Posted by Pastor Greg Allen on December 3, 2007 under Ask the Pastor | Read the First Comment

A visitor to our website writes:

Question: Is it a sin to smoke?

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Dear friend,

Thanks for writing and asking your question.

First of all, the Bible does not directly condemn smoking or using tobacco.  And though many people don’t realize it, several great and very biblically-minded Christians from the past have, therefore, felt the liberty to smoke.  Dr. D. Martin Lloyd-Jones—who was one of the top physicians of London in his day, and who later became one of the greatest preachers of the twentieth century—smoked cigarettes.  Another great preacher of London—the Baptist preacher Charles Spurgeon—smoked cigars quite often.  The famous Christian writer C.S. Lewis, as well as the Dutch reformed theologian (later Prime Minister of The Netherlands) Abraham Kuyper, were both often seen with pipes in their mouths.  (I know of no preachers that chewed tobacco; but I’m sure there were some that did.  Hopefully not while they were preaching.)

Such noted Christians should not be used as a justification for smoking, however.  They smoked before the health risks associated with smoking, and the addictive characteristics of tobacco, were as well-established as they are today.  The apostle Paul wrote, “All things are lawful for me, but all things are not helpful [or "profitable"].  All things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any” (1 Corinthians 6:12).  Just because something may be biblically permissible, and may not be defined as a sin ‘directly’, that doesn’t mean that it’s a wise thing to do.  If we are to be good stewards of the bodies that God gave us, we should think very carefully about using something that brings harm to us.  Personally, I couldn’t say that an adult smoking a cigarette or two a day is much of a problem; but smoking a pack a day clearly suggests that tobacco has become a health-compromising addiction and has a greater hold on someone than it should.  (As someone once said, you can smoke and still go to heaven . . . in fact, you may even get there quicker if you do!)

Another thing to consider in this would be the impact that smoking may have on other people.  It may not be a sin directly for you to smoke; but it is certainly a sin to do so if constant exposure to second-hand smoke affected the health and well-being of other people in your life.  What’s more, if a professing Christian smokes, and their doing so either hinders their witness to non-believers or causes a weaker Christian to struggle in their faith, then love would demand that such a Christian refrain from smoking.

I suggest that the greater question, if we are truly Christians, is not “May I smoke?”—nor is it any other such question that seeks to define the outer-limits of our liberties.  Rather, it should be, “How can I please the Lord as much as possible?  How can I use my liberties so that I avail myself to Him — to the greatest degree—as His bondservant?”  “Therefore,” Paul writes, “whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31).  If we cannot smoke to the glory of God and fully yield ourselves to Him, then the question is settled.  We don’t smoke! We should seek to do whatever will honor Jesus Christ, and will best places ourselves in His complete service.  We should not let anything else control us but Him.

I hope this helps.  Blessings in Christ’s love.

Pastor Greg

(All Scripture quotes are taken from the New King James Version.)

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