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Theological, Doctrinal, and Spiritual Musing - and whatever other else is on my mind when I notice that I haven't posted in a while.
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Daniel of Doulogos Name:Daniel
Home: Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
About Me: I used to believe that evolution was reasonable, that homosexuality was genetic, and that people became Christians because they couldn't deal with the 'reality' that this life was all there was. I used to believe, that if there was a heaven - I could get there by being good - and I used to think I was more or less a good person. I was wrong on all counts. One day I finally had my eyes opened and I saw that I was not going to go to heaven, but that I was certainly going to suffer the wrath of God for all my sin. I saw myself as a treasonous rebel at heart - I hated God for creating me just to send me to Hell - and I was wretched beyond my own comprehension. Into this spiritual vacuum Jesus Christ came and he opened my understanding - delivering me from God's wrath into God's grace. I was "saved" as an adult, and now my life is hid in Christ. I am by no means sinless, but by God's grace I am a repenting believer - a born again Christian.
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Daniel's posts are almost always pastoral and God centered. I appreciate and am challenged by them frequently. He has a great sense of humor as well.
- Marc Heinrich

His posts are either funny or challenging. He is very friendly and nice.
- Rose Cole

[He has] good posts, both the serious like this one, and the humorous like yesterday. [He is] the reason that I have restrained myself from making Canadian jokes in my posts.
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This post contains nothing that is of any use to me. What were you thinking? Anyway, it's probably the best I've read all day.
- David Kjos

Daniel, nicely done and much more original than Frank the Turk.
- Jonathan Moorhead

There are some people who are smart, deep, or funny. There are not very many people that are all 3. Daniel is one of those people. His opinion, insight and humor have kept me coming back to his blog since I first visited earlier this year.
- Carla Rolfe
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Thursday, February 19, 2009
Is Smoking Sinful?
We (Christians) cringe when other people (who identify themselves as Christians) spend a great deal of time and energy telling the world, in the most strident way possible, that God is no fan of homosexuality.

We (the rest of us Christians), with almost one voice are quick to balance that thought by saying that homosexuals are sinners like everyone else, and they are in need of salvation from their sin, not because they are homosexuals, but because they are sinners. We like to distance ourselves from people who present truth in such an unbalanced way. Yes, it is true that the unregenerate homosexual is going to go to hell if he doesn't repent of his sin - but so will the morally upstanding heterosexual, whose only sins are "white" lies. Both will be in hell, and isolating one sin as especially condemnable, is "sensational" at best, and more than a little phobic in the middle, and likely driven by hate and bigotry at the extreme.

But what does that have to do with smoking?

Listen: Failing to walk, even for a moment, in the Spirit is sinful. Can I phrase that more simply? I believe I can. It is a sin to light up a cigarette unless God has made it clear that it is His will for you to do so. How is that for a standard?

You see, people don't often stop to think just how sinful they are. They go to church, develop moral/religious habits, and once they have established a level of religion that works for their congregation, they more or less tread water spiritually speaking. They don't walk in the Spirit, though they may have momentary lapses where they actually stop and think about what God would have then do, or even <--gasp!--> pray about what they should do. But mostly, and I am painting with a large brush here, they are on a sort of "spiritual" auto pilot wherein they keep themselves from the big sins, and grapple pointlessly and fruitlessly day in and day out with the "little foxes that spoil the vine."

It is usually these carnally minded folks who ask a question like, "Is smoking sinful?" because the answer is - duh? Of course it is! Do you think the Holy Spirit is leading you to poison your own body and the bodies of those around you? Did Jesus ever do that?

The point of this post however is not to discuss smoking, it is to discuss majoring on the minors. That kind of question ("is smoking sinful?") is not really a question about what is right for a Christian, so much as it is a question about what is right for your religion. The Christian has the Holy Spirit whom he is supposed to be obeying. Thus the question for the Christian is not "is smoking okay?" - rather it is, "Does the Holy Spirit desire that I smoke?" - and the Christian struggle is in walking in the reality of the answer to that question - an answer we already know before we ask it, if we are indeed spiritual.


posted by Daniel @ 6:54 PM  
  • At 7:58 PM, February 19, 2009, Blogger Barbara said…

