Is it wrong to smoke?

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Where does the Church stand on smoking? I have read many opinions ranging from it being a blatant sin to it being a form of God-given pleasure when done in moderation.

Thanks for your question, not often asked anymore. With anti-smoking efforts now in vogue, the Church says less about tobacco than it once did. We stand opposed, based mostly on health risks associated with a nicotine habit. First Corinthians 6:19, 20 is often cited for support, but other verses also inspire a wholesome lifestyle and care for the body — 1 Corinthians 10:31, for example.

Admittedly the same arguments used against smoking also apply to any other personal habits — like overeating — shown to be detrimental to human health. To be consistent, then, we who apply the Bible against smoking should also limit junk foods (high-fat, high-sugar), caffeinated beverages, and repeated activity that puts good health at risk. Do we buckle up in our cars?

Cigarette smoking, which some profess to be pleasurable, ranks high among risky lifestyle behaviors. Addiction here is more damaging and dangerous than almost any other ingested item, except alcoholic drink and recreational drugs. We have good reason to boycott these slaveries, even if the Bible is not as explicit about them as we might wish.

Smoking is among the most addictive of behaviors. Its negative fruits point to it as sin against our bodies and our best interests. In Proverbs, the fool is one who, knowing the evil result of any course, continues that path to his own destruction. The wise man, though, sees danger ahead, turns away, and escapes the snare. In Christ we are free from the guilt of every sin, and we are taught to seek freedom where we’re trapped. May those in bondage to any harmful addiction seek and find the Lord’s strong help to live freely!

— Elder Calvin Burrell

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    Calvin Burrell
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    Calvin Burrell is former editor of the Bible Advocate and former director of G. C. Missions. He retired in 2015 and lives with his wife, Barb, in Stayton, OR. They attend church in Marion, OR.