May a Christian smoke?

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Many Reformed believers in the past smoked and many continue today!  It is pleasurable!

The Westminster Confession states-‘The whole counsel of God concerning all things necessary for His own glory, man’s salvation, faith and life, is either expressly set down in scripture, or by good and necessary consequence may be deduced from Scripture:’ I firmly believe that it can deduced from scripture that smoking is a sin.

1) The principle of Christian stewardship. It is bad for your health and that of others’. It is contrary to the Christian principle of nourishing and cherishing your body and being a good steward of it as a temple. (Eph 5:29, 1 Cor.6:19.) This principle holds as it has been well known since at least 1966 (Sir Richard Doll) the harm all forms of smoking (cigarettes, cigars and pipe) does (Bronchitis, chronic lung disease, heart and vascular disease, cancer of mouth and lung etc) and it affects bystanders and family members too (passive smoking ).I believe it is contrary to HC LD 40 on the fifth commandment ; ‘also, that I hurt not myself, nor wilfully expose myself to any danger.’ Smoking, just one time, like gluttony and getting drunk is harmful.

2) It is a bad witness-unbelievers smoke with impunity because they care not a whit that their body belongs to God and many become addicted (contrary to 1 Cor.6:12). Cigarette smoke  contains drugs. It enslaves. It is the unbelievers’ method of coping with life and being sociable. We have Almighty God as our helper and friend. And why do it as ‘bravado’ or just to ‘show off’?

3) It is a bad example and may stumble other believers and young people. (Romans 14). Young people think it’s ‘grown up’ to smoke. Take note office bearers of churches!

In my practice I see the sad and horrible effects of habitual smoking over decades of people’s lives and they are often irreversible.

So to you Reformed men (and women) who have this ‘habit’ ask yourself whether it is really glorifying God in your body and whether you are enslaved by it. Is it really a matter of Christian liberty? With God’s help you can and should quit. It is a massive waste of your God-given money! Take up exercise-it is a great antidepressant and good for your body.

Dr Julian Kennedy

PS ‘The best way to stop smoking is never start’ -my PE teacher at school

Christ has power to free us from addictions and besetting sins. (John 8:32).