We are supposed to be “reasoning together.” Jesus often taught through
parables in which
those hearing the parables had to reason from them. Therefore we may
disagree, but if we disagree,
there is no reason to become disagreeable and “demonize” those who
disagree with us.
Spiritual maturity in Christ demands an ability to reason together and
to arrive at different positions in
belief and different views without hating each other. After all we are
all in different stages of
grace. To think is a first step in grace, but to disagree with tolerance
is the second grace.
“Produce your cause, saith the Lord” (Isaiah 41:21 KJV) “bring forth your strong reasons.” We are being shown in scripture not only holy conclusions, but the method by which to investigate them.
My gripe is that often people in faith do not reason but tend to oversimplify to reduce reasoning because reasoning is a difficult thing for people to do. My experience has been grace moves as best it can only so far from where it is, so grace moves not perfectly at once nor as far as it might but is a “bettering” step.
When Jesus taught, He taught in one way to bring about a “conviction of sin” so that people might know they were sinners in need of moral redemption, but not expecting to be perfected in sinlessness. For example, Jesus taught people that adultery was sinful, but it was obvious He did not assume His teachings would wipe it out. He said those who had grace to hear, would hear and act. Those who did not have grace would not hear Him. And those acting ungracefully about it, as in traditionally casting stones to kill a woman caught in adultery, were told by Him that the one lacking any sin should cast the first stone. (John 8:7 KJV)
Now in history there have been those spiritually besotted and temporarily religiously intoxicated (not by God but by blind zeal) who have tried to force the grace they hear on others. An example would be the Spanish Inquisition. It is very wrong: to force your grace on others. It sours them on grace and embitters them. This is referred to in John 2:17, “the zeal of thine house has eaten me up.”
We should try to have a morally balanced faith by not forcing our grace on others. Nor should we act in an unbalanced way to deprive life of its pleasures. For example, when Jesus changed water to wine at the marriage of Cana, knowing the host had run out of wine, He well knew (not being a fool) that if He changed water to wine, some pathetic person there might probably get drunk on it. But should the pleasures of life be called off because a fool is present? I think not. If that were the case, sexuality would have to be banned, because it is a general blessing, but the pathetic misuse it.
My grandfather used to say that he did not drink because he liked it so much. This showed he understood Natural Law (Know Thyself) which is found as a universal belief buttressing all religions. He saw what was right for him might not be right for another.
My experience in the ministry has taught me many, many people would be far better off not to imbibe alcoholic beverages. That is good rule of thumb for them, but not as a law to be enforced on them. For we must keep a balanced faith and a reasoning one. Whatever we morally reason out for ourselves does not necessarily mean it has to be forced on others or made into law. We do not force our grace on others.
Prohibition in the 1920’s and 30’s was such an example of trying to force one’s grace on others. It was a disaster. Why? Because although well meaning, it did not take into account human nature. People are rarely changed by laws, they more usually are just driven underground. What many good people wanted to do was transform situations through law. But a mere change in laws does not necessarily transform people. It is more likely only to drive them underground where they become more dangerous. Eventually the people driven underground, their human nature untransformed and eternal, reemerge into the light.
People’s habits may be changed by flat, drab, literal community laws, but they will not be transformed by them. What Prohibition people voting for dryness wanted (being somewhat shallow in their thinking and also gravely overprotected from knowing the dark side of humanity by the glass bubbles of modem civilization) was a transformation they could not get through mere laws passed.
I do not preach this as the Word of God, but I do suggest that we may be doing for marijuana today what was done for Prohibition yesterday: encouraging a fiasco. I suggest for your moral thinking the legalization of marijuana with appropriate qualifications under community laws yet to be designated. This includes taxing.
I do not advocate for our moral “reasoning together” the legalization of any other form of drug. I think from counseling experience the laws on “crack, meth,” and other illegal drugs should be maintained. I say this from having counseled people under their influence. Whether the use of these other drugs will continue is not the question. They will. But I do not advocate you consider their legalization. Only marijuana.
I also point out to you that Amsterdam in the Netherlands is a city that has legalized marijuana. It is not like there are no cities that have not tried legalized marijuana and lived to tell the tale. Is the quality of life lower? No, I think the quality of life actually somewhat higher because the city has not been reduced to the level of Al Capone and his gang wars and such as Prohibition did in many places in the United States.
Of course I could be wrong here. That is not for me to say, but for you to determine according to your own conscience. As for the moral statements of the super churches and denominations, read them if you like. They are about the last things I read: boring editorializing passed out by groups of too liberal church bureaucrats.
The clergy controlling the Main Line Churches are usually too liberal to have much common sense. They been educated out of reality and the fundamentals of the faith. However, let me remind you. I am a fundamentalist who believes the Apostles Creed. I believe Jesus rose from the dead: sat up and shouted.
If there is anything I do not want to bring to you, it is the liberal view of a decadent American semi-established church conforming to a going down hill society that is morally and economically degenerating. I distrust the too liberal churches all the way in every way. The too liberal church of America is a rubber stamp of the decadent liberal establishment just as the Russian Church under the Tsars in 1917 was the decadent church rubber stamp of the government.
What any rubber stamp church says is beneath contempt. It should not be listened to. The liberal churches of America seem to me to be the rubber stamp of a decadent American society going down hill fast morally, doctrinally and economically. (Rubber stamp churches of any kind always mean super conventional non-think and dead conformity in ideas have taken over the churches. God is not leading. The conventional churches are passive reflections not of God but of a decadent society.)
That I have come to the same conclusion as some of the liberal churches on the legalization of marijuana (and marijuana only) bothers me. It seems one of the many ironies of God. However, to have one view in common with liberalism does not imply I have all views in common with liberalism. Far from it. It just shows to me that grace shines at some time nearly everywhere and even in the liberal mental garbage dumps of moral relativism, non-belief in a spiritual side of things, and bizarre causes.
But I see myself as a free thinker in God who does not flatter flesh nor follow any line item by item. For then where would be the freedom of the Christian man that Luther spoke of? Conservative believers must think on their own. Conservative belief does not imply only conventional thought.
I would not see religious causes and good people duped again by false laws as they were in Prohibition. I suggest declaring marijuana illegal is a similar mistake prompted by those who may mean well trying to force grace on others, which is often a mistake as the Spanish Inquisition showed.
Marijuana does not seem to me the same as others drugs. Why should we have our jails filled with people for indulging in it? Why should the government not get tax from it? Marijuana seems to me to be as dangerous as alcohol but no more dangerous than alcohol. In fact it seems be less dangerous than alcohol in certain situations. I am certainly not advocating the usage of it. I would suggest no one take it for other than medicinal purposes such as that suggested for wine in I Timothy 5:23. But do we have the right to frustrate what may be a grace to other people in relaxation and medicine and forbid it?
If you do not agree with me on this, that’s okay. Don’t get nervous. It is not unanimity of intellect, but unanimity of love that holds the churches together. The family of God is no different than any other family. There are going be disagreements. What we have to watch out for is not disagreeing but becoming dysfunctional because of disagreements.
I speak to you on this issue out of an affectionate concern. I would not see such a bad mistake as a “prohibition law mistake” once made by good people repeated. I think we are doing this in the marijuana laws. Let us rather pray for grace that we may learn in this from history so we do not repeat the same mistake twice or even over and over again.
Come let us reason together. “See, and know, and consider, and understand” (Isaiah 41:20 KJV)
Dr. James MacLeod may be contacted through the Neill Macaulay Foundation.