Breaking News: John Piper Opposes the Use of Weed

smoking marijuana is a sin

Calvinistic pastor John Piper, ever the Christian fundamentalist, opposes the use of marijuana. Here are the reasons Piper gives for abstaining from marijuana

Marijuana is different from caffeine (of course it is since almost all Christians use caffeine on a daily basis):

Marijuana is ordinarily used as a mood-altering, mind-altering drug. The aim is to create a kind of euphoria. The effects vary widely from person to person. All you have to do is Google, “What does Marijuana feel like?” People don’t smoke it to get unhappy. It produces a temporary state that is felt to be better than ordinary life. That’s why it’s called a “high” and not a low.

So the first comparison one might be inclined to make is with caffeine. Most people drink coffee because caffeine has a pleasant effect. But there is a difference. Marijuana temporarily impairs the reliable processing of surrounding reality. Caffeine ordinarily sharpens that processing.

Most coffee drinkers hope to stay awake, do their jobs more reliably, and drive more safely. It is certainly possible to abuse caffeine, but, as a natural stimulant, it is most commonly used not as an escape from reality, but as an effort to interact responsibly with reality…

…Thus, unlike caffeine, marijuana is not generally thought of as an empowering drug that enables you to be a more alert dad, or a more aware mother, or a more competent employee. Rather, for most users, it is a recreational escape, which produces diminished accuracy of observation, memory, and reasoning. And it may have lasting negative effects on the mind’s ability to do what God created it to do.

Your body doesn’t belong to you but it belongs to God (then why did he create marijuana and give us the intellect necessary to use it to get high):

In view of this, there are at least two biblical truths that would lead us away from the recreational use of marijuana. The first is that, for the Christian, the body is the temple of the Holy Spirit. That simple teaching, in context, should have a huge effect.

Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body. (1 Corinthians 6:19–20)

When my mother told me not to smoke, for example, or not to have sex before marriage, because my body was the temple of the Holy Spirit, it clicked. That made sense. It was an immovable barrier between me and self-destruction. My body belonged to God. It was not for my recreational use in just any way I pleased. It was for his glory.

If I were raising kids again today, I would say, “Your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit. You are not your own. You were bought with Jesus’s blood. Ask, Is this making Jesus look like the treasure he is?” I would ask this about smoking, about drunkenness, about recreational marijuana, about sedentary indolence, about overeating, about banal TV watching, and lots of other things.

And I would add: “The body is meant for the Lord, and the Lord for the body” (1 Corinthians 6:13). Keep it clean and ready for his use. Don’t dull your God-given powers of seeing clearly, and observing accurately, and thinking soundly, and remembering helpfully. I would ask, “Can you commend Christ authentically to your friends during a marijuana high?”

You shouldn’t be an experienced sinner, a follower of the herd, besides getting high is just like getting drunk:

The second biblical truth that would incline us away from the recreational use of marijuana is that God gave us minds and hearts to know him and love him and discern his will. “Be infants in evil, but in your thinking be mature” (1 Corinthians 14:20). Don’t become an experienced sinner to learn the folly of sin. Be willing to be an inexperienced baby when it comes to sharing in mind-clouding drugs. Be ruthlessly clear-headed. Let the herd stampede over the cliff without you. Use your mind to warn them, not join them.

In regard to drunkenness — and a marijuana high is a kind of drunkenness — the Bible says, “In the end it bites like a serpent and stings like an adder. Your eyes will see strange things, and your heart utter perverse things” (Proverbs 23:32–33). In other words, it leads away from the kind of sober-mindedness and self-control that is essential in using the mind for the glory of God.

As always, Piper takes the fun out of fundamentalist. He confuses his opinion with God speaking and then he goes to the Bible to “prove” that his opinion is God speaking. This is a great illustration of the one true Evangelical hermeneutic; you  can use the Bible to prove most anything. No verse is beyond being stretched to prove a point.

I am surprised that Piper didn’t mention Galatians 5:19-21:

Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness,idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies,envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.

The Greek word for witchcraft in Galatians 5 is pharmakeia (medication, pharmacy). It  seems that the good, old inerrant Bible says that using drugs of ANY kind means you will NOT inherit the kingdom of God.

I am sure some will object and say…this means ILLEGAL drugs. Wait a minute, are you saying man’s law is superior to God’s law?  So, if certain illegal drugs are made legal does this mean that their use is no longer a sin? Shouldn’t Christians take this verse literally and not use ANY drugs? Using Piper’s logic about marijuana, no Christian should take pain medications. They do make a person “high” and impair their cognitive function.

While Piper makes an exception for the medical use of marijuana, such an exception completely undoes the argument he makes about NOT using marijuana. Is Piper saying that marijuana use stops being sinful as soon as a doctor writes the user a script?  This means that my doctor is the final arbiter of what is sinful, right?

