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Ask the Pastor

† Theological musings and answers to selected questions by a confessional Lutheran pastor.






23 February 2011

Alcohol, Marijuana, and the College Student


Q: I’m a college student that has never smoked and has never been drunk. I feel strongly against getting drunk so I always stop drinking when I feel myself begin to drift off a little bit.

I have two questions. First, is it wrong to drink and not get drunk while at a party? The reason why I drink is not to escape problems or because I need alcohol to have fun. I do it occasionally because I do enjoy the socializing and games that are associated with it; is that wrong?

Second, is it wrong to smoke marijuana if the intent is not to escape troubles? If alcohol is acceptable to consume as long as the intent isn’t misuse, why wouldn’t marijuana be the same since it’s not a hallucinogenic substance? I’ve had friends tell me weed helps them focus and relax, and that doesn’t seem like an “evil” substance to me.


Wine GlassA: You’ll not find many self-professed Lutherans who promote alcoholic abstinence. Most of us take the attitude that moderate use of a legal substance is not wrong. We read in Scripture that God used wine not only sacramentally (as the means of giving His Son’s blood for us to drink) but also celebratorily, as in the Passover celebration and at the wedding in Cana.

Note that the first two of these examples involve religious celebration while the final is essentially secular. Yet even at this party, the Lord Himself provides wine ... good wine ... lots of good wine! He realized that most of the guests would drink enough to elevate their already high spirits and some might even go too far, yet He gave it as His gift.

Of course, He didn’t force it on anyone who didn’t want to drink and He certainly didn’t encourage anyone drinking to do so to oblivion. He also didn’t have to worry that one of the guests would leave the party bombed and drive his car into a minivan full of children, nor was he providing alcohol contrary to the law of the land.

Now when you as about drinking as “a college student,” I realize that traditional students don’t normally reach the legal age for alcohol consumption until sometime during their junior years. Are you asking about drinking as a minor, contrary to state law (and maybe campus rules, as well)? If so, I cannot approve — nor does Scripture. For even if it’s not “fair” or if younger people can drink in other countries, your “governing authorities” to whom God requires you to “be subject (Romans 13:1)” say otherwise.

Reefer, JointCurrent marijuana laws make the answer even more simple, in response to your second question: “Yes, it’s wrong. Period.” Even if pot’s benefits completely overshadowed its liabilities (and the debate is open on this), those “governing authorities” have said, “Thou shalt not do weed, neither shalt thou grow it nor shalt thou distribute it.” And the apostle, inspired by the Holy Spirit, says, “That’s the breaks.” Or something like that.

Of course, if marijuana were legal here, as it is in some countries, you’d need to do a lot more research. For one thing, does weed really help you “focus and relax”? Relax? Quite likely — unless you’re smoking it illegally. Then, it might make you paranoid about getting busted. Focus? Um, yeah, but likely more on water dripping from a faucet, fish swimming in an aquarium, or a repetitious drum riff on the stereo than on your calculus homework.

Also, contrary to what you’ve been told, marijuana is classified as an hallucinogen — albeit mild compared to substances such as LSD. However, even the weed available when I was in college could actively deceive your perceptions and most of what’s sold and used now has much higher THC levels.

See previous articles, including Christian Use of Drugs and Alcohol, Two Wines? Too Much!, and Mushrooms: Magic or Menace? as you continue to think about what’s allowed and what’s truly profitable for you. You can also get a good look a the Scripture vs. moralism arguments in Father Hollywood’s Alcohol, Christianity, and Truth.

I hope this helps you determine what is good and right for you — both now, as a student, and later, as you continue living a responsible Christian life as an adult. God bless you.

Scripture quoted from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version™, © 2001 by Crossway Bibles.

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Walter Snyder is a Lutheran pastor, conference speaker, author of the book What Do Lutherans Believe, and writer of numerous published devotions, prayers, and sermons.

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7 Comments:

Anonymous northern lights yield said...

I can't answer you from a religious perspective, but I can tell you my own opinion: getting drunk is not my idea of having fun and I will tell you why. When you drink too much alcohol, you practically numb your brain which is not a good thing in my opinion. Smoking marijuana is considered to be an altered state of mind without numbing your brain, but just flipping a switch that allows you to perceive things in a different way. Now you are old enough to make your own choices.

03 August, 2011 13:07  
Anonymous ziare iasi said...

I have to agree with the above comment. Alcohol is actually not healthy for your body and can have negative effects over time. Marijuana is not that bad, but I have to be honest and say that smoking marijuana can be bad because the inhaled smoke will affect your lungs. But using marijuana in a different way can prove to be beneficial. Of course, using marijuana means to have a certain limit and not crossing that. One of my friends from evenimentul iasi is a constant user with a respected limit and he is very ok.

26 August, 2011 09:14  
Blogger MM_McGee said...

Okay, I understand that Paul--the Roman convert who never knew Jesus and paved the way for the most vicious empire in history, an empire that took the cross of Jesus into all its bloodshed and praised God for raining death and destruction on the West--said the people should obey the law.

Question: Were the abolitionists who broke a little law call the Fugitive Slave Act in order to help run the Underground Railroad morally wrong? In heaven, would God actually say, "I might give you a nicer mansion, but you should have obeyed the laws of the slavery."

I mean, if the law is right and we're not supposed to break it, nobody should even have opposed slavery. Nobody should have resisted the draft in the 1960s. Heck, even the Lutherans who advocate gay marriage are advocating something currently against the law. How about marching on Selma? That was illegal. Ghandi did a ton of illegal things. For that matter, SO DID LUTHER.

So, I'm just curious. Is it really Lutheran doctrine that the government is always right? I mean, given that the law is so often in direct opposition to the Sermon on the Mount? If you saw the inside of the prison industrial complex and realized the extent to which drug laws make that complex possible, would you still be prepared to say that the State is right and should be obeyed here.

20 May, 2012 08:45  
Anonymous arizona marijuana said...

A good advice for me. I do believe in it.

13 May, 2013 05:58  
Blogger blake brockmann said...

will people go to hell for smoking marijuana

24 November, 2016 15:51  
Anonymous cannabis seeds usa said...

MJ one love ;)

17 November, 2017 03:24  
Blogger Maroffka said...

http://napasechnik.com - seeds.

17 November, 2017 03:28  

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