"I Have No Answer",
Robert E. Amerson
The apostle Peter instructs us to, "sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear" 0 Pet. 3:15).
In Gospel Minutes of July 2, 1971, bro. Dillard Thurman answered a question, in the "Questions and Bible Answers" section of his paper, with an "I don't have an answer" answer!
With all fairness to both brother Thurman and anyone who might read this, I feel it necessary to repeat the question to which bro. Thurman had no answer, that being: "Can an elder qualify and smoke cigarettes.
Brother Thurman raised the question, Why just cigarettes? Brother Thurman, I join you in this question. Why not ask, "Can an elder, or deacon, or Christian use tobacco and please God?"
After all, we seek to be well pleasing in the sight of God. This is the reason we worship, and live the Christian life, that we might live with Him after death.
The apostle Paul did not instruct Timothy or Titus on the matter of if a man can, or cannot, use tobacco and qualify as an elder in the Lord's church. As far as I know the word "tobacco" is not so much as named in the Bible. However, I would like for you to note three qualifications that might be note worthy.
He Must Be Blameless
The apostle Paid, in giving instructions to both Timothy and Titus, said that a man desiring the office of a bishop must be blameless. To be blameless-is to be without blame or reproach. The apostle Paul states God's reason for this qualification, that being: "lest he fall into reproach and snare of the devil" (I Tim. 3: 7). 1 do not believe that any man, woman, or child can live in all good conscience and use tobacco in view of the "Warning" posted on the pack and in light of Paul's words, "Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are." (I Cor. 3:16-17). The warning, my friends, is posted on the pack itself, and God's word is very plain on the matter of "defiling" one's body. Considering this, I do not understand why one could say, "I have no answer."
Rule Well His House
I believe that when Paul said that the elder must be, "One that ruleth well his own house" this refers to one who has his family under control! How may a man demand subjection of his wife and children when he himself is enslaved to some habit? It would be very foolish. Would it not?
He Must Have a Good Report
The last of the qualifications given to Timothy by Paul was, "Moreover he must have a good report of them which are without." That is to say, it is a "must" that he has a good report from them that are not members of the church.
It is not, bro. Thurman that I have very little love for the elder that smokes; as you have stated in your "no answer" answer. It is because I have a love for the brotherhood and respect for God's word that leads me to the words of the apostle Paul, "For I have not shunned declaring unto you all the counsel of God" (Acts 20:27).
Paul was always ready to give an answer, even if it meant a beating. It would not, most likely, cost us more than a good "tongue lashing" from our tobacco using brethren.
Many old preachers had nothing good to say for its usage even before it was proven detrimental to the human body. David Lipscomb said, "I regard it (usage of tobacco) as a filthy, useless habit that injures man . . ." Questions Answered by Lipscomb and Sewell, page 693.
Brother David Lipscomb of many years gone by had an answer even before the medical proof. Need I say more than, brethren, you can kick the habit. I know! I did!
TRUTH MAGAZINE, XVI: 7, p. 12