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SMOKIN' IN THE BOYS ROOM: IS IT A SIN, A BAD HABIT, OR HAS THE CHURCH JUST BEEN PLAIN LEGALISTIC?



Posted: 09/07/07

Smokin' In The Boys Room
...is it a sin, a bad habit, or has the church just been plain legalistic?

Smoking can be a bad habit. Nicotine is proven addictive, proposes a real health risk over time, and can be very hard to quit once a significant habit has begun.

But is smoking a sin? Does it damage a witness? Is all matters of smoking wrong whether it be cigarettes, cigars or pipes? How should we address those that may smoke publicly outside in our church parking lots? Has the church at large been too legalistic in this area?

This was the subject that I and some friends were discussing this past week. Let me share with you a hypothetical scenario to illustrate this issue. A few 18+ year old young men and women (who are part of a local church) were found smoking in the parking lot of the church. A "greeter" from the church went to them and asked them to stop smoking or possibly leave the parking lot. Take this to a more broad picture of anyone smoking outside on church property (member or visitor) and how that would look "image wise" for any church.

What say you?
I realize that this is a relatively small issue with all that is going on in the world around us. But as you know, the devil is in the details and it is these little things that can divide Christian fellowship quicker than anything.

Here is a common concern of smoking to help ignite your thoughts:
Because smoking is often perceived as a sin (at worst) or a casual pastime (at best), should we be concerned with the impression that it might leave upon those who come to our church or who are new visitors to the church, if they were to see people smoking in the parking lot of our church? Or should it even matter?
Here are some initial thoughts in response to the above:
Is this 1957 we're talking about here? Were they wearing leisure suits too? :-).

Horrors!

Can you imagine... some people actually smoking in the hallowed area of the parking lot of a church? Oh my... Did they inhale? Sounds like an immediate Matthew 18:15-20 situation to me. Can you imagine such a thing? Sinners, real life sinners that lite up are in our church parking lot enjoying "a drag" before or after the service. They're definitely going to hell - no question about it - smokers all end up there. No smoker could possibly be elect - no way. And if they profess to know Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord, they're definitely carnal,... backslidden at best.

Can you believe it, there are smokers who even twist the words of praise songs to support their "evil practice" by singing:
"it only takes a spark, to get my cig a going..." They just can't be trusted; we should get rid of them all. You can almost imagine the headline on the church kiosk next week would say:
NO SMOKERS ALLOWED ON OUR CHURCH PARKING LOT
TAKE YOUR "BUTTS" SOMEWHERE ELSE...

Can't you just hear The Church Lady from SNL say about now, "what does that "S" on your shirt stand for... Smoker?

Time to Wake Up and Smell the Ministry
This is not an issue.

Smoking is not a sin (btw, I don't smoke cigarettes). John MacArthur really put this in perspective when he once humorously said, "Smoking is not a sin; but if you like putting dried leaves in your mouth and setting them on fire that's your business." :-).

Precisely! Scripture nowhere prohibits smoking anywhere; it is a preference issue at best.

Does it smack of legalism to actually say things like: "is this the first impression you want to make on people coming to the church..." People that come to our churches come with serious problems and needs-and smoking in the parking lot is not one of them. Spurgeon smoked cigars (so do I on occasion) - would it have been better if they were smoking cigars? How about pipes? Pipes are good too - they smell really good especially on a cool autumn evening (I smoke a pipe on occasion too). Football season is here and it's a great time to bring your favorite cigar or pipe to a ball game and have at it.

I think here's a great first impression to make on people coming to our churches:
that everyone would be warmly welcomed whether they are smoking or not in the parking lot and never asked to leave because a "greeter" sees someone enjoying a Camel before or after the service.

BTW, that person in the parking lot who confronted the young people smoking should never be allowed to serve as a greeter. Put that man in charge of something really important like... straightening all the hymnals in the backs of the pews before the service begins :-). It will better serve the Lord and His people to keep him as far away from those coming to the church as possible-especially the visitors.

From Tobacco Road...
Campi
Distributed by www.worldviewweekend.com

By Steve Camp

Click here for bio and archived articles

Disclaimer: Worldview Weekend, Christian Worldview Network and its columnists do not necessarily endorse or agree with every opinion expressed in every article posted on this site. We do however, encourage a healthy and friendly debate on the issues of our day. Whether you agree or disagree, we encourage you to post your feedback by using the feedback button.

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READER FEEDBACK


Re: OK versus Best
Posted On: 08/20/08 06:05:10 PM Age 16, JAMAICA
I Kaddine Dixon clearly understand the fact that smoking is completely wrong in God's sight.Smoking damages our bodies and changes the way we think.Why would God want us to damage our bodies?Think wisely and you will see clearly that smoking is the Devil's plan to turn our focus off Christ.



