Pot isnâ€™t going away in Colorado.
Pastor Ryan Couch of Missio Dei Church acknowledges that fact and hopes to encourage his Christian community to take an in-depth look at the current state of marijuana use in America and the church.
â€œItâ€™s typical for churches to react to current cultural topics when itâ€™s too late,â€ Couch said. â€œRather than taking a contemporary approach to controversial social issues, they tend to bury the reality of them.â€
Couch has provided a platform for the community to discuss a variety of topics that are sometimes unsettling or confusing for Christians in todayâ€™s world. On the first Wednesday of every month, Couch and other members of Missio Dei host â€œTheology Pub,â€ where relevant cultural topics are discussed from a Christian point of view.
Normally the meetings are held at Mulliganâ€™s Pub, but last nightâ€™s session, â€œShould Pot Be Legal?â€ met on campus at Johnson Hall.
Facilitated by Couch and Missio Dei church members, Dominick Adamo and Jason Laurie,the meeting heated up in no time.
â€œThe concept here is not to come up with some sort of dogmatic rule to adhere by,â€ Laurie said. â€œItâ€™s just to discuss the issue. Pot isnâ€™t going away.â€
Acknowledging the social use of marijuana is more controversial than medicinal use, itâ€™s possible that in the near future, pot could be legal to use recreationally. Opening the floor to the public, Laurie asked how people felt about that.
â€œJesus probably smoked pot,â€ one woman said.
There were others who took a more serious tone about it, citing scripture verses about sobriety, temptation and sin.
â€œChristians should be living a holy life,â€ said one man. â€œI donâ€™t think Christ would be smoking pot.â€
When someone in the crowd brought up the use of scripture to advocate the use of marijuana â€” referring to Genesis 1:29, where God gives humankind all seed-bearing plants â€“â€“Â panel member, Jason Laurie, warned of relying on Bible verses.
â€œWell, God made arsenic, but we shouldnâ€™t necessarily be smoking that,â€ he said laughing. â€œSo using that scripture to the extreme is probably not the best way to justify it.â€
Tyler Howell, a Christian member of the audience, had a problem with marijuana use, but not recreational alcohol use.
â€œI can have a beer, and I can drive home. I donâ€™t enter an altered state,â€ he said. â€œI donâ€™t think that there are different levels of high.â€
He continued saying he believed either a person is high â€” an altered state â€” or not. He said he didnâ€™t think God would approve of that altered state for recreation.
This brought on a heated discussion about what is sober and what isnâ€™t. There came no clear answer.
â€œThe topic is intimidating,â€ Couch said. â€œI can understand why pastors wonâ€™t touch this.â€
Couch said he likes to speak directly about these controversial topics in hopes that it will lead to other discussions about the Gospel and issues of identity.
â€œItâ€™s not cut and dry,â€ he said. â€œWe can worship pot, alcohol or food. These things arenâ€™t bad in of themselves â€” anything can be an idol. What weâ€™re ultimately striving for is identity in our Creator.â€
As the discussion wound around topics about using painkillers to treat pain or drinking a glass of wine to relax at night, to marijuana being a gateway drug and its use leading to sin, Laurie offered a concluding idea.
â€œIt seems like it might be an issue of intent.â€
The conversation among the crowd steered back to questions of sobriety, responsibility and identity.
Couch offered a general wrap-up to the idea.
â€œIt defines you when you loose control of yourself and your relationship with God,â€ he said. â€œOr if you leads you into sin.â€
Staff writer Emily Johnson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.