If you smoke, does God love you less? Is smoking a sin? Can you still go to heaven if you smoke?
The answers are No, It’s between you and God, and Yes.
There will be smokers in heaven. And if you smoke, I hope you will be one of them! (Notice I didn’t say “smoking in heaven.”) Your eternal destiny is not based on whether or not you smoke any more than it is based on your body mass index, what church you belong to, or how many times you’ve read the Bible through. Nobody – least of all God Himself – will be smelling your clothes or looking for stains on your fingers when you get to the pearly gates. God’s Word is clear; there’s only one criteria to get into heaven: “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved.” (Acts 16:31)
Religion has based so much on external behavior, but you and I cannot know someone else’s heart. For what it’s worth, in my view smoking becomes a sin when the Holy Spirit puts His finger on your soul and says, “This you need to change” – and you rebelliously refuse to do so. It’s your rebellion that becomes the issue, not the outward behavior.
Your smoking can’t make God love you any less. And He won’t love you any more when you quit.
But that doesn’t mean He doesn’t care. He does, but perhaps not for the reasons you have been told.
But first, I care. And let me tell you why.
Please Don’t Smoke!
From the first day I met my husband Al, smoking was an issue. He was always extremely respectful of me – and others. He didn’t smoke inside at home or at work, and he never left his butts lying around. But his lungs had already been affected by smoking, and that could not be undone. He successfully quit smoking when we got married, but the damage was well on its way.
Because of Al’s lung disease – caused by years of smoking – we could never take a walk by the lake, or travel without extreme difficulty. I never had the opportunity to watch him play a round of golf, go to a sporting event, or enjoy a fishing trip together. As his lung disease progressed during our seven years of marriage, we missed out on many of the grandchildren’s school and sporting events or family vacations he would have loved.
During the last year of his life every breath became an increasingly difficult effort. His medications filled and spilled out of the kitchen cupboard. The bedroom, the bathroom, the living room, the kitchen – all became filled with medical equipment; oxygen tanks and concentrators, medication nebulizer, the hated “Vest” to clear his airways, Bi-pap machine, wheelchair, walker. Oxygen tubing was everywhere. On the infrequent occasions when we were able to leave home it was a monumental effort.
I loved my husband. I still do. I am grateful for every moment of the more than seven years of our very happy marriage. Taking care of him was a privilege I will never regret, and he took care of me in more ways than he ever realized. I don’t regret one moment of being his wife. I know many caretakers have gone through much more than I did. But I hated to see him suffer.
And I don’t want you to suffer in the same way!
Heart disease, lung cancer, COPD – those are just a few of the illness smoking can cause. Perhaps you’ll be like George Burns and live to a ripe old age even if you smoke, but I wouldn’t bet on it. And you’re right – smoking isn’t the only cause of those illnesses. But it’s one huge cause, and it’s one that you can do something about.
In my own grief I want to grab ahold of any smoker I see and shout, “Don’t do it! Don’t make your family suffer! If there’s anyone at all that you love in the world, quit now!”
I don’t know if my words will make any difference. But if only one person reads this and decides to spare their loved ones the pain of watching them suffer from the health consequences of smoking, it will be worth it. I know quitting is hard – perhaps one of the hardest things you will ever do. Nicotine places its hooks in your brain and doesn’t want to let go. But there is help available. Choosing to tolerate some very real struggle now may yet save your loved ones (and yourself) indescribable suffering later.
Why Does God Care?
God cares about your smoking because He doesn’t want you to suffer. He feels your struggle more than I ever could. He knows the circumstances that led you to begin smoking. He knows the physical symptoms you may already have. He knows the times you’ve tried to quit and failed. He knows the times you may have quit for a period of time, and started up again. He knows how strong the hooks are in your brain, and how hard it will be to quit for good.
He also knows what health consequences you will suffer in the future if you don’t quit. He knows how your loved ones will suffer, and how they will grieve when you leave this world too soon. He knows the things you hope to accomplish but will never be able to, and the dreams you have that will be left unrealized because you smoked.
That’s why God cares about you smoking.
And it’s why He will be there to help you quit when you’re ready.
I offer some great ideas for people who want help to quit smoking as an appendix in my book Dr Carol’s Guide to Women’s Health. You’ll also find a lot of other resources to understand and take charge of your health in many areas. I invite you to check it out.
And if you’d like a tip sheet I’ve prepared just for you that will help you quit smoking when you’re ready, just send me a message here. I don’t have this automated at this time; perhaps that will come later. But I’d love to send it to you if you let me know your email address.
Until next time, God loves you – and so do I!
Your Turn: What’s been your biggest struggle in dealing with trying to stop smoking? Leave a comment below.
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