Is Smoking Sinful?
Smoking is one of those topics that the Bible doesn’t give a clear answer about. So how then can we determine an answer? Here are a few things to consider.
1. Smoking has pagan roots.
It is interesting to note that the origin of smoking tobacco came from indigenous, heathen religions.
The Bible tells us that if the root is holy so are the branches (Romans 16:11). And vice versa! If the origin of something is ungodly, then according to this verse, the results will be as well. Therefore, we need to pay attention to the historical and spiritual roots of activities that the world entices us to take part in.
Tobacco had been used for centuries. The early Spanish and Portuguese explorers in the 1500’s took tobacco leaves, plants, and seeds back to Europe where tobacco became very popular and in high demand due to its addictive properties. It became stylish in society to smoke, sniff, or chew tobacco. When the American colonies were settled, tobacco became a very lucrative cash crop. It was even used as a currency with an established conversion rate backed by the gold standard. In 1613, John Rolfe exported the first shipment of Virginia tobacco from Jamestown to England (Ramos, 2020).
The roots of tobacco came from religion. Now, many argue that so are other things that Christians use. However, to that I would say, how does one use tobacco for the glory of God? Instead, it leads to my second point perfectly.
2. It damages your body.
Only in the last half century have governments worldwide warned people against smoking. Tobacco kills up to half of its users and is the main cause of lung cancer.
It kills more than 8 million people each year. More than 7 million of those deaths are the result of direct tobacco use while around 1.2 million are the result of non-smokers being exposed to second-hand smoke (World Health Organization, 2022). Many people consider smoking to be slow suicide. Slowly you are murdering yourself. Longtime smokers can expect to lose about 10 years of life expectancy (Doll, 2004).
1 Corinthians 6:19-20 teaches us that our body is the temple of the Holy Spirit. Because our body belongs to God, our desire should be to keep it in optimal health.
3. It is highly addictive.
When a user chews, smokes, or sniffs a tobacco product, nicotine is delivered to the brain within 8 seconds. Despite its effects on the lungs, this addiction causes its users to be enslaved to it long-term.
Addictions, in general, are measured by several characteristics: the severity of withdrawal symptoms, inducement to continued use, the need for more drugs to obtain the same effect, difficulty in quitting, and the degree of intoxication. The most addictive drug of all is nicotine. The active chemical ingredient in tobacco.
This is an alarming statistic. 1 Corinthians 6:12, says that even though all things are allowed, we shouldn’t choose to be enslaved by any. As believers, we rejoice in the liberties we have, but we should also be cautious to intentionally avoid that which could enslave us. Knowing the high chances of addiction, and choosing to do it anyway, I believe is a sin (James 4:17).
4. Smoking conforms to the culture.
Stress, peer pressure, and curiosity are common reasons people begin to smoke (1 Corinthians 15:33).
This act, however, has been vigorously condemned along with other vices in evangelical churches for decades because Christians are expected to live a “separated” lifestyle from those “of the world” (Romans 12:2).
The church opposes the use of tobacco because it is a habit that is harmful to a Christian’s testimony. More so, it damages a Christian’s body, which is the temple of the Holy Spirit.
5. It hurts those close to us.
In the United States, some 50,000 people die from sicknesses caused by secondhand smoke. Up to 300,000 children get lung infections and up to 1 million develop asthma because of secondhand smoke. Secondhand smoke accounts for more than 3,000 lung cancer cases every year and an average of 46,000 heart -disease-related deaths in nonsmokers. It is also associated with asthma, colds, and ear infections in children and has been linked to sudden infant death syndrome (Association, 2022).
The results are devastating. Not just for the individual, but to those who care about them. As believers, we are called to seek the well-being of others around us equally as much as our own (1 Corinthians 10:24).
6. Smoking is a waste of money.
Over 80% of the world’s 1.3 billion tobacco users live in low- and middle-income countries.
A pack of cigarettes in the USA is 2 to 4 times more expensive than a gallon of gasoline; high federal and state taxes have been imposed on tobacco products to discourage the use thereof. Those who are least financially able to buy cigarettes are the most likely to get addicted to smoking (World Health Organization, 2022).
Now the Bible warns us in Isaiah 55:2 about spending our money on that which is not bread. As Christians, we are called to be responsible with our finances. we shouldn’t be financing the destruction of our body and that of those around us.
When trying to narrow in on the answer of “Is smoking a sin,” we look to the principles that are stated by God’s Word. This helps us determine the answer, despite there not being a clear statement written. By those principles, we are are led to live a pure and holy life.
That is why I believe that it is a sin for Christians to waste their life away smoking.
Source: Sanchez-Ramos, J. R. (2020, August). The rise and fall of tobacco as a botanical medicine. Journal of herbal medicine. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7247455/ World Health Organization. (n.d.). Tobacco. World Health Organization. https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/tobacco#:~:text=Tobacco%20kills%20more%20than%208,%2D%20and%20middle%2Dincome%20countries. Doll, R., Peto, R., Boreham, J., & Sutherland, I. (2004, June 26). Mortality in relation to smoking: 50 Years’ observations on male British doctors. BMJ (Clinical research ed.). https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC437139/ World Health Organization. (n.d.-a). Tobacco. World Health Organization. https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/tobacco Association, A. L. (2022.). Health effects of secondhand smoke. American Lung Association. https://www.lung.org/quit-smoking/smoking-facts/health-effects/secondhand-smoke
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