Weed Smoking Volunteers

by ShaunKing on February 23, 2009 · 113 comments

joint I recently learned from one of the volunteers @ The Courageous Church that they have a “casual” marijuana smoking habit.  I posed to the Twitter & Facebook community the question of what exactly my response should be to this admission and the answers were pretty doggone passionate and as varied as, “that person has to go” to “what’s wrong with smoking a joint”.  Passionate enough for us to open up the discussion here so that we can really get to the heart of the matter.

Let me pose the question again – how do you think I should respond to this new knowledge that I have? Remove the person from the position they hold? Coach them out of the habit? Just pray for them and keep moving?

What do you think?

  • http://www.30tocure30.com 30tocure30

    The word that stuck out when you described the situation if the volunteers description of having a "casual" habit. When I hear someone use the word casual it is often to describe some habit they enjoy and don't see as a big deal. Switch out joint for something other vice or struggle like pornography, sex, gambling, foul language, anger, etc. What casual struggles are we willing to overlook and which ones would raise a red flag that we'd have to have a serious discussion over being in a leadership position. Even though the individual is a volunteer this person still holds influence…..right?

    With that said, I don't know how I would handle the situation….these are just ramblings running through my head….

  • http://www.franklinlifechurch.blogspot.com Patrick Moore

    This is tough Shaun. I would say I would have a hard time keeping them in leadership, if they were. The main thing is hopefully they would see it's wrong and move towards overcoming using at all. Bottom line is, pot is illegal. People can debate about how it's used, etc… but it's illegal.
    The world is messy…we are all messy and have issues. This one is a more taboo thing, but its still wrong. Not any different than occasionally sinning at something else. It's still wrong.
    I would have to confront and get it out in the open and go from there, just as I would hope a brother would confront me about an issue in my life. Confronting with love and concern to help.
    Still tough. I know its not easy. You got me really stirring on this one as to how I would handle this. Very tough indeed.
    Not sure if I helped but just sharing honest thoughts.
    Be blessed. Keep bringing "It" to the people of ATL. Lots pf love and prayers from the Mountains of western NC going out to Courageous! Church!

  • http://www.sammahlstadt.blogspot.com Sam Mahlstadt

    casual, to me, represents something that is short of an addiction, and could be stopped at any time. So, if weed is illegal, I think the answer is pretty clear. You can't encourage illegal behavior, no matter what anyone's thoughts on whether it SHOULD be legal, that's not our call. "Obey the laws of the land." I think that a casual use of pot signifies someone not wanting to let go of something, probably deeper than a bag of weed. I am interested in how you are going to handle this. Keep up the good work in ATL. Praying for you and Courageous.

  • Sam Mahlstadt

    by the way, I have the shirt that you are wearing in your profile pic…good style

  • Calvinist from Kali

    Can play this game too?

    I casually sleep around.
    I casually cuss at children.
    I casually take from the till.
    I casually spit on the sidewalk.
    I casually beat my wife.
    I casually litter.
    I casually gossip.
    I casually find ways to evade taxes.
    I casually run stop signs.

    If you want to follow Jesus' example, I'd suggest the following: Matthew 18:16

    I think you missed a step.

  • Bill Murphy

    My post from Facebook: I understand that using marijuana is illegal. I guess the question is, how did you find out? Was he using on church grounds? Casual conversation and that came up? Looking at alcohol versus marijuana, marijuana makes you high a lot quicker than alcohol. So looking at it as someone with a drinking problem, you'd get them help before expelling them, right?

  • Mary Held

    If I were in your shoes, upon getting this knowledge I would seek the wisdom of the authorities God has placed over me and not the opinion of the general public. Others reading this may know, or suspect, who you are talking about and this may expose him/her. (perhaps many now remember someone who's eyes were red…. "Could it be him? Could it be her?" )

    I think a blog about "what it means to be a volunteer" and the responsiblities that come with that would be approriate, and you could address behaviors and expectations in that way (thereby pointing out what is not acceptable without using a specific person/situation as the public discussion) Or a training class for volunteers so before they start they know what is expected.

    The person you are speaking of could see this and get condemned and never return to give you the opportunity to coach them in the way that is right.

    I defintely think it needs to be addressed. I would seek godly counsel to determine the best approach. Whatever you do, it needs to be done in love so they know THEY are not rejected, just the behavior.

  • Bill Murphy

    And talking about the validity of something versus law…how about adultery. Thou shalt not commit adultery. But you wouldn't necessarily kick your wife or husband out of the marriage for it. This is where counseling should step in…

  • http://www.crucialencounter.com Andy McMahon

    Bill,

    I get what you're saying, and I agree, kinda. I don't think 'kick him out' is really a good term. One thing to remember, In a marriage, vows have been made.

    Dude (or chick) is smoking weed. The question should really be, how do we love this guy enough? What should we do? Is loving this person asking them to temporarily step down from ministry? Maybe it is. Is loving this person enough telling them, their 'step down' is as long as they choose to smoke weed? yeah. I think so. Is loving this person offering them counseling, support, love and anything else they may need while trying to kick this 'casual' habit. yes. But allowing them to remain in ministry is enabling them.

  • Jinean

    Agreed. It is just as bad as any other sin. I would hope that there is help to assist getting to the root of why and heal from there. I think everyone is at a different point in their walk and helping someone to see why it's not cool is the best answer. Just kicking someone to the curb because of sin to me is not the answer, what about healing and recovery–if we are all thrown out because of our issues concealed and open I think churches would be empty places. Who knows, maybe they can change and though help of the church body get closer to God. The notion that church holds "perfect" people or that my sin is less than yours has gotten the insitiutuion of church in a sticky predicament of imperfect people either staying outside it's doors because they don't have it together, or masking any sin and entering its doors with a fake personna as opposed to being real and then through this being able to TRULY be anew–not just front.

  • http://www.kiyministries.org George Dorton

    The volunteer has to be corrected in LOVE. While it is great that this person has a passion to volunteer and help get your ministry up and going you also have a God given mandate to shepheard them and that includes correction (one of my least fav things to do as a pastor) but since the issue has been brought to your attention you must address it. But at the same time, you do want to keep that person encoureged to keep coming to church and receiving what they need in order to become delivered from that habit, addiction, or whatever and of course letting them know that they can resume volunteering after some time has gone by. If done in a correct manner the volunteer will not become offended but will see that their pastor loves them and cares not only for what they can do for the church but also that they are living a life that is pleasing to God.

    …but since this is on the blog won't everyone know that they were the person who got busted for their weed habit after they are no longer volunteering anymore???

  • Mac

    It seems as if we are expecting people to be perfect when they get to us. The courageous thing would be to allow the brother to continue to serve. Some things lend themselves to interpretation. Weed is not a big deal in a casual manner. But if you are church only 2 months old what kind of people were you expecting. These are the reasons people can't stand church because of these judgmental ways. What is church leadership? Is there and standard divide?

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/Art_Good Art_Good

    The guy is testing you. He wants to see how you will react, that is why he told you. Love him, allow him to serve, but serve notice that smoking weed is illegal, and if he is to continue to serve he needs to stop. Real love confronts the problem and doesn't overlook it while extending grace and compassion.

    Also let him know if he comes to church high he immediately disqualifies himself from serving.

  • http://www.soulpundit.com/blog ken

    My understanding of the Courageous church was raising up a community of believers to be courageous and make the tough choices that seem easy. To be able to stand up against criticism and ridicule

    Of course there should be a policy to determine how we principally deal with all such things, not just this offense. I think first and foremost is the consideration of harm to others. Our duty is to protect our people. Do they pose a threat that requires removal to protect others say in the instance of sexual or physical abuse?

    Barring this as you pointed out Sunday, the 12 disciples were no where near perfect and they walked with Jesus. Jesus didn't come to be justified by men but to fight on a principled basis for those who all of society considered as outcasts. He didn't win any popularity contests. He saw the value in what others wanted to throw away.

    Aren't we talking about crazy love? How in the world can we even utter these words if we don't gather round and support that person. Most people abuse substances because there is something else missing. It's called self medication. You take medicine when you're sick. I was hoping we were building a spiritual hospital to take those individuals in, nurse them back to health and add another devotee to what we are pushing for.

    Working with someone who has an addiction of any kind may not look nice and it may not be pretty, but Jesus loved us enough to come for us when we were at our worst. That individual needs to declare their intention of being in or out. From there I say you counsel them on a regular bases. The should be prepared to be honest about their use, and we should be honest about our expectations and prepare to chalk them into our success column, not the wastebasket.

  • http://pisforpanda.com Chad

    Shaun, and everyone else.

    I am not a pot smoker. I dont see the point. I do not want people smoking pot in my house, etc etc.

    But using the "its illegal" card as your arguement to the reason why its morally wrong is such a moot point to me. Let me pose these questions…

    1. Wasn't believing in Christ illegal a few hundred years ago and a crime punishable by being put to death as a sport?

    2. Or how about interracial dating/marriage – thats was ILLEGAL in many states here in the US until a few decades ago. So is that morally wrong? I for sure dont think so.

    Church should = love.

    Church should be a safe place to air WHO we are, scars and all. Not a place were we put on our sundays best and act like everything is fine. New flash. Everything is not fine, and WE ALL STRUGGLE with stuff. To say we need to throw this person out of the church or leadership is, to me, what is wrong with the Church. We are quick to judge, very very very slow to love.

