29 August 2007

Dinnertime Discussion

Every night after dinner we use a book called ONE YEAR of Family Devotions to share God's word with our kids. Some nights the devotions are awesome and the stories really drive the point home, while other times they are a bit cheesy. Last night's devotion brought on an unexpected discussion. The verses used were from I Cor.3 about not being wise according to the world's standards. The story was about a boy named Rob and his dad, sitting on their deck, lit by the glow of a bug zapper. Rob confesses to his dad that he has been smoking. He says he realized looking at the bug zapper that in the same way the bugs while attracted to the light were being drawn toward their demise, that he was attracted to things that were harmful to him. Neat little story - until we started to discuss it.
It just so happened that as we were starting this discussion, still sitting at the table full of dirty dishes, that our dining room was filling up with teenagers from our neighborhood. Two of them just happened to stop by as we were starting our devotion. Maybe a God thing?
For the sake of conversation, I threw out the question whether or not "smoking" itself was a sin. I had no answers, I wanted to know what everybody, including my husband was thinking. Some thoughts were that it was a personal conviction. We talked about how your body was the temple for the Holy Spirit - but then how would smoking cigarettes, something that is harmful with no benefit to your body be any different than say, eating margarine which is supposedly one molecule away from plastic, and also harmful with no benefit.
I am an ex-smoker. I used to have times when I first quit smoking that I was repulsed and craved a cigarette at the same time. Now I'm pretty much repulsed by the smell. When I stopped smoking, it was a personal conviction - I felt that God was asking me to lay them down - because they were my crutch. I shared this - a distinct reason that cigarettes becoming an idol, as I made smoking the place I turned when I was stressed or lonely or bored, was a sin for me. Or how disobeying your parents, if they have told you not to smoke is the sin of disobedience. But is smoking in and of itself a sin? This was what we tossed around for about half an hour.
I explained to the kids that on a non-spiritual level - just as a health issue, staying away from cigarettes was a very wise decision from a healthy living standpoint. I have to admit, it makes me a little uncomfortable as a mother not to give my teenagers pat answers for things like this. It seems easier and safer just to tell them that everything is a "sin" that I am personally convicted about and settle the issue, but I find that I am not teaching them to live in relationship with the Lord, listening to His voice and learning to heed the direction of the Holy Spirit in their own lives.
I don't have an answer as to whether or not smoking is a sin. For me it would be because I would be disobeying a specific conviction. As far as respecting our bodies as the temples of the Holy Spirit, what about poor posture, bad sleep habits, unhealthy diets, etc. etc. etc. Would we call these things sin as well?
What are your thoughts?

8 comments:

  1. Hi Julie- looks like I have a lot to catch up on here- might take a few visits! We've been camping with Coffee Mom and some others.

    My thoughts on smoking...hmmm- I have never tried it, to be honest, but I think along the same lines as you. It seems to become an idol in most smokers' lives, and I certainly think it is a health issue. Like you pointed out though, what about over eating, poor sleep habits, and posture- we Christians make smoking so BAD sometimes! I guess the other thing about smoking is that it is harmful to those around you as well. Though not setting a good example of other healthy lifestyle choices are harmful to those we are an example for, smoking does directly affect their health. Well, there is my 2 bits!

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  2. I would say that smoking is a sin based on the fact that it damages the temple of the Holy Spirit and it is a controlling substance that we rely on rather than the Holy Spirit. That being said. . . I don't think that it is a "worse sin" than overeating or caffeine addiction.

    I have tried to teach my children that there IS pleasure in sin for a season (Hebrews 11:25) but when that very brief season is over, there are consequences to pay. This world offers a lot that is tempting from a triple cheeseburger at Mc Donald's to drugs and much more. Teens start smoking because it's cool and that feels good to be cool and accepted by peers. They don't think or don't worry about the long term consequences.

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  3. Wow, Julie, what a hot topic. I have a huge problem with the way *sin* is portrayed in certain circles. There's fear and punishment involved... and I don't like that.

    The way I see sin is a stumbling block or a road block between myself and God. It makes our relationship strained. Like a topic that's difficult to discuss with a friend or family member... a hot button.

    It's a personal issue. Something to work out between ourselves and God. What I don't like about the usual *sin* talk is that there is finger pointing and condemnation. God doesn't condemn us... he convicts us... and then helps us to change those things (that we really do want to change but are too weak to do on our own... or we haven't found our strength yet... however you want to look at it). There's a huge difference.

    Is smoking a sin? That's not my call.

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  4. I like what Granola girl said :)
    I was thinking that I don't really think smoking is a sin, it's not good for you but so many things aren't. I think it lies in personal conviction and beliefs.
    I smoked for 12 years (age 12-24), I enjoyed it, yes, I was addicted but I quit cold turkey when I found out I was pregnant with Kieran. In God's eyes sin is sin is sin there are no levels like society puts on as rules and punishment. I won't even go into how I viewed things for the next 10 years while I was going to church.

