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What Does the Bible Say About...Smoking?

What does the Bible say about smoking?

Answer

The Bible really says nothing about smoking, directly. That is because smoking tobacco did not become common worldwide until the Europeans came to America about 1500 years after the Bible was written.

Most people I know who teach against smoking do so using 1 Corinthians 6:19-20. ďWhat? Know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are Godís.Ē They donít read the context, in which Paul is speaking specifically of fornication, and not of anything else.

It is possible that one could extend Paulís argument to include anything that harms the body. That, though, could be considered as going beyond what Paul actually said. In general, harming oneself, as smoking certainly does, is damaging Godís creation that we are supposed to be tending. But if you take the view that smoking is a sin because it hurts the body which God created you might as well go as far as the Jews who forbid an autopsy, in most cases, because it dishonors the body. Excess in anything would be a sin. Forget eating chocolate, or drinking anything other than water or milk. Forget pierced ears, suntans, or living in a city where you might breathe pollutants. It is good to quit smoking, but you canít prove from the Bible that it is absolutely a sin to smoke.

I believe that it was Paul that talked about there being some things that we do as we run this race of life, that are weights rather than sins, would smoking qualify as one of these weights rather than a sin? Or is it a sin rather than a weight? I have heard two different arguments on the subject. One being that smoking is a sin because it defiles the temple of God. (which is the human body.) And I have heard that it is a weight because if the heart of the believer is still persuaded toward Christ then smoking becomes one of those things that we do that is "just a little unsightly" (quoted from the person that I heard it from) rather than an outright sin. I know the bible doesnít directly speak about smoking, but are there any verses that would lean to either argument?

Answer

The passage about weights and sins is Hebrews 12:1. ďLet us lay aside every burden, and the sin which so easily besets us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us. I am not sure that the author is contrasting weights and sins so much as saying the same thing in two ways. The picture is someone warming up for a race. He takes off the training weights and the tunic that would have bound his legs. (Roman athletes competed in the nude because a tunic, like a skirt, would get in the way.) So we should put aside anything that gets in the way of faith.

My previous answer dealt with the passage about the body being the temple of the Holy Spirit. It forbids fornication. It does not address smoking, caffeine, pollutants, or any other such thing.

I, personally, think the biggest argument against smoking is the influence we have. If someone else thinks it is a sin, then we should avoid it until we are able to teach that person that the Bible doesnít really forbid it. This was Paulís argument against eating meats offered to idols, presented in 1 Corinthians 8.

I also believe that we worry too much about codifying what is and isnít sin when we should simply be relying on Godís grace. After coming up out of the water of immersion we should walk in a new life (Romans 6), rather than walking in sin. But to become so legalistic that we start making sins where the Bible is silent tends toward the idea we can earn our way to heaven. That is the concept Paul condemns in the book of Galatians.

We particularly should have the attitude Paul presents in Romans 14. In matters like what to eat or whether to smoke, concern yourself with yourself and not with others. If you think it is wrong, donít do it. But donít try to bind on another that which God has not bound.