A Wise Life

A blog by Lisa Price

For none of us lives for ourselves alone, and none of us dies for ourselves alone.  Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification~ Romans 14:7 and 19 NIV

 I live in the state of Washington.

 The state of Washington is famous (some would say infamous) for many things, some of them magnificent, others less so. A few of those things include (but are not limited to) Nirvana, evergreen trees, coffee shops, the Space Needle, apples, rain, really great seafood, Jimi Hendrix, and of course legalized marijuana.

 Sadly, it’s marijuana that gets the most attention these days.

 Typically when I talk to people from outside the state we eventually end up in a ridiculous discussion about drug use in general, and marijuana use in particular.

 The conversation typically goes something like this:

 Them: “So, you’re from Washington State?”

 Me: “Yes.”

 Them: “So is it true you can, like, buy pot anywhere?”

 Me: (tired sigh) “well, not exactly. There are special stores where you can buy marijuana. You can’t get it at Wal-Mart yet. But, I’m sure that’s coming.”

 Them: “I hear there are lots of tax benefits to legalizing marijuana. I bet your schools and roads have improved a lot.”

 Me: (barely controlling an overwhelming impulse to roll my eyes) “Well, no. Actually the schools are pretty much just bad as they have always been and our roads have potholes roughly the same size as the craters on the moon. However, the riff-raff are taking over the state and our property taxes have gone up every year since marijuana was legalized. Oh, and fatal car crashes involving marijuana have more than doubled since it was legalized. Because of that our auto insurance rates have gone through the roof. So, I guess that’s something.”

 Them: “I sure wish my state would legalize marijuana.”

 Me: “Why on earth would you want that?”

 Them: “I just think people should be able to do whatever they want as long as it doesn’t hurt anyone else.”

 At this point, one of two things typically happens. If I’m feeling charitable I tag out and go find someone rational to talk to. If I’m in a bad mood or feeling feisty, I challenge their thinking.

 I typically begin with the above-mentioned facts regarding taxes, car crashes and insurance rates. I follow all of that up with a few statistics concerning the countless social ills that inevitably follow drug legalization. I usually include some statistics on addiction rates to harder drugs and point out the problems our society already has with children stuck in an overburdened foster care system because their parents are too addicted and/or screwed-up to care for them.

 The other person typically snaps back with what they believe is the final and conclusive response to every point I have made thus far in the conversation:

 “Well, it’s not like any of us are our brother’s keeper. Those are not my problems. Why should I be denied the “right” to use marijuana recreationally and responsibly just because some people move on to harder drugs or use drugs and drive.”

 At this point if my sweet husband happens to be within earshot he places his hand gently on my arm and attempts to lead me away from the unfortunate chump who is about to get an earful of my feelings on this subject. He knows that I do believe we all are to one degree or another our brother’s keeper. Each and every one of us has a sacred duty to look after the health and well being of the other seven billion souls who live on this planet whether we feel like it or not and this is not just about marijuana or drug legalization.

 It’s about a little thing we call “being human”.

 Decent people voluntarily set aside their own interests and avoid doing things that have the potential to hurt others or lead weak people astray. That is why past generations avoided things like smoking marijuana, cursing in public, using hard drugs, looking at porn in public spaces, and dumping their spouses for younger models. Not just because some of those things were unlawful but also because they had the good sense to understand that those things can and do cause harm to other people, especially children. And the culture was better off for it.

 Christians are called to an even higher level of “being human” than the rest of humanity. The Apostle Paul went so far as to suggest we give up eating meat and drinking wine if our eating and drinking causes another person to stumble. I for one believe our society could use a fresh dose of that kind of thinking.

 

 

 

3 thoughts on “Yes, You Really Are Your Brother’s Keeper

  1. Aaron Mendenhall says:

    I don’t know that it’s any business of my “brother” that I eat meat or drink wine. If it bothers them, I won’t do it around them, but I am under no obligation to give that up altogether, especially if I’m doing it in the privacy of my own home. Some Christians really need to mind their own business and not try to force THEIR standards or beliefs on me.

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    1. Aaron, it was not my intention to tell other Christians what they should eat or drink. I really don’t care what other Christians eat or drink. I was simply attempting to make the point that Christians are encouraged to show concern for spiritual health of fellow Christians. We are told in Scripture we should avoid doing ANYTHING (especially in public) that might create problems, confusion or a stumbling block for others (Romans 14:21). This is a call to live unselfishly and to put the needs of others above our own (Philippians 2:3). God promises great reward for those who are willing to live at that level of obedience.

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  2. Aaron Mendenhall says:

    I got the gist of your point. I, however, was presenting the other side of the coin, so to speak. Am I, in your opinion, under obligation to refrain from doing something that a weaker Christian might not like, even if I’m doing it in the privacy of my own home when they’re not even around? Say another Christian is a vegetarian. Say he really hates the idea of other believers eating meat. Say he lectures me that I shouldn’t eat it. Say he asks me if I eat meat at home. As a Christian, I’m not going to lie and say “no.” Am I now obligated to refrain from eating meat ever again, even though he never comes to my house and he never sees me eat meat? Or is he taking things too far and being unreasonable? I ask because, while I concede that there are “weaker Christians,” I believe that these same Christians need to eventually mature and realize that we have liberty in Christ to do things that others might not personally choose to engage in. As long as it’s not sin, we are free to do many things, including things that others might personally have a problem with for one reason or another. Do you believe weaker Christians have an obligation to mature? Do you believe weaker Christians can take things too far in what “stumbles” them?

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