The use of tobacco and alcohol by a Christian can be a rather controversial topic. Some people may view it as a sin for a Christian to use tobacco products or consume alcohol. Personally, I can see both points of view, and I do not feel particularly strongly either way, especially when considered in the context of the Bible. Of course, the Bible is open to interpretation and it is largely shaped by our own experiences and understandings as well as our interpretations and schemas about the world and what is right and wrong. I believe my ambivalence is in part structured by my own perceptions of the world which tend to be more aligned with individual interpretation and freedoms. There is considerable debate online about the meaning and interpretation of Bible passages in relation to these issues, with some stating that one could not interpret the Bible while intoxicated (Christian Broadcasting Network, 2017) and others questioning whether God created tobacco for pleasure (Dowd, 2011).
The Bible has many references to alcohol consumption, and in my opinion, it does not provide strict guidance in either direction. For instance, Provers 20:1 states “Wine is a mocker and beer a brawler; whoever is led astray by them is not wise.” While the Bible states that these substances can lead to unwanted or uncontrolled decisions, it does not objectively say that consuming alcohol is wrong or a sin. Furthermore, Ecclesiastes 9:7 states “Go, eat your food with gladness, and drink your wine with a joyful heart, for God has already approved of what you do.” These conflicting statements only provide more difficulty with attempting to form an opinion on what the Bible says about Christian consumption of alcohol. In my opinion, the Bible does not provide a strict “right” or “wrong” answer to the question of whether or not alcohol consumption by Christians is a sin; however, it does suggest that alcohol consumption can be used in a celebratory manner in some regards, but in other instances, it can lead to problems and disinhibited behaviors that are unwanted.
Tobacco use is also a topic of discussion within the Bible, just as wine and alcohol are often discussed. In contrast to speak of wine and alcohol in the Bible, the discussion of tobacco is more covert and tobacco is considered something that is part of the earth and it is considered a crop. For instance, in Galatians 6:7-8, there is a quote that states, “Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting. This verse from the Bible states that humans are able to reap the rewards of their work. One could interpret this to mean that if someone spends time growing and tending to tobacco crops, which are grown from the earth, then the one who puts the work into this process should also reap the rewards of their hard work. In the case of this discussion post, one could interpret this within the context of tobacco crops and subsequently argue that because someone spends time tending to these crops, it is okay to rejoice and enjoy these crops, which just so happen to be tobacco crops as opposed to traditional crops.
In conclusion, there is considerable controversy about whether or not tobacco and alcohol use by a Christian is objectively considered right or wrong. In other words, this seems to be largely open to personal interpretation of Bible passages.
- Christian Broadcasting Network. (2017). Is drinking alcohol a sin? Retrieved from: http://www1.cbn.com/questions/is-drinking-alcohol-a-sin
- Dowd, D. (2011). Why did God create tobacco? Retrieved from:www.ucg.org