    Ah. One of the first tough challenges of my own new birth; the "toddler months", perhaps? I was a 1-2ppd smoker and had been fighting the battle with everything known to man - and failing - when He converted me. The urge to smoke did not magically disappear, but the conviction didn't take long to set in. I fought/battled it and spent many tears in earnest prayer. It would hit my assurance hard, that even after 2-3 days without a cigarette I would then make the effort to drive into town and buy another pack. Passages like 2 Peter 2:20-22, while perhaps not specific to smoking still pierced me hard - particularly after reading admonishments in Scripture about making your calling and election sure, the parable of the soils, he who overcomes, he who perseveres, all that sat on me and hung over every cigarette. Paul's conflicts in Romans 7 were taking on real meaning there. Was this one fleshly matter so strong as to be my undoing? Was I a bad soil hearer? Was I deceived? Was I still enslaved by the flesh? Big battles for a baby in the faith with no examples for discipleship around to help with or deal with this. It is physical and psychological bondage, and it is lousy stewardship of the money He graciously provides the means to earn.

    But God is faithful and He will grow/keep/tend/lead His own. The conviction drove me to spend one Sunday afternoon preparing scriptures (the church I attend does not administrate itself biblically) regarding going to the church elders, and asking them to pray for you, and confessing these things to them...and when I could stand it no more, that afternoon I returned to the church, tossed a remaining half a pack of cigarettes and every lighter I could find onto the table in the church social hall and begged for prayer.

    That was July 6, 2008. I haven't had a cigarette since and I've barely had any urges to have one. I haven't even had any real withdrawals. His grace is truly sufficient, His power is perfect in our weakness; but we must - as David did, as we all must do - we must be broken and contrite and empty; and He will enable and equip us to do His will, and He will give us the desire to do His will and it seems it is always something that requires us to recognize our own weakness and thus to lean on Him. He is faithful and holy and good.

    I know you said this wasn't about smoking per se, but smoking is a flesh thing, and you could take any deeply ingrained sinful pattern or addiction or identity of the human life and insert it into that story in place of smoking and you still come out with the flesh battle, the bondage/stewardship issue, the importance of contrition, and the sufficiency of Christ. At the end you still come out with the Gospel lived out. Or at least I hope you do.

  • At 8:42 PM, February 19, 2009, Blogger Daniel said…

    Excellent comment, simply excellent.

    You nailed my point exactly.

  • At 5:48 AM, February 20, 2009, Blogger Kim said…

    I have often thought that smoking is a terrible example of stewardship for a Christian. First of all, the financial resources are overwhelmingly wasted on the habit. It's also poor stewardship of a healthy body. It is a conscious decision to do something that satisfy our desire that is at the same time bad for our health and every one else around us.

    I know that it is hard to quit; but to say we can't really limits God.

  • At 10:15 AM, February 20, 2009, Blogger Daniel said…

    Kim, I agree: smoking is a fine example of poor stewardship. Yet in North America we commonly live at the fringe of our income. We buy the biggest house our income will afford, drive as many cars as our income allows, and whatever is left over we spend on making our lives more pleasant. Every week we buy the best quality food our income will sustain, and even go eat at restaurants, order fast food, eat junk food - all at premium mind you, because we have enough income to do so. We go see movies, or rent movies - we have cable television - how many phones does one family need?? We have the fastest internet connection our area will sustain; we put the finest fuels in our multitude of cars, which we sell as soon as they are old, etc. etc.

    Frankly, we could live in smaller houses, with less food, without all the frills, with fewer cars, phones, and toys, far fewer luxuries - how much more money would we have each month for the Lord's work if it wasn't going into our big houses, our big cars, our big entertainment expenses? Yet few of us regard these things as being on par with smoking.

    Given the magnitude of the utterly lousy stewardship of 99% of even conservative evangelical Christianity, very few of us can actually stand on high ground when it comes to "good" stewardship. We point at the smoker and say, "sin" and tie the sin to poor stewardship, when we practice the very same poor stewardship in spades each and every day.

    Not that I would argue the case, as some do, that since we are just as guilty, that makes smoking "okay" - God forbid! Rather, we should see smoking as just one symptom of the exact same problem most of us are entangled in also.

    What do we do then? Do we turn a blind eye to smoking just because we are mired in the same kind of sin? I don't think so. I think we call it what it is - something that we want to do for our own pleasure/ease, and deal with it by not pretending it is okay. Eventually, if we do not quench or grieve the Holy Spirit, we will desire to be free from it more than we desire it - and the thing will be done. That goes for the big house, the movie rentals, the junk food, the coffee, all of it.

    Canaan wasn't taken in a day, nor was it taken "solo" - we need one another, and it is a big struggle even to name sin for what it is - lest we be obliged to deal with it a'right.

    Thanks for the comment.

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