Is it a Sin for a Christian to Smoke Tobacco or Drink Alcohol?
29 SEP 2017
Although many Christians refrain from drinking or smoking, discouraging a behavior does not mean it is sinful. Sin is defined as breaking God's law, and for Bible believing Christians, God's word should be a sufficient guide for every area of life, including alcohol and tobacco use. In order to label an action as sin, one needs to be able to find concrete biblical support for that position, and Christians should dive into Scripture before judging or condemning the choices of others.
1 Alcohol in the Bible
Looking at the Scripture, it is evident that drinking wine or other alcoholic beverages was not looked upon as sin in the Old or New Testament. The Bible never commands Christians to refrain from drinking, rather advises believers to refrain from drunkenness and the sin that intoxication can cause (Ephesians 5:18, Proverbs 23:29-35). In addition, alcoholism and other addictions are to be avoided, which may make it difficult for some Christians to drink at all.
2 Didn't Jesus Drink?
Jesus' first miracle is often brought up when Christians debate alcohol consumption, along with other passages where Jesus' followers (and perhaps Jesus himself) drink wine. It's true that Jesus did not discourage drinking, however there are a few important details to be remembered. First, according to Grace to You, wine in Jesus' time was not what it is today. Additionally, people drank wine because clean water was hard to come by, and fermented drink was less likely to be contaminated (got questions.org). This wine was very diluted in comparison to what people drink today. This however, does not mean drinking wine today is sinful, simply that "excess" was probably easier to avoid in Bible times than it is presently.
3 Smoking in the Bible
The Bible doesn't mention smoking explicitly as it does alcohol, however some abstract principles can be applied to tobacco use. The most frequently brought up passage is 1 Corinthians 6:19-20, which talks about the body being a temple of the Holy Spirit. Probably more applicable are verses that deal with addiction, which command Christians not to be mastered by anything but the Lord (1 Corinthians 6). Other arguments against smoking are second-hand smoke, which could conflict with the command to love your neighbor in Mark 12:31.
4 Alcohol, Smoking, and Sin
So is drinking or smoking sinful? The answer to both is no, but the potential to lead to sin is notable, which is why many Christians refrain from alcohol or tobacco. Drinking and smoking as a Christian is a personal choice, but you need to know your limit and be sure to avoid addiction. The Bible does not command abstinence from alcohol and tobacco, and neither should church members or leaders, however in all things Christians should lovingly encourage each other to resist sin that could come from alcohol and tobacco use.