Studies show that over 3,000 teens start smoking every day, and the dangers of smoking are no secret. Yet, what does the Bible have to say to Christian teens on the subject? Well, there really isn't a specific Bible verse telling us not to smoke. However, there are Bible verses that tell us to take care of our bodies. Yet, does that mean smoking is a sin?
Why Do People Smoke?
There are a lot of reasons people smoke. For some, it helps them maintain a lower weight. For others it makes them feel "cool." Some people find it relaxing, and others only smoke to relieve stress in social situations. The list of reasons is endless, but the habit often starts at a young age and becomes difficult to break.
What are the Effects of Smoking?
Smoking has a number of effects on the body and mind. The chemicals in cigarettes are both physiologically and psychologically addictive (meaning the body and mind both become addicted) and have negative effects on the lungs, mouth, brain, and more. The most common result of smoking is lung cancer, but there are other diseases associated with smoking like asthma, emphysema, and birth defects.
What Does the Bible Say?
Christian teens should not just look at smoking from the effects it can have psychologically or physically, but should also look at the spiritual component of the habit. Would God want you to do something that harms the body? Would God want you to do something that becomes an uncontrollable habit? While God does not directly say, "Don't Smoke!", He does say some things about what you do to your body and how you use your time.
Smoking and Your Body
God is pretty clear that he wants us to care for our bodies. This means trying to stay as healthy as possible. As most of us learn in our P.E. and Health classes, caring for our bodies means eating well, exercising, and avoiding things that are bad for us. With all the negative effects of smoking, it may not be the most Godly habit to develop.
1 Corinthians 6:19-20 - "Don’t you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself, for God bought you with a high price. So you must honor God with your body." NLT
Smoking and Your Mind
Smoking is an addiction. Your body becomes attached to the chemicals, but so does your mind. The effect of nicotine on the way you feel can become habit forming, so it can suddenly become more important than God or a minor distraction. Somehow, over time, the habit takes control, and it becomes difficult to let go of smoking. The Bible gives Christian teens a warning using the excessive drinking of wine as an example. It tells us to seek the Holy Spirit to feel good rather than other chemicals, because God will lead us on the right path rather than a path of physical destruction.
Ephesians 5:18 - "Don’t be drunk with wine, because that will ruin your life. Instead, be filled with the Holy Spirit," NLT
Smoking and People Around You
Secondhand smoke kills. Today more and more cities are passing laws preventing people from smoking in public places like restaurants and parks due to the known effects of secondhand smoke. In fact, secondhand smoke can be more dangerous to a non-smoker than the direct smoke to a smoker. For Christian teens this means that, if you smoke, you are doing a great deal of harm to those around you. The Bible tells us to avoid doing harm to those around us.
Exodus 20:13 - "You must not murder." NLT
John 15:12 - "This is my commandment: Love each other in the same way I have loved you." NLT
Avoiding the Smoking Habit
With all the warnings about smoking, why do people start in the first place? The number one reason people start smoking is peer pressure, which is very difficult to overcome. Most Christian teens have done something they wish they had not due to peer pressure. It takes a lot of strength to say, "No," to your friends. However, as Christians, we are called to live"in" this world, not "of" it. We have to find a way to overcome the temptations from our peers and live in a way that pleases God. Is it simple? No. Is it easy? No. Yet we have people surrounding us like parents, youth leaders, and more that can help us. God always provides us resources. We just need to look for them in times of need.
Romans 12:2 - "Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect." NLT