First. Tobacco costs money and does the one who uses it no good and the money that belongs to God is squandered. Many professedly Christian men spend as much money every year on tobacco as would support several native workers in China or India or Africa.Yes, tobacco costs money that could be used for other purposes. So does a piece of cheesecake, a ticket to a football game, a nice pen, and the bow tie Torrey wears in his (very cool) sketch picture. Like tobacco, none of those things produce any good, save for personal enjoyment. Yet, nobody is railing against the inherent evils of desserts, attending football games, collecting fountain pens and wearing ties. Unless one is going to advocate a strict asceticism (which seems to be contrary to a well-balanced view of Scripture, especially considering my recent study of Ecclesiastes), then this argument doesn't seem to hold up, as it's not applied with consistency across the spectrum of the Christian life.
Second. Tobacco is physically injurious to at least the overwhelming majority of those who use it. Some it hurts more than it does others. Many a minister’s life has been shortened by the use of tobacco. Our bodies are the temples of the Holy Ghost and we have no right to do anything that impairs their health or strength.Replace tobacco with cheesecake or cheeseburgers and that statement holds equally true. I would wager good money that more ministers have their lives cut short from the effects of cholesterol and heart disease than lung or throat cancer. Yet no one is saying that a man with a fondness for Sara Lee or Hardee's isn't "going all-out" for God.
Third. The use of tobacco is a filthy habit. It cannot be made anything but filthy. Some are not so filthy as others in their use of tobacco but every tobacco user sooner or later becomes more or less a filthy person, and we are specifically commanded in the Word of God to “Cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh.”This one makes little sense to me. Define filthy. Is Torrey talking here about the smell of cigarette smoke (which I dislike as well)? What is his criteria for saying that "every tobacco user sooner or later becomes more or less a filthy person?" When Paul said to "cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh," I don't think that's quite what he had in mind.
Fourth. No person can use tobacco without infringing on the rights of other people. A man who smokes pollutes the air about him for at least 20 feet in every direction and forces others to breathe this polluted air. The man who chews, disgustingly defiles walks and floors and streets with his tobacco juice. Many a husband poisons his wife and his children with the fumes of his tobacco. The head of an institution for the care of sickly children in a British city told me that the overwhelming majority of the children that came to them for care came there because they had been poisoned by the fumes of the tobacco with which their fathers had polluted the air in the rooms in which they slept. The use of tobacco is one of the most selfish of all habits. The tobacco user, even the most careful, seems to become more or less oblivious to the rights and feelings of others.I can sympathize with his points here, having worked for four years of my life in a restaurant before Louisville's smoking ban. I've never smoked a cigarette in my life, but I'm sure that I smoked countless packs secondhand while waiting tables. However, one isn't necessarily infringing on the rights of others when one smokes. I enjoy one or two cigars a year. I smoke them outside, on my porch, in the company of friends who are also smoking them. Sure, many smokers show no consideration to others - but that is a fault of the smoker, and not a necessary consequence of smoking.
Fifth. No man in our day can use tobacco with out losing his influence with somebody. We could give specific instances of men who in many respects are men of extraordinary power who have lost their influence, and who have done positive harm to the cause of Christ, by their use of tobacco. Every out and out Christian desires his life to count to the uttermost for God and will not do anything, no matter how innocent in itself, which he has reason to think will rob him of an ounce of influence for God with anybody. If one will stop to candidly think of it, he must know that the use of tobacco will rob him of the influence with some whom he might and ought to reach and help.To this, I give two points in response. First, I believe that Torrey grossly exaggerates this concern. I know many Christian men who smoke (in moderation), and I can say emphatically that none of them have lost their gospel influence because of it. If anything, I've found that lost people are more apt to listen to a man who calls sin what Scripture calls sin and nothing more than a man who harps on a pet list of sins that are foriegn to God's Word. Secondly, who are we going to lose influence with? The most likely group would be Christians who believe that smoking is a sin. Does their disapproval necessarily mean that we should stop what they disapprove of? Many professing Christians would tune me out because I don't use the King James Bible or may not wear a suit and tie on Sunday morning. Should I change my convictions to placate them and avoid losing my influence? Does their disapproval make my behavior sinful?
In all, I think that Torrey's argument falls flat on every point. Scripture nowhere condemns smoking as sinful. If you feel that it is unwise to smoke, then that is a perfectly commendable personal conviction - but it is a personal conviction, not a Biblical mandate. Do you have concerns with Torrey's thoughts? With mine? Join the discussion in the comments.