Should Christians Smoke?
‘Out of his nostrils comes forth smoke’ Job 41.
Is it wrong for a Christian to smoke tobacco? When I became a member of the Free Methodist Church in 1996, I had to make a promise to neither use, nor buy, nor sell tobacco. Some consider it a mortal sin; others enjoy the sensation.
We Christians are not saved by avoiding certain behaviours and performing particular tasks or rituals. This is what all other religions teach. No, we are saved by the finished work of Christ upon the cross. So I’d make it clear from the outset that smoking tobacco cannot hinder nor impede God’s grace in bringing me to Himself.
I could go further. Tobacco is a natural product, like alcohol, that God has created. He created coal to be burned, food to beeaten and certain leaves, one might surmise, to be smoked. In Matthew 15:11 the Lord says it is ‘Not what goes into the mouth defiles a man; but what comes out of the mouth, this defiles a man.’ A case could therefore be made that smoking is not sinful; at worst, it’s morally neutral; at best, merely enjoying God’s varied creation.
Nevertheless, a number of scripture verses would urge caution before taking up this particular habit:
1 Corinthians 6:12 “All things are lawful for me,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful for me,” but I will not be enslaved by anything.
Smoking is addictive and therefore restricts our liberty. It doesn’t behove a saint to be enslaved to anything.
1 Corinthians 6:19 Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.
Does filling my lungs with cancer-creating smoke and tar glorify my God? Probably not.
Psalm 119:37 Turn my eyes from looking at worthless things; and give me life in your ways.
Little rolls of dried tobacco leaves are cheap and easily come by. Yet take them out of a smoker’s reach and he’ll soon sweat and crave as he seeks his next inhalation. Smoking is a worthless pastime which the craving smoker exalts to one of utter worthiness and importance.
Psalm 34:18 The Lord is near to the broken-hearted and saves the crushed in spirit.
Smokers turn to cigarettes when they feel nervous, worried, or frightened. They offer little help, however. If anything, they merely soothe the anxiety which they themselves have brought about. If we turn to smoking for comfort instead of the Lord, we neglect Him and turn our tobacco into His substitute.
Romans 15:1 We who are strong have an obligation to bear with the failings of the weak, and not to please ourselves. Let each of us please his neighbour for his good, to build him up.
If my smoking causes you to smoke, I have sinned. One Christian is an example to others; we build each other up as iron sharpens iron.