by Jeff Boyd
By AT News Team, October 27, 2014
Faith Bodle, who is a life-long Adventist, was disfellowshiped from the Beaumont Seventh-day Adventist Church for using medicinal marijuana, reports KBMT 12News, the local ABC affiliate in Beaumont, TX. In the state of Texas, purchasing and consuming marijuana is not legal for either recreational or medical purposes. Bodle began using marijuana in early 2014 to relieve the pain caused by trigeminal neuralgia (TN), a condition that affects the nerves of the face and head. Bodle told Adventist Today she never knew when the excruciating and debilitating pain would strike.
Despite being removed from the church's books, Bodle expresses ongoing commitment to both God and the Adventist Church. “I'm still an Adventist and I will be until the day I die. What they do on paper makes no difference to me because I know that my name is written in the Lamb's Book of Life. Taking my name off the books is just something that they did with a human-made book; it's done by human judgment, which we know can be erroneous,” Bodle declared. “I pray for them. I pray every day for them. I love them. I know that Christ loves them and died for them. We are commanded to love our enemies and do good to those who hate us. So I don't hate them, I don't have any ill will toward them.”
Adventist Today spoke with a representative of the Texas Conference and was told that neither conference nor congregational leadership could speak to the situation because of privacy concerns. The conference did share a general statement affirming the stance of the Adventist Church regarding personal health. The Church “has long taught and believes that our bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit and as such, we are to care for them intelligently. Since the use of illicit drugs is harmful to our bodies, we are to abstain from their use. This includes the sale, manufacture or advocacy for their use,” the statement read.
The conference statement concluded with what appears to be intended as a welcoming statement to Bodle: “The Beaumont Seventh-day Adventist Church also wishes to affirm that both members and non-members are always welcome to attend and participate in church services and activities.”
Bodle began suffering form trigeminal neuralgia in November 2013 but was not diagnosed until February 2014. When the pain would come, Bodle says she was only able to scream like Edvard Munch's famous painting. “I couldn't touch my face, talk or do anything. The pain was so excruciating. They also call it the suicide disease because it is so relentlessly excruciating that people have committed suicide to end the pain,” Bodle relates.
Working with a neurologist and a pain management specialist, Bodle took a prescribed cocktail of pharmaceuticals, but this proved ineffective at reducing the pain. When a close companion recommended trying marijuana to alleviate the pain, Bodle was doubtful but desperate. To her surprise, the marijuana helped dramatically, so she began to research the plant, settling on cannabis oil as her preferred method of consumption.
When church members became aware of her use and advocacy, Pastor Ben Guerrero and an elder visited Bodle, informing her of the need to stop using the illegal drug. Bodle consulted her physician and decided to continue using cannabis oil. Consequently, Bodle was told the church board would meet to review her situation. In her 10-minute defense at this meeting, Bodle read a letter from her physician indicating the efficacy of the cannabis oil. Her defense was not sufficient to influence the board, which voted to disfellowship Bodle.
Bodle has been on pain medications for a number of years because of a car accident, scoliosis and degenerative arthritis in her spine. While taking cannabis oil, she was pleased to discover that she was able to reduce her medications for these preexisting conditions.
Consistent with the statement by the Texas Conference, Bodle affirms the health stance of the Adventist Church. “There is a long-list of side effects for every one of my medications. Our bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit, and we're not supposed to be putting things in our bodies that are damaging to them. So when I think about what I'm doing to my body every time I take those pain medications, it bothers me that I'm damaging my kidneys, my liver and more,” she says. In contrast, Bodle believes that using marijuana is beneficial rather than harmful, with few negative side effects. She adds, “I know we can't just rely on cannabis oil to cure all of our diseases and continue with the lifestyle that caused the diseases in the first place. This is part of the health message that I feel God has given to us.”
Bodle returned to this theme repeatedly while speaking with Adventist Today. “If we don't eat a good healthy plant-based diet, and don't stay active, drink a lot of water, get fresh air and sunshine, and get plenty of rest, then even though we have a miracle cure, it's not going to help us because we're going to go back to the lifestyles that made us sick in the first place.”
Miraculously, Bodle believes marijuana cured her of trigeminal neuralgia. “I believe using for 3 months, I've been cured of TN. I've had no other attacks since the end of April. I've been told that once the myelin sheath is gone, it doesn't grow back, but I believe God has the power to grow it back. He made it in the first place, why can't he grow it back?” Bodle would like to continue using cannabis oil in order to limit the use of drugs for her prior conditions relating to spinal pain.
While she does not support using marijuana as a recreational drug merely to get high, Bodle does fear that merely approving marijuana for medicinal reasons will still leave many people without proper access. “With the legalization for medical use only, they're going to say that only people dying with cancer or terminal diseases are entitled to getting a prescription for it. She continues, “I'm not an advocate of recreational marijuana, and I have let people know that, because I don't believe we should be using it just to get high. I think we should use it for the good that it can do. I don't get high. I use it for pain relief.”
Bodle hopes that her situation will be of use to others. “I'm glad I got TN if I'm able to help someone else who suffers from that horrific pain.” She emphasizes this point, “If it can cure my TN, it can cure someone else's TN. And if it can take care of my back pain, it can help someone else with their back pain. For me to keep silent and not share that with someone who is suffering is an atrocity.”
Between 1985 and 1996, the Seventh-day Adventist Church released five statements regarding drugs and temperance.* None of these refer directly to the use of marijuana for medical purposes, indicating the need for the Church to consider this topic as Adventists across the North American Division wrestle with the complexities of healthful living when formerly illegal drugs can now be prescribed by physicians in certain locations. (For additional viewpoints, see this previous Adventist Today report, link.)
Chemical Use, Abuse, and Dependency (July 5, 1990) – https://www.adventist.org/information/official-statements/statements/article/go/0/chemical-use-abuse-and-dependency/36/
Historic Stand for Temperance Principles and Acceptance of Donations Statement Impacts Social Change (October 11, 1992) – https://www.adventist.org/information/official-statements/statements/article/go/0/historic-stand-for-temperance-principles-and-acceptance-of-donations-statement-impacts-social-change/48/
Smoking and Tobacco (June 29-July 8, 1995) – https://www.adventist.org/information/official-statements/statements/article/go/0/smoking-and-tobacco/36/
Smoking and Ethics (October 1-10, 1996) – https://www.adventist.org/information/official-statements/statements/article/go/0/smoking-and-ethics/24/