Re: Smokin' In The Boys Room: Is It a Sin, a Bad Habit, or Has The Church Just Been Plain Legalistic?
Posted On: 11/06/07 07:58:07 AM Age 47, KS
I have not seen that even one person offering feedback nor the writer of this article making sense of the MOST important issue that smoking around others presents: Second Hand Smoke. While you may choose to misuse your liberty as a Christian and as an American to fill your body with lethal toxins, and to spend your life in addiction, the real problem is that this is not a private problem. Smoke from your toxin of choice is included in the air that I have to breathe. As the adult child of tobacco addicted parents, I wish to inform you of the terrible toll it has taken on my life. I grew up with chronic bronchitis and asthma from their second hand smoke. Redunced immune function lead to at least yearly cases of strep throat. Using antibiotics to clear the bronchitis and strep throat led to infestations of fungus throught my body that have led to severe health issues even into my adult years. My lungs have been permanently damaged by the smoke from my parents addiction. I still suffer from asthma, bronchitis and have been weakened enough in the lung area to be susceptable to pnenomia every few years. Recently as an adult I had to have my over-toxed tonsils removed (a more serious operation for an adult than open heart surgery.) So if this is the blessing that you wish to pass on to everyone that has to walk through the wall of second hand smoke in your church parking lots, places of business, front porches, or living rooms... Please think again, as you think of the damage you are causing to the people you are seeking to bless.

Re: Smokin' In The Boys Room: Is It a Sin, a Bad Habit, or Has The Church Just Been Plain Legalistic?
Posted On: 10/03/07 04:22:46 PM Age 45, AR
In most of our culture, smoking is a poor witness and shows a lack of self-control - a fruit of the Spirit. I know people who cannot keep from smoking between Sunday School and church. I have seen people leave a Christian oriented banquet or fellowship to smoke. You may not want to call it sin, but it is a problem and something other than Jesus has control of their life. If we have to justify a questionable behavior AND it controls us, well it is a problem and probably is affecting that person's fellowship with the Lord, their witness and their service, because their health is affected.



Re: Smokin' In The Boys Room: Is It a Sin, a Bad Habit, or Has The Church Just Been Plain Legalistic?
Posted On: 10/01/07 10:05:34 PM Age 49, VA
There are several aspects to this issue: 1. On things that the Bible does not address specifically, we are to go by our conscience, as led by the Spirit. I smoked for the first 13 years of my Christian life, and was under conviction of it for most of thattime. I knew it did not please the Lord for me to smoke. I was always self-conscious of the smoky smell in my clothes whenever I went door to door witnessing. I will not tell another person that they are sinning by smoking, but I believe smoking is not God's desire for any of His children. For me, since my conscience was troubled, and I was under convicion, it was SIN. Pure and simple. SIN. 2. There is the issue of who or what is controlling your life. As Christians, we are to put off the old man and put on Christ. I once was addicted to alcohol - praise be to GOD that I have been set FREE by the blood of Jesus - but a nicotine craving is every bit as much an addiction as booze ever was. When I was craving those things, feeding the lusts of my flesh, devoting all my attention to my next "fix", I definitely was NOT under the control of the Holy Spirit. In short, I will not say with final authority that smoking is a sin for everyone - it was a sin for me -- but I KNOW smoking is NOT GOD'S BEST FOR YOUR LIFE. I will still love you as a brother, welcome you in my church, accept you in the fellowship if you are truly born again, and I will pray that if you one day come under conviction for smoking that you will turn it over to the Lord. By His grace, I have been set free of that for over nine years now. He will set you free if you let Him.

Re: Smokin' In The Boys Room: Is It a Sin, a Bad Habit, or Has The Church Just Been Plain Legalistic?
Posted On: 10/01/07 10:05:16 PM Age 49, VA
There are several aspects to this issue: 1. On things that the Bible does not address specifically, we are to go by our conscience, as led by the Spirit. I smoked for the first 13 years of my Christian life, and was under conviction of it for most of thattime. I knew it did not please the Lord for me to smoke. I was always self-conscious of the smoky smell in my clothes whenever I went door to door witnessing. I will not tell another person that they are sinning by smoking, but I believe smoking is not God's desire for any of His children. For me, since my conscience was troubled, and I was under convicion, it was SIN. Pure and simple. SIN. 2. There is the issue of who or what is controlling your life. As Christians, we are to put off the old man and put on Christ. I once was addicted to alcohol - praise be to GOD that I have been set FREE by the blood of Jesus - but a nicotine craving is every bit as much an addiction as booze ever was. When I was craving those things, feeding the lusts of my flesh, devoting all my attention to my next "fix", I definitely was NOT under the control of the Holy Spirit. In short, I will not say with final authority that smoking is a sin for everyone - it was a sin for me -- but I KNOW smoking is NOT GOD'S BEST FOR YOUR LIFE. I will still love you as a brother, welcome you in my church, accept you in the fellowship if you are truly born again, and I will pray that if you one day come under conviction for smoking that you will turn it over to the Lord. By His grace, I have been set free of that for over nine years now. He will set you free if you let Him.



