As in cases of alcohol and drug taking, tremendous pressure is imposed on young people to begin smoking cigarettes and thus advertise themselves as mature, strong, rebellious, or simply able to fit into their group. I was not even 10 years old when I was first introduced to cigarettes by some older friends, and was made to feel excluded if I did not join them. As pressure upon me grew, I succumbed and inhaled my first breath of smoke. 1 remember how I coughed so much, then my head became dizzy and I felt sick. These are the natural reactions of the body to the totally foreign and dangerous influences invading it. In fact I have never met a person who enjoyed smoking the first time they tried it, all have to subdue the body’s defence system first. This should be sufficient warning to the would-be partaker that this is not of God, and is damaging to His creation. For a believer, there is no definite prohibition on smoking as this was not invented in those days; however the Bible does give us definite guidelines about the general issues of caring for the body, and the use of whatever finances God grants to us.
The body is the temple of the Holy Ghost, bought with a great price, and the conclusion of the matter is that we are no longer our own to do with our bodies what we like, 1 Cor. 6. 19-20. When we repented of our sin, we were saying to God that we no longer desired to live our lives our own way, but we were rather willing to live to please God and to obey His word in all things. This obviously must include the way we treat the body. It is a medical fact that smoking causes bronchial cancer, heart disease, and breathing problems. It causes problems should one need an anaes-thetic, and makes one more liable to contract colds. When I smoked cigarettes I knew it was having very damaging effects upon my health as I could not run without getting tired much more quickly, and I would cough up all sorts of strange substances. These things made me want to stop smoking, and I made many efforts to do so over a long period. I was amazed to realize how much of a grip this habit, that I knew was doing me no good, had on me, and how difficult it was to stop. At the time I was not a Christian, and I did not know the delivering power of the Lord Jesus, so I suffered and struggled for many years. Those that are saved should call upon the Lord, seeking His help to set them free from this drug that enslaves so many, Romans 6. 1-2, 11-13.
There is also the financial price of smoking. Money that is spent on damaging life could be spent on preserving life. Many are the Christians in under privileged countries that face great privations. God has given us the privilege and responsibility of helping them, 2 Cor. 8. 1-5. In Macedonia the Christians wanted to help the poor Christians in Jerusalem, and they gave through great personal sacrifice because they were already poor. No doubt they had to give up certain pleasures that they enjoyed in order to use their money for the more pressing need of alleviating starvation. Those that spend their money on harmful things such as smoking, could put it to much better use in helping those of our brethren who suffer in circum-stances of desperate need.
When I was a milkman I used to make deliveries to a man who began smoking to calm his nerves when he worked defusing unexploded bombs during World War Two. When I knew him he had been smoking for over 40 years and the effects on his health were very sad to see. He could not walk for more than a few paces at a time without pausing for breath and coughing heavily. After a while he had a mild heart attack and was forced to stop smoking for a few months. The effect of stopping smoking on his health, even after 40 years of abuse, was amazing. He was able to walk faster, with more freedom, not coughing so much, and felt so much better in himself that, I was delighted to see the difference. A few weeks later I caught him again smoking a cigarette. He said, ‘It is only one, I will not have any more’. He was not strong enough, and went back to smoking, even though he realized what damage it was doing him.
In the light of such highly disturbing facts, with such solemn implica-tions, how can Christians indulge in this compulsive, costly habit? Even unbelievers regard it as anti-social for its unpleasantness, and for the danger it represents to public health.
We are living in an highly promiscuous age, where things are propa-gated that once would never have been spoken about publicly, Eph. 5. 12. From a young age people are under pressure to experiment with sex, and many have become enslaved to it. Our televisions regularly portray ex-plicit sexual scenes, and include obscene jokes and innuendoes. Some of our daily newspapers seem little more than pornographic magazines, full of naked women and nearly naked men, along with explicit accounts of sexual acts. This is an area of life that holds great excitement for people of all generations, and it seems today that the more crude and perverted the practice, the more appeal it has to certain people. Even back in the days when Abraham lived, almost 4,000 years ago, men burned in their lusts one towards another, and committed acts among themselves which were disgusting, unnatural, and an abomination to God, Gen 19. 1-11. This behaviour underlies the general state of mankind, Rom. 1. 26-27, and in favourable conditions it manifests itself. (In Germany today it is legal for a male to marry another male!). The Bible has much to say on this subject and gives many examples for instruction, warning and admonition.
God saw that His perfect creation Adam needed a helper that was meet for him. Out of Adam’s side He took a rib and made a wife for him, Gen. chapter 2. They were commanded to be fruitful, to go forth and multiply, Gen 1. 28. God had brought Adam and bis wife together, so they could have sexual relations in an honourable way. This was ever the intention of God, that only in a state of marriage, sexual relations would be permitted, Heb 13. 4.
However, many have deviated from this holy standard, with accom-panying sorrows. Abraham had a child (Ishmael) through a maid who was not his wife; both the maid and the child were cast out, and the descend-ants of Ishmael have ever since fought with the people of God. David fell in love with a woman that was already married and she was made pregnant by him. David’s heart was temporarily turned away from God as he sought to cover his sin with deceit and murder, 2 Sam. 11.
In God’s sight sex is only permissible in marriage, for through the act of sex two people are made one, Matt. 19. 5-6, 1 Cor. 6. 15-16, and for this cause a believer should never marry an unbeliever, 2 Cor. 6. 14-7. 1, because it links two things that God has separated, those that have been made holy and those who are yet unholy.
Marriage for the believer is strictly in the Lord, 1 Cor. 7. 39. (i.e. to one who is in Christ, 2 Cor. 5. 17.) Those who have deviated from this position have found their Christian life thereafter to be a struggle, and some have backslidden. God’s ways are perfect, Psa. 18. 30, and as He made a perfect helper for Adam, and brought her to him, Gen 2. 1-22, so He can provide life-partners for all those that He desires to be married.
In most parts of the world, sex is the subject of a good percentage of people’s conversations, and occupies much of their time. Some folk have fallen low in their standards and have many partners. As a result of this they are in danger of contracting many dangerous, sexually related dis-eases, including the AIDS virus that is wiping out great areas of the world’s population.
Because of sexual infidelity, some mothers have children by many men, and obviously some men have children by many women. In some parts of the world it is stated that two out of every three children do not know who their father is. This leads to insecurity and instability in the life of the child, often having disastrous effects in the later life of the child. This was never God’s intention; rather His perfect plan was; ‘For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: they shall be one flesh,’ Matt. 19. 5. A family where God is feared, and His word is read and obeyed, is the perfect environment for a youngster growing up in an otherwise godless and immoral world. Among the various lusts burning in the hearts of men there is little doubt that the passion for sexual pleasure is among the strongest. Sadly by this many have fallen into sin, and their hearts have been stolen from God, Hos. 4. 11; 1 Kgs. 11. 1-11.
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