A Question I Was Asked:

Is it a Sin to Smoke?

The Question:

I have now these two questions for you, please: Is a sin to smoke cigarettes? Is it a sin also to sell common cigarettes in the grocery store or distribute them in another way? Thanks a lot for your answers.

UK Apologetics Reply:

Okay, let us get this plain. It is not a sin to choose to be a smoker; 'smoking' does not equate with 'sin.' Having said that, Christianity involves a certain lifestyle which is to be an example to others and we should know that our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). There is now little doubt that smoking is injurious to the health. We should not take part in activities which damage our God-given bodies. In my opinion, therefore, it is not good for Christians to smoke.

Regarding selling cigarettes to others, if a Christian is employed in a business which happens to sell cigarettes they should not worry unduly about this unless specifically asked for their advice which would be rare. In such a case they should be prepared to admit that it is now pretty certain that smoking, over any period of time, is bad for the health. But Christians are called upon to preach the Gospel which is a spiritual message, not a physical one.

Regarding any larger-scale distribution of cigarettes etc., a Christian would surely prefer to avoid this if it is solely distribution of health-damaging items, but - more likely - the believer would be involved in an enterprise which included distribution of many items; if employed in such a capacity he or she would not have the right to decide such matters. Also a Christian does not have the right to try and live the lives of other people for them, although many have foolishly tried. People should be encouraged to make their own assessments and their own decisions.

I was also asked quite recently if it is okay for a Christian to be involved in an 'off-license,' here in the UK that is a retail business, or shop, which sells beers, wines and spirits. That would be generally fine because people are making their own choices and decisions about buying alcohol. However, if called upon for their advice, a Christian should certainly point out the dangers of alcohol-dependence and drunkeness.

Robin A. Brace. January 15th, 2013.