Smoking &Tim Horton’s: Don’t They Know it’s a Sin?
“How come so many people in your church smoke? Don’t they know it’s a sin?”
This was a question posed to me by a friend of mine who visited one of our congregations and saw a large group of people smoking in the parking lot. This point of view is held by many Christians, and even many non-Christians view this behavior by Christians as hypocritical. Some people believe that Christians who smoke are living in sin or that their faith life is lacking in some way, shape or form.
I will start off by telling you that I – yes, I was a smoker. At one point I smoked a pack a day. So I consider myself “qualified” to speak to this matter. We all know that smoking is not good for our health and we all know it can be addictive; that much we can agree on. Where it gets confused and even dangerous is when someone claims smoking is a sin, or says that only hypocrites smoke, or that your faith life is lacking because you smoke.
If you are a smoker you have likely heard the same old arguments:
- Our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit; you should take care of the temple.
- Smoking is an addiction; Christians are to guard against addictions.
- We are to be stewards of our (God’s) money; smoking is waste of money.
Yes smoking is bad for your body. But so is over eating and inactivity. There are studies that show being 20-30 pounds overweight is just as bad for us as smoking a pack a day. How many of us are overweight? I would guess there are more than just a few. Yes we are to guard against addiction – how many of us “need” that coffee in the morning to get going? From the number of travel mugs and Tim Horton’s take out cups on the table at men’s society on Thursday evening I would guess that there are more Christians addicted to coffee than there are to cigarettes. God provides our money, but do we waste it on things we don’t really need – like those Tim Horton’s coffees? Is buying a Tim Horton’s coffee a sin?
Is smoking a sin? Honestly, I don’t know if the simple action of lighting a cigarette, or a cigar or pipe and enjoying tobacco is actually a sin. What I do know is that we can’t judge someone’s faith on whether they smoke or not, just like you can’t judge someone’s faith on whether they drink coffee or not.
Personally, for me smoking was a sin. Smoking was a by-product of my poor faith life. When God in His grace called me back to repentance a few years ago and I began craving the pure spiritual milk of the Word, I found that smoking was a hindrance to my walk with Christ. I believe that discipleship is a lifelong journey of obedience to Christ, in which the spirit transforms our attitudes, behaviors and values (you will hear me say that a lot if you follow my blog). So for me a natural step in my discipleship was to quit smoking. It took a couple years to finally quit, but quitting was, for me, a sign of the Spirit working in my life. Today I enjoy being smoke free, yet I still struggle against other sins in my life, and hopefully in time these struggles will be lessened by the grace of God, through the power of the Holy Spirit.
Like most former smokers I advocate against it 🙂 Now I hate smoking. I hate the diseases caused by smoking, I hate the waste of money that smoking is. I hate the mess that cigarette butts make outside the entrances of buildings (is littering a sin?) I hate the addiction, I hate the smell, and I hate the thought of smoking. I don’t like to see the young people from my church smoking, I don’t like seeing people smoke on church property (especially around my children) – but what I really can’t stand is someone saying that they can tell how you are doing in your spiritual life by whether you smoke or not. So, how can you tell about your spiritual well being? Do you display the fruit of the spirit?
love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23)
If you are continually displaying immorality, impurity, sensuality,idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness and carousing, then this is a good indication that you might want to assess your faith life. It says in Galatians 5:21,
those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God
Test your faith, examine yourself, is Jesus in you? How is your prayer life? How often do you read and meditate on the Bible? How is your walk with Christ and your fellow believer? Do you Believe in the rich promises of our heavenly father?
The Belgic Confession states about Christians:
They believe in Jesus Christ the only Saviour, flee from sin and pursue righteousness, love the true God and their neighbour without turning to the right or left, and crucify their flesh and its works. Although great weakness remains in them, they fight against it by the Spirit all the days of their life. They appeal constantly to the blood, suffering, death, and obedience of Jesus Christ, in whom they have forgiveness of their sins through faith in Him.
I think if you display those qualities you are doing just fine. Because our faith is not based on anything that we do , but what God has done in us.
In conclusion – Smoking is not good for you. TV is not good for you. Chocolate cake is not good for you. Beer is not good for you. That Tim Horton’s Double Double is not good for you. But none of these things will tell me about your walk with Christ.
How do you feel about this? Let me know.