Tuesday, August 4, 2009

"Sin Myths" or "Why I hate the color grey"

Just because something is stupid doesn’t necessarily mean that it is sinful. Smoking half a pack of cigarettes a day is absolutely stupid. It is also unhealthy. It also makes you smell bad. It might even indicate that you have some lack of self-control. BUT it is most certainly not a sin to smoke. I will concede that addiction (to anything really) is sinful. Since cigarettes contain nicotine, they can potentially become addictive. So smoking your half a pack a day is (to state it again) stupid in that it could certainly lead you to the sin of addiction.

I used to smoke cigarettes….a pack or so a day. I coughed all the time and I smelled bad. After doing this for a few years I decided to stop (with the exception of the occasional cigar on the golf course). I have no desire to smoke ever again. Mainly because of the smell and the fact that there is a chance that it could put me in an early grave. Both of those things aren’t really all that appealing to me. All that said, I respect your foolish decision to smoke. I’ll tell you it’s stupid and I might even tell you that you stink, but I won’t tell you that it’s a sin….because it’s not.

Now, please do not confuse these statements as a defense of smoking. Do not view them as an encouragement to take up smoking. Do not view them as my attempts to justify some behavior of my own. Take them for what they are….statements of fact regarding one of the “sin myths” in Conservative Christianity.

Whether the issue is drinking, smoking, divorce, dancing, a man having long hair, or a woman wearing pants, there are a number of “sin myths” that have taken an almost doctrinal status within Conservative Christianity. When one attempts to offer up a biblical perspective on these things he is often demonized for attempting to justify his own sin if he doesn’t come to the “Party line” conclusion. It makes one wonder at times if they are in the right “Party”.

The many discussions I’ve involved myself in (or simply witnessed) on 10 or 15 different websites around the internet over the last several months regarding the alcohol issue have reminded my of this. Some of the discussions have been profitable. Some have been educational. Some have been challenging. However, most have ended up digressing into utter foolishness with one or both sides attacking the motives and character of the other. Why do disagreements over “grey areas” have to get so shallow and ugly?


Anonymous said...

Are you sure that there really is a sin of addiction? Have you taken this (the sin of addiction) to a doctrinal status in your form of Conservative Christianity? How would one go about debunking one of these "sin myths"? How do you decide what is a "grey area"?

I think you have failed to really add any profitable information to the mix for you opined without any reference to Truth and this leaves me to offer a few reminders: Isaiah 8:20 and Proverbs 14:12.

For His glory
Guess who!

Chris Cole said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Chris Cole said...

Ellis, I think you got it exactly right.

Don Johnson said...

Hi Ellis,

Your mention of dancing reminded me of a post I saw, yesterday I think, quoting Calvin as against dancing. I can't remember where I saw it. My point in mentioning it is that these "sin myths" have been around for a long time and have an outstanding pedigree in terms of people who promote them.

So... what does that prove? I'll leave it up to you to ponder.

Don Johnson
Jer 33.3

Ellis Murphree said...


Regarding addiction being a sin...besides some basic biblical principles being violated, we also have the record of number one of the Ten Commandments (and perhaps number two).

Regarding my lack of a "record to Truth", I appreciate your challenge. I also appreciate the challenge of the passages you referenced in your response, although I'm not sure that they are particularly applicable to this post. :)

Ellis Murphree said...


With comments like that I wish you would come around here more often :D

Ellis Murphree said...

Hi Don,

Calvin was an idiot. ;D

For the record, I think that there is much value in looking at what the stance of the Church has been on controversial issues over the years and allowing that to weigh heavily on our own stances.

However, I also think it is dangerous when we allow the stances of fallible man, on issues where Scripture is ambiguous at best, to be elevated to the same status as Scripture. The more recent stances on alcohol and tobacco come to mind.

Ellis Murphree said...


One more comment on determining "grey areas". A "grey area" is (to me) simply defined as an issue where the Bible is slient or ambiguous....not just on the specific issue, but on the "principle" involved. Alcohol is one of the clearer examples on this. Proverbs takes a very negative view of alcohol (or at least drunkenness) whereas strong drink is largely viewed as a gift of God or just a fact of life throughout much of the rest of Scripture (although there are certainly great examples that serve as warnings against drunkenness - Noah and Lot both come to mind).

Tobacco is another obvious "grey area" issue. There's not even a direct priniciple to fall back on (biblically) to discourage the use of it (other than when one becomes addicted).

By the way, to answer your question about my views on addiction, the answer is "absolutely yes". Whether the addiction is caffeine, nicotine, alcohol, shoes, shopping, or any other silly thing...when I see a brother or sister in the grasps of something I will confront them with their sin and encourage them to break the cycle of addiction by fleeing into the arms of their Savior.

Marty Colborn said...


It wasn't I who commented on your post. I just read it today (Wednesday). So, guess again!


Ellis Murphree said...


You filthy liar!!!!

Sorry about mistakenly ascribing that post to you....I thought you were the only "guess who" that I knew!

I can't modify my comments without deleting them, so there we go.

Chris Cole said...

I think addiction is something that Satan uses to try to turn a gift of God into a curse, to undermine the joy of the believer, to destroy his testimony, and to hide the beneficence of God from unbelievers.

Anonymous said...

What about Proverbs 23:31?
How can you drink and not look at the wine/beer/liquor?
You are right about Conservatives having a distorted view of sin - anything that takes away from total dependence on God is a sin. Not just alcohol and cigarettes.

Anonymous said...

Verses like "no man can serve two masters", "Be ye holy for I am holy", and "laying aside every weight... let us run with patience the race that is set before us" come to mind. The Word of God is so clear that those that claim His name are to follow Him and abandon all else.