Some people think a person can be saved even if he is still smoking, as long as he's cut down on the number of cigarettes smoked a day. The goal is improvement. After all, if we expect someone to stop smoking before becoming a Christian, than why we don't treat overweight people the same way? Someone asked, "Why are we baptizing overweight people if they haven't repented and lost weight before baptism?" My thought on this is that a person should stop smoking before baptism; I just can't imagine Jesus smoking. And from what I have read in the scriptures, gluttony is a sin. We need to challenge people on gluttony, but if the overweight person has stopped being a glutton, but slips up, then repentance is in order. I think there is a different between baptizing someone who's overweight and someone still smoking, someone who has never quit. Though no scripture comes to mind, anything that you share would be greatly appreciated. -- Paula C. Smith

I think I agree with you. There is a difference between an overweight person trying to live a more disciplined life and a smoker. An ex-smoker will quit. His lungs will still be dirty for a while, but the day he stops smoking his body will thank him. An ex-glutton will still be overweight, but not for long. The body will adjust. Unless, of course, he or she doesn't exercise! Anyone can become corpulent with lack of physical activity. Maybe the Bible refrains from condemning overweight because such a judgmental attitude is hurtful, inconsistently applied, and lacking grace.

But we have to be careful here. The Bible doesn't directly address smoking or overweight, though of course both are addressed indirectly in 1 Corinthians 6. (The body is the temple of the Holy Spirit.) You'll find a ten-part study on smoking at this website, which you can study and share with the smoker. I believe the real issue is that of repentance. When someone makes that enormously important decision, it is not likely he or she will continue to smoke. Or gossip. Or tell lies. Yes, repentance is in order should there be a slipup.

Sure, it's hard to imagine Jesus smoking, but just because it's hard to imagine it doesn't mean it is therefore out of bounds. I cannot imagine Jesus driving a car, and other people cannot imagine him drinking wine. Our own preferences and presuppositions tend to color our interpretation, don't they?

Finally, I think we have to watch out for the double standard in challenging people to give up one sin and not another, especially when both are dangerous. You can approach Legacy Healing Center for a better way to help you get out of your drug, alcohol or smoking addiction. Or when both are specified in the Bible! Sexual sin is serious, and grounds for discipline in the church. But so is greed (1 Corinthians 5:11-13), though I've never seen a materialistic person expelled from the assembly because of his greed. The scriptures attest that God hates violence (Malachi 2:16), but many Christians reason that viewing violence, and even killing one's enemies, is okay, whereas viewing sexual sin is "more serious." And smoking will take years off your life, but so will poor diet and lack of exercise. We can be so selective! Let's preach the word, teach specifically about sin where the Bible is clear, and for other cases let the individual make the personal applications.

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