  • Mac

    I like Chad. He is right.

  • http://www.philunderwood.com phil underwood

    Shaun, et al…. As a pastor who has been at this for too long, the issue is NOT marijuana. It is about pursuit. When we go forward in faith, especially in places where we represent (not necessarily lead) we have to make choices. The further along the Christ-like corridor the more choices we make to give up rights. As Paul said, 'everything is lawful, but not everything is profitable.' As a discipler, not a LEADER/PASTOR I would not make 'weed' the issue. I would gently take this person(s) under my care, pay attention and ask them questions about their pursuit of Jesus, about how they want to impact people in and around their life, about what they think the Bible means when it gives us directives about preferring others over ourselves, offending the faith of others, the wide way and the narrow way. I would tell them about choices you had to make along the pathway of following the way of Jesus…why you chose to say no to things that did not hinder YOUR faith, but could hinder others. How you sought to serve rather than be served. Pray with them, out loud, that the Holy Spirit would show them things. In fact, do this in a volunteer meeting with EVERYONE first. Disciple, disciple, disciple!!!!! You are a shepherd of sheep. Teach by helping them observe. Immerse them in Jesus, in the Fatherhood of God and the awareness that the HS can enable them to make any choice for the greater good and not for self!

    Phil

    P.S. Always available here

  • http://www.aloneinatlanta.blogspot.com Soamazin

    Thumbs up Phil. Thumbs up Chad. And I also think maybe that he came to you means that he is asking for help. Many things of today are not specifically outlined in the Bible, and he might not know for sure WHY what he's doing is wrong. Some people need specific directions to follow.

    Furthermore, lots of people are doing illegal things and unholy things that are volunteering at Courageous and every other church, but just don't talk about it and/or we see it differently because of the society we live in. We should not let society dictate our position on things. For instance, just because smoking is legal doesn't mean that having an addiction to it is holy or supported by God in any way. We all need direction about these things. Not from society – from God. That's where YOU come in.

  • http://www.carlthomas.net Carl Thomas

    The idea that God sees all sin the same is contrary to Scripture. And not all sin is to be dealt with the same.

    The basis for the answer depends on how he/she is volunteering. Helping to tear down after service? Or helping to drive the handicapped bus? I will let the unsaved volunteer. I will only let the sanctified pastor. There is a whole bunch of room in the middle.

  • http://www.intensedebate.com/people/jonese jonese

    As i said on twitter "what would you do if you found someone stealing from the church? God see's all sin the same why do we make some less or more??"

    the great thing is God also forgives those who come with an open and honest heart SEEKING forgiveness.

    illegal or not it can impair judgement and other things. Just like we wouldn't want someone drinking on the job, even just one drink because of what "might" happen. There are too many risks, too many people who could be affected by one person's choice.

    Does this person deserve to have that much power?

    If they are willing to work on stopping this struggle then keep them around in limited but still active capacity. Like the above mention the church is often too quick to judge and sentence, and less often ready to help and steer people back onto the path of what is good….

  • PotSmokingVolunteer

    King! This post makes me smile!. My entire life I've been undecided on this subject. Topics of this nature are what is missing in church! I feel that as Christians we know that we're all sinners, yet we act surprised when that point is proven. Strange. I was recently shown some scripture where one of the disciples said something along the lines of "If I'm doing something that could end up being a stumbling block to my brother, maybe i shouldn't do it at all" When it comes to weed, I guess I struggle with wondering if it's truly a stumbling block in 2009. The majority of the people I know smoke weed. Yes it's illegal, but we break laws almost every time we drive or do our taxes. Or maybe comparing weed to not wearing a seatbelt is as crazy as comparing it to rape. This is a very gray area to me. I rarely ever drink liquor. I occasionally smoke weed. How should i feel about that? I really don't know. But I do love that it's being debated. I feel like debates of this sort could attract people to church as long as we can love each other throughout the process. We're too quick to alienate people and generalize sin. All I know is that I love God, people and myself and I feel like I'm always suppose to be honest to all three. Ultimately I know that God will make sure the right decision is made. I believe to much in the Courageous Church vision to think otherwise. I just wanted to be clear with my Pastor and my friend about who I am. My goal was not to spark this forum, but I thank God Shaun turned it in to one.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/Lynnette Lynnette

    the question is DOES THIS PERSON SEE THAT ITS WRONG AND IS SEEKING FORGIVENESS AND HELP? weed seems to be an issue today where there are so many people that honestly think its perfectly fine to 'casually' do.like my mother who thinks shes old enough to do whatever she wants,so she gambles away all her money and then it gets crazy for everyone who loves her when the bills are due.its an addiction.period.if i casually smoke crack is it o.k. then?I dont know why people think its o.k. to do something illegal…and as far as the comment about worshiping Christ and inter-racial marrage,the fact is as long as it is the LAW and you choose to do it anyway you are subject to the punishment!!protest,fight ect. to get it changed but in the meantime YOURE NOT ALLOWED TO DO IT! why is that so hard to understand!?oooh this subject always gets me HEATED. i think this comment is more for the people who said "this is why church sucks" …why?because the chuch expects the voulenteers to be an EXAMPLE to people and ACKNOWLEDGE that DOING DRUGS IS WRONG? i think Phil has the right idea

  • http://adamblack.wordpress.com adam

    all of the above.

    smoking weed or doing any drug is foolish and anti-scripture. 1 Thess 5:22 – get away from the mere appearance of evil. is there anything righteous associated with being a pothead? that verse applies to your leadership as well – don't condone by allowing someone who knows it's wrong and isn't repentant to continue to lead others.

    in more practical terms, how does smoking weed glorify God? the side effects are contrary to God's example of how we should act as soldiers in a spiritual war. the full armor of God doesn't include a bong, and a warrior has to be sharp at all times. how are we to enact 1 Peter 5:8 if we're too busy smoking up, jamming to the dead and cashin out a bag of doritos? :)

    the question is where to draw the line. what do you say to the guy who wants to volunteer but has some other sin issue? how do you stay fair? i can't help you there, you're the preacherman…

    i'll be praying for your friend too, and i hope that you can coach them out of the issue.

  • http://www.crucialencounter.com Andy McMahon

    PotSmokingVolunteer. I'm very glad you stopped by for this discussion. are you open to questions about your casual habit? I think some people here have them for you. I can say that yes, I believe weed is a stumbling block in 2009.

    You being the Christ Follower around the people you know and smoking weed with them, would make you a stumbling block. What if ONE of those people looked at you as the example to how Christian's should live. And NEVER accepted Jesus Christ because of it? I'm not saying that IS happening, I'm just saying it could happen. As a Christ follower shouldn't you be just as concerned for others soul as you are your own?

    I will be praying that God places it on your heart to work on your casual habit with weed. Ultimately he would be the only person who can help you with that change. I am glad that you were able to be honest with everyone about this issue.

    So you know, I have struggled with addiction since I was 12 years old, and some of my addictions were just 'casual habits'. Casual habits that interfered with my relationships, my ministry opportunities, and my life. Thank God he was there to help me through that and keep me out of it. I am not coming at you in judgment, and I hope I haven't made it come across that way. I am coming at you from experience, and genuine care. I would love you hear your response.

    One more question. What is 'Casual' for you?

    Take care brother.

  • http://adamblack.wordpress.com adam

    all sin has already been dealt with in the same way, and that was Christ's death on the cross.

    every sin is an affront to God and moves us further away from him. the earthly consequences might differ, but the eternal consequences do not.

  • http://www.carlthomas.net Carl Thomas

    I know that sounds good but it is not biblical. 1 John 5 shows us that there are some sins unto death, others are not. The Bible differentiates. That's why I said it depends on the person's level of responsibility how I would deal with it.

  • cal

    chad,

    did you really just make the argument that because it was illegal to believe in Jesus a few hundred years ago that smoking pot cant be called a moral issue?? please tell me you have more intellectual firepower than that!

    Shaun, the reason this is tough is because a volunteer is a representation of the church. If I were you I would ask the person to step down for a time (in a loving way) until they can prove that they are done with casual pot smoking, this will hopefully fix the issue and still offer that person an avenue back into ministry while maintaining the relationship. Church should equal love but we are also called to be in the world and not of it, and cant see a more clear case of that statement than this issue. The worst thing you could do is do nothing and realize that a year from now it has become more of an issue and is now becoming an systemic problem in your ministry with others.

    its not fun to ask someone to step down, or easy but there is a way that it can be done effectively with a view towards getting them back involved once this issue is behind them

  • http://adamblack.wordpress.com adam

    we're talking semantics now and i think we need to agree to disagree on that particular issue. that's another post for another time.

    what isn't conjecture and what is spelled out clearly in the scriptures is that we're called to live differently. smoking pot casually doesn't honor God. it says that we need something else to fill a hole in us. it says we need to alter our minds in order to be happy or to enjoy
    ourselves rather than to find our joy in the Lord – a recurring theme in the scripture.

    being openly against God's calling on our lives and unrepentant of the sin in question is a problem that all Churches must deal with. the question isn't whether or not they are allowed to come worship and be involved, the question is whether or not they should be in a leadership position. i don't care if it's setting up cones outside or making coffee, serving = leadership.

    it's up to shaun to decide how courageous he wants to be, to use his own term. is it courageous to let anyone with a pulse, unrepentant or not serve in the interests of building a megachurch? or is it courageous to tell someone thanks but you can't lead others until you're on board with God's calling on your life. that's up to Shaun and we should all be praying for God to bless him with sound judgment.

