This last year marijuana became legal for recreational purposes in our state. And because our churches have done such a poor job in our discipleship we have no good answer as to the place that weed should have in the life of a follower of Christ.
For too long we have lazily relied on a shallow understanding of spirital formation and extolled behavior management. Because we used to live in a culture that had deep roots in a Judeo-Christian worldview, we could simply say, "A good Christian obeys the law of the land." But now that the laws are changing we are forced to take another look at our morality in light of our spiritual formation, not in light of the laws of the land or what is culturally acceptable.
With that being said, I had an interesting study in Romans 14 the other day with some friends and wanted to share a helpful paradigm in discerning right from wrong in an amoral culture.
Here are a couple of thoughts on what we love in this passage:
1) I am fully convinced that nothing is unclean. Wow, what a great freedom! I mean, everything, even weed. It is not unclean, in itself. Great. It is too bad that this one verse is the beginning and end of a "rules based" way to understand morality. But we are called to not live by rules, but by the spirit. And where the Spirit is, there is Freedom! All things are permissible, to the clean all things are clean, I am fully convinced that nothing is unclean. Let's Go!
2) Lets lay off judging one another who have different convictions. Again, people love this part of this passage. Tolerance, non-judgemental, live and let live. Love it! But before we get too excited, we must relook at the scripture and recognize that this doesn't let us off the hook in our moral choices and is a shield for others to not judge you, rather it is a correction for you to not judge others. That is two different things. You need to always have a critical eye on yourself and on your choices, allowing others access to correct and sharpen you. This is simply about you getting off your high horse (literally and figuratively) in either your legalism or in your freedom.
Here are a couple of thoughts on a helpful framework for working out our morality in this passage:
1) We serve Jesus first. Earlier in this chapter (vs 8) Paul says that if we live, we live for the Lord. Jesus is our master. We live in a context where we love that Jesus is our best friend, our brother, our lover, our therapist. But each of these images serves only to keep us and our needs at center stage. But this is not the true order of the world. Jesus is LORD, and we are his servants, and we follow his example, which is one of serving and humility. When we change our sights from our rights to serving Jesus the landscape changes dramatically.
2) We serve others, even if it means sacrificing our freedoms. And here is where the rubber meets the road. Jesus is invisible, so we can easily manipulate what it means to serve Jesus, even as our Master. But when other people, with real-life flesh and blood, are in front of us, and we are to submit our freedoms to their sensibilities, then we are wrestling with the real, and high calling of Jesus. Think how differently our decisions would be, especially around self-serving decisions and the decisions that center on our own pleasure or comfort in light of the sensibilities of the community in which we are connected. If I am free to make decision A, and I am convinced that in my walk with Jesus it is ok, but that decision will crush someone in my community or cause them to stumble, then I am called to be a slave to them, not a slave to my freedom.
3) The fruit of this morality is clear. How do you know if you are living rightly? How do you know if these decisions are in line with the morality that we have been called to by Jesus? (Even the wide gray oceans in which we live where it seems like, truly, everything is permissible?) The answer is, "What is the fruit?" Usually, the fruit of your own selfishness, of your own pleasure, of your own comfort, leads to rotten fruit. But if you are living in a way where Jesus is your master and you are to be a slave to your sisters and brothers, then the fruit will be RIGHTEOUSNESS, PEACE, AND JOY!
Why not give it a chance and see what happens? :)