"Here," he offered, "want to try a cigarette?"
"N-No, thanks," Jason responded, somewhat stunned.
#76: unHoly Smokes
A Character story about dependability.
"Hi, Kevin," Jason greeted as he walked toward school.
"Hi, Jason. What's up these days?"
"Nothing much. How about you?"
"Same old routine," Kevin shrugged. "Well, my mom was in the hospital- more asthma problems I guess, but she's all right now. That's the only exciting thing that happened around our house for a long time."
"Really? I never heard about that. I'm glad she's better anyway. Hey, school's this way. Where're you going?"
"Come on and find out. I take a little 'detour' right here before and after school." Jason followed Kevin behind an old warehouse building. There Kevin stopped, laid down his books, and then reached in his pocket and pulled out a package of cigarettes. "Here," he offered, "want to try one?"
"N-No, thanks," Jason responded, somewhat stunned. He watched in silence as his classmate stuck the cigarette between his lips, lit it, and sucked in some of the smoke.
"You don't have to stare at me as if I'm some kind of creep," Kevin sneered. "Lots of kids smoke you know." He took another drag and blew the smoke into the wind.
"I-I didn't mean to stare. It-it's just that, well, I thought you said you were a Christian."
"I am. So what? Lot's of Christians smoke. My dad smokes and he's a Christian. And my brother smokes- but you better not let that out or I'm dead meat. He's the one that got me this pack."
"Well, I didn't think Christians should smoke," Jason responded, parroting words he'd heard from somewhere.
"Yah? Well, show me one Bible verse that says I shouldn't smoke. You can't, can you?"
"I-I guess I can't," Jason stuttered, wishing he hadn't started that conversation. He glanced at his watch. "Oh, we'd better run or we'll be late for class."
"Aw, there's plenty of time. I don't want to waste this good cigarette. I'll see you later."
Jason was irritable throughout most of the day. After supper that evening, his dad noticed and asked him if anything was bothering him.
"Dad, I-I do want to talk with you about something that, well, really upset me today. Only, I don't want to get anyone in trouble by ratting on them."
"I understand. So what's on your mind, Son?"
"Well, on the way to school today I met another guy in our class and after we walked a ways, he went behind a building and started smoking! I was so shocked I didn't know what to say. Since he said he was a Christian, I told him I didn't think Christians should smoke and he asked me to show him a verse that says that. I couldn't answer him. Now I'm wondering if smoking is really that bad after all."
Mr. Jensen paused a moment before answering. "I'm sure glad you're thinking on your own, Son, and not just following the crowd. Just one minute. I want to get a few things." Jason's dad disappeared upstairs, and soon returned with some papers and a book. "Now," he said, plopping into the chair and taking a deep breath, "let's start our study in the Bible. Of course, your friend's right. There is no verse dealing specifically with smoking because it simply wasn't done in Bible times. However, there are principles in the Bible we can follow in such cases which show us what the Lord really wants. Do you truly want to know what God thinks about the subject of smoking?"
"Well, sure," Jason responded.
"O.K. First, let's remember that, when we accepted Christ as our Saviour, we gave Him more than our heart. We gave Him our whole lives, everything, and that includes our bodies. In Romans 12:1 we are asked to present our bodies as living sacrifices. Here, in First Corinthians chapter 6 and verse 20, the apostle Paul tells us to glorify God in our bodies which are God's. He owns us, Paul says. So we can only do with our bodies what the Lord gives us permission to do, since we belong to Him. Agreed?"
"Agreed. But I'm still wondering where you'll find anything about smoking in the Bible."
"Just be patient. While we're in First Corinthians chapter 6, read verse 19 here."
"O.K. It says, 'What? Know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost, which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price.'"
"This tells us that, whatever God allows us to do with our bodies must be holy, for God's Holy Spirit lives in the bodies of Christians. In fact the word 'holy' means 'set apart for God.'"
"I understand that. So is smoking unholy?" Jason asked.
"You decide when we're done. Look here at this picture. It shows a close-up view of the cilia in the bronchial tubes going to the lungs. Cilia are millions of tiny hairs which wave back and forth to carry any particle of dirt away from the lungs. You can see that the lungs are like 'dead end roads.' They can't wash out dirt like the digestive system can. Now let's find the definition of smoke. It says here that smoke is 'a suspension of soot particles in a hot gas.' So smoke is really just floating dirt. Here is my first question: If God made our breathing system to remove very small particles of dirt because they will hurt our lungs, do you think He would want us to purposely breathe in dirt by smoking?"
"It sure doesn't seem like it," Jason answered.
"This brochure says that smoking can destroy half of the tiny air sacs in the lungs without the person even knowing it. It says that tobacco smoke contains over 500 compounds, many of them cancer-causing."
"So why don't people smoke- uh, cabbage leaves or something else then?" Jason asked.
"The main reason is that some of these chemicals like tar and nicotine give the smoke a taste. However, these are also addicting, that is, the body begins to depend on them and craves them when they are withheld. Putting it simply, the body gets 'hooked' on it and becomes a slave to it."
"So what do the lungs do with the dirt in the smoke?"
"All the lungs can do is collect it. This booklet says that 99.5% of all cases of lung cancer are found in smokers, the death rate from heart disease is 200% higher among smokers, and emphysema is 500% higher among smokers. The damage done to the whole breathing system will cause shortness of breath, increased heart rate, loss of appetite, sleeplessness, eye and skin irritations, and continual coughing. Here is my next question: do you think the Lord would give us permission to do something that we know would hurt the temple of His Spirit?"
"I can't see how He would," Jason answered.
" And listen to this: a non-smoker on the average will live 12 years longer than a smoker. Since the body of a Christian is God's temple, Satan hates our bodies and wants them destroyed. Here's my third question then: would the Lord say it's fine with Him to do something with our bodies when He knew it would cut short the number of years we could serve Him?"
"Boy, when you put it that way, there's no way God would say that it's O.K. I'm wondering who ever though of such a dumb habit in the first place."
"Tobacco smoking has been around for quite a few hundred years. But the real question is, why would people ever start smoking if they knew that the smoke would be so harmful to them?"
"I think I know why the guy I met started. He said his dad and his brother both smoked. It must have been their example. And I think some of the kids he hangs around aren't such a good example either."
"That's interesting. Often young people think it makes them look or feel 'cool' to be able to smoke. But it takes a lot more character to stand alone for right, than to follow the crowd. What do you think?"
"I always thought that smoking was a dirty habit. But now I have some real ammunition to lay on any of the guys who call me a wimp for not trying it. I really do want to keep my body at its best so I can please God and He can use me."
"Good for you! That's the best motive of all."