Confessions of a reluctant activist.
Recently, I attended two conferences. The first, hosted by a Christian law firm, advised attendees on the state of religious freedom in Canada today, and the rights and obligations of the church. The second aimed at inspiring Christians to greater political involvement. Neither presented an optimistic view religious freedom in Canada. The first instructed Christians how to be involved legally in the Canadian Public Square, and the second warned of the marginalisation of the church. I longed for a third seminar: “How To Sleep At Night in a Scary World.” I get exhausted just thinking about the important issues facing Christians each day. There are many urgent matters that confront us globally, nationally, and in our own back yard.
For example, as I write this, the house next door is surrounded by police cruisers. But this is the norm for our neighbourhood. Our street is under siege from drug dealers, prostitutes, users, slum-lords, and other criminals. We choose to live here because it is our calling to do so, and we sleep well at night (ok, most nights), because this too is our Father’s world. God is as present and sovereign here as He is in the suburbs.
But there are larger political issues, such as same-sex marriage and the right of religious protest. If I allowed every urgency, every issue, every cause to become “the” cause, I couldn’t make it a week.
I am a reluctant activist. I do what I can within the limits of time and gifts God has granted me. So whether I deal with same-sex marriage and its implications, or the drug deal going down in the alley behind my house, I must remember that neither manner of chaos shall prevail over the ever-advancing Kingdom of God. Marriage will not be changed, because no church or government has real power or ability to change it. Neither can God be legislated out public life. Nor will lawlessness finally prevail in my neighbourhood. This place too, is His. He uses our presence as salt and light, globally and locally, but we are in no sense indispensable to His work. God is still sovereign and in control of the events of humans. Now I can get some rest.

©2005 Scott Jacobsen, Published in the Winter 2005 Alberta Bible College Evangel

Unpublished Letter to the Editor

Re: Up in Smoke Café
The recent media attention given to the pro-marijuana protest and the Up in Smoke Café raises some important questions about the proposed legalisation (or decriminalization) of marijuana.
Contrary to popular myths, studies have shown that marijuana is addictive, usually a gateway drug to harder substances (coke, etc), is dangerous both from a personal health consideration as well as motor-vehicle impairment. It is more physically dangerous than cigarettes, and has been shown to be very harmful to the unborn children of smokers.
Perhaps the saddest thing is that those who use marijuana can permanently impair their ability to think. Habitual users of marijuana will likely experience some irreversible brain damage. What does the future hold for these users? Or for that matter, what about the future of their children? Those who argue for the repeal of marijuana laws are condemning future generations to low income and diminished opportunities. Can a daily user adequately provide for their children? Will a child do as well in school when her parent(s) are regular users of marijuana? Will children of marijuana users be given the same chances to be drug-free later in life? Studies and evidence indicate that the answer to these questions must be “no.”
The current attitude seems to portray marijuana use as a strictly private affair, and that laws should somehow reflect this privacy. But when one considers the long-term cost to society of marijuana decriminalization, it true cost becomes clear. The reality is that the cognitive damage done to smokers will be the debt of our time and for future generations. There are many things that can cause brain injury: birth defects, accidents, disease, to name a few. Those who suffer from these must be compassionately cared for by the larger community. But must this same community be further burdened by those who so willingly bring this damage upon themselves? Habitual use of marijuana will create more dependents than social services can sustain. This will eventually result in more cruel cutbacks to welfare that affect all who rely on such services. The decriminalization of marijuana will be construed to bestow a new “right” –a right to injure oneself deliberately and permanently, and then to expect compensation at taxpayer expense.
Another argument for the decriminalization of marijuana is that it is no worse than alcohol. It is also asked if it isn’t somehow hypocritical to allow one substance and ban the other. Even if it were true that marijuana is less harmful than alcohol, why would it be wise to make another legal-but-harmful substance available to the public? If we have one unmanageable problem, how would adding another help?
Politicians and the public need to carefully weight the long-term consequences of marijuana use and its decriminalization. Failure to do so is a lapse of judgement we cannot afford.
Marijuana use destroys lives, children, and our community.