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Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Smoking--The Unforgivable Sin?

How many politically incorrect things can you find in this picture?
I spent the weekend in Laughlin, NV and enjoyed the SCORE race just outside of town. While wandering around town, I was struck by the advertisements for the "Largest non-smoking poker room in Laughlin" and "Non-smoking slots!" While I certainly would flee any room that was smoking and back away from a smoking slot machine, I took their meaning.

To my sensitive California nostrils, Laughlin was a smoker's paradise. But in the midst of this carcinogenic sea were islands of (relatively) clear air. None of this was the result of government coercion. Libertarianism, combined with the free market, had produced a result that was acceptable to most. What should Christians make of this?

I've long described myself as a libertarian of sorts. I believe that if someone wants to smoke or ride a motorcycle without a helmet, he or she should be allowed to with the understanding that we are not going to pay for his or her chemotherapy or brain-scooping-up-from-the-pavement. Such irresponsible behaviors can be sins (but not always), but are they crimes? I think not.

But this leaves us with a problem. Why is murder or theft a crime? The libertarian dodge is that only things that hurt others are crimes. But who defines "hurt?" Certainly those families who lose a breadwinner to cancer or avoidable death-by-stupidity are hurt. Society is hurt, and not only when it is forced to pay for medical care. The loss of productivity and harder to measure loss of social stability is certainly a real injury. What then should we do?

I can only see the most general of principles in Scripture. One overarching theme seems to be Christ's challenge to transcend the law. While the law may keep us from committing adultery, it does nothing to regulate the immorality of our hearts. We must recognize that God's standard of holiness is far higher (and much different) than any of our legal codes. This leaves a path for a Christian libertarianism that recognizes that the civil authorities are ordained to keep order in society, but true moral behavior begins from a changed heart. If this is our view, it should not bother us if there isn't a law banning every peccadillo, sinful or otherwise. We also need to recognize that we must demonstrate grace and real assistance to those who have ruined their lives with self-destructive behavior.

Category: Theoblogi


  • from a Christian perspective in regards to smoking...i think one verse can be used very strongly in opposing this habit:

    1 Corinthians 6:19-20
    19Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; 20you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body.

    Now, although the premise of this verse is in regards to sexual immorality...i think that this verse's scope can be applied generally to anything we purposefully and knowingly do which can harm our bodies.

    Here are some other verses:

    1 Corinthians 3:16-17
    Do you not know that you are a temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? 17If any man destroys the temple of God, God will destroy him, for the temple of God is holy, and that is what you are.

    1 Corinthians 6:19-20
    19 Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? 20 For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.

    Again another one specifically relating to sexual immorality but also having some broader applications.

    I don't think these verses could apply only to smoking either...i believe they can apply to anything we do to ourselves that can harm our "temples" and render us sick incapable of doing the Lord's work. For example...someone who eats junk food all the time, never excersizes, and, potentially, gains a lot of weight. They're not exactly taking care of their bodies and are willingly subjecting their bodies to harmful effects. Besides...if someone's addicted to certain "vices" (i.e. smoking, gluttony, junk food), then they're living for themselves and their addictions...not for the Lord.

    That's not exactly living in the self-control that the Lord expects of those who follow Him.

    1 Corinthians 6:12
    All things are lawful for me, but not all things are profitable. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be mastered by anything. 13Food is for the stomach and the stomach is for food, but God will do away with both of them Yet the body is not for immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord is for the body.

    Our bodies were created to glorify the Lord...not so we can spend our lives fulfilling our own desires and whims...or enslavement to addictions and vices.

    This is a controversial topic so i expect not everyone's gonna have the same view on it...but i think Scripture's pretty clear cut.

    By Blogger Danae Zenor, at 2:55 PM  

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