I was a teenager when my father described to me his battle to give up smoking when he became a Christian. I thought of him as a tough determined character but he said he actually cried when he threw his pipe into the flames of the coal fire. He was so addicted. His reason for giving up smoking was his Christian faith. Becoming a Christian was a serious decision for him and when he read 1 Corinthians 6: 19-20 he knew even back those many years ago when smoking was the in thing that what he was doing was not good for his health.
Realising as a teenager what power smoking had on my father at some time in his life I chose not to make myself vulnerable to its control. It wasn’t for any religious reason. I was just opposed to any kind of controlling influence. Of course, we are all controlled in some way or another whether by choice, such as surrendering self-interest for the greater good of family or friends, or by law such as when the taxman wants a percentage of my income. But we can choose to avoid being controlled by harmful influences, whether people or substance. Who would have thought back in my father’s day that civilised countries would ban smoking in public, even in Russia!
Today, we are a lot more informed about the damage we do to our bodies with smoking and other substances, and how costly it is to family and the nation. But for the Christian, there is a powerful motivation to avoid any kind of substance abuse because of the One who should have control in his or her life, and for good reason as stated in 1 Corinthians 6:19-20. Hence it should not be surprising that Christians and maybe other faith groups who acknowledge a ‘higher authority’ who has their best interests at heart should come out well in the recent report by a Swiss National Science Foundation research team.
“Young Swiss men who say that they believe in God are less likely to smoke cigarettes or pot or take ecstasy pills than Swiss men of the same age group who describe themselves as atheists. Belief is a protective factor against addictive behaviour. This is the conclusion reached by a study funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation.”
Back in 2001 a report found that Spirituality and Religion reduced the risk of substance abuse. And while the decision I made back in my younger days not to smoke was not a religious one, becoming a Christian made it easier to give up alcohol abuse (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). So there is something that is better and best about belief. Practicing Christians will want to be an asset not a burden on family and the state. Even the atheist Matthew Parris wrote of the benefits of the Christian faith.