Feb 032010
Authors: Ian Bezek

Having been raised in a conservative Christian home, the idea of a so-called “Theology Pub” would never have crossed my mind. Since then, I’ve seen a lot of the world and seen my beliefs evolve.

That said, Tuesday evening’s Theology Pub, put on by the Missio Dei church of Fort Collins, discussion of whether Christians can use marijuana at Mulligan’s Pub was still a real eye-opener for me. I had believed the stereotype that most Christians, myself excluded, either opposed any and all drug consumption, or were liberal hippies who felt that drug abuse would bring them “closer to God.”

What I found at this thoughtful discussion was, instead, a levelheaded discussion of whether it is moral, ethical and legal to consume marijuana, both as a person in our society and as a Christian in particular.

From the outset, it was clear that the church leaders weren’t pushing an agenda. The pastor said, “We aren’t here to be right or wrong,” instead saying, “We want to dialog and discuss this issue.”

While the majority of the participants in the discussion seemed to be Christians, there were numerous other parties there as well including a representative from Front Range NORML ­­­–– a marijuana advocacy group –– and three guys who referred to themselves as the “drunken existentialists.”
Not once did the conversation turn nasty, which was quite a surprise. Ryan Taylor, a member of the Drunken Existentialists, said they had come to the Theology Pub expected to get into an argument with the church members and then get kicked out, but things never got contentious.

As a Christian who doesn’t use pot but believes it should be legal, I was interested to see what a Christian pastor would think. I had expected a lecture from a Bible-thumper on the dangers of drug abuse and other such moral vices, and was pleasantly surprised with his reasonable approach.

I agree with the middle-of-the-road stance taken by the group as a whole. While I fully support the legislation of marijuana –– if you were at CSU in 2006, you probably saw me out on the plaza campaigning for Amendment 44 which would have legalized marijuana in Colorado –– I’m not convinced that its use is a good thing.

Just as it is detrimental to the body and often the mind to consume nicotine, alcohol or prescription drugs in excess, it isn’t advisable to regularly use marijuana unless you have a legitimate, and I don’t mean insomnia, medical need.

But using marijuana is no worse than drinking or smoking cigarettes. It’s obvious that we shouldn’t, as a society, be spending tens of thousands of dollars a year to lock marijuana users up in jail. While I don’t condone marijuana usage, it’s your body, no government bureaucrat should be able to tell you how to treat it.

The question offered by the debate of whether Christians can use marijuana isn’t all that exciting to me. What is heartening, however, is that reasonable, sensible Christians are able to have this discussion –– in a bar no less –– without any fists getting thrown or promises of eternal hellfire being uttered.

Christianity has been so far behind the times socially, with a significant number of conservative Christians still believing that drinking in moderation, dancing and rock music are terrible sins. From listening to Pat Robertson and the Religious Right, you’d think we Christians had just exited the crusades.

On the other hand, the people of Missio Dei church who put on the Theology Pub weren’t just washed-up ex-Boulderite hippies either. They were thoughtful people who were willing to have a realistic conversation on the role of Christianity in their life in an important social issue of our day.

If Christians as a group act more like the ones I spent Tuesday night with, then there will again be hope for Christianity as a relevant philosophy in American society. When a group of “Drunken Existentialists” can go to a “Theology Pub” without being offended, you know you’re doing something right.

Editorials Editor Ian Bezek is a senior economics major. His column regularly appears Mondays in the Collegian. Letters and feedback can be sent to letters@collegian.com.

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