I’ve been smoking marijuana since I was fifteen. When I was twenty-five, I accepted Jesus Christ as my Savior and Lord, and my life changed; but for some reason, a year and a half after giving up marijuana, I gave in and went back to smoking it. Since that time, I haven’t been able to quit…. I try and try, but I can’t. I’ve kept it a secret…. I go to church normally, but I feel miserable because of this constant sin. I feel frustrated.
Many people say that marijuana is not addictive. They say you can stop smoking it anytime that you choose to do so. But your story is evidence to the contrary. You haven’t been able to quit, even though you are continuing to try. That is the meaning of addiction.
Because this is an addiction, it can be compared to alcohol addiction, cigarette smoking, gambling, biting your nails, and even lying. These are all bad habits that are difficult to quit, caused by the chemical response in our brains when we engage in them. I encourage you to read Case 7 to learn a little about how our brains are actually modified by bad habits, which in turn make the habits more difficult to break.
We respect the fact that you feel sorrow for your actions and that you want to change. You are afraid that people in the congregation wouldn’t accept you if they were to find out your secret. If you read Case 609, you will understand that the church is actually a hospital for sinners rather than a club for saints.
Our advice to you will likely make you feel anxious and afraid. But if you have courage and follow what we suggest in spite of your fear, you will discover that it is worth the effort.
God did not create you to face life’s struggles on your own. He gave you a family at home, and then a church family, to help you. But by keeping your problem a secret you are allowing it to have control over your life, and you are not allowing others to help you.
Maybe you haven’t thought about it this way, but every single person in the church is a sinner, not a saint. Everyone has broken God’s laws. Some have already overcome their own temptations, but others have not. Many of them are struggling in silence, just like you are.
People like you who go to church and still have the tendency or temptation to sin are not hypocrites. The ones who are hypocrites pretend to be saints while hiding their sin from everyone else.
Therefore, tell a trusted mature friend in the church about your struggle. Ask him to pray for you and to ask you often how you are progressing in your goal of quitting marijuana. Then tell another trusted friend and ask for the same. Openly talk about your temptation, including when you have been successful in fighting it. Get that secret out of those dark corners, and bring it into the light of Christ.
If someone decides that you cannot teach or lead worship because of your temptations, humbly accept that decision as a challenge to overcome in the future. Any time someone judges you harshly, remember that Jesus taught that “those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” (1)
We wish you well,
1 Mt 23:12