That time I started smoking: Was I wrong?

Ok, I don’t smoke, either tobacco or anything stronger, but there was a time when I started. I realize now that I learned one of the most important life lessons if I was willing to learn.

I was raised in a strict religious family, and we knew that we could never do many things. In my lifetime, I never heard my father swear, and I heard a story at his funeral, that his coworkers annoyed him, just to get him to say some of those words.

Apparently, he never did.

When I lived in that family, I was walking home from school with my friends, one afternoon, and I saw something on the ground. We all looked closer, and we found a cigarette butt, still smoldering, which a smoker had just thrown to the ground. I looked closely, and then I had an idea; a small boy idea. A voice in my head said, “I want to try that.”

So, I picked up that cigarette butt and put the business end between my lips, and I inhaled. I didn’t like the taste, and my friends were laughing at me, so I threw the butt back on the ground. We all laughed and continued walking home. I never told my parents about my experiment, and I never did that again.

So, the day I started smoking was also the day I quit.

I know that’s not much of a story, but it could have been the story of my life.

Imagine if I had continued the experiment. I could have gone through three phases of moral failure: 1) Indulge 2) Practice 3) Change. The first step is easy, and the downward slide can be a long one, and life-changing.

1) Listen to my appetite, and ignore my parents’ rules. 2) Become a long-term smoker. 3) Change my life direction, and deal with the long-term consequences, including serious health problems now.

It is so easy to pull the trigger.

So, can religious people believe in moral limits? I have to be careful how I write this. If I judge too harshly, I could face serious consequences, even legal punishment.

How do we say something is wrong? I am writing as a Christian.

I once worked in a college, and one administrator was a recovering addict. She had smoked more than just tobacco. One day, in a business meeting, in the autumn, she looked at me calmly, and told me “I will be dead by Christmas.” “I” was her, not me. I disagreed and argued, but her diagnosis was stage four lung cancer, and early in the New Year I was invited to her funeral.

Stage One eventually brought her to Stage Three.

We were all sad for our dead coworker, at the funeral, but I know there are advocates for tolerating and managing drug use, in the early stages. That argument was not mentioned, at the funeral.

Some boys having fun with a cigarette butt on the way home from school are very different from a lifelong smoker with a diagnosis of terminal lung cancer.

Recently, I heard a Christian preacher talking about the sexual revolution. I remember when many people in my generation found new freedom, with their sexual behavior. They didn’t want any advice from moralizing religious people.

The preacher told us something I never really considered. The Bible describes the sexual revolution of the 1960s. The preacher traced the history to modern times, where we argue about children having their bodies altered with surgery and hormones. Whatever you believe about Trans issues, it is clear that we are now completely altering our human existence.

It was easy to start with mild pornography and social indulgence. What’s wrong with having fun, if we are all willing?

Now we are at a completely different level. We are now in Stage Three.

The preacher read a description of the process, from the Bible:

1) Indulge: “Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshipped and served the creature rather than the Creator

2) Practice: For this reason, God gave them up to dishonorable passions…

3) Change: And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done

You can read the long description that follows, in the book of Romans (Romans 1: 24 to 28).

We could see morals as the story of our lives:

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