Re: Re: Smokin' In The Boys Room: Is It a Sin, a Bad Habit, or Has The Church Just Been Plain Legalistic?
Posted On: 10/01/07 08:39:22 PM Age 67, CA
God is the judge in all things. My feeling (and it is just that) is that since we are to give our whole selves over to Christ in order to call ourselves "Christian" we would be wise to be as pure in mind, body and actions as we can possibly be, the Lord helping us. This would include putting away anything that would come between us and God. This could include a great many things--eating too much and too much food that is bad for us, watching too much TV to take us from reading the Word, thinking bad things, doing anything that is harmful to our bodies I don't feel is honoring God. We are not our own person--God is in charge. I think we all need to show this by not smoking, drinking alcohol, or anything detrimental.

Re: Re: Re: Smokin' In The Boys Room: Is It a Sin, a Bad Habit, or Has The Church Just Been Plain Legalistic?
Posted On: 09/21/07 08:19:29 AM Age 46, MN
Thank you! Your point is precisely why I suggest smoking (whether its a sin or not) is not exactly helpful to Christianity. There are just too many negative associations with it.



Re: Re: Smokin' In The Boys Room: Is It a Sin, a Bad Habit, or Has The Church Just Been Plain Legalistic?
Posted On: 09/20/07 07:00:33 PM Age 26, OH
continued...my conclusion All this to say that every believer should stand before the Lord and ask how he should act in every situation and the greeter that is looking on should remember that in all things we have liberty and instead of chastising a non-sin should come alongside and help the fellow believer grow in maturity for the Lord. For it is in our heart that we sin, and from the heart comes sinful behavior. Jonathan

Re: Re: Smokin' In The Boys Room: Is It a Sin, a Bad Habit, or Has The Church Just Been Plain Legalistic?
Posted On: 09/17/07 11:39:24 AM Age 29, MN
I need to point out that in the days of Jesus when people smoked, they were only smoking leaves. Nowdays, there are all kinds of additives in the cigarettes that are harmful to us.



Re: Smokin' In The Boys Room: Is It a Sin, a Bad Habit, or Has The Church Just Been Plain Legalistic?
Posted On: 09/17/07 10:05:35 AM Age 26, OH
The devil is in the details when we focus on an action and don't focus on the motivation of our heart or listen to the prompting of the Holy Spirit. To often we act selfishly (sinfully) in making decisions for what we do or how we correct others, instead of seeking answers from the Lord. The issue isn't about smoking, but about Christian liberty. Steve Camp made the correct observation that smoking is a matter of preference. No where in scripture does it say that we should or shouldn't smoke. Yes our body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, but to often we are concerned about the physical body, which is guaranteed to rot and fade to dust, and we don't focus on our spiritual body (the heart). To say that smoking is a sin because we are destroying our bodies we would also have to conclude that eating processed foods is a sin because of all the chemicals involved in preserving them. We definitely shouldn't stand near a running engine because the exhaust can be fatal. And are you only drinking water that is guaranteed pure? If not you are potentially harming your body. What about sports? If a believer plays sports and tears an ACL ligament and ruins his/her knee then they must have sinned for destroying the temple of the Holy Spirit. We are to care for our bodies because God has created us and given us the mandate to be stewards of his creation. Paul talks about the body as the temple of the Holy Spirit in 1 Cor. 6 in reference to sexual immorality. However, if we look several verses earlier we notice Paul referencing liberty saying, ""Everything is permissible for me"—but not everything is beneficial. "Everything is permissible for me"—but I will not be mastered by anything. 13"Food for the stomach and the stomach for food"—but God will destroy them both. The body is not meant for sexual immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body." Paul further explains Christian liberty in his letter to the Romans in Chapter 14, "1Accept him whose faith is weak, without passing judgment on disputable matters. 2One man's faith allows him to eat everything, but another man, whose faith is weak, eats only vegetables. 3The man who eats everything must not look down on him who does not, and the man who does not eat everything must not condemn the man who does, for God has accepted him. 4Who are you to judge someone else's servant? To his own master he stands or falls. And he will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand. 5One man considers one day more sacred than another; another man considers every day alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind. 6He who regards one day as special, does so to the Lord. He who eats meat, eats to the Lord, for he gives thanks to God; and he who abstains, does so to the Lord and gives thanks to God. 7For none of us lives to himself alone and none of us dies to himself alone. 8If we live, we live to the Lord; and if we die, we die to the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord." Christian liberty permits the believer to engage in activities that are not deemed as immoral such as eating (including food sacrificed to idols) smoking, drinking, and playing sports on Sundays just to name a few. However, the believer is called to watch that he is not causing a weaker brother or sister in the Lord to stumble by their actions or is providing a weak testimony for the Lord. This is where Christian liberty in all things meets Christian responsibility in all things. Back to Steve Camp's hypothetical. Is it permissible for those 18+ men and women to smoke in the church parking lot? Yes! Is it beneficial for the edification believers around them? Does it create a strong testimony for the Lord through the eyes of our culture? This is where the believer has to seek understanding through the Holy Spirit how he/she should act. They are permitted to smoke, but it may cause brother Jim who put smoking away with his old sin nature to doubt his faith and in that instance it would be wrong and a sin for the believer to smoke.

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