Is smoking sin? I’ve heard it was disputable and can go either way. Can
you please give me deep detailed insight on this matter? Thanks.

Yes, smoking is a sin. It is true that the Bible does not prescribe “thou
shalt not smoke tobacco.” This is not surprising, because tobacco was not
known to the Western world until the 1600’s, when it was brought over from
the New World. But then again, the Bible does not specifically say that
shooting up heroin daily is a sin. The Bible provides principles of what
is acceptable behavior and what is sin which can easily handle the
question of smoking. What, then, are the biblical principles by which one
can conclude that smoking is a sinful practice?

I would start with the obvious. Can you imagine Jesus Christ pulling out
five dollars, slapping it down, buying a pack of Marlboros and lighting
up? Can you imagine him sucking in those carcinogenic fumes? John chapter
one clearly declares that in Jesus God dwelt for a while among us. If I
cannot conceive of God, in the form of Jesus Christ, doing a particular
thing, then I had better not do it myself.

Consider another biblical principle, as described in 1 Corinthians 6:19.
Your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit. The spirit of this passage is
that since we are the living temple of the Holy Spirit, we should not
defile our body. If we were not aware that smoking devastated nearly every
system in the body, ultimately leading to terrible health and most likely
death, we might be off the hook on this one, but we are not. Is bungee
jumping in this category? Well, I suppose it is a matter of degree. An
activity with absolutely no positive aspect to it whatever (smoking) but
which devastates a person’s health is in a different category from a fun,
exhilarating and challenging (although somewhat dangerous) activity such
as bungee jumping. In the end, there will be gray areas, but as I see it,
smoking is not one of those gray areas!

Consider another aspect. When we smoke, we are poisoning the air of
everyone around us. The second leading cause of lung cancer in the world
is second hand smoke. It is also a leading cause of juvenile asthma. The
list could go on… Do you think this might fall into the do to others
what you would want them to do for you category? Besides causing physical
harm, when a person smokes, they are producing extremely obnoxious smells
which insult the space of everyone around them.

Lastly, consider the question of example. Could you imagine inviting
someone to church to hear the gospel preached while smoking? Even if you
could somehow ignore all the evidence that smoking is terribly damaging,
clearly you will not be able to convince your neighbors. Just this week my
twelve year old daughter mentioned to me that in her opinion anyone who
smokes is extremely stupid. She would have absolutely no respect for that
person at all. Could a Christian purposefully take part in an activity
which would have this effect on the majority of people? I think not. A few
relevant scriptures could be mentioned, such as Romans 14:23 “Everything
that does not come from faith is sin.” 1 Corinthians 8:13, “if what I eat
causes my brother to fall into sin, I will never eat meat again, so that I
will not cause him to fall.”

In summary, smoking is not disputable to anyone who is sincere about
applying the word of God to their lives. Anyone who disputes this probably
has a number of sin issues in their lives, I would guess, or at least has
a very poor grasp on the biblical teaching on sin.

John Oakes, PhD

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