and females. I believe in patriarchy in the family and male headship in the congregation. I believe these things because they are the Biblical norms throughout the Bible. I aim for the Biblical norm, and I teach others to do the same.

Some believers do not aim for the Biblical norm. Instead, they look for some Bible story that tells about someone or something that was a rare exception to the general rule. When they find that rare exception to the Biblical norm, they use that as an excuse to shun the Biblical norm. Instead of pursuing the Biblical norm, they aim for the rare exception to the norm. I discuss this in more detail in a chapter in my book Hermeneutics.

As a young believer I was very fortunate to find a body of believers who had old fashioned ideas about the Bible. The very first time I visited this group of young disciples, I was immediately drawn to them, because they took the Bible seriously. They read it, believed it, and obeyed it to the best of their understanding. If they stumbled and fell, they confessed their sin and got back up and continued their walk with the Lord.

This was in the 1970s, when most genuine Bible believers held ideas that are now considered old fashioned, obsolete, outdated, and legalistic. Among my Christian peers in those days, when a sinner got saved, a radical change in behavior was expected. Things like sexual immorality, drug abuse, drinking, partying, and cussing were expected to immediately stop. Believers were expected to get their joy from the Holy Spirit, not from unholy habits.

New believers were even expected to stop smoking cigarettes. For some believers, smoking cigarettes was the hardest habit to break. But they knew the Lord wanted them to stop, so they made a sincere effort to kick that unhealthy habit.

Now, nearly 50 years later, some believers think it is okay to smoke marijuana. My generation disapproved of smoking cigarettes. And now people expect me to condone smoking marijuana?

To believers who want to get high on marijuana, I would say: Why? What is wrong with you? I will tell you one thing that is wrong with you. Your priorities are way out of order. If you were seeking first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, you would have absolutely no desire to smoke pot. Your desire to get high on pot is solid proof that you are not seeking first the kingdom of God and His righteousness. You have left your first love for the Lord, if you ever had any real love for Him in the first place.

No, I do not have a Bible verse that specifically says “Thou shalt not smoke marijuana.” However, there are lots of Bible verses that talk about things like your body being a temple, about denying yourself, about crucifying fleshly desires that war against the soul, about holiness in body as well as in spirit, about stewardship of finances, etc. If you seriously and prayerfully consider verses like these, they will lead you to the inevitable conclusion that the Lord is displeased with your smoking of marijuana. He wants to set you free from this habit.

I smoked marijuana somewhat regularly for two or three years before I made my commitment to follow Jesus. As I counted the cost before making that commitment, I knew with absolute certainty that if I decided to be a disciple of Jesus, my pot smoking would have to completely and permanently stop. Nobody told me this; I just knew it intuitively, as did all serious believers in those days.

Yes, marijuana made my heart merry, but only for as long as the high lasted. After the high wore off, I was back to being my sad, lonely, miserable self. About the only benefit I experienced from marijuana was the opportunity to be amused and to laugh myself silly and forget my misery for a little while.

Looking back, I now think that marijuana’s effect on me and my friends could be compared to making people temporarily mentally retarded. I’m serious. Mentally

retarded people are very easily fascinated by things that do not fascinate ordinary people. Mentally retarded people laugh at things that do not seem funny to ordinary people. And that is exactly how we behaved under the influence of marijuana. We would stare at something as ordinary as a piece of fruit and be fascinated by it. We would discuss the fruit’s appearance and speculate about the details of the history of that particular piece of fruit, and think we were having a profound and meaningful conversation. We would look at something as ordinary as a teapot and think its shape was absolutely hilarious, and we would laugh hysterically about it.

“Daniel, if that’s the only effect of marijuana, is it really so bad to smoke it?”

First of all, the marijuana I smoked nearly 50 years ago was not as strong as the marijuana people smoke today. A few months ago I happened to read an article about marijuana in Readers Digest. According to this article, the marijuana of today is much more potent due to the way it is grown and processed. Some of the marijuana today is 40 times more potent than the marijuana that was typically smoked in the 1960s and 1970s.

When I imagine my stoned state in the 1960s being multiplied by 40 times, or even by just 10 times, I say, “Yes, it really is a very bad idea to smoke it.”

Marijuana affects the mind in a negative way. It makes you temporarily mentally retarded. The first and most important commandment of God includes loving God with all your mind, as it is written, “And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment” (Mark 12:30).

If you mess up your mind with marijuana, you are breaking the most important commandment of God.

But what about the argument that it’s okay to use marijuana because the Bible speaks about God giving us wine that maketh glad the heart of man? Is it possible God gave us marijuana to make glad the heart of man?

My reply is to repeat what the Bible says about drunkenness and about drunkards being excluded from the kingdom of God (1 Cor. 6:10; Gal. 5:21). God does not give wine for the purpose of making people drunk. He gives it to gladden the heart.

Yes, marijuana can temporarily gladden the heart like wine does. However, there is one big difference. A small amount of wine is enough to gladden the heart, without getting drunk. But marijuana gladdens the heart only if you smoke enough to get high, which is a form of drunkenness.

Look up the New Testament word for “drunk” in a Greek lexicon and you will see that it means “tipsy.” You do not have to be a staggering, slobbering, vomiting drunkard to be excluded from the kingdom of God. Just drinking to the point of becoming “tipsy” is enough to exclude you from the kingdom. If drinking wine to the point of being tipsy excludes you from the kingdom of God, then it follows that smoking marijuana to the point of being tipsy would likewise exclude you from the kingdom of God.

I do not oppose using marijuana for medical use, but these are the reasons I cannot condone smoking it for recreational use.

| DB


Image (Top): Psalm 111 by Daniel Botkin from his Psurrealistic Psalms Pseries. See this and all of Daniel’s artwork on his art website,

Image: (Bottom): Cartoon by Daniel Botkin. See his comic books in his SHOP on this website!

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