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Todd Miles: Why Marijuana Use Is an Issue Church Leaders Must Not Ignore

todd miles
Photo courtesy of Todd Miles

Todd Miles is a Professor of Theology at Western Seminary in Portland, Ore., where he teaches theology, church history, hermeneutics, and ethics. Prior to becoming a seminary professor, he was a nuclear engineer at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. Todd’s latest book is “Cannabis and the Christian: What the Bible Says about Marijuana.”

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Key Questions for Todd Miles

-Why did you write a book about what the Bible says about marijuana—particularly when the Bible doesn’t actually mention marijuana? 

-Can we determine what to think about marijuana by looking at what the Bible says about alcohol? 

-Do you see any problem with people taking marijuana as a way to deal with their anxiety? 

-How can pastors and church leaders help their congregations walk through the challenges surrounding marijuana use?

Key Quotes From Todd Miles

“We have all the divine words that we need in order to live faithfully before God, to mine them for any wisdom that would pertain to this.”

“It probably will not work just to substitute the word “marijuana” every time we see the word “wine” [in the Bible] for a couple of reasons. One, wine is celebrated in the Scriptures and is part of the ritual worship of God throughout the Old Testament and in the New Testament.”

“If we’re going to apply biblical prohibitions on, say, drunkenness, which is where the concern would lie with alcohol, then we need to know how marijuana actually works before we can just kind of blindly start substituting biblical prohibitions on it.”

“The Scriptures are full, not just of prohibitions on drunkenness, but of explanations as to why it’s unwise and sinful to get intoxicated.”

“I’m pretty comfortable saying Biblical prohibitions on alcohol intoxication would also apply to intoxication by recreational marijuana.”

“A lot of people think, ‘Well, there’s medical marijuana, and then there’s another substance entirely called recreational marijuana.’ That’s not the case.”