Monday, March 19, 2007

Smoking and Drinking

A few months ago I had the opportunity to be part of a question and answer column for clergy in the Long Beach Press Telegram. One of the questions asked of the clergy was:
Since it has been medically
determined that things like smoking
and excessive drinking is bad for one's
health, what are your views on leaders
in the church who do either and do you
believe this sets a bad example for their followers?
Here is how I answered the question:

The Bible instructs us that the body is a gift to us from God. In 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 we are told: “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body.” Above and beyond being a leader in the church, we are all called to care for our body. I do believe it is not a good thing to smoke or drink excessively, because it harms this holy temple God has given us.

Even more, the Bible speaks to those who are leaders to set a greater example. In 1 Timothy 3 it is said that leaders are to not be “drunkards” or to have much “wine.” In Titus 2:7 we are told: “Show yourself in all respects a model of good works…”

When I was a youth pastor, I decided that even though it was legal for me to drink, and seeing that many youth struggle with drinking, it would not be a good example for me to drink. So I decided not to drink alcohol at all. This was my choice for myself, and not one that everyone needs to make. But there is always the temptation to drink too much, and so moderation is important.

In regards to smoking, it is quite addictive, and I know many good people who want to stop, but cannot. This is not good, because it will affect their health negatively. When others see them smoking, it could cause another to stumble by leading them to smoke as well. So I do believe that it is not setting a good, healthy example of how God wants us to live.

And yet, those who struggle in these areas would do well to speak to others about their struggle and how they desire to do well by God with their body. Being a good example would mean for them to learn moderation for themselves, and teach moderation to others. I believe this is important for not just leaders in the church, but for all Christians. Share your thoughts on this by clicking on the "comments" button below.