Marijuana Debate Reveals Faith Conflict

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On July 29, 2018, Kurtis Lee wrote in the LA Times about the battle over marijuana in the state of Utah and the effect it’s having on The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and its members.

Brian Stoll, a member of the Church, shared his dilemma of taking marijuana for his back pain, but choosing to switch to a different medication in order to get married in the temple several years ago.

Marijuana is still illegal in Utah, unlike 30 other states that have passed laws allowing medical marijuana.

Now Brian, along with many others, is working to pass Proposition 2 allowing medical marijuana. However, there are others who believe that this decision will lead to legalizing recreational pot.

For more information on the article, read here: http://www.latimes.com/nation/la-na-utah-mormons-marijuana-20180729-story.html#

So what should be done?

Without a flat out “this is the Lord’s decision about marijuana” statement from the Church, it can seem difficult to know what position should be taken. Some may feel that God has spoken one way, while others may believe another.

But in the end, any debate about what man says or what God might be saying won’t get anyone anywhere. What it comes down to is learning to understand the words of the Lord through his prophets, and learning to recognize the Spirit’s prompting to us and then taking righteous and effective actions.

Because really, at one time or another, we may all find ourselves in a conflict between our own personal desires and our faith. Marijuana or other.

And since we believe that which the Spirit has confirmed to us about Jesus Christ and His church, we choose to believe and follow the counsel of modern-day prophets.

And we also choose to seek greater understanding from the blessings of modern knowledge and make good choices that align with God’s will.

So how do we do that?

Food for Thought

The facts and truths that we have tested and tried before need to be put on the table. Just because a conflict arises, does it mean we abandon all that we know?

I try to look at it this way. Members of the Church believe that God has placed prophets on the earth at this time to be His mouthpieces on this earth. Therefore their words should have a place at the table of our consideration.

So I place a plate full of the Word of Wisdom on the right hand, and any specific counsel or thoughts about marijuana, or anything else, from the leaders of the Church in a bowl right next to it.

Members also know that we are all children of God, and as such, He desires to care and provide for us.

So I add a large cup filled with the sweet remembrance that my suffering and struggle does not go unnoticed by God. Because he first drank the bitter cup to understand my own point of view and experience.

Then understanding that God cares for us, we also remember that he gives revelation through the Holy Ghost to us individually, to our bishops and to close loved ones.

So I position the utensils of the guiding revelation of the Holy Ghost to help me dig through the course meal of comfort food and an unknown combination of new food.

And here’s where things can get a little bit harder. Digging into the unknown.

Utensils in Hand, Ready to Go

In regards to this specific situation, there hasn’t been a lot of research done on the use of medical marijuana. The long-term effects of this have not been fully evaluated. This lack of complete understanding pertains to many other things in this world, like why depression and anxiety occur, or how cancer can be prevented. And honestly, this can be intimidating.

With the meal before us, known and unknown together can cause anxiety and fear. But here is where the utensils become the key.

And what is this key? It’s the Spirit!

The Spirit allows us to find peace and comfort beyond what knowledge can provide. And in situations where God deems it necessary that we have the knowledge, He provides it, in His time.

Sometimes the meal comes in courses, and we must be patient to receive all the food, or knowledge necessary, to take the needed actions.

Thus, the presence of the Spirit is ultimately necessary to have any real trust in what path should be taken in any of these situations.

But herein lies another truth. With the meal before us and utensils provided, it’s up to us to choose what we want to eat and dig through and what we choose to lay aside.

There may be many who will lay aside the utensils provided to dig through the unknown with their own bare hands and knowledge.

There are those who only pick the foods that are comfortable, whether that means following without thought those things they’ve always done or going with what is easy, like much of the world.

There are also those who choose to place the words of the prophets above the health and safety of themselves and their families, like the widow of Zerapeth who fed her last meal to the prophet Elijah.

What we choose to study, ponder and act on, or in this metaphor, eat, will have a direct result on our peace, joy, health, and happiness.

“Make Me a Little Cake First”

Having read Brian’s story, I think he took his food and tried and tested it with the utensils God has provided.

He exercised his faith and trusted in what God had promised. He followed the counsel of his bishop and was married in the temple. And despite the fact that he gave his last morsel, like the widow of Zerapeth to God, he found relief.

But perhaps not instant relief.

For this reason, he then has gone to work on what he doesn’t know. He obtained a different medication and he has sought to know what other means necessary there are to relieve his pain.

In these moments, now, he finds himself in the Abrahamic test.

Abraham in the Old Testament was commanded of God to sacrifice his own son. How in the world could a God who loves his children, ask Abraham to give up his only son?

Sure, we look at it now, knowing the final result that he didn’t have to, but for most of us now, who are asked the same in our particular situation, we don’t see the end.

For Brian, he may not know if his pain will end in this life or anytime soon. And in some ways, that may seem like a cruel judgment from a cruel God.

But this is the Abrahamic test. God tried the faith of his prophet to see if he truly loved God before all things. And Abraham proved well.

Because he passed this test, Abraham was promised blessings and covenants that have continued to bless all the earth. His faithfulness led to his happy life on earth and eternal life in the world to come.

And God allows us all to go through this test.

Don’t Forget; The Best For Last

In a meal, we always save the best for last. Dessert! We enjoy it after having passed through, perhaps, the painful unknown foods or less-than-favorite vegetables. Then comes the sweet, after the bitter.

In this life, we may pass through many unknown phases and traverse unknown paths. We may wander, wondering if God truly cares about us.

But with utensils in hand and faith in our hearts, we can trust that after we have sacrificed, we will receive of the sweetest blessings God can provide.

To the rest of the world, it may not make sense why we don’t use certain medications for our health, or why we so willingly follow the words of the prophets that may not make sense.

But we understand more. We know and we trust that God will provide. Just like God provided a ram for Abraham, He provides the best food for our table and prepares us to receive of His greatest blessings.

And He will provide the greatest blessings to those who faithfully seek understanding using the utensils provided to make our way home to God.