My question concerns Galatians 5:20, where witchcraft is listed as a sin. I read in Vine's Expository Dictionary of Biblical Words that the Greek word is pharmakia. The definition states that pharmakia "denotes the use of drugs to produce an unnatural state of mind, sometimes accompanied by incantations and spells appealing to the occult powers. In the present context, it would include all forms of sorcery including astrology, palm reading, seances, fortune telling, crystals and other forms of witchcraft." Is it biblically responsible to use this definition and scripture to talk about marijuana use and other drugs of the like as a sin? -- Vanesa

I appreciate your question, because I sense you are seeking integrity -- which means not making the Bible say something it doesn't actually say.

It is very tricky arguing theology from etymology (the study of the roots of words). The occult can involve mind-altering substances, but it need not have this meaning -- which means we must avoid the sort of narrowly defined, sweeping claims that can be refuted by anyone who consults theological resources. Short answer: No, this is not the best passage for discouraging marijuana use.

See also the linguistic look at all the key words in Gal 5:19-23.