  • E. Leon

    Part I

    We were given a directive to be sober (clear minded) and vigilent (on point) for an obvious reason: the forces of evil prowl about looking for someone to devour. Evil is not out there looking for what it already has a hold of. It is out there looking to devour that which belongs to God. Anyone (including believers) who allow a state of stupor to grab hold of their mind, voluntarily open their soul to demonic access and influence. It does not matter whether the source of the "stupor" is reefer, blow, porn, abuse of prescription medication, gambling, excessive media stimuli or even food. Your God-seeking volunteer will change his behavior if he can understand what he is setting himself up for. If he can get his head around the truth that God wants him completely, not just portions of him. That his service to the body is so very important, and that we all need him on point. With the proper knowledge, he will not perish. And if you are close to your volunteer on a personal level, God gives you the ability to influence.

  • E. Leon

    Part II

    When Jesus walked for three years surrounded by His disciples, He was aware that Judas was stealing the ministry's funds and looking at ways to connive greater gains. Greed had him in a state of stupor. However, Jesus never removed Judas from the ranks. Every day that Judas walked with Jesus was a day of opportunity for him to repent. However, since God will not contend with man forever, nor strong-arm free will, Judas, who had opened himself up to demonic influence through his blinding greed, was devoured.

  • E. Leon

    Part III

    Then you have someone like Peter, who was a walking loaded gun given to temper fits, acting before thinking and speaking without thinking; Jesus did not remove him from the ranks either and many times spoke very strong words of correction to Peter. A lot stronger than He ever used with Judas. And we see that the transformation that took place in Peter's life not only radically changed his life, but the lives of those around him until the day he died.

    Now, my brother King, as a shephard, may God grant you the wisdom, discernment, courage and heart of the Father, to feed His lamb until he becomes a sheep; to take care of His sheep during his transformation and finally, to continue to feed His sheep to maturity.

    Blessings to you.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/JonWesley JonWesley

    Art, I think that's a Jesus answer! And you're right on the testing. We worked in a small inner-city mission in Charleston, WV where every move someone made was like, "Okay, you love me. But do you love me now? How 'bout now? What if I do this? Or this?" Our Senior Pastor once said, " I go into every situation sure that I'm about to be tested or taken advantage of. But I still go in the Love of Christ."
    Rules without Love and Grace is LAW. Jesus came to fulfill the LAW and show Grace and Mercy.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/JonWesley JonWesley

    I think you have the 1 John 5 thing out of context. The death he speaks of is final, spiritual death. Many Bible scholars agree that he is speaking of the "unpardonable sin" which is "quenching the spirit" which in essence is not believing that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God who died for our sin, rose from the dead, and sits at God's Right Hand (John 3:18, Jesus' words) The Good News Bible puts 1 John 5:17 this way, "All wrongdoing is sin, but there is sin which does not lead to death." The sin that does not lead to death is the sin for which Christ atones, which is ALL sin; we just have to come to Him for the gift of that atonement. We must have and show and live Grace. Jesus did. We are His body. If Jesus only did what He saw the Father doing, why do we think we should act differently?

  • http://www.carlthomas.net Carl Thomas

    This isn't really semantics. And it is not courageous to react in the flesh. Sin is wrong. No brainer there. You yourself say that all sin is an affront to God and the Scriptures say that there is none without sin. Therefor, according to your logic, none can serve. Not a very well reasoned approach.

    There is a difference in sin. And I would treat pot smoking by my head usher different than I would with the guy who got saved last month and is so excited about Jesus that he shows up two hours early for church to help set up. I am not going to take a spiritual inventory to see if he is "worthy" to set up chairs. Sorry. If that were the cast we would have to turn off our electricity and phone service because sinners work for those companies and we can't pay people in sin with God's money.

  • Brad

    Good discussion. Here's a canadians viewpoint (means nothing, just wanted to say "canadian" to you all :-) Shaun I see a great opportunity here to mentor this guy and show him, and your church, what grace and leadership looks like. Be up front an honest with him – talk about the "illegal" side of it, talk with him about leadership and the responsibility it brings and talk with him about some of the "wrong" things that you struggle with (even though you're in leadership). He sounds like an honest and authentic kind of guy (which I love). The truth is though, with most of us, sometimes we use "authenticity" as a green light to have no convictions. I would probably look at his volunteer role and see what influence he has. If he's "teaching" we're held more accountable and you need to think long and hard about his role for his sake … if he's serving in other areas (greeting, clean-up etc…) I would keep him in. My 2 cents

  • http://www.carlthomas.net Carl Thomas

    Not sure why this is such a radical concept. The Bible differentiates sins. Even if it is unpardonable and pardonable. But Jesus said that some sins were greater than others.

    Not sure if anyone in this conversation is a leader in a church, but real leadership requires differentiating and decision making.This is why there are different requirements for elders and deacons.

    I don't know if you all know this but the chances are that your pastor sees sin in your life that he has not told you about but instead is praying that you will react to the conviction of the Holy Ghost.

    There is such a spiritual pride that makes people think they are free of sin and are worthy to lead but others are not up to your level.

    Pretty sure this is my last comment but I will end with this.

    If I found out a ministerial leader was smoking weed public repentance would be the beginning of the restoration process. If I found out someone on my worship team was smoking week I would make them tell the worship leader why they needed to step down. If I found out the guy who puts out the signs before service was smoking weed I would lead him in a prayer of repentance and encourage him to keep attending and serving and pray that God would work in his life.

    Then I would courageously defend these decisions to the pharisees that want to shun anyone with transgressions.

  • Aaronde

    PT. 1- All very interesting posts/comments.We do need to acknowledge the fact that it is against the law. Just as one poster stated, so is speeding and not wearing a seat belt. And the commonality of them all is that they have consequences associated with them. Whether or not the individual can continue to serve should be determined by whether or not he or she is repentant or unrepentant. In other words, have they said, "I know this is wrong, and I am not engaging or desire to engage in this behavior going forward. (REPENTANT)" or is it "This is what I do and what I do is none of your business (UNREPENTANT)".

  • Aaronde

    PT 2- An unrepentant individual should be loved on and supported, but until they are WILLING to turn away from their challenge (whatever it is), they can't continue to serve. Allowing them to do so would state that we (Courageous) are cool with their actions and we aren't. However, acknowledging a problem and supporting them thru their change is necessary.The repentant individual needs support as well, but has indicated a desire to not go there and that's the point. I think this applies to any sinful issue, and none is more weighted than another. Bottom line is help the person first, focus on the serving second.

  • http://adamblack.wordpress.com adam

    it absolutely is semantics, and its not a part of this discussion. when you can tell me exactly what sin John was speaking of then the argument will be over. can't? then it's a semantic argument. you must examine similar passages, the historical context and John's other writings to come to a conclusion on what he means by those words you're so hung up on.

    my logic isn't that none can serve. i freely admit that i'm a sinner. i repent and try not to sin. if i refuse to repent and refuse to try to change, if i champion my sin and say that it's "not a big deal" then i have no business leading others in a church setting.

    am i saying that an alcoholic can't serve? only if the alcoholic says it's ok to be an alcoholic and isn't trying to remedy the situation. am i saying someone who is a drug addict can't serve? only if they aren't doing anything about it when the answers are right in front of them. i think we both agree that drugs are not a Godly thing to do.

    and i saw your comment below. thanks for insulting us by calling us pharisees.. that's big of you! if caring about the preservation of the Church's holiness and our attempt at holiness in accordance with 1 Thess 5:22 makes me a pharisee in your eyes then so be it. NOWHERE in my dialogue did I say anyone should be shunned. don't put words into my mouth.

    i assume you aren't a murderer or a child molester. by your own logic these sins must be greater than your own, so you must be better than the people who have committed those particular sins. better in whose eyes? God's or the world's?

  • http://wealthweekly.blogspot.com Charles J

    Hi Shaun,

    In response to your topic–I think it’s important to be mindful of what is Biblical sin vs. what is man-imposed sin. If weed-smoking is bad in the eyes of God, perhaps said leaders should be advised to refrain from doing so. I’m no biblical scholar by a long-shot, but I would use this reference from I Corinthians on food sacrfied to idols as a striking parallel:

    The first few verses speak to what we may say today..”Smoking weed won’t hinder my strong belief in God or my ability to carry out his message. ” Now read the following below, substituting a theme of weed smoking for idolized food–I pick up at verse 7:

    7 But all believers do not recognize these facts. Some, from force of habit in relation to the idol, even now eat idol sacrifices as such, and their consciences, being but weak, are polluted. 8 It is true that a particular kind of food will not bring us into God’s presence; we are neither inferior to others if we abstain from it, nor superior to them if we eat it.

    The habit, you see, may have little to do with your personal path to salvation; but in a position of leadership, “weaker” believers may see this as “wrong.”

    9 But take care lest this liberty of yours should prove a hindrance to the progress of weak believers. 10 For if any one were to see you, who know the real truth of this matter, reclining at table in an idol’s temple, would not his conscience (supposing him to be a weak believer) 11 Why, your knowledge becomes the ruin of the weak believer–your brother, for whom Christ died! 12 Moreover when you thus sin against the brethren and wound their weak consciences, you are, in reality, sinning against Christ.

