Q: #179. Is smoking a sin?
A: I believe it should be considered a sin. Let me share some reasons why.
1. Science has clearly shown that smoking is harmful to our bodies. It can lead to numerous physical ailments including: cancer, heart disease, emphysema, pulmonary disease, cardiovascular disease, etc… As Christians, God tells us that we are to take care of our bodies. In fact, our bodies are considered to be God’s Temple (1 Cor 6:19-20)(1 Cor 3:16-17) because God actually lives inside of us in the form of the Holy Spirit when we are born again. Anything that has a harmful effect on our bodies should be avoided, including overeating (Prov 23:20-21), and drinking too much. (I believe all consumption of alcohol should be avoided: See: Drinking.)
2. In nearly every instance, those who smoke are addicted to cigarettes (and yes, cigars and pipes as well). The Bible is clear that we are not to be a part of this world (Jas 1:27)(Rom 12:2)(Jas 4:4)(1 Jn 2:15-17), and nothing of this world should “master” us (1 Cor 6:12). When it does, it makes us a “slave to sin” (Jn 8:34). Any sinful habit that has a hold on our lives must be broken. We must discipline our body and bring it into subjection (1 Cor 9:27) with God’s help.
3. We are to do ALL things to the glory of God (1 Cor 10:31)(Col 3:17,23). There is nothing in smoking that glorifies God.
4. It can destroy your testimony and witness. I speak about this in great detail in
“Are You A Stumbling Block?” but in short, one’s smoking can ruin your ability to reach some unbelievers and can also harm your witness with other Christians. A question that should be asked regarding unbelievers is: Have some unbelievers heard and believe that smoking is wrong or a sin? Yes! What is the name they give to Christians who do something they believe is sin? Hypocrites! If you are considered a hypocrite, then your witness to that unbeliever is greatly weakened or perhaps destroyed.
Regarding a weak Christian, if he also believes that smoking is wrong or a sin, but isn’t sure, and sees you smoking, he may decide, “Hey, if _____ is smoking then maybe it is okay.” He may even decide to take up smoking or not quit because of you! What does the Bible say about this? It says in (Rom 14:23) that if a person does something that is not sin, but they BELIEVE it is sin, it is sin for them to do it. Your action has caused someone else to sin, even if smoking isn’t a sin! Is it worth doing something that might cause another person to stumble in their walk with the Lord? When we do this (1 Cor 8:12) says, “But when ye sin so against the brethren, and wound their weak conscience, YE SIN AGAINST CHRIST” (caps emphasis mine). The Bible makes it clear that we should not do anything that would cause a fellow believer to stumble (Rom 14)(1 Cor 8:1-13)(1 Cor 10:23-33).
5. It is harmful to the health of others. Secondhand smoke has killed 1000’s of people. It has caused health problems for millions. In preparing for this study, I read a number of stories that told about the grief that many smokers faced because their loved ones had died as the result of breathing in the smoke that they caused by smoking cigarettes for years. In effect, they killed their loved one… How tragic! In addition, these smokers have caused health problems for both their loved ones and many they probably don’t even know.
I can speak for this in my own life. I am highly allergic to cigarette smoke. In my younger years, I used to go bowling a lot, but I finally had to give it up because there was so much smoke from cigarette smoking in the bowling alley that I would come home reeking with smoke, with red swollen eyes and a sore throat. (It is SO nice now that smoking has been banned indoors in bowling alleys and most other indoor establishments!) I also remember the day in High School when I had an important track meet. We had relatives visiting who smoked and they were smoking in our house (my parents did not want to offend them by asking them to go outside). The smoke caused the same allergic reaction in me, and later when I got to the track, I ran a horrible race because I was sick from the smoke. My wife grew up in a home with a smoking father (who later developed emphysema and quit) and to this day she has some breathing problems.
*** Note: I would also like to mention here that I find it incredible that some smokers would never think about tossing a coffee cup or food wrapper on the ground, but seem to think nothing of throwing a cigarette butt on the ground or out a car window. (Next time you come to a red light at an intersection, take a look at the ground beside your car.)
6. Smoking is expensive. As I write this, a pack of cigarettes costs about $4-$5 a pack. At 1 pack a day, this costs about $1400-$1800 per year. The Bible says that all that we have belongs to God (Ps 24:1)(Ps 89:11)(1 Cor 10:26). This includes our money. Is this how God wants His money to be spent? Does it glorify Him in ANY way?
I will end with this sobering thought. (1 Jn 3:9) says that if a person practices sin, it means that he doesn’t know God at all. In other words, he isn’t a Christian. It doesn’t mean that a Christian cannot struggle with sin, or struggle to overcome a certain sin that has a grip on his life. But, if a person is a Christian, he cannot sin without conviction because one of the jobs of the Holy Spirit is to convict us of sin (Jn 16:8). If a person is a Christian, it is impossible to sin and feel no conviction. If he feels no conviction, he isn’t a Christian.
Is smoking a sin? I believe it is. If it is indeed a sin, and a person is not convicted about his smoking being wrong, I think the Bible is clear that this person needs to examine his relationship with the Lord. Ultimately, however, it isn’t about what “I believe” is right or wrong according to the Bible. Consider the points I have made above, study the scriptures, ask your pastor and other spiritually mature Christians. Keep in mind that just because the Bible doesn’t mention smoking per se, that doesn’t mean it is okay. There are principles that apply to our actions regardless of what those actions are.