Puff, Puff...Cough, Cough!

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So that's their excuse—they've got to have another cigarette, cigar, pipe, joint or whatever inhaled hot poison. Never mind that St. Peter isn't in heaven because people don't go to heaven when they die (request or download a free copy of Heaven and Hell: What Does the Bible Really Teach? for details).

In fact, "heaven" is coming to earth in the person of Jesus Christ—soon. Those who are forgiven and obedient will be resurrected to an incredible eternal life in the Kingdom of God like they've never dreamed of before. But there will be a rule there—no smoking allowed.

This rule may make the currently popular, politically correct, antismoking crowd happy, but they've likely got some issues they'll have to deal with too. So what is the deal about smoking, whether tobacco, marijuana or whatever? Is it a sin?

Not food, not drink

When God made man and woman, He gave them dominion over the earthly creation that He had actually made for them in the first place. Then He clearly told them which animals they should use for food and which they should consider unclean and, thus, not food (Leviticus 11).

He gave man all the plants on earth. Some were for animal food, some for human food and some for sheer beauty and other worthy uses. God also provided man liquids to drink like water, milk, teas, juices (the fermented variety only in careful moderation), etc.

Tobacco, however, is neither a human food nor drink. In fact it's poisonous. Only a senseless person would try to eat or drink it. And only a senseless person would try to inhale its smoke while it burns only inches in front of his or her nose! The whole idea of smoking is ludicrous. But ludicrous, crazy ideas have long been popular with a humanity that refuses to follow God's way of living.

I could tell you how bad smoking is for your health. Even King James I of England could tell you that. He called it "a custome lathsome to the eye, hateful to the nose, harmeful to the braine, dangerous to the lungs, and the black stinking fume thereof, nearest resembling the horrible Stigian smoke of the pit that is bottomlesse" (Counterblaste to Tobacco, 1604).

I could tell you that smoking and smokeless tobacco cause cancer. But that's been done before. "A mid-eighteenth- century detractor who described tobacco as a narcotic akin to opium, warned that snuff-taking was liable to cause the loss of the sense of smell, addiction, nasal tumors and cancer" ("Tobacco," The Encyclopedia of Psychoactive Substances, 1998).

I could tell you all that, but I won't because you already know the scientific reasons why the weed is bad for you. Yet did you just notice how tobacco use causes the loss of smell—and must dull the sense of taste so closely linked with it? Ever wondered why so many smokers frequent restaurants not noted for excellent or even mediocre cuisine? They can't taste or smell well enough to tell the difference. Who wants to go through life with a tongue and nasal cavity that's been cured like a ham in a smokehouse?

Smoking is against God and neighbor

Jesus listed for us the two greatest commandments of all:
1. Love God with all your heart and being, and
2. Love your neighbor as yourself (Matthew 22:37-39).

Does smoking show love toward God? No.

God considers your personal, human body as sacred. "Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit . . . and you are not your own?" (1 Corinthians 6:19). Smoking and chewing tobacco both damage the body. And there is no reason for using tobacco products in these ways except for the temporary gratification of self (and ruining of the self in the long run, which God does not want). That lack of respect and honor for what God calls the temple of His Spirit is itself a sin.

Furthermore, the slavish-addiction aspect of smoking elevates it above God in one's motivations, as explained below.

Does smoking show love toward neighbor? No.

Sitting there sucking hard on a cigarette, pipe or cigar is an action of fundamental selfishness (though it will ultimately hurt oneself). It harms your neighbor, while God says, "Love does no harm to a neighbor" (Romans 13:10). Smoking harms both by the unhealthy effects of secondhand smoke and causing discomfort by selfishly fouling the air for everyone in the vicinity.

Summary: Smoking is sinful because it is self-indulgent, slavishly self-destructive, neighbor-harming and, in all these respects, God-ignoring. "Therefore, to him who knows to do good [as in to not smoke] and does not do it, to him it is sin" (James 4:17).

Smoking is a god

"But nicotine slaves are all the same,
"At a pettin' party or a poker game,
"Everything's gotta stop while they have another cigarette"

—Lyrics from "Smoke, Smoke, Smoke That Cigarette"

Needing new and never-ending supplies of nicotine slaves to maintain their profits, tobacco companies specifically target teens and young adults as start-up smokers. But aside from that, why does that age group start smoking?

"My friends smoke." "I just wanted to try it." "I thought it was cool." "My parents smoke." One of the biggest reasons teens start to smoke is peer influence. Over 70 percent of Canadian teens say that having friends who smoke and/or peer pressure is the number one reason for starting to smoke (www.lung.ca).

Nicotine slaves feel guilty smoking alone; they want converts to make them feel comfortable. And wherever there is a smoking evangelist, there are the foolishly willing converts. But why do these peers smoke in the first place? And what can you do about it?

Tobacco, marijuana and about any smokable drug can cause body and brain addiction, as mentioned earlier. But becoming an addict (to anything) involves choosing, more and more, to become subservient, slavelike, worshipful and groveling to the thing. That means making the thing (in this case smoking) more important than God in your life.

Elevating any other motivating factor in life before the true God is bad news. It's called idolatry. It's called breaking the very first of the great and awesome Ten Commandments. Make no mistake, smoking breaks Commandment One. So, again, smoking is a sin. What you can do about that is never start smoking or, if you have been smoking, quit.

To learn more about the divine law, download or request your free copy of The Ten Commandments. For encouragement to help you stop smoking, read "Smoking and Health: The Often-Overlooked Key," Nov.-Dec. 2002, The Good News. This article is online at www.gnmagazine.org/issues/gn43/smoking.htm .

A small defense of tobacco

Is there anything good about tobacco? Yes, indeed. There are some medicinal uses like poultices but the best thing about the weed is that it can defend other plants from insects. "A water/nicotine mixture has been used as an insecticide since 1746" (http://faculty.washington.edu).

Tobacco is a bug spray! Why in the world would people want to smoke, chew or snuff bug spray?

God knew what He was doing. He didn't make tobacco products for food or drink. Their use certainly violates the principle of God's perfect and divine law. Sin will not enter the eternal, fabulous Kingdom of God . It's frightening to think that awesome, incredible, human potential could be completely missed because someone stubbornly insisted on continuing to inhale bug spray. VT