I’m not of the band wagon to claim that everything that can have bad side effects are sinful. In fact, I consider many of the so-called sinful things to be a gift from God to be used in enjoyment. Take alcohol and tobacco, two absolutely wonderful gifts that are not sinful in and of themselves but can be used in such a way to bring upon great sin. Let’s look at tobacco. A well crafted cigar or pipe full of fine tobacco in celebration or grand occasion is an absolutely wonderful thing. The flavors and the smells are something of great delight and enjoyment and should be fully appreciated when one partakes in such a moment. If one, however, smokes half a pack of cigarettes daily, then it should be reasonable to believe that the individual is merely smoking to appease his addiction and in the process is actively destroying his body. Since the smoker more than likely know that his smoking is causing detriment to himself and quite possibly others, then one could argue that he is sinning due to the harm that he knowingly inflicts.
Alcohol, is a little more straight forward. While some churches insist that any alcohol is a sin going so far as to serve grape juice at communion and completely ignore the fact that grape juice is a very recent invention, alcohol in and of itself is not sinful. Nay, it is in fact one of the greatest earthly gifts to enjoy. There is nothing quite like having a relaxing evening with a glass of whiskey on the rocks or enjoying some quality beers with friends of dinner and/or discussion. I myself love the taste of a good whiskey or gin and find full flavored beers to be one of the finest pleasures around. It is one of the great socializers that has helped may fine things to happen throughout history. The protestant reformation. The Lord’s Supper. The United States Constitution. Community fellowship. But what about all those bad things that happened with alcohol? Promiscuity. Death. Violence. That one time the United States invaded Britain (it happened, and failed hilariously). Well, you see, that’s where the sin lies. The Bible is very clear that drunkenness is a sin and if you’ve ever seen a drunk, it’s pretty easy to tell why. If you’ve never seen someone drunk, just imagine a person getting overly emotional about the importance of voting and you’ll get the idea. Suddenly, this great and wonderful gift has become sinful because of our abuse. And it doesn’t always happen intentionally. Sometimes, one drinks too much without realizing it. I know I’ve had my share of moments. It’s nothing to be proud of, even if you do have a good laugh about it afterwards.
Like tobacco, like alcohol, like a host of other things, there’s a line where you go from enjoying the wonderful qualities of a gift to abusing that gift to your detriment. And when your usage becomes a detriment, then perhaps it’s no longer a gift because you’re putting it to sin. To use one last illustration, imagine your son has been begging your for a toy fire truck for his birthday for the longest time. So you buy him the fire truck and his eyes just light up. He’s thrilled that he got just what he’d been wanting. He plays with it all the time and creating such joy all around him with it. Then, one day, he picks up his toy fire truck and hits his sister in the side of the head with it and gives her a concussion. You reel back in shock and horror as you realize this wonderful gift has now been misused to the detriment of another. It’s not that the toy was sinful but that person in whose care it was abused the use of the toy. What once brought great enjoyment has now brought great harm.
Don’t blame the fire truck because someone abuses it. The fire truck was meant to be enjoyed.