    13 Therefore if what I eat causes my brother to fall, never again to the end of my days will I touch any kind of animal food, for fear I should cause my brother to fall.

    So basically, perhaps the weed habit should be sidelined for the good of your fellow brothers and sisters in Christ.

    Disclosure: Never smoked weed in my life, hopefully that wouldn’t preclude me from speaking on said topic.

  • Kay

    Pray and keep moving. I'll bet someone else is doing the same but is not telling. Is it OK as long as they don't tell you? Did you ask him (her) if they smoked weed? Are you going to ask all volunteers? It is better to be in a church with your sins then not to be a part of one. It doesn't make
    if it right. But as he (she) grows and walks a closer walk he (she)will give it up. I would remind him (her) it alters their thinking or maybe that's why he (she) is doing it. He (she)has issues he (she) rather not think about. You pray, I'll pray, We'll all pray. But the Volunteer has got to stay. Embrace him.

  • Renee

    test

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  • Renee

    The real shame here is that weed alters the brain, we are created in God's image. That is not something we want to mess around with. How does it make him/her feel? How do they feel the next day? Is it really an improvement in their lives? Perhaps the Enemy uses drugs to entise and counterfit the peace available through the intimate relationship w/Jesus through the Holy Spirit. As a person grows in Christ He will convict of sin in His time. They probiblly should not volunteer because volunteering is ministering to others and they need to devote there time to recieving love/ministry and recovery tools from others in the body of Christ. OO and celibrate recovery are awesome Chtrist centered recovery programs that every church would benefit from having avaialable or refer struggling members to. Sometimes God heals/delivers instantly and other times it's a process, either way He will complete the good work He has bean in us.

  • Andrew

    Kali hit the nail on the head

  • http://lattejust4me.blogspot.com Cathy Davis

    PSV stated: "I was recently shown some scripture where one of the disciples said something along the lines of "If I'm doing something that could end up being a stumbling block to my brother, maybe i shouldn't do it at all" When it comes to weed, I guess I struggle with wondering if it's truly a stumbling block in 2009."

    I would say that it smoking weed is a stumbling block, even in 2009.

    I don't know that anything I would have to add or say beyond what has already been said would benefit anything. But, this is certainly an interesting topic and I'm enjoying all the comments.

    (Shaun the new site looks great!)

  • http://www.briansenecal.com Brian Senecal

    Leon's Part 1 seals it for me. It foes not take much pot at all to alter the mind….and therefore is not scriptiual IMO.
    Question for Leon–Pt 2–Where in Scripture does it say that Judas was stealing throughout Jesus minsitry?

  • Mark Hatcher

    Not being a pot smoker, I feel under-qualified to answer the question but, since I have smoked before, I'll give it a try. I find it interesting that many of the posts stances evolve around the legality of the pot smoking as opposed to the insight that you appear to be seeking. To those I would ask, If pot became legal today, would that change your stance? There is an underlying assumption that you, by being a spiritual leader and posing the question, are ABSOLUTELY NOT a pot smoker; is this the right assumption? That’s a publicly rhetorical question-LOL.

    CONTINUED

  • Mark Hatcher

    It’s a moot point to answer the question, if you have never smoked pot before because the stance is predictable. I’ll readily admit to being an ultra-liberal before stating that I feel you should decide if there is a place for casual drug users in your organization-not that anyone is judging right? Once that’s decided, outline and publicly share your organizations stance on the issue as well as the bylaws for volunteering. This will shed some light on your postion and provide direction regarding what action you will take with the volunteer. My advice is to speak to the volunteer about the legality/dangers of smoking pot however, not let that be a deal breaker in how they choose to serve. Dr. King once said, “There’s always for one more” and there’s always room in the Kingdom for weed smokers too.

  • Chauncey

    Well you shouldn't remove this person from their position right away, you should first try to "coach" them out of it. If after some serious coaching and this person still sees nothing wrong with this habit then you should tell them that their position is in danger and that he/she should really reconsider this habit. After months of patience and coaching and this person still continues then the only answer is to relieve them of their position…..smoking weed is illegal whether its casual or not……

  • Traci

    I think you should do all 3 suggestions (remove them position, coach them out of the habit, and pray for them as you keep the church moving forward).

  • http://kammsidlemind.blogspot.com KAMMs

    1. IF I READ CORRECTLY THEY ARE VOLUNTEERS YES?
    2. ARE THEY CAUSING HARM TO OTHERS?
    3. NOW, I'VE NEVER SMOKED A DAY IN MY LIFE… NEVER REALLY HAD THE DESIRE BUT BASED ON RESEARCH I'VE BEEN APART OF & EXPOSED TO I DO NOT PERSONALLY SEE ANYTHING WRONG WITH MARIJUANA, LIKE ALCOHOL I THINK IT'S ACCEPTABLE IN MODERATION AND WHEN NOT ABUSED. WITH THAT BEING SAID THE ONLY PROBLEM IS THE LEGALITY ISSUE. WHICH GOES BACK TO #2. IF THEIR HABIT IS A LEGAL ISSUE THEN LET EM KNOW THEN LET EM GO.
    4. COACH THEM? NOT SO MUCH! WEED HAS NOT BEEN PROVEN TO BE ADDICTIVE, THEREFORE IF THE USERS TRULY WISH TO STOP THAT'S UP TO THEM. YOU CANNOT "HELP" SOMEONE WHO DOESN'T WANT TO BE HELPED? REASONS THEY SMOKE? PERHAPS TO REPLACE A VICE THAT MAY ACTUALLY BE WORSE. YES, SOME VICES ARE WORSE THAN OTHERS. LET'S BE REALISTIC.

  • http://kammsidlemind.blogspot.com KAMMs

    BY THE WAY I SECOND MARK HATCHER. IM ACTUALLY PRETTY CONSERVATIVE, BUT I SHARE HIS VIEWS ON THIS ISSUE.

  • Keyunda_

    This is a tough situation indeed. The thing I'd suggest is time. We're here to help our brothers and sisters, right? This "sin" is no different than any other; no worse or better; sin is sin. I actually feel like if this person revealed this, then it could be the very first step, no matter how small, in them wanting to do something about it. I also feel that dismissing them from the staff could only make matters worse simply because the person will probably feel judged and look at the church as hypocritcal (they know they're not the only one who has problems) People come to the church messed up all the time. That's what the church is for; to help the "sick". I know that even people in leadership positions are messed up sometimes.

  • Keyunda_

    I definitely think you should coach them out to the habit; key word being COACH. You have to make sure they they feel like it's a choice they're making. No one really likes to feel like they're being told what to do when it comes to a part of their life they actually can control. Prayer is never a bad thing either! :-) I definitely think that it needs to be more than just praying for them and moving along though.
    Good luck with your decision though! :-) God Bless!

  • Rather Not Say

    I think that the real issue at hand is whether this should even be up for discussion via blog. As a regular Sunday morning Courageous Church attendee, I am now a little reluctant to share any issues that I may have in order to NOT be put on blast via the Twitter, Facebook or blog postings.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/shaunking shaunking

    Hey Rather Not Say! Sorry you feel this way. The person we are discussing is glad that we are discussing this particular topic online. Believe me – I have learned 1,001 different things that have not and will not be discussed on this blog or anywhere else.

    I am a very private dude in general.

    Your Friend,

    Shaun

  • http://zoelog.wordpress.com Bill Pershing

    My answers are based on having worked with addicts. I apologize for answering the question with another question but I feel like some of these answers are not very Biblical.

    1st–If you had knowledge that there was a person on your staff that indulged in "occasional" pedophilia acts…would you overlook it because it was occasional?

    Yes, I will admit that this question is an overstatement of the issue. But most people when it comes to addiction fail to look at the whole picture. Marijuana is a gateway drug. MOst of the recovering addicts will tell you there is no such thing as an occasional user. Yes this person may only be smoking an ounce or 2 every other week or so. But eventually their tolerance to the drug will increase and they will progress from occasional to regular use. Eventually because they will have developed a tolerance for the drug they may try something else to get the high they are looking for.

    So then the issue becomes not an issue of "occasional useage". The question you have to deal with is what will you do when one of your young men in the church comes to you after being placed on probation for possesion and asks you why he got busted but Brother **** or Sister ***** didn't. Is this something you want to deal with? Or would you rather excercise correction over the person and help them being a positive example for the younger members of the congregation.

    So that's my opinion..I will be in prayer for you buddy!

  • Kay

    Hey "Rather Not Say" I think it is great to discuss everyday trials that we have in church. Someone else in the church may read this and be glad. Did you read what the "Volunteer" wrote? He is fine with it.. None…I repeat "NONE" of us are perfect. We all have warts. If you discuss something with Pastor Shaun he will not discuss your personal problem. He has a lot of volunteers. Now if he said our music leader or our executive pastor smokes weed then he is calling someone out. This did not happen. Have a Great Day.

  • http://twitter.com/blendahtom blendahtom

    Hey Shaun.. What are your thoughts biblically concerning this and how you feel.. I am thinking of the Pastoral Epistles.

  • E. Leon

    To my brother Brian Senecal:
    Answer to where in scripture does it reference that Judas was a thief.

    John 12:6 (Amplified Bible)
    6Now he (Judas) did not say this because he cared for the poor but because he was a thief; and having the bag (the money box, the purse of the Twelve), he took for himself what was put into it [pilfering the collections].

    Blessings,
    E.

