Question: Does the Bible say it is wrong to smoke cigarettes?
Answer: The Bible teaches that our body is a “temple of the Holy Spirit” and therefore it is
wrong to do anything which deliberately defiles or harms our body.
Paul wrote to the Corinthians in 1 Cor. 6 as follows: “Or know ye not that your body is a
temple of the Holy Spirit which is in you, which ye have from God? and ye are not your own; for
ye were bought with a price: glorify God therefore in your body,” (1 Cor. 6:19-20). This teaches
us that our body is “on loan” from God, and is not ours to do with as we please.
As we come to understand the high price that was paid by our Lord so that we might become
members of his body or church, we learn to appreciate that God has a use for us, a purpose for
our lives. Paul also wrote: “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present
your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service,” (Rom.
12:1). If we view our lives as a living sacrifice to God, it will be impossible to do anything which
would defile or destroy our body.
I remember the days when people would try to argue that “it had not been proven” that tobacco
was harmful to one’s health. A required warning on all cigarette packages in those days was,
“Warning: The Surgeon General has determined that cigarette smoking may be hazardous to
your health.” We seldom hear that argument anymore. Practically everyone now realizes what
science has been saying for years, that nicotine is a harmful and addictive drug. It is responsible
for many forms of lung cancer, respiratory illnesses and related afflictions.
The fact that cigarette smoking is addictive should be a red flag to us. Any habit which
assumes control of our lives, needs to be carefully scrutinized by the faithful Christian. We
should ask, “Do I really want this to control my life?” Several years ago I heard about a man
who was addicted to cigarettes. He had tried everything, from medicines to hypnosis, to break
the habit. Finally, one day he realized something. He took a new cigarette and drew a red cross
on its side, followed by these words, “This or Me” (referring to Christ). He had come to
understand that only Christ can rule our lives, and when we allow anything else to take control
of our lives, we are shoving Christ aside. Only then was he able to give up smoking.
When I was prosecuting drug cases, I heard that nicotine is among the most difficult addictions
to conquer. I truly feel sorry for people who are addicted to cigarettes and similar products. These
products are marketed to appeal to the young, vibrant, and healthiest of our people. Young people
are led to believe that cigarette smoking, cigar smoking, vaping and similar forms of nicotine
consumption are glamorous and desirable. Only after they are addicted do they begin to realize
the ugly nature of what they have gotten into—and how difficult it is to get out.
Years ago my wife’s mother obeyed the gospel as a beautiful, young lady. At the time, she was
a daily smoker. But she understood immediately that such habits were inconsistent with being a
Christian, and she resolved to quit. She had a new, unopened pack of cigarettes, which she placed
on the arm of her favorite chair. Through sheer willpower, she said, “I am finished with
cigarettes!” She never opened that pack, or any other pack of cigarettes again. She understood
that smoking cigarettes would injure her influence as a Christian, and that was a price she was
unwilling to pay. By the time I knew her, she had long ago stopped smoking. In her later years,
she was on continuous oxygen, and I’m sure she regretted those poor decisions of her prior life.
But her influence upon others had become remarkably positive, and she always encouraged
young people to never take up smoking.
Sometimes being a Christian is more about yielding to our Lord and following the example of
Christ than it is about doing what we want to do. It’s about using our bodies and our influence to
glorify him. Christian, your life is a sacrifice to the Lord, and your body his temple. Allow him
to rule and reign in your heart, and you will find no place for destructive behavior like cigarette
– by Robert C. Veil, Jr.