As I have easily shown, Piper makes an incoherent argument about why Christians should not use marijuana. Piper doesn’t use Mary Jane and he doesn’t want anyone else to use it either. If he doesn’t want to use it, fine, but he should not judge or condemn others who do. (and I don’t because it is illegal in Ohio. The very day it is legal I plan to start toking. Until then, I am thinking about taking a vacation in Colorado)

Comments (22)

  1. Stephanie

    Ha! I have no interest in smoking pot and where I live it is decriminalized, meaning you get a small fine if you have under a certain amount. I pretty much think that is the way the law should be or just legalization, haven’t completely decided. As long as someone does not harm someone else while using and leads a productive life I don’t see the problem. I mean, I drink and it has never led to any bad effects. Plus, I have read that a lot of legal drugs are actually worse than marijuana and much more addictive.

  2. Jada

    Here’s the thing: Piper thinks POT is bad? I’ve been taking two very, very strong prescription meds for several years for chronic, idiopathic insomnia. They’re both addictive and have other detrimental side effects. A small amount of marijuana tincture added to some chamomile tea at night? Much better restful and restorative sleep with no hangover or ill effects of any kind the next day.

    I live in a state where medical marijuana is legal; legal recreational use isn’t too far behind, I think. At any rate, I’m gathering all of my medical records for the doctor at a dispensary because I want to STOP taking prescriptions, as I believe they’re much harder on my body and pose a much greater risk to my overall health. And I want to point out that I’m not judging anyone who does rely on prescription meds. It’s a terrible position to be in, and pot isn’t necessarily the answer for everyone’s ills.

    FWIW (not much) I asked god for years to cure my insomnia. Guess he was either telling me “no” or to “wait.” Yeah, wait until I fall asleep at the wheel and kill myself and others in a head-on collision. Sheesh.

  3. Lana

    Breaking news? Lol. I don’t think anyone is surprised. After all, he even thinks one can’t buggy jump for the glory of god.

    1. Bruce Gerencser (Post author)

      Hopefully, everyone got my sarcasm with “Breaking news.” :)

  4. Chikirin

    Can’t have people feeling good and being happy now can we.

    1. Bruce Gerencser (Post author)

      Yep, Jesus is the only drug allowed. Problem is, for some of us, the Jesus drug no longer worked. :) I have heard more than a few Christians say, Get high on Jesus! And I have been in some services where I was certain people were high. :) I attended a couple of charismatic services where everyone was quite high on Jesus. I found it quite disturbing and, at times, amusing and scary.

      1. Chikirin

        Yeah on the one hand they say “Be sober minded” and then they say “Get drunk in the holy spirit!” When I was in college we got the Toronto Blessing and everyone was acting drunk. I kept trying to receive it, but it never happened.

        1. Bruce Gerencser (Post author)

          If you ever feel like it, I would love for you to write a post about some of your experiences.

  5. Obiron

    H. L. Mencken said “Puritanism is the haunting fear that someone, somewhere, may be happy.” I’d have to say that must include Piper.

    1. Bruce Gerencser (Post author)

      Great quote and very true!

  6. sgl

    re: “Marijuana temporarily impairs the reliable processing of surrounding reality.”

    hmmm. methinks fundamentalist religion *permanently* impairs reliable processing of surrounding reality. ;)

    re: “Your eyes will see strange things, and your heart utter perverse things”

    hmmm. sounds like either revelation or speaking in tongues to me. ;)

  7. 1415dr

    People got stoned in the bible all the time.

  8. Alice

    Waiting for legalization here too:) Wonder if it will ever happen.

  9. Scott

    Being in Piper’s home territory, I still remember him for his “insightful” comment when the ELCA was debating the gay issue at one their national conventions here in Minneapolis a couple of years ago. It was in summer and there was a storm while they were voting. There is a old church across the street from the convention center that also happens to be Lutheran. The steeple was struck by lightning during the vote. Piper and a boat load of other conservative Christians ALL said it is was “God” sending a message that he disapproved of the vote in favor of some gay rights within the church.

    Puritanical with no grasp of weather or physics, is pretty much my opinion of Piper.


  10. RB

    I read somewhere once (don’t have a link) that hemp was a commonly grown plant in the Middle East during Jesus’s time. It makes me laugh to think that Jesus possibly smoked pot. My fundie friends don’t always take kindly to this comment but I think it’s hilarious. My husband used it for a while before his herniated disc in his back was operated on. It was much easier on his system than taking heroic doses of Norco. It’s hard from my perspective to see why marijuana is treated any differently than any other pharmaceutical.

    1. Bruce Gerencser (Post author)

      I agree. It is a shame we withhold something that could measurably alleviate pain. I think we are ever so slowly moving in the right direction, but this is of little comfort for someone who is suffering now.