  • Renee

    Dear "Volunteer"
    Have you been reading this? If so what is your opinion regarding the comments?

  • Former Youth Leader

    As a guy who doesn't know Shaun but follows his blog and conversations I must say that I have lost 90% of my respect for him. I wouldn't have a personal conversation with Shaun if my life depended on it based on his actions. I don't know if he asked the weed smoker "Do you mind if tweet this question to my anonymous Internet followers?" If he asked and got approval – great. I don't think that happened based on the events I've seen transpire.

    Also, as an ex-smoker and former youth leader, there are better outlets for these issues. None of my kids knew I smoked and I hated that I did. When I found out my kids smoked pot I told them it was dangerous, unhealthy and illegal. Smoking is legal but still dangerous and unhealthy. I won't say it is a sin though. That's for the individual.

    Finally, discussing sin as "occasional" suggests it has zero to no impact negative impact. Most of us both hate and love our sins yet attributing any glory to sin is a misunderstanding of grace.

  • Former Youth Leader

    Btw, didn't spell it out but I smoked cigarettes and not pot but I don't really see a big difference spiritually, mentally or physically. The only difference is the legal and addictive aspects.

  • Matthew 5:16

    I think that you should contact your manufacturer (God) for troubleshooting. Advice comes from the "minds" of man. Revelation and ordered steps comes from the Spirit of God. Our Father's will should be sought not our brother's beliefs.

    May God speak clearly and firmly to you Brother!

    In His service,
    Your fellow soldier

  • http://www.briansenecal.com Brian Senecal

    Matthew 5: 16—I beleive the Bible instructs us to do both.
    Without counsel, plans go awry, But in the multitude of counselors they are established. Proverbs 15:22 is just one example.

  • Felicia

    What I've always loved about Christ, is His ability to minister to people where they are. I believe this is the best opportunity for you to minister to this person, just as Jesus would. People smoke, drink etc to feel a void. But, we know that Jesus is the only One who can fill a void. Teach him not only how to pray for his addiction, but show him specifically how to pray the Word of God, for it is the Word of God that can deliver him and truly set him free.

  • Chip

    If I were the volunteer in question or the pastor seeking opinions, my concern would be less focused on the weed and more focused on the volunteer's relationship with the Lord. I am neither condoning nor condeming the behavior, but I would consider where this person is going as a Christ follower.

    As we invite Christ into our lives, we are changed forever, but not necessarily all at once. Our relationship with Jesus and the degree to which we have turned over our life to Him and fully embraced His presence inside us can be seen as we shed old ways. If we continue to live as we have prior to asking Christ to come inside us, or have persistent habits or behaviors which do not change, then my biggest concern would not be about the weed, but about why a member of the body has not continued to grow in their transformation to a life for Christ.

    I would not focus on changing their habit, but assuring that they continue to spiritually grow and are discipled to maturity. If this volunteer continues to embrace a Christ centered life, the question of weed will be solved, along with many other positive changes, as their life reflects Jesus more and more and their old self, less and less.

  • http://www.crucialencounter.com Andy McMahon

    I have seen people who have quit smoking weed. There may not be a physical addiction, but I promise you there is a dependency. At the beginning of your comment, you say, you have never smoked a day in your life. You also say you've been part of research. My one question for you is, Do you see the 'studies' as humans, or numbers. Have you ever talked to someone dependent on Marijuana? Have you ever talked to a person who's spouse was dependent on weed.

    I can assure you it is a real issue. Along with Alcohol.

    your entire comment for # 4 is out of line. Don't coach them? If they want to quit, they will? really. It's ok for them to do this if they are replacing another vice? That's the worst rationality I've ever heard. So, it's ok if I am addicted to gay porn, as long as I'm not smoking crack? because crack is a worse vice than gay porn? Is that what you're saying? I'm just trying to see your view clearer. I'm going to leave the teachings of Jesus Christ out of this one, because I don't want to drive the nail in completely or come across as judgemental. I pray and hope I am mis-reading this, but I've re-read this several times. Please clear things up. Where is the love in this comment. Love is not, "let em know and let em go." OR smoking weed isn't bad. Love is genuine concern and outreaching a hand. Talking. LISTENING. Not, 'ah.. they don't want to be helped.'

  • Dunc

    You should not remove them from this position. Its only a matter of time before weed is legal. If that happens will your opion change about smoking weed? Would you be questioning yourself about removing this person if you knew they smokes cigarettes or drank alcohol every weekend? People tend to forget these are drugs too but they just happen to be legal! This person is doing a positive thing and if they chose NOT to share this information with you…..you would have never known. NO ONE LIVES IN A GLASS HOUSE ON PLANET EARTH!!! Is this person doing his job everytime he/she volunteers? Do they sell weed to the members of your church? I think sometime we get carried away with weed being sooooo bad for you. Would you fire someone who told you they eat 12 kripy kreme doughnuts every mornig for breakfast and they were diabetic? Would you fire some one who was over weight and you knew it was becuse they ate fast food for breakfast, lunch and dinner? As you could see I can go on and on!! I think you should just pray that he/she quits and maybe counsel him as well if you feet that strongly…..however to fire him from a volunteer position is not justified!

  • Sparkyfied

    I think the point is being missed.

    Yes, people have other vices. Yes, everyone sins. But that in no way gives us the right to do it. It's illegal, simple. I think the church is too focused on what is good for me? How can I make my walk/life easier? How do I get a blessing? Are we not missing the point: God has already blessed us, we should be burning in hell, but we aint. Surely that's the biggest blessing? Everything else is just extra on top of extra!

    As for goodbye PotSmokingVolunteer? Maybe coaching is better. If 30% of all Christian men struggle with porn, do we say to our brother, sorry, you can't serve in church because you are struggling with porn? No. Same thing here. (And i aint getting into a debate if its the same sin, same addictive behaviour, blah blah blah! Shup!)

    If someone looks at porn and says there is nothing wrong with looking at porn, even though sexual immorality is spoken against in nearly every book of the new testement. Then I say, let em go, they are unrepentant. But if you, PotSmokingVolunteer, now see it as an issue, as a sin, or are willing to be convicted by God, and give it up, or try to give it up, I would say you are as welcome as anyone.

    PotSmokingVolunteer, seeing it just like anything else thats breaking the law, don't cut it. There is no excuse for any sin, simple as that. You can't condone sin by saying I look at porn too, thats an unrepentant heart and you need to ask for forgiveness. Simple as that. I pray that God shows you His will for you, I believe that is to not smoke weed.

    "When it comes to weed, I guess I struggle with wondering if it's truly a stumbling block in 2009. The majority of the people I know smoke weed." – maybe to the world its not a stumbling block, but we aint suppose to be of the world :-)

    Keeping look up man!

  • Liz

    Hmm, if sinners aren't allowed to volunteer at church then you better go ahead and close your doors. Who is anyone to judge if his sin is better or worse than anyone else's. At least he/ she was honest about their problem. Unless their use is impacting their ability to volunteer, I don't see how they can be turned away without turning away every single volunteer b/c do you really have one who is not a sinner? Since this person confided in you, maybe they were trying to ask for help. I am a therapist and my office is in midtown- if this person wants help, feel free to contact me- I will work with him/ her pro bono.

  • http://kammsidlemind.blogspot.com KAMMs

    Andy,
    I'VE READ SEVERAL OF YOUR OTHER REPLIES…. & IT SEEMS TO ME YOU ARE WHAT YOU ARE CLAIMING YOU ARE TRYING NOT TO BE–JUDGMENTAL!

    SUCKS 4 U. :-/

    LET ME FIRST SAY MY RESPONSE WAS, UMM WHAT'S IT CALLED?? AN OPINION!!! [oops... =x excuse the sarcasm I've been told it's kinda annoying LOL] ANYWHO I WILL MAKE THIS SHORT & SIMPLE AS I DON'T REALLY FIND IT NEC TO DEFEND MY OPINION. CAUSE IT IS JUST THAT.

    1. As far as the research: BOTH!
    2. Talked to someone "dependent" on weed? Hmm guess that depends on how you define it. The word can be arbitrary. Know plenty of individuals who use it on a very regular basis. I'm from the Bay & am surrounded by it, but just like drinking, & smoking cigarettes I just never had the desire.
    3. What's an issue for you is not nec an issue for someone else.
    4. Who are you to tell me my comment is owt of line? According to whose guidlines/standards?! I just feel like the coaching them out of the habit is a bit assumptive & slightly judgmental. Again I will say the only issue I have with it is legality. And honestly I think cigarettes should be illegal before weed.
    5. As far as the lesser of two evils comment… umm if Gay Porn is not harming others and you would like to continue to indulge in Gay Porn, Andy, by all means enjoy yourself. I AM NOT GOD & will not try to fix something you don't deem broken. Now if you say you are an addict, it's affecting your life or someone elses, you would like to stop, &/or ask for help, then let the coaching begin!
    6. Where is the love? umm ya… don't really get what you mean. All I'm sayin is it ain't my job to fix those who don't want to be fixed homie.
    7. The issue at hand is should the volunteer be let go. Ultimately Shaun is the leader of the church as pastor and that's a decision he needs to make based upon his beliefs and ideals for the church. My criteria would be to assess the individual and the habit by asking if either is a threat to the church, it's mission, & it's people.
    8. PEACE!

