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Wil Hunemuller wrote a blog post entitled, “Smoking to the Glory of God”. I shared it to my Facebook page, Contradict – They Can’t All Be True. The comment section exploded! Many Christians on my page argued that smoking is a sin. The arguments that smoking is addictive and harmful to one’s health were the two most recurring arguments to support the sinfulness of smoking.
The verse that was often cited for smoking being a sin due to the bodily harm it is known to cause was 1 Corinthians 6:19, “Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God?”
No verse was supplied by the commenters who said smoking was sinful because it’s addictive. The verse I think that shows us that addiction can be sinful is 1 Corinthians 6:12, which says, “”I have the right to do anything,” you say–but not everything is beneficial. “I have the right to do anything”–but I will not be mastered by anything.” I believe the closing line about not being mastered by anything can describe what occurs when a person has an addiction.
Do these two verses put the nail in the coffin that smoking is sinful and no Christian should partake in any smoking, at any time, for any reason, unless he or she sins?
To address the addiction argument, I ask the question, “Are all addictions sinful?”
I would also state, “Just because something is addictive, that doesn’t mean a person must be addicted to whatever that thing is.”
Are any of us not addicted in some way? Aren’t we all addicted to sin? I mean, can any of us stop sinning? Even when we really want to stop? Isn’t that the definition of addiction? And if you say, you don’t have that problem, I’m afraid you are deceiving yourself.
To the argument that smoking is sinful because it causes harm to one’s body, I simply ask the question, “Do we really want to go down that route?”
As the discussion was unfolding on my Facebook page, I received a message from Joel Oesch, a guy who I have played basketball with and who now teaches Theology at my Alma mater, Concordia University Irvine. He shared with me an article he had just published on his blog entitled, “Thank you for smoking!”. Joel’s arguments for Christian smoking were similar to Hunemuller’s, namely, smoking can serve as a means to build authentic Christian community. Such a concept will likely come as a shock to many Christians, so for this episode I invited Joel to respond to the arguments posted about smoking being a sin.
Joel does a great job of bringing us to see the problem that is bigger than smoking – our sinful nature. He also does a great job explaining our current difficulty of being a part of embodied community – you are after all reading this online! Smoking helps bring us into embodied community and it breaks down all sorts of social barriers – have your doubts? Please give a listen to this episode and hear Joel out. He provides great arguments and explanations. Listen with an open mind and Bible. We visit 1 Corinthians 6 and look at the context of those two key verses at the top of this post, and we also take a look at Romans 14. We unpack an important word that describes the “sin” or “not sin” debate concerning smoking and other issues like it that are divisive in the Body of Christ and how we should navigate them together –adiaphora. If you don’t know what adiaphora is, then you must listen!
I welcome all feedback in the comments section. If I don’t reply, I apologize, but I will read it.
“Smoking to the Glory of God” by Wil Hunemuller
“Thank you for smoking!” by Joel Oesch
Fishing for Leviathan – Joel’s Website
The Christian Gentlemen’s Smoking Companion