Vaping, or the use of electronic cigarettes, has become extremely popular in recent years. As Christians, how should we think about this trend? What principles from Scripture can guide us to make God-honoring decisions about vaping? In this post, we will explore what the Bible teaches that may apply to vaping.
Vaping involves inhaling vapor produced by an electronic cigarette or similar device. The vapor is created by heating a liquid, which usually contains nicotine, flavorings, and other chemicals. Some key facts about vaping:
- Vaping devices heat a liquid into an aerosol that the user inhales. The liquid usually contains nicotine, flavorings, and other additives.
- E-cigarettes come in many shapes and sizes. Some common types are vape pens, pod systems, and mods.
- Most e-cigarettes contain nicotine, which is addictive. The level of nicotine can vary widely.
- E-cigarettes can contain other harmful chemicals that may have short- or long-term health effects. However, research is still ongoing on their risks.
- Vaping is popular among youth. In 2020, 19.6% of high school students reported current use of e-cigarettes. (1)
- Some people use e-cigarettes to quit conventional smoking. However, there is debate about how effective they are for quitting.
- Secondhand aerosol exhaled from vaping may expose others to potentially harmful chemicals.
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So what biblical principles should guide our perspective on vaping? While the Bible does not directly address vaping, there are some key considerations we can draw from Scripture.
- The Bible teaches that our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit and calls us to honor God with our bodies. Vaping may or may not honor God with our bodies, depending on the reasons and circumstances.
- Scripture calls us to exercise self-control and not be mastered by anything. The addictive nature of nicotine in e-cigarettes could lead to loss of self-control.
- Biblical standards related to sobriety, alertness, and avoiding drunkenness may apply to recreational vaping to achieve an altered state of consciousness.
- Christians have freedom in Christ, but are called to avoid becoming a stumbling block to others through their freedoms. Widespread vaping could normalize an addictive habit and influence others to stumble.
- The Bible promotes caring for our neighbor’s health. Secondhand vape exposure may negatively impact neighbors’ health.
- Scripture teaches us to submit to governing authorities. Laws restricting vaping are meant for good and should be followed.
- Stewarding our finances well honors God. The ongoing cost of vaping may or may not be good stewardship, depending on the individual’s circumstances.
Let’s now explore these biblical principles in more detail as we examine what the Bible says about vaping.
Our Bodies Are Temples of the Holy Spirit
One of the clearest biblical principles applicable to vaping is that our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit and we are called to honor God with our bodies. 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 says:
Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s. (NKJV)
As followers of Christ, our bodies do not belong to us to use however we wish. They were purchased at a price – by the blood of Jesus. Our bodies are dwelling places for God’s Spirit. So we are called to glorify God with our bodies.
The question is: Does using e-cigarettes glorify God with our bodies? The answer is not immediately obvious. Vaping is not intrinsically sinful, but it may or may not glorify God depending on the heart motivations and bodily effects.
On the positive side, some use vaping to avoid or quit cigarette smoking, which honors God more with their bodies. Others may simply enjoy the flavors without addiction or negative health effects. In these cases, vaping may be a matter of Christian freedom that glorifies God.
However, for many, vaping leads to nicotine addiction, control by cravings, and unknown long-term bodily harm. The addictive nature of nicotine can lead to loss of self-control, which dishonors God with our bodies. And scientific evidence increasingly shows that vaping exposes the body to harmful chemicals that could damage lungs and overall health. This would not glorify God with our bodies.
So whether vaping glorifies God or not depends much on the reasons for vaping and the effects it has on each individual body and spirit. This leads to the next biblical principle.
Exercise Self-Control, Don’t Be Mastered by Anything
A strong biblical theme is the importance of self-control over our desires and avoiding being mastered or controlled by anything other than the Holy Spirit. 1 Corinthians 6:12 says:
All things are lawful for me, but all things are not helpful. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any. (NKJV)
While we have freedom in Christ, Paul warns we should not allow ourselves to be mastered by anything. Addictions essentially control us and our behavior. Scripture calls us to self-control.
Unfortunately, the nicotine in e-cigarettes is highly addictive. It can quickly put users under its control, where they feel unable to function normally without frequent vaping. This loss of self-mastery and control by nicotine may start innocently through casual vaping, but can end up dishonoring God as we are overpowered by cravings.
A lack of self-control over vaping may also diminish our alertness and clearmindedness, which impacts our ability to focus on God and serve others. Addiction to vaping essentially becomes idolatry as we serve our cravings rather than God. So while vaping itself may not be sinful, addiction to it can certainly become sinful.
Followers of Christ should carefully consider if vaping will lead to mastery by nicotine or hurt our self-control in any way. It may be wise to avoid developing a habit that could easily become controlling.
Biblical Standards of Sobriety and Avoiding Drunkenness
Scripture often warns against drunkenness and endorses sobriety. 1 Peter 5:8 says:
Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. (ESV)
Being sober-minded means being alert, clear-headed, and self-controlled. Drunkenness inhibits these qualities and makes us vulnerable to the enemy.