    –KAMMs

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  • Rachel

    Well I definitely dont think this person should be removed. Sin is sin and this is just the same as if you found out this person was shaking up, or fornicating, or told a little white lie. And like the Bible says "All have sinned and come short of his glory." So we all sin and must all repent daily. And this person wont really change until the Holy Spirit convicts them and they realize the wrong for themselves. So my advice is to tell them of the wrong and why it's wrong and then pray that they turn from their wicked ways.

  • Jezrael

    Brothers and sisters, let me start by offering you blessings and love in the name of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. This topic is one that is very important to me because I also casually use marijuana. I was always told as a child in church that using drugs is wrong, but I was never told why. I have been searching for an answer regarding the use of marijuana for a very long time. After much prayer, study, and debate, I have come to the knowledge of the following: there are no passages in the Bible which specifically state that the use of marijuana is either wrong or right. People use the fact that it is illegal to justify it being a sin, but do the words illegal and sin go hand in hand? What about the words legal and holy? No, they don't so therefore this cannot be an acceptable justification for marijuana being a sin. The closest thing the Bible mentions to the use of drugs is what it commands regarding drunkenness/intoxication. The Bible states that drinking is permissible with limitations. God created wine specifically to make the heart of a man glad (Psalm 104:1&14-15). However, too much alcohol will cause us to act like fools and we will therefore not be able to give testimony of Christ. The same can rule of thought can be applied to marijuana: it is permissible with limitations. Granted, the Bible does not mention marijuana at all, but the intent of use and the effects caused by its use is not so different from that of alcohol. As with both drinking and marijuana, moderate responsible use can make one feel good, but its abuse can cause negative effects which can hinder our ability to give testimony of Christ.

    Since there is no specific command regarding the use of marijuana, the above statement is open to interpretation and dispute. This type of situation falls right into the category of what Paul calls "disputable matters" (Romans 14:1). Since the topic of Romans 14 explains how to deal with these differences of opinions, I believe we can find the final answer to the marijuana dilemma and other matters which are not mentioned specifically in the Bible right in this passage. In Matthew 22:39 Jesus commands us to "love our neighbor as we love ourself". Romans 14 describes how to love and accept one another regardless of differences in our opinions. It gives an example of how one man's faith allows him to eat everything and another man's weak faith allows him to eat only vegetables. Now, lets read with understanding and analyze the passage. Romans 14 is not saying that individuals with weak faith are vegetarians. It is making a point regarding different levels of spiritual maturity. At the time that Romans was written, a person with weak faith meant that the person was a new convert to Christianity, it was in no way an indicator as to the strength of their actual faith in God. By reading the passage, we can see that there are different actions taken by those who are new to the faith and those who were more experienced in their walk with God. Those with more spiritual maturity were able to do things that the new believers weren't. The fact that the newer believers felt that they could not partake in these activities did not in any way mean that the more mature believers were wrong for doing it and it did not mean that the new believers were wrong for not partaking in the activities. Paul tells us to accept these types of differences without passing judgment. He asks "Who are you to judge someone else's servant?" (Romans 14:4) I will pause from the scripture for a moment and say this: if there is no passage or law in the Bible that condemns my use of marijuana, how can anyone condemn me? I do not condemn or pass judgment on those who chose not to use marijuana for whatever their reason may be. I cannot, I have no heavenly authority to pass judgment, but neither does anyone else.

    Continued…

  • Jezrael

    I've heard people erroneously apply the stumbling block argument from Romans 14:13 to the marijuana issue. They state that since my use may be a stumbling block for someone else, that I should not use it. However, the way they have applied this verse is exactly what it was warning against! The stumbling block that the Bible is referring to is to the passing of judgment on what a person choses to do or not do for the Lord! The actual stumbling block is creating rules and laws that are an unnecessary burden on your brother because they do not come from the Lord, but from your own personal beliefs. I cannot say that true Christians would be spiritually mature enough to use marijuana just like it cannot be said that true Christians must abstain from using. There is no clear answer on this so we must agree to disagree and lovingly accept that God deals with each of us in his own way. God gave each of us certain gifts and abilities and we are the only ones who know what these are and what God requires of us individually. It is for this reason that salvation is individual. Consider this: Samson was told by God to not cut his hair and to abstain from any fermented drink. These are good principles to follow. Should we all be like Samson? Would the covenant that God had with Samson carry over to us because we are emulating his actions? Likewise, Paul had been called to be unmarried. It was a gift and a calling that God gave him. Should we all be like Paul and not marry? How could the human race survive? Unlike Samson, I have cut my hair off and I have drank fermented drinks and unlike Paul, I have married. Am I any greater than them or are they any greater than me? By no means! This is exactly what Romans 14 was saying.

    Romans 14:22 says that “whatever you believe about these [disputable matters] keep between yourself and God. Blessed is the man who does not condemn himself by what he approves.” This is what God wants us to do regarding these issues. Too often, people seek to rally with those who think like they do and together they go and attack those who have a different set of beliefs. We have to remember that we are one in Christ and are not to create the stumbling blocks for each other. If you have any questions or issues arising from these matters, go to God with them. If the subject matter vexes your mind, ask God to show you the truth about it, but remember to keep an open heart and be receptive to whatever God may tell you.

    In closing, I will say this: I feel that the majority of the comments on this forum were not made to intentionally hurt or pass judgment on anyone, but this is precisely what has happened. Based on what is traditionally believed and practiced, many of you have suggested that the volunteer be encouraged with love and understanding to change what he is doing. It was generally accepted that the brother was doing something wrong. However, this judgment is not only incorrect, but it is also anti-Biblical. As I have proven above, there is no specific passage in the Bible regarding the use of marijuana. We are commanded to judge one another according to the Word. If the Word is silent on an specific issue, Romans 14 dictates how that situation is to be handled.

    May the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.

  • Crystal

    As far as I can see, it seems to be a clear; consensus that weed is considered a sin because of its legality. Paul wrote in Romans 13 how we are to “obey the laws of the land”. However, we also have to think about the time this was written and the audience that he wrote this to. It is not common knowledge, but it is through history that tells us Paul benefited from the legal protection of the Roman empire. The first generation of Christians also benefited from the same freedom of worship and legal protections as the Jews. Christians and Jews kept favor with the Roman emperors until there were emperors such as Nero who turned against them. The Roman empire remain unchanged until emperor Constantine became a Christian and overturned the laws that were previously established. If Constantine would have stayed within the realms of the what Paul wrote to the Romans, then he would have had to continued with persecution of Christian as mandated by law. Did he commit a sin because he did what was illegal?

    America was founded by people who revolted against the establishment. Were they wrong? I don't think so. If we are to follow precisely what Romans 13 indicates, then I could say that Dr. Martin Luther King sinned by going against the Jim Crow laws of his time. No one here would dare to say that fighting for equal rights for minorities was a sin. Yet he and many others did so in the name of freedom. The same can be said with women's liberation movement. It was illegal for any woman to vote, yet they stood up for their beliefs until the laws were changed. I am not negating Romans 13, but there are clearly times where it may be necessary or permissible to go against the law.

    If we equate what is deemed legal in our country to what is right in the sight of God, then we are surely mistaken. There are some states that condone same sex marriages, however we all know that it is an abomination to God. America says that its okay for pregnant women to kill their unborn babies. Yet God says thou shall not kill. What about the states and countries that allow the usage of marijuana?
    What if a Christian grew up in a society that accepted it's use? That person would not feel convicted because there isn't any specific law in the bible that condemns it.

  • Crystal

    Continued

    The sin comes into play when a person is abusing it and they are addicted to it. NOT EVERYONE who uses weed is addicted to it. The dictionary definition for addiction is: the state of being enslaved to a habit or practice or to something that is psychologically or physically habit-forming. Some people can be addicted to watching television. Does that mean watching television is a sin, or that everyone who watches television is addicted to it? Absolutely not. You may come home from a long day of work and and watch the news on a regular basis. The problem would come if you miss the news and you feel that you can't live with out watching it. This is the same as someone who feels they cannot live without cigarettes, video games, or weed. The true question we should be asking is if his smoking is something he cannot live or go a day without.

    The bible states that it is permissible to drink fermented drink (alcohol). Jesus turned water into wine. Yet this doesn't stop people from saying drinking alcohol is a sin. Why is that? However, the bible clearly states that when a person gets drunk then they are committing the sin. Can a person have a glass of wine and not get drunk. Yes! In the same way a person can consume marijuana and not get inebriated (which means: to exhilarate, confuse, or stupefy mentally or emotionally).

    Another reason I've read that people feel using marijuana is wrong is because it is unhealthy for a persons body. If this is the case then we souls all stop eating fast food, processed foods and anything fried. We all know that these things are unhealthy, but that doesn't stop us from eating them. Lets say that there is a believer that doesn't have enough money to buy healthy food to eat and they could only afford unhealthy fast food meal. If that person dies, would they go to hell because they consumed something that wasn't good for their bodies?

    Since the bible doesn't specify if the usage of marijuana is a sin, who are we to say that it is or isn't?
    The bible says that everything that does not come from faith is sin (Romans 14:23). If consuming weed causes him to fall away from his faith, then yes it is a sin. If it does not cause him to fall away from his faith in God than it is not. We should not say, “this is wrong unto God” or “this is right unto God” unless he said it. In this case he didn't say either way. So what ever you chose to do in your life stay in your faith and live in obedience according to his word and only his word.

    God Bless everyone.

