Monday, October 26, 2015

Reading PCG's Article, Is Smoking a Sin? (1994)

Let us now read Dennis Leap's article, "Is Smoking a Sin?" This article is dated February 1994. Presumably it was published in that issue of PCG's recruitment magazine, The Philadelphia Trumpet. You can read this article on their website.

Let us see what Leap has to say here.
God clearly states in the Sixth Commandment: ‘Thou shalt not kill.’ Smoking endangers not only your own life, but also affects the lives of others. In this article, we will prove that smoking is a sin!
It is certainly true that smoking tobacco is addictive and harmful. This is a well known fact. We do not need PCG to tell us this.
The Worldwide Church of God doctrinal changes have opened the door for the liberalization of many other teachings related to major Church doctrines. For example, the change in the healing doctrine has also brought about a change in the teaching related to the use of tobacco. It is clear that the ministry of the WCG no longer stresses that smoking is sin and should be stopped immediately.
As members of the Philadelphia Church of God, we must not only uphold the major doctrines restored to the Church, we must also uphold the teachings associated with each doctrine. Smoking is a problem for some attending the PCG. We must remember that smoking and all other uses of tobacco is a serious sin.
How grotesque it is for Leap to exploit the most serious topic of nicotine addiction to defend and promote HWA's anti-medicine superstition which he plagiarized from the Jehovah's Witnesses.

For many decades HWA taught his followers that they must not rely on medicines and doctors or else gain HWA's false God's wrath and go to the Lake of Fire. HWA said only his God can heal therefore doctors and medicines are not needed and useless in healing. This doctrine of death caused WCG members to neglect their health by not visiting doctors and refusing to take life saving medicines.

This deadly abomination is what Leap is referring to when he talks of "the healing doctrine". How dare Leap exploits widespread concern about nicotine addiction to justify that most horrid and deadly doctrine.

We now continue with Leap's article.

Leap then talks about how tobacco is advertised. 
What is God’s view of smoking? People who are addicted to cigarettes are quick to point out that the Bible says nothing about smoking. This is simply not true.
Considering that nicotine addiction was unknown outside of the Americas until after Europeans made contact with the Americas it is perfectly correct to note that the Bible in fact says nothing about smoking tobacco since they had no access to it.

But admitting that people in Biblical times had no access to tobacco would make it impossible for PCG to use religion to tell people what to do about nicotine addiction. So in response Leap insists that PCG's ministers have the power to interpret the Bible to make decisions for any situation. Including one problem that was unknown in Biblical times.

Afterwards Leap discusses some details about nicotine addiction. 

Leap then justifies Armstrongism's religiously based ban against smoking tobacco by crudely comparing it to suicide.
From God’s point of view, is there really any difference between pointing a gun to your head and pulling the trigger or lighting a cigarette? No! Pulling the trigger on a gun usually brings death instantly. But smoking also brings death—slow, agonizing death. Both are suicide! Both are a violation of the Sixth Commandment. If you are smoking, the most important thing you can do for your health is to quit the poisonous habit immediately.
It is curious that Leap should condemn nicotine addiction for the harm it does to people ("slow, agonizing death") and yet use this article to justify and defend HWA's anti-medicine superstition. Many WCG members and other people within Armstrongism have also suffered severely and even died as a direct result of HWA's extremist teachings on this matter.

Leap then talks about how second hand tobacco smoke is harmful.

Then Leap declares that smoking is a "physical sin". This loaded term is yet another part of HWA's anti-medicine superstition.

He also quotes HWA to justify PCG using religion to ban tobacco smoking. There is nothing wrong with encouraging people to give up tobacco but PCG exploits this issue to convince readers to give PCG the authority to order people what to do regarding so many things.

Letting PCG impose their many demands and requirements upon the unsuspecting yet trusting reader ultimately leads to the reader sending three tithes to PCG for the rest of his or her life and subject to authoritarian practices such as shunning ex-members and the members of the other COG groups even if they are close family members.

Leap insists that smoking tobacco will prevent the reader from being saved by (PCG's) God. 
Many people say that they cannot stop smoking. That is not true! Yes, you can stop smoking! How can you stop? Here is the method you should use. First, recognize that smoking is a sin that will keep you out of the Kingdom of God. 
This is ghastly. What a terrible thing to say to insinuate that smoking tobacco will doom one to the Lake of Fire. To use such fear and dread to compel people to give up tobacco is wrong. It only produce more stress and fear to those struggling to free themselves from nicotine addiction. This sort of fear mongering is wrong.

Leap then ends the article by encouraging the reader that giving up nicotine can be done. This fact is widely available elsewhere. We do not need PCG to tell us this fact.
Stop all smoking completely. Tapering the amount you smoke doesn’t work for most people. Smoking is an addiction. Trying to quit gradually only feeds the addiction. You should quit suddenly and totally! It is not easy to quit suddenly, but it is the most successful way. Commit yourself to quitting. Throwaway all cigarettes, snuff or pipe tobacco. Get rid of all those things that focus your attention on smoking such as favorite lighters, cigarette cases or pipes. Then never buy another ounce of tobacco!

The actual physical discomfort of nicotine withdrawal usually subsides within 3 to 5 days of your last cigarette (this differs with each person). The psychological withdrawal usually takes much longer. You may experience tension, hunger and symptoms of restlessness. These discomforts will subside. Usually the habit of smoking can be broken in 21 to 30 days.
Curiously Leap never mentions if he ever used to smoke tobacco and then gave it up. Those who wish to be free of nicotine addiction would doubtless be encouraged to know if the author of these words had experienced nicotine addiction for himself. But Leap gives no indication of this.

There is nothing inherently wrong about this but choosing to not mention one's personal experience makes it impossible for readers to know if Leap speaks from personal experience.

Leap ends the article with these words.
Finally, don’t become discouraged or fear failure. And if you slip and smoke—don’t give up! You can get rid of this life-threatening habit. When you do, you will not only live a better life, physically, but you will be living right spiritually!
It would be a lot less discouraging or fearful to the reader if Leap had not insinuated that smoking tobacco will prevent one from being saved by (PCG's) God.

One would think that even on a issue such as nicotine addiction, which is universally agreed to be quite harmful to one's health, PCG could give some good advice on this. Instead Leap exploits this issue to promote HWA's deadly anti-medicine superstition and absurdly insinuates that smoking tobacco "will keep you out of the Kingdom of God." What terrible and dangerous advice for the reader.

There are reasons why PCG has such a terrible reputation. This article provides yet more evidence that this bad reputation is richly deserved.

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