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  5. That's a good question. I don't think there is an absolute answer for this. I think there aren't too many doubts about smoking being harmful for you with *what* redeeming value? Unlike margarine, cigarettes are addictive and you can't just have a smoke every now and then...at least not MOST people, though I'm sure there's someone out there who would say they can. Also it's so bad for others around you and then all the negative aesthetic issues ad infinitum. But all that aside, I think that everyone has some habit or addiction and all these things are probably *sin* to the person who relies upon them rather than relying upon God for their need. It's not that sin is relative. There are some definites. But there are also things that we do that we are not completely clean in our conscience about and those things are sin because we do not do these things out of faith. Some things may be lawful, but they may not be profitable. God wants us to use our liberties very carefully for His glory and that's a very big responsibility. I think we can wake up every day in Father's love and affection and know that He wants to be the director of our path. He doesn't care where we've been or what we've relied on before, but He cares where we are going.

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  6. I too, am an ex-smoker. I quit 25 years ago. I think the danger lies in legalism and judgment. I agree that our bodies are temples and so smoking would be bad. I also like to indulge in ice cream and so my temple has been expanding more and more every year. Is one worse than the other?

    Smoking can affect our Christian witness but it's funny how overeating doesn't get as bad of a rap as nicotine! It would be wrong for me to smoke again, pure & simple. God has delivered me from that and to return to that form of enslavement is like a slap in the face to everything Christ accomplished on the cross.

    I don't drink but not because I feel it's a sin.
    A) I don't want any other influence over me other than the Holy Spirit's.
    B) I am on medication from the Texas Cancer Center and that's not a good mix!
    C) I have alcoholism in my family.
    D) There are non-Christians who are watching me. While I have the liberty to have a drink, I am more concerned about being a stumbling block to others than I am my own liberty.

    Since I believe that the Holy Spirit has led me to my convictions, I would be sinning if I drank.

    If I am getting my gratification or "medicating" myself with something other than God, you're right, it has become an idol in my life. We all remember what it says about idoltry in the Word! Even obsessing about our spouses can be idoltry!

    I am glad that as a Believer, God is looking for progress. I can never be perfect and I may not overcome my overeating issues this side of heaven. Sometimes I think we have to pray, be Holy-Spirit led, follow those convictions and let the chips fall whaere they may!
    Connie

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  7. Agreeing here...
    halfmoon girl said"It seems to become an idol in most smokers' lives"
    I've never really looked at it like that before, but yeah, I agree.
    KarenW said "I don't think that it is a "worse sin" than overeating or caffeine addiction."
    That's what I've always thought...so many people I know will condemn smokers all day every day, but they're addicted to caffiene....Drug of choice I say...personally, I don't see caffeine any differently than pot...and overeating...it's practically a given that after church on Sunday everyone will go out to the resturant with the biggest buffet and stuff themselves...drug of choice.

    granola girl said"God doesn't condemn us... he convicts us... and then helps us to change those things" oh, yes! I'll have to print that out and put it on my *quotes* board!

    Sheri said " But there are also things that we do that we are not completely clean in our conscience about and those things are sin because we do not do these things out of faith. Some things may be lawful, but they may not be profitable." We've been studying Paul's teachings on this in the Bible, and so it's been on my mind...I *really* try not to have ANYTHING in my life that makes my conscience uncomfortable...some of which could not possibly be classified as "sin", but it's how I choose to live. (I don't eat margarine, for example)
    Clear as mud, I know, but DH is pulling on me (I'm on his computer)
    Paige (UnschoolingGod'sJourney)

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  8. Chewy Granola *chick*September 4, 2007 at 9:49 PM

    I agree that sin is between us & God and not for another person to deem as such. God is big enough to let us know if something isn't the best for us or would get in the way of our relationship with Him.

    And on the note of our bodies are temples, the temple was torn down & the veil ripped in two - no longer do I worry about this physical body (in the sense that I'm obsessed with what I'm putting into it & such). My true self is spirit. Now, there are things that I choose not to take from my personal convictions given to me by God & I try not to pass those to others. This is especially hard in regards to my children!

    Recently, my 6 yr old dd decided to open up a tattoo pen and drink the ink! I was horrified! Her mouth was all stained and I was so worried that the ink was toxic. After I freaked out & then calmed down and talked to her - she informed me that God had told her no, but she decided to do it anyway. I then asked her what she learned and she said she didn't know. I told her that many times when we don't do what God says we suffer the consequences. Then I asked her were the consequences worth it? I'm hoping to point her more toward obeying & following God's Voice.

    Ok, sorry went off topic a bit - but point is that sin is determined by the one & only Judge - God.

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Awaiting your words......
♥ Juls ♥