  • Brandon Ingalls

    Here is the thing…. Did Jesus hang out with the religious of the day or the tax collecters? Strip him from probably the reason he is lifted up for your church, NO. Take that from him and he will leave your church and never come back or attend another one. Love this person and SHOW him how to live.

  • Natalie Bezet

    marijuana is illegal.

  • jeff matteson

    The best thing about this wonderful question is not the weed being smoked, it is the fingers being pointed. The aroma of self-righteousness lingers in the air of some of the responses.I attended the Vineyard in Dunwoody a few years ago and a similar question was raised by some of the older members. There are kids hanging out in the parking lot smoking cigarettes in cars, what are you gona do? Johnny Crist replied quickly and stern, "We have been praying they would come, whatever you do don't scare them off". I would refer this to ' he who is without sin" When church leadership is over run with stone throwers you don't have to worry about the stoners they will leave on their own.Unconditional love is what he offers us, my guess is that person in question if judged only by the rest of his life and not just the weed would score much better than a few legal drinkers in the congregation, not to mention a few emotional or verbal abusers, they are easy to find they usually stand on soap boxes and make lots of noise and are always in some form of a crisis.His grace is enough for us all.I love the free breakfast idea and hope someone follows with lunch and dinner!

  • Scott Egan

    Big deal. If he's that fragile that he cannot take the Spiritual discipline, then he doesn't deserve to be in leadership.

  • Scott Egan

    We're not talking about expelling them from the church. We're talking about the influence they have over others. Ask them to step down from leadership until they get that area under control and then re-visit.

  • Scott Egan

    Absolutely, Andy… Well said!

  • Scott Egan

    So… as long as no one sees that you are using pot, you can continue to serve. But try to get them to stop.

  • Man of God

    Come on Christians, is that the best argument you have: that its not legal??? Its not illegal in Amsterdam so what happens to your argument now??? Come on people, how do you call yourselves Christians but not base your responses on the Word of God? The Word is your ONLY weapon to attack sin, not your opinions. If you cant give answers based on the Word, please keep your mouths closed (and I say that with love on behalf of the Lord because His word says those whom he loves he rebukes). Too many souls have been pushed away by the opinions of ignorant "Christians" who "mean well". Christians are always ready to pass judgment, but then want God to have mercy on them when the Word itself says that you will be judged accordingly to how you judge others. If you feel compelled to open your mouth to say something, say a prayer. Ask God to reveal to the truth to that person and to yourself. To Pastor Shaun, all I can say is to read Romans 14 and pray that God gives you instructions on what to do with the volunteer. I applaud that you are seeking answers, but I must honestly say that you are asking the wrong person/people. Christ is the only one you can rely on to give you the right answers all the time.

    I want to leave you all with this thought: God is coming much sooner than we all think. Its time for us to unite as The Body of Christ, setting aside religious differences and beliefs and move throughout the Earth preaching the Good News of Christ. We were never told to just sit in a church warming a pew. We were called to be active. How can a body be alive if nothing moves? How can we say Christ lives if his body does not move? God's love is not for us only, it is for all the people of the world. When Christ was on Earth, he walked all over preaching God's love and plan for Salvation. We are now his servants, followers, and body. We have to follow his example. It is not a choice. If you are saved and have become one with Christ, then we are COMMANDED to preach his word. It is not a choice nor an option. Its is a requirement.

    Peace be with you all and I love you all.

  • donald

    dog dont smoke no more

  • Courtney

    I as faced with a tough decision years ago (13 to be exact) to stop smoking weed daily (uh, casually for 6 years) or else hit the road packing. I chose to hit the road. God was able to use that moment to really outline who I was without Him. Not that He left me, but I was choosing weed over Him to help me through "issues" that the weed simply masked. I dug deep, and I chose to stop smoking. It was rough. I had some major soul issues that came back to life, but I was then able to ask God to help me through this "thing." By the way, I was a completely functioning, church going, college attending, hard working pot head. We're human, we're weak, we need love and acceptance and that's what Christ is all about. If we provide a safe haven for soul's to open up and be ministered to then God is able to deal with this instead of us trying to make sense of it. God gave us all we need to survive daily….the only addition to that we must have is HIM. Rock On Courageous!!

  • Andy

    You have to be the biggest hypocrit on here. It's funny how God made all things, but I guess he was wrong on pot. Oh yes, pot grows naturally in the world (Unlike alcohol, meth, crack, coke, heroin, etc: all derived through a scientific process). Why would God do such a thing as make a natural plant that allows people to enjoy it? Go fight you warrior battles with the other mega Christian elites (I'm still trying to figure out what battle you are fighting). Face it…you know as much as the rest of us do about what God says about marijuana…NOTHING! I have my bag of Doritos and Jerry jamming High Time….oh yes and I love Jesus! So adam, you're pretty much a tool.

    And about the volunteer: The best place for a stoner on Sunday morning is church…keep the volunteer!

  • Angry Christian

    You people make me ashamed to identify myself as a Christian. “Christians” are always ready to point the finger at people and give their opinions. What happened to the Word of God?? Why is it that Christians are so content giving their opinions?? It just makes me so sick to hear all of you. “Its illegal, its wrong, just don’t do it, stop smoking, remove him from his role”. God says “My people perish for lack of knowledge”. “Christians” are the most ignorant people on the face of the earth. They have been responsible for holding on to false information and traditions. I’m waiting for the day when the true people of God will stand up and put an end to all this nonsense. Where is the Word? Give me scriptures. Those in defense of smoking gave some. If you stand against smoking, give your scriptures. And legality is not an issue. Its legal in some states and many other countries. So what happens to your argument. Give something more. If you can’t the please shut up! You have been pushing people away from God and creating stumbling blocks for new believers based on your own limits and beliefs. You selfish brood of vipers, you hypocrites. You don’t want someone to be a stumbling block for you but you don’t care if you are one to someone else. God gave us free will. It is up to us to seel wisdom from Him to know what is right for me according to His Will. Stop judging others and pointing fingers. You all point out the speck in your brothers eyes but you all miss the plank in your own eye! Wake up people, your time is almost up. By the same measure that you judge you will also be judged. God will do the work peoples lives and he deals which each one of us individually. That’s why salvation is individual. Read the Word and shut your ignorant mouths. You give true Christians a bad name when they try to go evangelize and I’m sick of it.

  • Maggie

    How about getting high on the Holy Spirit instead of the counterfeit ? I challenge those who say that this is ok to ask God for His Spirit and see how great that feels….way better then the pot!!! Just invite Him!

  • Melinda Cutler

    Jesus accepts us as we are, He never tells us to get holy before we turn to Him, He calls us to come to Him and join with Him and His yoke and LEARN from Him. Therefore when one is walking with Christ moment by moment I believe they would abstain from ANYTHING that is illegal including Pot.
    However we are human and we still continue to sin even when we have turned our lives over to Him. He still continues to deal with us in Love that is so amazing, it is then that we have a choice to listen to God and refuse the idea the temptation (which if we don't, we give into our own lust which gives birth to sin).
    Or deliberatly go against His word. So one must open their ears and listen to what God is telling them as an indivdual and TRUST and OBEY HIM or they will receive the judgement of God. Go back and read Isaiah and Jeremiah…God's Chosen people turned away from OBEYING Him and His wrath was poured out upon them.
    Phillipians 4:8 Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/hayesstamper hayesstamper

    @Adam who used the phrase "anti-scripture"….REALLY?

    Historical Note:

    Both Yohanin and Yeshua (John the Immerser/Baptizer and Iesus) were inextricably linked to HEMP as part of their natural, cultural experiences.

    From the Torah: Anointing Oil
     22 Then the LORD said to Moses, 23 "Take the following fine spices: 500 shekels [a] of liquid myrrh, half as much (that is, 250 shekels) of fragrant cinnamon, 250 shekels of fragrant cane, 24 500 shekels of cassia—all according to the sanctuary shekel—and a hin [b] of olive oil. 25 Make these into a sacred anointing oil, a fragrant blend, the work of a perfumer. It will be the sacred anointing oil.
     

       1. Exodus 30:23 That is, about 12 1/2 pounds (about 6 kilograms)
       2. Exodus 30:24 That is, probably about 4 quarts (about 4 liters)
     
    * 500 shekels (about 6 kg) of myrrh, according to the Ra'avad. Maimonides translates this substance as musk.[1]
     
    * half as much (about 3 kg) of fragrant cinnamon,
     
    * 250 shekels (about 3 kg) of fragrant cane, "kaneh bosm," translated as Calamus or Cannabis),[2]
     
    * 500 shekels (about 6kg) of cassia, and
     
    * a hin (about 4 L according to Shiurei Torah, 7 L according to the Chazon Ish) of olive oil.
     
    The oil was used to anoint the vessels of the Tabernacle 30:26 and the High Priest, and is traditionally regarded as the oil used by prophets to anoint Saul, David, and other kings of ancient Israel. The title Christ / Messiah means literally covered in oil or "Anointed".

