When I was still in UP, I remember the sign right in the center of the AS lobby --- "MASAMANG MANIGARILYO". It's interesting how it sparked conversation among fellow college students; "Sabi lang naman masama, hindi naman sinabing bawal" ("The sign says that it's bad, but it didn't say that it's not allowed.")
Lindsay Lohan smokes. Obama smokes. Noynoy smokes. The posh socialite smokes. The tambay tricycle driver smokes. Smoking is attributed to just about any excuse in the book -- smoke when you wake up, smoke when you're drinking, smoke when you're hungry, smoke when you're full, smoke when you're bored, smoke when you're busy, smoke when you're doing number 2, smoke when you're doing ABSOLUTELY nothing. They have glamorized smoking in movies and media. You're "bad-ass" when you light up a cancer stick in your hand. Two of our world's biggest leaders (and probably several others) are known smokers.
Does this make it glamorous and cool then?
Don't get me wrong. This is not a self-righteous 'stop smoking' post. I would have to admit that smoking, too, has been one of my greatest roadblocks. I don't smoke because I'm cool. I smoke out of habit; of several years of lighting up. Remembering the smoking sign in UP, Paul came to mind. 1 Corinthians 10:23 says:
"Everything is permissible" --- but not everything is beneficial. "Everything is permissible" --- but not everything is constructive.
This is the underlying slogan of our permissive generation, translate to --- "I can do whatever I want!" or "Anything goes!" We have gone beyond the Jewish Old Testament law, therefore, everything is permissible.
Paul's answer may be true. In Galatians he said "It is for freedom that Christ has set us free", but this freedom can be taken differently. Not everything is helpful, and not everything that seems cool or allowed will not seriously damage us in the future. I know smoking will, no matter how glamorous others may think it is. All smokers know that it's stinky, unhealthy and will cut their lives back a few years. But here we are, still stinking up and seemingly "bad-ass".
What's great about it is that our Christian society is not a place for perfect, clean people. It's a place for forgiven people. If you are ready to be forgiven, forgiveness is available. Don't be affected by self-righteous prudes who will tell you otherwise. God judges us in light of our future, not of our past. And you may have done displeasing things that still continue to bother you --- five years ago, three months ago, yesterday, five hours ago; you may even be smoking right now while reading this! What makes it dangerous is when we become reluctant to talk about our iniquities and become more reluctant to pray about it because of the shame to be in God's presence and ask help to quit.
Don't let your "permissible-but-not-beneficial" deeds stray you away from developing a relationship with Him. This will help us restore ourselves and see that we're not being mastered by the behavior, nor by the fear of it!