  11. Chikirin

    Some of the most annoying Christians I’ve met are the ones who were once drug addicts. “Jesus set me free from drugs and alcohol halleluha” But now they are addicted to religion and even more annoying than when they were on drugs.

  12. Suzanne Harper Titkemeyer

    I used to get high as a kite many times at conferences and during worship, falling down drunk in the spirit without drugs or drink.. Now I wonder if my own brain was busy making all sorts of lovely endorphins while I was worshiping that I mistook for God.

    Back about six years ago when my asthma was so bad I nearly lived in the ER/ICU my kids slipped me a pot brownie one night when I was debating going to the hospital since I was having trouble breathing. The minute the brownie took effect it was like some gigantic hand squeezing my bronchial tubes just let go and I COULD BREATH!!! The second we get medical marijuana here in Virginia I am so getting a script. It eased my asthma so much that time. If I have to walk over John Piper’s dead body for it I will..

  13. gimpi

    My state, Washington, just legalized recreational marijuana by popular vote. I voted for legalization. Pot is basically harmless, and has quite a few medicinal uses. In fact, we may not know just how many medicinal uses, since research was quashed for decades, as the official position was that there was no medical benefit to marijuana. We’re only starting to look honestly at what this plant can be used for.

    As to Mr. Piper, I believe he’s the fellow who encouraged beaten and abused women to stay under their abuser’s “headship” for “a season.” If the abuse kept up after that “season” while they “prayed and submitted,” he said they should only turn to the church for aid, rather than leaving or calling the police. I wonder how many women have been killed due to that very bad advice?

  14. Joseph

    Brother John, When I became born again back in 1998 I went to a Calvary Chapel to meet my stepson and buy some pot. I stayed for the service because I had to wait to get the pot. In the meantime they had a special guest & his wife called the potter. Anyway after hearing how I had to give Jesus full reign in my life . The presentation brought me to tears I went home flushed the pot down the toilet and my life changed. I attended church, went to bible studies, became an usher, my life changed it was beautiful I could not outgive GOD. I live with the belief when it came to tithing “How much of GODS money dare I keep?” This is a quote from a book by Chuck Smith. And I believe this.

    Anyway on 12/24/2005 I was involved in an auto accident which left me paralyzed! I broke my neck c5c6. c6 completely shattered. It was drilled out replaced with hip bone and a titanium plate attached. Two weeks later my colon perforated and half was removed and a bag attached for 33mos. During this whole time I was on heavy opiates(diladid which is synthetic heroin and morphine. Thats how high my pain level was and still is. Glory be to GOD that I didnt remain paralyed like the original prognosis. To this date I still suffer extreme excruciating pain because of the spinal cord injury. I suffer from spasticity and neuropathy.

    Now heres the dilemma. When I had the bag removed and was reattached, I could no longer use opiates for pain. The opiates coupled with loss of feelings in my bowels caused severe constipation. I would go up to 20 days without a bowel movement and end up in the hospital being pumped from both ends. Well after this happened 4 times I succumbed to regular medical doctors and other people and started using medical marijuana which solved the problem.

    Being a christian and you heard my testmony how am I to take this? I have prayed to God to take away the pain and spasms because I really dont like to use the marijuana but its the only thing that works! I loved being normal without drugs or alcohol for those few years and I want to be delivered from this hard spot. Pray for me to be released from this bondage.

    God Bless you John and all who will pray for me.

  15. Harold

    The Greek word pharmakeia used in Galatians 5:19-21 is used in the context of sins such as fornication, murders, hatred, etc. The verse is not distinguishing between legal and illegal drugs. The list of what is legal and illegal is not an absolute and is prone to change. A person can obtain and use legal drugs illegally, through phoney prescriptions, not using as directed etc. If pharmakeia ( legal or illegal ) are used for sinful purposes then that usage is sin. People who practice such sins will not inherit the kingdom of God.

    1. Bruce Gerencser (Post author)

      How do you know the verse is distinguishing or not? There is nothing in the Greek word itself that suggests a difference between legal or illegal. When it comes to drugs, illegal and legal are cultural/social constructs that vary widely. What is the sinful use of drugs? If I take the drug differently than the doctor prescribes, is that a sin? If it is, how do you square that with the Bible, where it says, sin is transgression of the law? I know of no Biblical law that calls taking Vicodin every three hours instead of every four a sin. Do you mean to say that if I do not use Vicodin or Tramadol as prescribed that it is a sin and that I will not inherit the kingdom of God? I would assume that this means then that my place in the kingdom of heaven is determined by keeping such commands? Or can a person be a drug addict and a Christian? Can a person be physically dependent on drugs and still be a Christian? Your reasoning here seems quite subjective and culturally/socially driven. I assume if marijuana becomes legal everywhere, that you will have no problem with people smoking marijuana? What if they just use it relax, just like many Christians use music,food,alcohol, or even church, to relax?

      So many questions. :)


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