Committed Christians have different views about whether or not it is okay for believers to smoke cigarettes or other forms of tobacco. Perhaps it could be said that, if you ask five different Christians from five different denominations whether or not Christians can smoke, you’re likely to get six opinions on the subject of Christians and smoking.
Adding to the complexity of the subject are the various forms of tobacco, alternative nicotine products, and the legalization of majaruana in at least 18 states in the U.S. Moreover, the scientific and medical communities have much to say about the dangers of many such substances.
But what does the Bible say about Christians and smoking? Are there any texts from the Bible itself that talk about smoking or shed light on the subject? How should Christians think about the issue of smoking by applying the truths of the Bible to tobacco, other nicotine products, or legalized marijuana?
- 1 What Does the Bible Say About Smoking in KJV?
- 2 What Does the Bible Say About Smokers?
- 3 Is Smoking a Sin in the Bible?
- 4 Did Anyone Smoke in the Bible?
- 5 What Does the Bible Say About Smoking Cigarettes and Cigars?
- 6 What Does the Bible Say About Smoking Weed?
- 7 What does the bible say about quitting smoking?
What Does the Bible Say About Smoking in KJV?
There’s nothing in Scripture that quite matches the phenomenon of using tobacco that has dominated the past few centuries. Simply searching for the word “smoking” or related themes in the Bible will reveal that Scripture is seemingly silent on the issue.
However, when considering what the Bible has to say on the subject of tobacco use, the broader issues of its addictive qualities and detriment to a person’s health are important.
While the Bible does not speak specifically to whether or not a person can smoke, the Bible does have something to say about not being controlled by anything and glorifying God with one’s entire being.
In 1 Corinthians, the Apostle Paul responds to a thought among the Corinthian Christians that they could use their freedom in Christ, being no longer under the law but under grace, to do whatever they please with their bodies.
Paul responds to the Corinthians’ misunderstanding of Christian freedom by humbly showing them that the goal of Christian freedom is to bring glory to God. He says to them:
Later in the same passage, though at this point the topic had moved specifically to talking about sexual conduct, Paul says in
Paul’s point here about fleeing sexual sin can be applied to the use of substances that harm the body:
- a believer’s body does not belong to him or her to do as he pleases
- a believer’s body belongs to the Lord
- the purpose of Christian freedom is to glorify God and to make known the beauty of Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit
- using any substance that is known to be harmful does not glorify God with one’s body
What Does the Bible Say About Smokers?
The Christian life is not one that is absent of sin, but rather one that is constantly fighting against sin’s unlawful presence and control in the life of a son or daughter of God.
The Bible doesn’t specifically mention smokers and their eternal destinies, but it does talk about issues of the heart. A smoker can still be a Christian despite struggling with a habit that is both harmful to the Christian and dishonoring to God. God extends salvation to smokers just as he does to non-smokers, as well as to those who struggle with spending money within limits, speaking with kindness to others, rightly honoring the weak or elderly among us, et cetera.
While in most cases smoking is a sin, it is not unforgivable and it does not prevent someone from going to heaven.
In the places where specific sins are mentioned as being something that excludes a person from eternal life in heaven, it seems that there is an inherent heart issue that characterizes the person as being at odds with God, a prideful unwillingness to be conformed by and submit to the Lordship of Jesus.
With this in mind, a smoker who rejects God and His Word will not enter heaven. This is not due to his or her particular sinful habit but rather a rejection of God and unwillingness to fight against sin.
Is Smoking a Sin in the Bible?
Scripture does not specifically speak to the issue of smoking or its being a sin. However, the same could be said of a number of issues present today that the Bible does not address directly. In these situations, as with smoking, the principle of making ethical associations and using wisdom applies.
Considering the consensus of the medical community on the dangers of smoking, which directly ties smoking to a number of smoking-related diseases and fatal cancers in a large percentage of users, it could certainly be argued that it is a sin for a Christian to begin smoking. After all, if you intentionally choose to harm yourself and put those who are closest to you in significant danger, the action could very easily be described as both negligent and sinful.
As with many issues that are not directly addressed in the Bible, determining the inherent sinfulness of smoking comes down to an issue of conscience (is there anything inside me that says “this is wrong” or “this doesn’t feel right”?) and applying principles of wisdom (are there any reasons I should avoid this practice?)
Did Anyone Smoke in the Bible?
The Bible does not provide any examples of individuals smoking.
What Does the Bible Say About Smoking Cigarettes and Cigars?
Although there are no verses in the Bible that specifically prohibit the use of cigarettes and cigars, there are places in Scripture that can be referenced to gain wisdom in regards to smoking.
One issue Christians may overlook when considering the issue of smoking is the harm secondhand smoke can have on others. Secondhand smoke is known to cause cancer and other health issues, especially in young children. The Bible makes it clear that we should protect the weak and vulnerable among us (Psalm 82:3). Smoking in close proximity to other people is not loving them well.
Permissible, but not beneficial
Although cigarettes and cigars are legal for adults to smoke, that does not mean that they are beneficial for our bodies. In fact, their addictive qualities are well-documented by the scientific community, such that they contain cancer-causing warnings on their labels. The Bible makes it clear that we should not be controlled by anything other than God himself.
What Does the Bible Say About Smoking Weed?
Because of its mind and mood altering qualities, smoking marijuana should be thought of in a slightly different category than smoking cigarettes. And while the Bible doesn’t speak specifically to marijuana, it does speak about alcohol, which is more closely akin to marijuana given its ability to affect a person’s mind and mood.
The Bible does not speak to marijuana as a medicinal option, but some Christians accept its medicinal use. Although Scripture is clear that drunkenness is a sin to be avoided, there are a few places in the Bible where the reader is advised to use alcohol for medicinal purposes.
The misuse of mind-altering substances are repeatedly warned against in the Bible. Scripture makes it clear that believers should only be controlled by God. Allowing something else to control our bodies is giving those things a place and power that belongs only to God. That being the case, smoking weed for the purpose of obtaining a mind-altering experience is contrary to Scripture and is sin against God.
Many Christians and non-Christians alike who smoke have experienced the desire to terminate their addiction to cigarettes. Although in many instances willpower alone may give the desired results, the power of a transformed life is found in the person and work of Christ.
For the Christian, the power to turn from sin or any other addiction is found most profoundly in the gospel itself. Jesus’s own death means that our sin and shortcomings have been crucified with him on the cross. Jesus’s resurrected life means that our own life and freedom from the grip of sin is found in him.
Christians have the hope of a God who is living and active in the world. As believers, we are invited to let our “requests be made known unto God” (Philippians 4:6). Further, we are told that God actually hears our prayers, our cries, and our pleas for mercy (Psalm 116:1).
For those struggling with the difficult road of quitting smoking, there is assurance and peace in the God who hears and answers our prayers.