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Original post @  https://rethinknow.org/2016/07/18/what-does-the-bible-really-say-about-smoking-drinking-and-getting-tattoos/



There are many hot-button topics that Christians like to debate their freedom in today. Smoking, drinking, and getting tattoos seem to be near the top of that list. Many people have dug their trenches and are planted firmly in their camp. But what does scripture say about these topics? What if there is a better question to ask than are these things acceptable?


Scripture Talking Specifically About Tobacco: None

I have heard many Christians quote 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 to say why you should not smoke (or drink or get tattoos). The verse says Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.

But there’s a couple problems with this argument. First, there’s a massive inconsistency in this argument. We like to argue that smoking is damaging God’s temple, therefore it’s a sin and we need to stop. But what about sugar? If this argument is true shouldn’t we cut that out? How about driving, fast food, dangerous hobbies, and whatever the last cancer causing thing is? Our lives are full of things that are killing us; in fact one day we will all die.

The second problem is the context of this verse. There is a huge danger in looking at one verse and applying it to our lives before we look at what the surrounding context says. In 1 Corinthians 6 Paul is talking about sexual immorality. He is telling us to honor God with our sexual choices. Not our diet, whether we smoke, or put tattoos on our body. It’s about honoring God with our sexuality. The argument with this verse is invalid because it’s not even close to what the verse is actually pointing to.

So is it okay for a Christain to smoke? Well there is nothing in the Bible that points one way or the other. Is it a sin? No. Let’s not add rules that God did not put in the Bible.


Scripture Talking Specifically About Drinking: Ephesians 5:18, Proverbs 20:1, Galatians 5:19-21, 1 Corinthians 6:10, 1 Timothy 5:23, Proverbs 23:20-21, Romans 14:21, Isaiah 5:22,Leviticus 10:9, Ecclesiastes 9:7, 1 Timothy 3:8

The above list is far from exhaustive, but it shows a good variety of the various things scripture says about drinking. If we were to sit down and read every verses that talks specifically about alcohol you would find that scripture dances around the issue never giving a straight answer.

Let’s look at a few examples. 1 Timothy 3:8 says, Deacons likewise must be dignified, not double-tongued, not addicted to much wine, not greedy for dishonest gain. Paul here is giving instructions to Timothy on how to choose leaders in the church. And he says that they should not drink “too much wine.” He doesn’t say they cannot drink wine, just not too much.

In Ephesians 5:18 And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit. Here Paul seems to be condemning the drinking of wine. And instead of drinking to focus on God.

Now at first glance you might think that the Bible is saying contradictory things about drinking. However, I think the better way to think of it is to see the Bible as pointing us to do the wise thing in every circumstance.

So is it okay for Christians to drink? Yes, when you read the verses about drinking in context it doesn’t say that we cannot drink. However, I think there is a warning for those that drink too much too often. There’s no verse that says Thou shalt not have more than 3 drinks a day. We’ve probably all heard Christians say drinking is a sin. But Biblically that claim cannot be backed up. And we ought to be very careful to not add rules to the Christian life that God did not put there.


Scripture Talking Specifically About Tattoos: Leviticus 19:28, Isaiah 49:16, Revelation 19:16

Again this is a gray area in scripture with only one verse pointing directly to tattoos and a few others that indirectly talk about tattoos. Some will again point to 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 claiming that tattooing is damaging our body which is God’s temple. But the same problems with this argument come up that came up in the smoking section. We don’t apply this to our lives anywhere else, and it’s ripped out of context.

In order to fully understand what the Bible says, let’s look at the one verse that stands against tattoos: You shall not make any cuts on your body for the dead or tattoo yourselves: I am the Lord. Leviticus 19:28

The tattoos that are being spoken of in this verse were part of a pagan ritual. Not like the tattoos we get today. I have several tattoos, with plans for more, and all of them point to something with my relationship with God. They remind me of something good, not pointing to something bad. To take this verse and apply it to say it’s a sin to get a tattoo you would have to rip it out of context. It’s just doesn’t mean that.

So is it okay for Christians to get tattoos? Yes. Scripturally I can see nothing, that is in context, that points us to steer away from getting inked up.


I think the above questions are ultimately the wrong questions to ask. Often we like to figure out how close we can get to sin without sinning. But that’s the wrong way of viewing our life choices.

Here’s two better questions to ask:


I hate this question because it challenges me. When you are trying to decide if you should or shouldn’t do something ask yourself this: In this circumstance what is the wisest step for me to take? I think that is a much better question to ask. Life isn’t all black and white, right and wrong; there’s a lot of gray. This question will help you discern and navigate that gray.


In my time in leadership I have learned that I may have the freedom to do something, but if I do it I may lose influence, in other words my leadership will suffer. The further I go into leadership, the more freedom I must give up so that I can gain more influence. So while some things might be okay, not a sin, I must choose to not do them if I want to make an impact.

You might be saying that’s not fair! or I have the freedom to do that! And you would be right in saying so. But listen, you will never change the world around you if you just hold onto your freedoms. Sometimes you have to give up some thing so that you can gain influence in someone’s life to help them see the change they need to make. You will never change someone’s mindset by yelling that you have the freedom to do {fill in the blank}. That’s why Paul said I will become all things to all people so that I may win a few (1 Corinthians 9:19-23). In order to change someone you must first gain influence in their life which often requires you to give up your freedoms.

So are these things a sin? Within reason no, they are not. However, we must each look at our lives and decide if it’s the wisest thing for us to do. We must look at who we are influencing and decide if it will gain or lose us influence in their life. We might have the freedom to do something, but that doesn’t always make it the best thing for us to do.


Picture credit:  https://www.google.com/search?q=picture+Tattoo+Bible&rlz=1C1VFKB_enUS610US619&espv=2&biw=1280&bih=939&tbm=isch&tbo=u&source=univ&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjb-bT59__NAhVEaD4KHQvSB9QQsAQIHg#imgrc=GXXdniHi0Vg1UM%3A


About Godsmanforever

I present posts about God's Word, with a personal focus on how God's grace is received through saving faith in the Lord Jesus Christ... Sinners must understand and obey the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ... See this link for more... https://godsmanforever.com/2014/10/26/the-truth-about-sin-10262014-by-bruce-reposted-from-7112013/
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  1. brm7 says:

    Thanks so much for your follow and like. Really appreciate it.


  2. Wish there was a love button! Great and thoughtful article and especially in the light of all going on in the “church” world today!! Great Job and an inspiration!!


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