"What is supposed to happen in a democracy is that each sovereign citizen will always vote
in the public interest for the safety and welfare of all. But what does happen is that he votes
his own self-interest as he sees it... which for the majority translates as 'Bread and Circuses'."
- Robert A. Heinlein

In Roman times, free Bread and Circuses entertained the masses. I hope you find your time
here both entertaining and informative.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Not Disqualified: "I cultivate my flowers and burn my weeds."

The following is not prompted by any one incident or by being called to accountability. It is also not an invitation to an open public debate on the merits of arguments against the "vice" in question. It is rather the culmination of a long growing intent to set forth a public defense of something I enjoy. Like Spurgeon, I feel I can no longer quietly participate in something that does not grieve my conscience without either accepting I am committing an unclean act, or that I believe that I am acting outside of God's will. I am a Christian who smokes (and reads "heathen" books, enjoys the occasional drink, listens to "secular" music, watches R rated movies, and fellowships in an Anglican church, but all these are neither here nor there, though the application is similar). Read it in that light.

"Well, dear friends, you know that some men can do to the glory of God what to other men would be sin. And notwithstanding what brother Pentecost has said, I intend to smoke a good cigar to the glory of God before I go to bed to-night.

"If anybody can show me in the Bible the command, 'Thou shalt not smoke,' I am ready to keep it; but I haven't found it yet. I find ten commandments, and it's as much as I can do to keep them; and I've no desire to make them into eleven or twelve.

"The fact is, I have been speaking to you about real sins, not about listening to mere quibbles and scruples. At the same time, I know that what a man believes to be sin becomes a sin to him, and he must give it up. 'Whatsoever is not of faith is sin' [Rom. 14:23], and that is the real point of what my brother Pentecost has been saying.

"Why, a man may think it a sin to have his boots blacked. Well, then, let him give it up, and have them whitewashed. I wish to say that I'm not ashamed of anything whatever that I do, and I don't feel that smoking makes me ashamed, and therefore I mean to smoke to the glory of God."

These were the words preached from the pulpit by Charles Haddon Spurgeon at the Metropolitan Tabernacle, responding to a previous speaker who had inveighed against smoking. After reports were published in various newspapers, Spurgeon wrote the Daily Telegraph to set the record straight. He said, in part:

"There is growing up in society a Pharisaic system which adds to the commands of God the precepts of men; to that system I will not yield for an hour. The preservation of my liberty may bring upon me the upbraidings of many good men, and the sneers of the self-righteous; but I shall endure both with serenity so long as I feel clear in my conscience before God.

"The expression 'smoking to the glory of God' standing alone has an ill sound, and I do not justify it; but in the sense in which I employed it I still stand to it. No Christian should do anything in which he cannot glorify God; and this may be done, according to Scripture, in eating and drinking and the common actions of life.

"When I have found intense pain relieved, a weary brain soothed, and calm, refreshing sleep obtained by a cigar, I have felt grateful to God, and have blessed His name; this is what I meant, and by no means did I use sacred words triflingly...

"I am told that my open avowal will lessen my influence, and my reply is that if I have gained any influence through being thought different from what I am, I have no wish to retain it. I will do nothing upon the sly, and nothing about which I have a doubt.

"I am most sorry that prominence has been given to what seems to me so small a matter—and the last thing in my thoughts would have been the mention of it from the pulpit; but I was placed in such a position that I must either by my silence plead guilty to living in sin, or else bring down upon my unfortunate self the fierce rebukes of the anti-tobacco advocates by speaking out honestly. I chose the latter; and although I am now the target for these worthy brethren, I would sooner endure their severest censures than sneakingly do what I could not justify, and earn immunity from their criticism by tamely submitting to be charged with sin in an action which my conscience allows."

In the wings, Johann Sebastian Bach, Christian and composer. "At land, at sea; at home, abroad; I smoke my pipe and worship God."

Count me with Lewis, Spurgeon, Tolkien, Bach, Luther, Barth, and R.C. Sproul. Not because I smoke or drink, but because I am striving, as we all should be, to capture God's purpose for my soul, not worrying about whether I am obeying an aesthetic legalism in regards to eating, drinking, or smoking.

Let No One Disqualify You
Colossians 2, beginning at verse 16: Therefore let no one pass judgment on you in questions of food and drink, or with regard to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath. These are a shadow of the things to come, but the substance belongs to Christ. Let no one disqualify you, insisting on asceticism and worship of angels, going on in detail about visions, puffed up without reason by his sensuous mind, and not holding fast to the Head, from whom the whole body, nourished and knit together through its joints and ligaments, grows with a growth that is from God. If with Christ you died to the elemental spirits of the world, why, as if you were still alive in the world, do you submit to regulations— “Do not handle, Do not taste, Do not touch” (referring to things that all perish as they are used)—according to human precepts and teachings? These have indeed an appearance of wisdom in promoting self-made religion and asceticism and severity to the body, but they are of no value in stopping the indulgence of the flesh. (ESV)

http://www.challies.com/archives/000349.php
http://www.ransomfellowship.org/Critiq1-2003.pdf
This post owes much debt to www.spurgeon.org

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