A Global Look at Wholistic Health Sermons and Tobacco Use

Blog June 14, 2023

World No Tobacco Day is celebrated each year on May 31. This special day, organized by the World Health Organization (WHO),

informs the public on the dangers of using tobacco, the business practices of tobacco companies, what WHO is doing to fight the tobacco epidemic, and what people around the world can do to claim their right to health and healthy living and to protect future generations.[1]

The Adventist Health Message emphasizes the importance of healthy living; Fundamental Belief 22 says,

. . . because our bodies are the temples of the Holy Spirit, we are to care for them intelligently. Along with adequate exercise and rest, we are to adopt the most healthful diet possible and abstain from the unclean foods identified in the Scriptures. Since alcoholic beverages, tobacco, and the irresponsible use of drugs and narcotics are harmful to our bodies, we are to abstain from them as well. [2]

Because of the importance of this topic, it should ideally be covered not only in Adventist writings, but through sermons and seminars at the local church level . . . but is it?

Sermons on Wholistic Living

The 2017–2018 Global Church Member Survey (2017–18 GCMS) assessed church members’ experiences within their church; one area examined was how often they hear sermons on specific topics. When members were asked how often their pastor preaches on wholistic health, overall, three out of five (61%) respondents reported that they hear sermons on this topic frequently or very frequently. A quarter (24%) seldom hear such sermons, and 6% never do.

When the data was cross-tabulated by Division, some interesting trends emerged. Respondents from the Northern Asia-Pacific Division (83%) and West-Central Africa Division (78%) were most likely (very frequently or frequently) to hear sermons on wholistic living. It is clear that this topic is held in high importance in these Divisions.

Respondents in the Trans-European Division (35%), Inter-European Division (32%), North American Division (NAD) (31%), and Southern Asia Division (SUD) (31%) were most likely to hear sermons seldom on wholistic health. Those from the SUD (18%) and NAD (11%) were also most likely never to hear such sermons. If the Health Message and wholistic health are not being preached from the pulpit on Sabbath mornings, one must question how these important Adventist principles are being taught and reinforced in the minds of members.

Tobacco Use by Adventist Members

Participants in the 2017–18 GCMS were also asked if they had used tobacco in the last 12 months. Globally, 97% of Adventist members reported that they had abstained from tobacco use during the last 12 months.

However, 3% admitted they had used tobacco products in the last year.

Results by cross-tabulation revealed that respondents in the Southern Asia-Pacific Division were by far the most likely (8%) to have used tobacco during the last year, followed by the South Pacific Division (5%). Why is it so? Does the culture influence these unhealthy habits?

While it appears that most Adventists abstain from tobacco, some are choosing to use it. Even the science of today is encouraging people to stop the use of tobacco and not even to start. How much more should we, as Adventists, encourage each other to live healthy lives? We all know that when somebody has gotten into the habit of using tobacco, it becomes very hard to stop. Let us be a support system for each other, especially for the ones who are fighting this fight against tobacco. Let us not reject but encourage our fellow church members who are struggling by telling them that there is power to overcome. God is on our side, and He can give us the strength to overcome and to be victorious no matter what battle we are fighting. How can we celebrate the World No Tobacco Day in our churches next year? What can you do to make a positive difference in your church or community?

For more information on the Health Message and its acceptance check out the Meta-Analysis Report.

Created in collaboration with the Institute of Church Ministry.

Published by ASTR on 06/14/2023

[1] World Health Organization. (n.d.). World no tobacco day. https://www.who.int/campaigns/world-no-tobacco-day

[2] General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists. (2020). 28 fundamental beliefs. https://www.adventist.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/ADV-28Beliefs2020.pdf