Although recreational marijuana remains illegal at a federal level, many states have chosen to no longer view it as a Schedule 1 drug, i.e. one with the potential for a high level of abuse. This is the case in my state. However, it is left up to the individual communities whether or not to allow its sale and use.
The encroachment of marijuana into general acceptance in this current age has many comparing it with alcohol and prohibition back in the 1920s. There may be some similarities, but I can only view the public’s willingness to approve of altered states of consciousness and impaired thinking as good things being just one more indication of the latter days in which we live.
On a recent Tuesday evening, our city council met to vote on allowing marijuana sales and grow facilities in the community. Prior to that our church was alerted to this fact and urged by a concerned citizen to attend the meeting and push back against the regulation that would allow, and even encourage, greater marijuana presence in town. Although this affects everyone, and every believer in our church should have turned out against this, only five of us showed up.
At the initial public comments time on the meeting agenda, several of us spoke against approval of the regulation. As a pastor answerable to God, one of my points dealt with His condemnation of partaking in anything having to do with sorcery, witchcraft, and drunkenness as seen in the lists in Deuteronomy 18 and Galatians 5; pharmakeia being the operative Greek word behind the occult practices. In both the Old and New Testaments God has clearly stated how despicable each of these things is to Him. We’re not to engage in anything that alters our minds or impairs our judgment. Mind altering drugs lower people’s defenses to the incursion of demonic forces as well as encourage people to further pursue those things which are not of God. You can imagine how well those points went over with some of the folks on the city council.
It was evident as discussion ensued among the council members prior to the vote that the majority were inclined to approve the regulation to allow marijuana in greater measure to invade the community. However, due to the fact that several of us came to express reasoned opposition, the regulation was tabled and sent back to a working committee for further consideration. How they could think further conversation could change the fact that marijuana is a gateway drug, that it will increase the incidents of operating while intoxicated leading to greater policing presence, and that it is contrary to the stated purpose of the council to oversee the health and safety of the community is a mystery.
But, in reality, it’s no mystery. Lawlessness is increasing dramatically in the world. As Isaiah 5:20 warns:
Woe to those who call evil good
and good evil,
who put darkness for light
and light for darkness,
who put bitter for sweet
and sweet for bitter!
Thus, where there might have been a time that the fear of God would have been a factor in the decision of these council members, there was apparently little of that.
In all this, I couldn’t help but think of the incidents of lack of faith in the Bible and where they led. We see in Mark 6:5-6 that Jesus can do few miracles in His hometown because there was so little faith. People didn’t believe He was who it was obvious that He was. Perhaps no one came to Him for healing and that’s the reason He healed so few.
In 2 Kings 13:14-19 we see another incident of lack of faith. An ailing Elisha is brought into King Joash’s presence. The king asks for a sign or assurance that Israel will prevail against the Syrians. Elisha tells the king to take a handful of arrows and pound them on the ground. He does, but only three times. Elisha rebukes him, saying that if he had been more fervent and pounded the arrows five or six times, complete victory would have been assured. As it was, victory would only come three times.
This brings us back to the city council meeting. If we hadn’t shown up and pushed back against the darkness, it would have prevailed. It is highly likely the council members all thought it was a good idea to license marijuana in the community. The fact that five of us showed up and spoke against it was enough to stop approval that night. A few people of faith, God’s people standing in the gap, was enough to halt progress of the regulation for the time being. If some number more, perhaps ten to fifteen believers had come, might the outcome have been complete victory for the ways of God?
For that meeting, we’ll never know. Presumably, we’ll have another opportunity. The parallel, however, to the Scriptural incidents is striking. A few people of faith come to Jesus, and He can only do a few miracles. Only a few arrows are taken in response to the prophet’s words and only partial victory is attained.
The Bible tells us definitively that the time is coming when lawlessness will reign supreme once the true church is removed from the earth in the Rapture. In the meantime, although darkness is closing in all around, believers do have the means and often the opportunity to keep it at bay. Edmund Burke’s secular admonition many years ago certainly applies today to the church:
“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.”
When the church do nothing, when we fail to stand against evil, it will encroach even more. How sad that God’s people fail to do that which He has called us to be: salt and light to a lost and dying world.