It was written on the back of a recent attendance card by one who seems to be pretty young–less than ten years old. I did not recognize the child’s name, so I would guess it to be a visitor. Yet, the plaintive cry pulls at my heartstrings.
Ironically, another visitor (a grown man) several weeks ago took great issue with the idea that smoking is sinful. Apparently, I had talked about how harmful the use of tobacco is to the body and he did not appreciate it. We discussed the matter, and using some other substances which the Bible does not specifically condemn as comparisons–methamphetamines, heroine, and cocaine–agreed that lacking a specific “thou shalt not” statement does not make the use of a substance okay. With the body of evidence regarding the carcinogenic properties of tobacco and the known associated health problems connected to its use, one would stand on thin ice and shaky ground to defend the use of tobacco.
But, where does the Bible say that smoking cigarettes is a sin? How does one come to that conclusion? What principles are there to consider?
- What about stewardship? 1 in 13 people in the U.S. will develop lung cancer in their lifetime, but a 2006 European study revealed that 0.2% of men and 0.4% of women who never smoked will develop it. That same, latter study shows that 24.4% of men and 18.5% of women who smoke 5 or more cigarettes per day will develop it (for more info, see http://jnci.oxfordjournals.org and http://aje.oxfordjournals.org). That is an extremely elevated risk. Additionally, few, if any, have argued that cigarettes or smokeless tobacco are essential (like, say, food) to the body. Thus, to spend money–often money one does not have–on a substance that actually elevates the risk of harm to oneself is reckless, poor stewardship.
- What about selfishness? Given studies like the one above, and there are multiplied many more, a tobacco user does so selfishly. To knowingly engage in something that could shorten or impair one’s life is to puts self above others. It also often places others in harm’s way who have to endure “second-hand smoke.” Jesus’ “Golden Rule” seems apt consideration in this regard (Lk. 6:31; cf. Ph. 2:3-4).
- What about sway? What Paul says about meat could equally apply to smoking (cf. 1 Co. 8:13). Why make my brother stumble? Especially when such stumbling brings ramifications to us, too (Mat. 18:7). Our lives should exemplify Christ, leading people to a better way of living on this earth.
Who knows exactly why this young child wanted us praying for mom to quit smoking? But this little one’s concern was palpable. May we share concern over any habit, substance, or practice so potentially damaging to ourselves and those close to us.