Sexta, 17 de Novembro de 2017
   
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A Rare Treat

Do Christians smoke? Everyone’s right away answer would be “No way!”. Smoking really does not fit at all what people expect to see in a Christian’s life. They say Charles Spurgeon, the great Baptist preacher from the nineteenth century, used to smoke cigars, but such information only earns him heavy criticism. People also say that God readily removes any addiction from whoever converts to Christ, whether smoking, drinking or drugs. By the way, there are many believers who are former smokers and witness that. Unfortunately, this “miracle” does not seem to be a general rule, as there are several people who convert and keep struggling against their old addictions.

Regardless of stories, testimonies or opinions, truth is the Bible says nothing about cigarettes. In fact, the absence of biblical basis to abjure this vice is the reason why many ministers use 1 Corinthians 6:19 to attack smoking – this verse says our bodies are temples to the Holy Spirit. Quoting this excerpt, many ministers say Christians must mind physical health, thus concluding that smoking is a sin. Curious enough, the same reasoning is not applied to the consumption of soft drinks or to sedentary life, both very harmful to health too. At the end of the day, who destroys their body staying put all day long gorging down donuts and Coke can be a church leader. On the other hand, whoever destroys it by smoking…

Plain truth is using 1 Corinthians 6:19 to teach that believers have to take care of their health is “hot air”. Paul has never used the truth about our body being a temple to defend the duty of watching for our physical well being. No doubt he was concerned about his dear brothers’ health (1 Timothy 5:23), but he never used the “body = temples” concept to motive such care. Actually, Paul taught that the Christians’ body is a temple to support his opposition to immorality – a type of deviation in which a person sins against their own body (1 Corinthians 6:18).

Nonetheless, even with no biblical basis to directly condemn smoking, it is a sin indeed. And that is so because if the New Testament does not use the “body-temple” concept to teach diligence towards the body, one cannot deny the whole Bible teaches the concept of stewardship, according to which we are asked to take care of everything the Lord has given us. Now, it includes our body; so smokers are lousy stewards, as well as “couch potatoes” – administers who are disapproved for poorly caring for an organism “fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalm 139:14).

And that’s not all: Christians who smoke also sin because of their poor testimony. Because of historical matters maybe difficult to trace back, in our country and culture, smoking is strongly associated to unbelievers’ lifestyle. More specifically to the figure of a modern man who seeks pleasure and to be charming as well as to the profile of an open minded woman who is free of taboos and mistress of her own actions. The connection between cigarettes and these models turns it into a grave problem for anyone presents himself as a Christian. This is so because he will cause confusion in outsiders mind, causing them to not understand how Christians think and live. He is also going to bring questioning about the difference between Christians and Godless men concerning small details and life habits.

Not to mention the scandal a smoker Christian can cause among the community of redeemed. In fact, if a Christians happens to see his brethren with a cigarette in his mouth, how sad, how worried and how disappointed he shall be! Well, all these reactions compose the definition of scandal mentioned by Paul in Romans 14 and 1 Corinthians 8. Altogether, Paul condemns the man who causes this kind of scandal (Rom 14:21; 1 Cor 8:12). In Paul’s view, the gravity of this matter was such that he would no longer eat meat in case it was a scandal to someone (1 Cor 8:13).

There it is, at last, the way believers should face the issue of smoking and other practices strongly related to the unbelievers way of life. The servant of Jesus who steps away from those is surely offering good service to the cause of the Master; he is saving the church from upsetting scandals and will live free from burdens and secrets, honoring God with the smokeless fire of a good testimony – a rare treat.

Pr. Marcos Granconato

Strength and faith

Soli Deo gloria

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