I applied to join a branch Church of Christ, Scientist, in 1951

I applied to join a branch Church of Christ, Scientist, in 1951. On the application was the question, "Do you use tobacco in any form?" If the answer was "yes," the applicant was ineligible for membership. As I was still a very new student of Christian Science, this requirement puzzled me. Hadn't Christ Jesus said that it isn't that which goes into one's mouth that defiles him (see Matt. 15:11)? And, I wondered, if Christian Scientists regard the physical body as a material illusion of mortal mind, why the attitude against smoking, which to me seemed so pleasurable? How much I had yet to learn of the Science of being and the rules of divine metaphysics!

I asked a member of the executive board why the question was included on the application. He said that an individual who smokes was expected to be healed of the habit before joining the church, since Christian Science offers this freedom.

That answer did not satisfy me, so I visited a Christian Science Reading Room. The librarian and I looked up every reference on "tobacco" in the Concordance to Mrs. Eddy's writings. Still, nothing I read gave me a satisfactory explanation of the requirement. As I was about to leave, the librarian stopped me, saying, "I have it! Smoking violates the first commandment, 'Thou shalt have no other gods before me' (Ex. 20:3). Did you ever notice when someone under pressure must have a cigarette, or must be holding something to keep from fidgeting? A smoker depends on tobacco to relieve tension—not on God's redeeming law."

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April 14, 1980

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