Who cares what a guy named “Sho Baraka” thinks…or smokes?
Well, a little explanation as to why the concern is in order. “Sho Baraka” is a Christian Hip-Hop artist who spits his rhymes for the Hip-Hop label, Humble Beast. Humble Beast is a “collective” of who they call “creatives;” pastors, writers, theologians and musicians who desire to “all share an open an honest commitment to Jesus Christ.” More importantly, Humble Beast is under the pastoral ministry and authority of Art Azurdia and Trinity Church, Portland.
Azurdia, in my opinion, is one of the genuinely most talented expositors and skilled homileticians of our time. Simply put, Azurdia’s preaching is phenomenal. Furthermore, I have had “transplants” from Azurdia’s church to my own, and they have been well discipled individuals and I thank him for his evident pastoral care.
However, the following is a concern…
Sho Baraka (who also has used the “n-word” in his music) very enthusiastically endorses recreational marijuana and says it’s “absolutely” acceptable for the christian, and says that’s his biggest regret about being in LA because of “not partaking in the herbals.”
He regrets being in LA because he can’t smoke pot. Okaaaay.
Sho Baraka – who has also been a featured artist at Desiring God – goes on to say, “To bring the Christian aspect into it…there are certain things Christians should totally abstain from, but then there are things like marijuana, where there’s liberty to engage, especially if it’s legal…”
He goes on to say (you can listen to the whole episode here; start listening at the 49 minute mark) that “there are some laws that are unjust, and almost need to be broken.”
Humble Beast, to reiterate, is under the pastoral and church authority of Art Azurdia and Trinity Church Portland, at least according to online sources (they have spoken and performed at Trinity Church as well). Sho Baraka seems to be the most prominent artist associated with Humble Beast (it’s his image that is prominently displayed on their website).
While we would recognize that there is a certain Christian liberty with substances which may harm the body or alter the mind with sustained or excessive use (like alcohol, for example), marijuana has a mind-altering effect immediately upon inhalation or consumption. As a former full-time addiction counselor, I can assure you that marijuana alters the mind significantly upon the first puff, and science backs that up. Whereas one has to drink an excessive amount of alcohol to become intoxicated, the effects of marijuana hit the brain within only seconds of first inhalation. Simply put, it is impossible to use marijuana recreationally “responsibly,” or in a way that will not significantly alter one’s mind in a way prohibited by the Scripture.
The Bible’s prohibition against “drunkenness” applies to any substance that would make one lose self-control or alter their mind, whether drank, smoked, snorted or injected. And while we recognize that opiates and other medicines (cannabis included) may alter the mind, the Christian Church has always recognized the validity of approved medical treatments. This conversation, however, and Sho Baraka’s endorsement, was for non-medical, “recreational” use.
But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler—not even to eat with such a one – 1 Corinthians 5:11
With Lecrae endorsing the Shack (calling it “dope”) and Bizzle denying the importance of Trinitarianism, one wonders if Christian Hip-Hop will become the shallow mess that so many predicted it would be.
I hope sanity prevails among Christian artists who specialize in the genre (and I love me some Shai Linne and the artist formerly known as Voice), but of all places, I also thought that sanity would prevail among those under the teaching of Art Azurdia.
It’s one thing to win the culture. It’s another to let the culture win you.