Some of you reading this will be like me, non-smokers who can't stand the thought of it; others may have kicked the habit and never want to go back; some may continue to struggle with it; while others may still be happy to light up. Whatever your situation I want to make a small observation about what's happening with smoking here in NZ and how I think the church could respond.
In today's news there was an article about an incident between National MP Tau Henare and an anti-smoking advocate. Tau is a long term smoker and took objection to something that was said about smoking. He talked about smokers being the "new lepers" of society. I think he's right! Just think about it for a moment. A generation ago smoking was a totally acceptable practice in normal society. The only place you might have been asked not to smoke was at church, and even then churches often had semi-designated "smoking areas".
Today it's like the tables have been turned on smokers. Not only are they criticised for "killing themselves", but they are accused of "killing us through passive smoke". Smokers are ostrocised and even rejected in many circles these days. Whether it be a disgusted glare or a derogatory remark, the isolation and victimisation can be very real for a smoker these days.
Yes, smoking is "bad for you"! I'm not an advocate for smoking or the money hungry exploitation from tobacco companies! But who will speak for the smoker? These people who are trapped in a poitical game that is creating a "new leper" in "civilised society". Perhaps there will be a place for the church to have a voice here? In the future, perhaps the safest place for a smoker to be could be in a loving Christian community? (now wouldn't that be a turn of events). Who else will stand up for the under-dog? Who else is going to advocate for the oppressed? What do you think? :)