This description of ancient man refers to a time when man was
primitive, barbaric, violent, uncivilized, abusive, destructive, and
totally without moral or religious direction. One has to be
impressed however, with how little mankind as a whole has progressed
in many of these attributes. The difference is that early man came
from a position of ignorance and lived in a natural world where he
struggled to be dominant. Today we live in a world where man is
dominant and has the lesson of history as his schoolmaster. The
mistakes of the past are spelled out in the hope that man will not
make the same mistakes again. The most fundamental lesson of the
past was originally stated in Deuteronomy 28
where God says that if we will live as God has called us to live,
mankind will be blessed in every way, but if we reject God’s
teachings the results will be catastrophic. The entire Old Testament
is the history of mankind showing God’s prophesy to be true.
In our day nothing has changed.
Following the principles laid down by Jesus in Matthew 5 – 7, as
opposed to the violence of other religious and political systems,
has revolutionized whole nations of people. Books like Under the Influence by Alvin J.
Schmidt have documented the positive effects of the Christian
system. The negative responses to such materials from a wide variety
of quarters show how ingrained secularism and selfish exploitation
A major area of controversy is the use of recreational drugs. A
recreational drug is a chemical substance that serves no positive
purpose other than to bring temporary pleasure to the user.
Recreational drugs have been a negative because of the damage they
do to the body. In 1 Corinthians
3:16 –17, the Apostle Paul writes about our life’s work and
purpose and says, “Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s
temple and that God’s Spirit lives in you? If anyone destroys God’s
temple, God will destroy him; for God’s temple is sacred, and you
are that temple.” The message is clear, that our lives must be built
on a constructive use of the physical bodies that God has given us.
In the same book, chapter 6
verses 15 and 16, prostitution is condemned in the same way.
The response to this by the alcohol and marijuana industry has been
to point to the beneficial aspects of these substances or to point
to their use in the day of Christ. The alcohol of Jesus’ day was
used to purify water and was more of a source of water and minerals
than a social lubricant. In our day of distillation, alcohol is
rarely used in that way. The claim of nutrient value is based on
flavonoids which do not come from the alcohol but from the natural
substances used — namely the grapes. Alcohol is unquestionably the
most destructive drug of the nineteenth, twentieth, and twenty-first
centuries so far. It is difficult to find any positive nutritive
quality to justify its use.
In the case of marijuana the attention of the public has shifted to
the use of medical marijuana as a means of fighting a variety of
common human ailments. There is some medical research showing that
smoking pot reduces inner eye pressure in glaucoma patients. Any
drug that reduces cerebral function has a chance of lowering pain
sensation which may be helpful in cancer or other painful chronic
human maladies. The recognition of these facts has caused some
states to legalize the medical use of marijuana. We recently visited
Venice Beach in Venice, California, which has become a center for
medical marijuana. We have also talked with some experts in the
field and have learned some things that we feel Christians and the
general public should know about medical marijuana.
pot is not the only way, and in fact not the best way, to
deliver the beneficial aspects of the active ingredient.
Marijuana is Cannabis sativa
containing the chemical delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). There
are receptors in the brain called cannabinoid receptors which the
THC trips. This is a part of the brain which controls memory, time
perception, and coordinated movement. Studies have shown that THC
can lower intra-ocular eye pressure aiding in the treatment of
glaucoma. It also has been shown in many cases to ameliorate nausea
making it useful in medical treatments where nausea is a frequent
by-product. It is a general analgesic and stimulates hunger, all
useful in medical applications.
On the negative side THC interferes with problem solving, memory,
and learning. It has a high correlation with schizophrenia and
depression. Marijuana smoke is between 50% and 70% more carcinogenic
than tobacco and increases heart attacks among its users by a factor
of 4.8. The key point here is that rapid scientific advances have
produced a growing number of drugs containing THC that reduce and
control these side effects or eliminate them. Dronabinol, nabilone,
and Sativex mouth spray are already available and a variety of other
drugs are in the wings. Smoking pot is the worst way to get the
benefits of THC.
Legalization is not working. Many people argue that the best way
to control a drug is to legalize it. The argument
is that the drug can be controlled and taxed and will not be under
the control of the criminal element of society. The first response
to that statement might be to ask if the legalization of alcohol has
solved the destructive effects of alcohol in our culture, and
removed it from the control of the criminals? Recreational drugs are
big business, and big business has great problems with a workable
moral code that controls how it affects the lives of common people.
In the case of the legalization of
marijuana, California offers a showcase on this issue. Venice,
California, is on the ocean west of downtown Los Angeles. The Venice
Beach boardwalk stretches along the beach with skateboard parks,
souvenir shops, Muscle Beach gym, and a variety of tourist
attractions. Teens and children abound mixed with every segment of
society one can imagine. Every twenty feet or so of the boardwalk
there will be someone standing in a white coat with a medical patch
of some kind on his sleeve. He is passing out colorful, expensive
business cards that say, “Medical … Doctor… Get Legal Now! … Come in
for your evaluation and recommendation letter for medical marijuana
… for any illness for which marijuana provides relief” including
stress, anxiety, or insomnia. Once you have your interview and get
your letter you are directed to a place which claims to be “Venice’s
Premier Medical Marijuana Dispensary.” You can smoke this pot
anywhere as long as you have the letter showing you are recommended.
The smell of marijuana is all over the boardwalk, and drugged
recipients are everywhere in the area. When I asked a policeman who
was standing there about the situation, he threw up his hands and
said that as long as no one caused any trouble, the police had to
focus their energy on more serious problems.
The place we visited was just one of many outlets on the beach. The
point we are making here is that once the drug is legalized, the
enforcement of any kind of control is a virtual impossibility.
Legalization is not an answer, and getting real help to people in
real need is only hindered by situations like Venice Beach.
only solution to this issue is Christianity in its biblical
form. What that means is living and encouraging
others to live as Christ has called us to. That means not supporting
the pleasure obsession of our culture, but serving others in a way
that brings real answers to the world in which we live. I would love
to see a ministry in California near Venice Beach that has qualified
doctors who would actually help real patients with real needs find
relief through every medical tool available — not pushing
recreational drugs in the name of medical needs. In the meantime we
must work on educating the church and our own young people with the
facts of how destructive all recreational drugs are. Sources:
National Institute on Drug Abuse at
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Does God Exist?, MarAprYY.