How do these biblical standards apply to vaping? Some argue that the lightheaded “buzz” achieved through vaping nicotine is similar to drunkenness. However, vaping nicotine produces a much milder effect than alcohol intoxication. So equating recreational vaping with biblical drunkenness may not be appropriate in most cases.
However, vaping high concentrations of nicotine to achieve an altered state of consciousness seems contrary to the biblical principle of sobriety. Intentional misuse of nicotine to induce transient “buzzy” effects that cloud mental alertness is questionable for followers of Christ aiming to be sober-minded.
So while the Bible does not prohibit all substances that can change mood or alertness, intentional misuse of nicotine to achieve drunken-like effects is arguably unwise and unbiblical. Responsible, temperate vaping of nicotine in moderation, however, does not violate principles of sobriety. As in all things, wisdom and self-control should guide decisions about vaping.
Avoid Becoming a Stumbling Block to Others
The Bible calls Christians to avoid becoming a stumbling block that leads others into sin. Romans 14:13-14 states:
Therefore let us not pass judgment on one another any longer, but rather decide never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of a brother. I know and am persuaded in the Lord Jesus that nothing is unclean in itself, but it is unclean for anyone who thinks it unclean. (ESV)
In our freedom in Christ, we may have liberties to do certain things that are not sinful. However, if our exercise of these liberties leads others to follow our example and stumble into sin or harmful effects, then we should consider limiting our freedoms.
Widespread vaping, even done responsibly, may influence others to casually try vaping and become addicted before realizing the risks of nicotine dependence. Youth are especially prone to pick up the habit through peer influence. The vaping liberty we exercise could become a stumbling block.
Of course, we are not responsible for others’ decisions. But Christians should thoughtfully consider whether their vaping habits could normalize addictive behavior or entice others to casually try vaping in an unhealthy way. Our public influence and consideration of others is important.
Caring for Our Neighbor’s Health
Loving our neighbor as ourselves is core to following Christ. Scripture teaches that caring for others’ wellbeing demonstrates Christlike love. Philippians 2:4 says: “Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.” (ESV)
Secondhand vape exposure may potentially affect neighbors’ health, especially vulnerable populations like children and the elderly. Public vaping also contributes to environmental chemical exposures. So Christians should thoughtfully consider how their vaping habits affect others sharing their living spaces, workplaces, and general environment.
Loving our neighbors well may mean voluntarily avoiding vaping in public spaces, properly disposing of vape products, and being sensitive to how secondhand vaping exposures could impact human health. However, definitive evidence on secondhand vaping’s risks is still developing. But a reasonable application of this biblical principle would be to avoid public vaping whenever possible to care for community health.
Submit to Governing Authorities
The Bible instructs Christians to respect and submit to governing authorities, which are instituted by God for our good. 1 Peter 2:13-14 states:
Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human authority: whether to the emperor, as the supreme authority, or to governors, who are sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right. (NIV)
Laws restricting vaping aim to prevent youth addiction and protect public health. While we may argue about the most effective policies, the biblical principle of submitting to government applies. Followers of Christ should willingly obey vaping age restrictions, bans on vaping in public places, and other rules, even if inconvenienced. These laws aim for public good and are means for God-given authorities to restrain wrong.
The only exception would be if vaping laws clearly contradict biblical values or conscience before God. In that case, Christians should still aim to respect authorities by challenging laws responsibly through legal channels.
Steward Finances Well
The Bible clearly teaches that Christians must be wise stewards of finances. Romans 14:7-8 states:
For none of us lives for ourselves alone, and none of us dies for ourselves alone. If we live, we live for the Lord; and if we die, we die for the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord. (NIV)
Since we belong to God, all money we have is a gift from God to be used wisely for His purposes. Frequent, ongoing purchases of vaping equipment and supplies may add up to significant costs that could be used in other ways to honor God.
However, if occasional, modest spending on vaping does not hinder our ability to meet other biblical financial principles related to tithing, caring for family, giving generously, etc., then costs of vaping may be a matter of Christian freedom in good stewardship. But each person must prayerfully evaluate if their vaping habits upheld or violated biblical financial wisdom.
While the Bible does not directly address vaping, key biblical principles can guide our perspective:
- Our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit to care for and honor God with.
- Followers of Christ should exercise self-control and not be mastered by anything.
- Intentional vaping to induce mind-altering effects seems to contradict sobriety.
- We should avoid having vaping become a stumbling block that influences others toward unhealthy behaviors.
- Loving our neighbor includes caring for community health impacts of vaping.
- Christians should respect governing authorities and obey lawful restrictions on vaping.
- Finances spent on vaping should be evaluated for good stewardship.
In summary, vaping itself is not inherently sinful, but may or may not honor God depending on the user’s motivations and effects. As with all Christian freedoms, our use of e-cigarettes should be guided by love, self-control, wisdom, and bringing glory to God.
- Wang TW, Neff LJ, Park-Lee E, Ren C, Cullen KA, King BA. E-cigarette Use Among Middle and High School Students — United States, 2020. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep 2020;69:1310–1312. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.15585/mmwr.mm6937e1