By Ben Mock
Mount Zion Baptist Church
What we celebrate at Christmas is a paradox - how God, who made man after His likeness, sent His Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, that He might save us from death by dying Himself. Jesus was “found in fashion as a man” (Philippians 2.8) in order to lay down His life, that we might not continue to destroy ours. And yet, we remain the most self destructive creatures of all.
Some take their lives with a gun or noose; some, slowly with a fork and spoon; others choose substance abuse. The latter is a scourge on our society, taking a heavy toll on the families of our community. Alcoholism, drug abuse, both prescription and illicit, and tobacco use are rampant, but a new form of self harm, vaping, or the use of electronic cigarettes, is becoming increasingly popular. According to federal data, vaping among high schoolers has risen 75% in 2018 since last year. Incidents involving the need for emergency medical care for local students recently prompted our Sheriff, District Attorney and School Superintendent to declare “War On Vaping”, but parents and the general public remain largely uninformed and unengaged in confronting the problem.
The dangers of vaping are many. Technically, vape devices are considered electronic nicotine delivery systems. Nicotine is known to be at least as addictive as heroin or cocaine, and the National Institute of Health classifies it as a gateway drug which can actually alter a user’s DNA. Liquid nicotine, found in all JUUL products, is extremely toxic; half a teaspoon can kill a child. Mere contact with the skin can cause seizures and raise blood pressure to dangerous levels. The amount of nicotine in a single vape cartridge is equivalent to that of an entire pack of conventional cigarettes. Diacetyl, a chemical found in most vaping products as a flavor enhancer, is known to cause severe, irreversible and potentially fatal obstructive lung disease when inhaled. There are over 7000 flavors of vape juice on the market; clandestine “kitchens” run by unscrupulous entrepreneurs cook up countless more, flooding the black market with products made up of “mystery chemicals” that are proving deadly. Vaping is not a safe alternative to smoking, either, or a way to “kick the habit”; quite the opposite. A 2015 study shows that for 2000 adults who used vaping to stop smoking, more than 160,000 teenagers and young adults made the transition in the opposite direction.
The Bible teaches that our bodies were made to be the temple of the Spirit of God, and that comes with an innate responsibility to care for and protect them from harm, especially self harm. There is a strong warning to that effect, found in 1 Corinthians 3.17: “If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple you are.” Were Jesus, who was “in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin” (Hebrews 4.15), on earth today, He would surely abstain from a practice such as vaping, which is harming those precious young people He referred to as “the greatest in His kingdom.”