  • Robert

    Recently GOD made this very issue to me so simple that i would need help to mis-understand it, my cigar habit (black&mild)is killing me and will hurt my loved ones,my casual pot smoking is killing others ie.drug wars to get it into my hands and just as Abels Blood told on Cain their Blood is speaking my name and others!!!the TRUTH has made me FREE !!! Praise GOD the lover of my soul who is not casual in HIS pursuit of me! side note:I was recently diagnosed as being spiritually retarded (lol)a curable condition,prescription:renewing of the mind.
    Bless the LORD o my soul and all that is within me Bless HIS HOLY NAME!ps.103 KJV

  • Vellie Johnson

    I think that people have faults and it is not our duty to judge them. I am a very judgmental person and I find myself checking myself and realizing that differences in people is what makes us special and unique. Let them smoke their weed and call it a day, you may not realize how many people in the congregation have problems with smoking and drinking and whatever else. And who really says its bad, the government, what about the people smoking tobacco? If we stayed in Amsterdam, or even BC Canada, it is perfectly legal. I have never smoked marijuana, but I don't judge people that do.

  • Sinead Roy

    All depends on attitude. Is it one or repentence "I know this is wrong and I need help" or "this is my life, my sin and I want to continue in it"

  • http://www.solerpowered.biz Anita

    Speeding is illegal. How many volunteers are doing it? Probably way more than are smoking weed.
    During prohibition, alcohol was illegal, but then that changed and the church remains divided on the issue to this day. The bible clearly says we are not to get drunk, but does say that alcohol has medicinal purposes and is appropriate for celebratory use and makes the heart glad (see Paul, Proverbs).
    Use these same tests on pot: Can you smoke pot without getting fall down stupid and does it have some medicinal purposes? Yes. Is it Legal? No. IMHO it is EXACTLY like alcohol except it is not legal (yet?). We must obey God by obeying our laws. If it ever becomes legal, it will face the ongoing debate that alcohol still is subject to in the church today despite the fact that it passes the exact same tests as alcohol does according to scripture. Churches will fight over it until Jesus comes back, except for all the pot smoking Christians enjoying their freedom in Christ.

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  • Lucy

    I think it's ok. Smoking weed helps me worship an hear from god in the clearest form. He has spoke to me in some changing ways. When he speak things happen. It's like smoking help me get into the spirit realm, or let me say the inner courts to hear him clearly. My life has change dramatically since I started smoking. God is lord of my life and if they can hear from god as I do. Then they need a leadership part because god can use them better.

  • Dill

    "Every moving thing that liveth shall be meat for you; even as the green herb have I given you all things." (Genesis 9:3).

  • Lucy

    Cannabis is an herb that contains life not only in our spiritual body, But also in our natural body as well. Study to show proof of this miracle herb that will cause your spiritual life explode with fruit. Your will look at the Father is deeper ways that you never knew. Cannabis will bring sacred to the name of the Lord. Cannabis brings Gods closer. Cannabis opens our spiritual eyes to see spiritually.

  • Brother Alex

    I say this with all due respect, but this sounds like you are ignorant of the facts and history of the so-called marijuana plant. The correct (non-racial slur) name for it is cannabis. One of the main ingredients in the Holy Anointing oil, this plant has been revered for its superlative qualities since the dawn of human history. I am telling you (from a Christian minister's perspective) that your views about cannabis are totally incorrect and based on the lies you were told all your life. This is an issue of MAJOR IMPORTANCE to the believer, because the truth about cannabis changes everything, doesn't it? Search the term "the emperor wares no clothes".

    This is one of four truths that I have discovered that no pastor will ever tell you. Pastor Shaun, I love what you are doing in Atlanta. But remember the seven churches of Revelation? Be careful and study this issue for yourself. Then and only then should you address your weed smoker.

  • Lin

    Weed? .. you mean that herbal plant that GOD put here? The one that has proven medicinal benefits? What would "I" do? Not a thing. I would probly ask them not to smoke it around the place – only because of the smell. Other than that – I am NOT going to judge someone who is following God's law versus human control measures.

    It's Just weed. I've been clean and sober for 17 years, done it all .. booze, pills, needles and even the evil weed. > Honestly? I think weed is a non-issue. I've been asked – if I had to choose the pilot who'd had a few beers Or the pilot who'd had a few puffs = which would I choose? I'd choose the weed puffer – No contest. Again I'm talking about weed, pot, marijuana .. Not any of those nasty things that are mostly human chemicals .. blahblah ..

    it's just weed.

  • http://www.skirt.com/getaclewis/blog/love-dare Cheryl

    OK, I'm entering the fray, but only just barely. I have read every comment, so that I don't answer too hastily. I have no idea whether or not Jesus smoked pot and it's not my job to condemn anyone who does. (Whew! Sooo thankful God didn't give me that responsibility!) I have friends who I admire. I don't admire that they smoke pot on occasion (generally with friends on their vacations), but I admire their redeeming qualities, nevertheless. You could show me 20 people at church and I could tell you I admire them. You could then divulge that they are "casual" weed enthusiasts. I would likely be surprised, but still admire them despite the news.

    There. I've said all that. I wouldn't burn at the stake anyone who smokes pot. (I would not hire them, either, but this is church we're talking about. Hmm… wait… you are the pastor, Shaun, and so you WOULD be hiring them, in a sense. Does that change things for you? It would for me.)

    Would I hang out with them? Hmm. Tough call. Some pretty cool people smoke pot. I've seen some pretty cool people whose lives have been destroyed by it, too. They made crappy choices and their lives crashed and burned (no pun intended) and, yeah, I suspect the pot contributed to their feeling OK at the time about those choices. I also know some executives who are more successful than I will ever hope to be and they are renegade, behind-the-scenes "casual" tokers. Few that I know go to church, however. Most gamble and love games of chance.

    I just don't see my Jesus that way. He lived Life on the edge but, above all, He loved the temple that God gave each of us. I'm guessing He protected it against all fuzziness and smoke.

    So, I guess I wouldn't hang out with the pot smokers in my church. If I wouldn't want to hang out with them, do we belong in the same church? Well, I dunno. My church has 3,000 attendees each Sunday and I'm guessing many of them wouldn't want to hang out with ME. (Well, except the fifteen 10-year-old girls I mentor – they adore me.) I'm a bit of an oddball, socially. I'm a loner who doesn't like to be alone.

    So here's the bottom line for me: What's this volunteer doing? I would not want my children to be supervised by someone who smoked pot before they headed to church.

    Period.

    Exhale.

  • http://www.skirt.com/getaclewis/blog/love-dare Cheryl

    (And, now that you mention it, if I wouldn't trust this volunteer with my child, where WOULD I trust him/her?)

  • john al munce 3rd

    as a ServingSeeKINGfollower reading myourINstructionMANUAL tells me, 1Peter4+7 the time to be called could be atANYtime therefore BeSOBER and STAYinPRAYER…SOBER, comprende? clearMINDclearSPIRIT. noRecreationalDrugsNoDrunkenness selAhMEN
    john aloysious munce 3rd suggesthis@aol.com

  • john al munce 3rd

    asServingSeeKINGfollower reading myourINstructionMANUAL .i. see 1 Peter 4+7 the time to be called isANYtime….keepSOBER clearMINDclearSPIRIT noRecretionalDrugs noDrunkenness BeInPrayerBeREADY…selAhMEN

  • serge

    i was just thinking about this myself as a christian who recently took up smoking ganja again. i qut for two years but now ive been smoking after work and it takes my stress away. plus i smoke with friends who are responsible and dont oversmoke and we do things like go watch movies, not just sit on the couch. I dont care if i sound self serving as my knowledge of scriptures s not the keenest, but Paul did reveal that everything is permissible but not beneficial. E.G. I relieve my stress and i wake up happy when i smoke weed after work at night. thats cool it has some physical benefitss. but it also makes it harder for me to focus on just one thing the next day, not that my mind wonders but it minimizes my problems to where im not stressing on them specifically,therefore im not thinking about them , all i think about is how relaxing the natural high i get from cannabis felt last night(but it also helps me forget about plans which im anxious make instead of letting God give direction,(and after all if it is ereally meant to happen then God will make sure it will, so why worry?)), …so if cant focus on that then i bet it would be just as hard to focus on things above. so if I were to smoke everyday, then it would definitely damage me, but if i were to smoke casually then my mind would return to my normal state of mind quicker, allowing for spiritual growth. I dont know i guess on not quite on par with scriptures cause the heart is deceitful above all things” and ” Lean not on your own understanding”. but what ive put forth sounds sound, so i hope my point of view and belief on this issue helps.. MY Main Point is that We have to render our actions to God when we die, and i dont think hell paricularly hate me for it. I dont believe ill go to hell either because He designed weed, and He knew beforehand that we had the capability to cultivate different strains and to use it for certain uses. now if you overdose wouldnt that be harder to speak of before God then “God i smoked Hindu Kush, as you know it sent me straight to sleep when i had insomnia, those days i couldnt sleep. sorry for not trusting you with my problems that night but thank you for the ganja and for trusting us with the ability to cultivate it for right reasons.

    Sincerely- Serge

  • Zosimos

    Bah! This man is merely enjoying one of the many pleasures your so called "God" has given this earth. With everything one must be aware of there surroudings/environment and with that comes intake. This man is enjoying a wonderful plant that's been given to us. Who's to say what he is doing is wrong or illegal. He is happy and clearly if he is in this group then a good person the same. One should not judge, we all have our own paths that we follow in life, let us embrace each other instead :)

  • Zosimos

    You have it so right Lucy, some people just have no idea how amazing it rlly is. How close it brings you to the edge of the universe, the feeling of being one with everything. My consumption is for spiritual purposes ie. Meditation

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  • SL in Chicago

    Chad, I praise God for your wisdom. Yes, Church should = love!!!

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