Mark Driscoll’s “Puff or Pass?” On Recreational Marijuana

Mark Driscoll, controversial pastor of Seattle-based Mars Hill Megachurch marks the legalization of recreational use of marijuana in Washington with the publication of a brochure that asks the question “Should Christians smoke pot or not?”

Previously labeled by some as the “cussing” pastor due to the strong language used in some sermons and for showing unedited R-rated movies in his congregation, Driscoll now tosses up the equivalent of “Should Christians get high or not?” or “Should Christians dip into the habits of this world or not?”

He states that up until now his answer was always NO to marijuana based on Romans 13, explaining that it was an illegal drug.

But now… recreational marijuana is legal in Seattle!

Apparently that changes everything! 🙂

His 38 page brochure introduces the issue of smoking pot by making the following comparison:

“Some things are neither illegal (forbidden by government in laws) nor sinful (forbidden by God in Scripture), but they are unwise. For example, eating a cereal box instead of the food it contains is not illegal or sinful—it’s just foolish. This explains why the Bible speaks not only of sin, but also folly, particularly in places such as the book of Proverbs. There are innumerable things that won’t get you arrested or brought under church discipline, but they are just foolish and unwise…”

At the end of the brochure he endorses a position where he advocates against the use of recreational marijuana and is open for its medicinal uses (without questioning the motives for such medicinal use because he is not a medical doctor).

My main concern is not with his position.  It is with the fact that he does not label “getting high” as a sin, unlike pastor Douglas Wilson who labels it sin (quoted extensively in the brochure).  By implying that marijuana use is unwise, but not necessarily sinful, he leaves the door open for someone to think that getting high on pot may be OK.  This is especially problematic given the population of troubled kids that he ministers to.

He states he would strongly urge his 5 children not to use pot.  But I would have loved to see him make a strong statement forbidding his kids from getting high because it is sinful behavior, based on biblical principles:

“Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God” (Galatians 5:19-21).

The word sorcery in verse 20 is translated from the greek word pharmakeia.  It refers specifically to the use and administration of mind altering drugs for the purpose of getting high or inducing trance.

Also, we cannot engage in sinful behavior as the world does:  “Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think” (Romans 12:2) NLT.

Marijuana, cocaine, heroin, propofol, etc are inanimate objects that do not constitute sin in themselves… but the motives, cravings, effects and behavioral changes associated with their recreational use constitute sin.

Given the mind altering properties of marijuana, the sinful behavior associated with it, the main motives for its use, and the sinful situations used in, the godly answer to Driscoll’s question “Puff or Pass?” is definitely “Pass.”

19 comments on “Mark Driscoll’s “Puff or Pass?” On Recreational Marijuana

  1. totally disagree with Driscoll on this. I remember James MacDonald preaching even against taking leagal prescription drugs to numb yourself from the world, or drinking for the same reason. He said it was tantamount to showing up God and the situation He was using in your life to speak to you and how dare you ignore God by getting high off pills of drink?? Well, I would say it applies even more so to pot.
    I ve seen smart people ruin their lives during my high school years smoking it. Sadly, many had parents who also smoked it in their own rebellious youth.

    • So many youth look up to Driscoll… a lot more than we may think… It may be his rogue style that attracts them… He has a very large “flat-screen” church here in my neighborhood where people gather to have a rock worship set followed by his televised sermon. It’s a new wave of church atmosphere.

      On the marijuana issue, Doug Willson comes down hard on those who say that the Bible does not necessarily prohibit one from getting high:

      Wilson also has words for those who point out that,
      while Paul explicitly says not to get drunk with wine,
      he does not directly prohibit getting a buzz from
      marijuana. “This is a good illustration of the legalistic,
      hair-splitting mindset of those who are attached to
      their sin,”

  2. Chris,
    I don;t think anyone could blame this preacher for smoking pot…Come’on, I never smoked pot, nor drank nor smoked before I became a Christian…lol
    You dont need to be a Christian in order to abstain from insanity….

    • Right, Val. We shouldn’t need to write such articles. We shouldn’t need to tell people that it is a sin to get high. The problem is that some immature Christians are looking for a reason to sin and influential pastors like Driscoll are not helping the situation when they present a lukewarm picture of sin. Not everyone has reached that maturity in the Spirit and not everyone can discern a sin if it is not spelled out in the Bible… I know…. It’s a sad thing

  3. yes ..Wilson makes good points but.. one of his arguments is that marijuana is a sin and alcohol is not ,because marijuana stays in your system 7 days and alcohol only an hour or two….reminds me of the abortion issue: a person becomes a person base on the location…..if the baby is inside the woman or outside…

  4. to add to this conversation, I can’t believe Pat Robertson is in favor of the legalization of marijuana- I think his age has really affected his mind in the last few years…
    but I also wanted to share a couple of funny, but valid points I read in some of the comments in a thread on this same subject.
    …one person wrote that God gave us dominion over everything on the earth-inclding all plants and since God made marijuana plants and God made everything good- therefore why not use marijuana?
    and two of the responses he got were
    (1) Yes, and we have dominion over poisoned berries, but it’s not wise to eat them since they can hurt, or even kill us
    and a second person responded
    (2) God made the branches of the tree too, but if I were to take that branch and use it the wrong way, to beat someone to death with it, that wouldn’t be a good thing, nor permitted

    I think those are a couple of good points in this debate, a debate which I can’t believe christians are even having.

