(1 Tim. 4:4) Does the Bible condone drug use?

CLAIM: Advocates of drug use argue that “everything created by God is good” and “nothing is to be rejected if it is received with gratitude” (1 Tim. 4:4; c.f. Gen. 1:29). Since God created marijuana and hallucinogenic mushrooms, advocates of drug use argue that it would be wrong to reject God’s glorious creation.

RESPONSE: There are a number of problems with this interpretation:

First, it doesn’t fit the context. In context, Paul is arguing against those who forbid marriage and certain foods (v.3). He is not referring to those who forbid drug use! Moreover, Genesis 1:29 refers to before the Fall –not after. Humans had free reign before the Fall with the exception of openly rebelling against God (Gen. 2:16-17). Therefore, this passage is also being ripped from its original context.

Second, while God’s creation is good, the use of his creation is not always good. For example, animals were created by God, and they are good. However, God didn’t create animals with the intention that they would become sex objects (Ex. 22:19; Lev. 18:23; 20:15). Imagine if someone said, “Everything created by God is good. Therefore, I’m going to go have sex with that sheep over there…” This would be a misuse of God’s good creation. In the same way, God created poison berries, poison ivy, crownvetch, nightshade, poinsettia, and hemlock. However, these should not be used for eating, but instead for some other purposes. Likewise, by smoking marijuana, we are misusing God’s good creation –not using it.

Third, the Bible explicitly speaks about being sober-minded. In 1 Peter 5:8, we read, “Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” The Greek word for “sober” is nēphō. Throughout the NT, this word is used in the context of being “alert and sober” (1 Thess. 5:6), being “sober in all things” (2 Tim. 4:5), and having “sound judgment and sober spirit” (1 Pet. 4:7).

Fourth, the Bible explicitly speaks about refraining from drunkenness. In Ephesians 5:18, we read, “And do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit.” Elsewhere, Paul speaks in harsh terms about “drunkards” (1 Cor. 5:11; 6:10). This strong language –given in the context of church discipline –alerts us to the fact that drunkenness is serious to God. While drinking alcohol is certainly permitted in the Bible (1 Tim. 5:23), drunkenness is not. While it is possible to have a drink without getting drunk, it is impossible to use marijuana or mushrooms without getting high. While alcohol is a depressant, marijuana is a psychoactive drug (i.e. a psychedelic drug) and mushrooms are hallucinogenic. While marijuana use is not explicitly named in the Bible, neither is crack cocaine use. However, this would still fall under the biblical imperative of being sober.