6 June 2017

Cannabis is good!

When God finished creating the world, we're told 'he saw all that he had made, and it was very good.' Genesis 1:31. A little earlier, when he had made vegetation, seed-bearing plants, trees, fruit trees etc it says, 'God saw that it was good.' Genesis 1:11-12. This would include the cannabis plant. Cannabis was not a product of 'the fall'.

Wrong use
In and of itself, it's not bad. The problem is not cannabis, but the way cannabis gets used by us. The problem is wrong use, irresponsible use, and harmful use of a good thing God has given us. It's our inability to use cannabis rightly and responsibly that has caused the government to restrict its use by law. We can't be trusted, so a law has had to be put in place to protect us.

This is really important, because it applies to all sorts of good things God has created, from all the earth's resources (water, wood, crops, oil etc) right through to things like sex. Sex is a gift of God in creation. Genesis 2:24. It's a good gift to be enjoyed.

Maker’s instructions
For most of the things God made, we have general guidelines from the Maker in the Bible about how those things should be rightly and responsibly used. But for a few things, the guidelines are much more specific - like the gift of sex. That's a gift specifically designed by God to be enjoyed exclusively in a lifelong marriage relationship between one man and one woman. God knows a lot of stuff, wants the best for us, and he's the person who invented sex, so we trust that this 'restriction' is wise and for our good. God is no kill-joy. He just wants his good gifts to be enjoyed rightly, as he intended.

Truly human
This also sheds light on what it means to be truly human, which is what it means to be a Christian. A Christian is someone who has turned from rebelliously running their own life in their own way without God's wisdom, and has turned back to God to govern every part of their lives with his loving wisdom. That loving wisdom is made fully known to us through God's Son Jesus Christ, both his teaching and his example. So, as we follow Jesus Christ, we gain the wisdom that enables the right and responsible enjoyment of all God's gifts to us in creation.

This is very liberating and exciting. He sets us free to explore and enjoy God's creation - to live life to the full as God intended. It makes us fully responsible people. I've been very struck recently, listening to the teaching of the Koran and the hadith, how Islam diminishes human responsibility by banning things we might be tempted by, rather than training us to enjoy God's good gifts rightly and responsibly.

Islam is like the 'religion' that was creeping into the early church, which the apostle Paul teaches against: 'Such teachings come through hypocritical liars, whose consciences have been seared as with a hot iron. They forbid people to marry and to eat certain foods, which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth. For everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, because it is consecrated by the word of God and prayer.'1 Timothy 4:2-5.

Jesus Christ
Jesus came to set us free. He sets us free from the sinful desires of our rebellious hearts, which lead us to make wrong and irresponsible use of the good things God has given us. He sets us free to become fully human, which means living under his loving rule, learning how to make right and responsible use of the good things God has given us, so we enjoy life to the full as God always intended, thankfully and to his praise.

What is more, Jesus died on a cross to pay the penalty of death that was owing to us for all the wrong, irresponsible and harmful use of the good things God has given us. Praise God for this good gift too - full forgiveness and the start of a new life through faith in Jesus Christ.

Simon Smallwood
Pastor at St George’s