    • It is really funny how far some so called Christians go to justify the deeds of the flesh… Cocaine and morphine are also naturally occurring compounds, and I wonder if they make the same argument for those. These are the ones who tend to have some universalist inclinations even in their teachings.

  5. As usual, I am making my grand entrance into this conversation long after the party has finished. But I wanted to share these two sites with you DIT:

    Both sites are run by Dr Paul Elliott of the Metropollitan Tabernacle in London (Spurgeon’s old haunt). He is under the guidance of his wonderful pastor of 30 or so years Dr Peter Masters, and also writes with other mature Christians. There are excellent articles challenging the teachings, behaviours and associations of some of the most influential evangelicals of our time. Dr Elliott also wrote some outstanding articles on the emergent teachings of Dr Tim Keller, one of which is in my archives somewhere. The Sword and Trowel magazine from the Tabernacle website is also excellent:

    Since my introduction to Mark Driscoll, John Piper and Tim Keller, I have been profoundly uncomfortable with their theological writings and things I have seen them say (or avoid) in interviews. The more I study God’s word, the more unpalatable their teachings become. Mark Driscoll in particular, has written an awful book on marriage. Truly, it is awful. I have no problem with the biblical model of marriage and church life, with women in submission to godly men, But his model ain’t it. And he ain’t godly. Ughh, it took me a while for my skin to stop crawling.

    I would be interested in your thoughts on these three in particular. I know you work with young adults, and these guys are huge with young adults and new pastors. I have much reason to believe they are wolves though, which is a huge thing to say, especially against Dr Keller. I don’t say it lightly.

    Anyway, I just figured you probably didn’t have enough to read already. 🙂

    • Driscoll rubs me the wrong way bigtime. They call him the ‘cussing’ pastor because he let loose at the pulpit in the past. His book mentions things that should just stay private. Not cool. Seems obsessed with things gravitating around sex… not a good quality in a pastor.

      I do not know much about Keller.

      Piper is Ok. I read some books by him and they are useful. He is most famous for Desiring God. He is baptist reformed with slight charismatic tendencies (not Bethel, Redding type… quite the opposite). He has been criticized for preaching at Passion frequently and sharing the stage with the likes of Jesus Culture and rappers like Lecrae. I can overlook that for now. Give him a chance… 🙂

  6. Actually, my beef is not with John Piper, but just thought I would draw your attention to his affiliations if you weren’t aware. Just one to watch, as clearly anyone can be led astray. I am mightily encouraged by the fact that he offers ALL of his books as free ebook downloads. Just go to his store at Desiring God. Amazing. Unheard of, even. I have got all of them, and have read a few. But still, I just watch carefully. His affiliations make me nervous.

    Dr Tim Keller is hugely influential in conservative evangelical circles here in Australia. With some people, even raising a quizzical eyebrow at the mention of his name (usually in response to him being spoken of as if he were the evangelical pope) results in a strong emotional reaction. Yet if you check out his church website (Redeemer Presbyterian), even before listening to a sermon (most of which you have to pay for, by the way), you will see that it is as emergent as you can get without signing up to Rob Bell and Brian McLaren’s road to the apparently non-existent hell. Hmmm. He seems about ready to roll over on the homosexuality issue, and preaches a clear ‘social gospel’ that is growing weaker by the year. He is highly educated and well-respected, and incredibly skilled at sounding othodox. I read his stuff a while back, and personally found his writings and sermons like all emergent writing, cotton candy. Lots of promise but not real food. He just quotes more scripture. He may yet turn from that though, but for now I see big problems in both his teachings and influence.

    We are in complete agreement about Driscoll, I see.

    Anyway, just giving you the heads up and links to more great resources. Not concerned that you might lack discernment…no sir! I just find that when the world loves a pastor (see Rick Warren for more details, lol), there is usually a reason for that. And since the church is full of the world, it gives me pause for thought occasionally. Blessings to you, in Christ Jesus!

      • Thanks for the encouragement. Chronic illness and being an at-home mum gives me lots of time to read and research. The Lord is kind in letting me use this time in my life, and the skills he gave me, for His good, rather than my own evil. It is partly why I try not to have too much of my own opinion on the blog. Just enought to let people know who I am and where I stand. But honestly, it is the amazing work of many believers that I draw together as a central resource for others. I do, however, enjoy sharing my opinions at other people’s blogs. LOL 🙂

  7. After reading the comments about weed being “mind-altering” and that being reason enough for some to dismiss it’s sanctity, I have one question: Who gave marijuana its Highness?

    • Hmm… I have no idea about the Highness. Also, I have never heard of the sanctity of marijuana.

      But then again, I have never used this particular natural product. I’m more of the closed-minded types 🙂

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