Thursday, January 5, 2017

Thoughts on Christians and Smoking

This is a post I have been wanting to write for a very long time. My reasons for this is I don't want to come across as very legalistic or even seem to be bashing those who have taken up smoking. Another reason is personal for me.

My father died in 2003 from lung cancer which his year of cigarette smoking contributed to his illness. By the time he was diagnosed, the cancer had spread through out his body. Growing up, my dad would smoke in the house which the smell of cigarette smoke was all over our home. I went to school with the smell and was even accused of smoking by various teachers and principles. My dad was a believer in Christ, but smoking was his vice.

After my dad's death, I prayed that smoking in all forms would become illegal. It did not help that I was working in a gas station at the time which I sold cigarettes especially to those who just turned 18 and wanted the joy of smoking (if there is such a thing). Then came social media. What a great tool God in his grace has given us to connect with brothers and sisters in Christ we could not in previous years. As I continue to follow certain believers, I noticed a few pastors and theologians who smoked cigars. This left me bewildered. Why were men called by God smoking? I even heard one pastor say, you can smoke for the glory of God, and I wanted to strangle him.

As I grew in my walk with Christ and look up what the Bible says about smoking, I began to realize that this is another freedom in Christ issue just like the use of alcohol. However, that does not mean everyone should engage in this practice just like the use of alcohol. Smoking has a lot of health risk factors and not to mention to smell stay in your house and on you. Smoking does affect your children as far as health is concerned. Thankfully, no one in my family has been diagnosed with lung cancer as a result of second-hand smoke.

I am not trying to sound like I am the expert authority on this issue, but I really want you to think about this issue as it relates to us living for the glory of God. Will smoking help or hurt your witness? Will it benefit you as you rest? Do you want your children taken up this habit? I know for me on that last question, the answer is no. Ladies, do you love your husband smoking? Do you like kissing an ashtray? I told my wife, if she smoked when I first met her, I would not have asked her out because of the issues of smoking I had with my dad. In regards to my father, please don't misunderstand me, I loved him and cherished my time with him. I just wished he would have stopped the habit.

Pastors who smoke, how will this affect you in your ministry? I know some pastors who have gone in cigar shops and have been witness for Christ there. I know that is one place I could not go into. Brothers in Christ, who smoke, do you edify the body? Do you chastise those who don't smoke? Do you respect those who don't?

Is this a weaker brother issue where Christians who smoke should not be a stumbling block for those who don't? It is possible.

I know for me, if a brother in Christ asked me if it was a good idea for them to take up smoking, I would discourage them from doing so. I wouldn't tell them they would sin even though the Bible says honor God in your body, but we could also use that for the means of not getting tattoos or drinking alcohol. I have told me kids don't ever take up this habit. "All things are lawful," 1 Corinthians 6:12 tells us, "but not all things are helpful."

Is this a freedom in Christ issue? Yes, it is, but we should always be careful with how we use our freedom.

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