Why Are Humans So Drawn to Psychoactive Substances? Part Two
In part one of this blog we discussed at length how we’ve learned through decades of research that humankind’s fascination with mind-altering substances is nothing we contemporaries can take credit (or blame) for. It’s an ancient phenomenon that dates all the way back to prehistoric times. As Solomon famously concluded, “there is nothing new under the sun.”
So why is this behavior so prevalent? Why is the attraction so powerful?
We’ll get to that question, but in a moment...
First, let’s consider why it matters. Why ask why? Because the reasons we have for using any of the natural resources God’s placed at our disposal are important. There are both healthy and unhealthy reasons and it’s important that we thoughtfully consider them. If a person is motivated to exercise as a means of keeping their body fit in order to live a full life, that can lead to very positive outcomes. However, if their motivation is an attempt to satisfy a negative and unrealistic body image, the very same activity can just lead to more dysfunction. So our motivations can have a great deal to do with whether or not the use of cannabis itself is healthy and beneficial, or harmful. Self-reflection and understanding are basic training if we are to live lives that reflect the pattern of Jesus. We could always use a little reminder that “a person’s ways seem pure to them, but motives are weighed by the LORD,” Proverbs 16:2. Or as John Calvin put it, “Nearly all wisdom we possess... consists of two parts: the knowledge of God and of ourselves.”
So as we enjoy what God has given, we must also respect it for the powerful plant that it is and be mindful of why and how we use it. Jesus & Jane is founded in large part as a place to promote this kind of “Christian mindfulness” around the use and enjoyment of cannabis. This is an important part of the journey if we are ever to bring cannabis use within the church out of the shadows and into the light with sound theology to back it up.
Why are people so drawn to psychoactive substances?
This is a very broad question, but our focus here is on cannabis, so that’s as far as we’ll be taking this. While it’s possible that some of these concepts may be more broadly applicable, let’s not get ahead of ourselves.
A Jesus & Jane poll recently asked followers if the benefits they enjoyed from cannabis were largely medical or recreational. While the poll is being left open, results so far show medical use to be the strongest motivator among the group at over 70%. But looking deeper within those two broad categories, the reasons people find for using cannabis include... and this is is just a partial list:
- As medicine – It won’t be news to most people at this point that cannabis is recognized for it’s use in treating a long list of conditions. (For a conservative list, just look at the conditions recognized by US states with medical access laws.)
- To relax – whether alone after a hard day at the office or with friends or family.
- For relief – from stress, anxiety, fear, pain or anger related to personal, psychological or family issues
- For fun – Psalm 104 notes that wine gladdens the heart, and anyone who has ever passed a joint among a group of friends knows what a great experience that can be.
- To enhance creativity – Cannabis has been praised for its positive effects on creativity and problem solving, and for good reason.
- For spiritual enlightenment – The power of cannabis to open the mind to new insights and understanding has been recognized for millennia. It’s inspiring to think how a closer relationship between Christians and cannabis could open new insights through the influence of Holy Spirit and an elevated mind.
A quick read through Wikipedia’s entry on Cannabis and Religion reveals a long and mixed history where faith meets cannabis, but one thing upon which all these faiths can likely agree is that life consists of more than just what we see and perceive with our physical senses. Those of us on a spiritual path know this to our core. It’s one of the things that drives us forward in our spiritual growth. Many are discovering that cannabis can be an ally in this journey. Artists have long experienced the creative benefits that cannabis offers, one of them being the ability to recognize patterns and make connections that otherwise aren’t apparent. It turns out, this can be very beneficial to spiritual seekers as well. We at Jesus & Jane are excited to see and hear the experiences of others who share the Christian faith and a love of cannabis. Surely there are great insights and connections to be made. So let’s talk. Feel free to share your experiences here in comments, or join the conversation in our Facebook Group.