I want to give my final thoughts regarding whether or not smoking cigars, drinking beer or having tattoos is a sin. I only mention beer because I am not a wine drinker, except for an occasional glass of port after dinner while smoking a cigar.
The one notion that was impressed upon me from the replies was that many were based on emotion rather than scripture. The notion that a church leader should not partake of any of these actions because he should be beyond reproach. This was taken from 1Timothy 3, but no where does it mention anything about not drinking, verse 3 states that he should not be addicted to wine or a drunkard but does not say that he shouldn’t drink wine. From the passage, Paul is writing to Timothy and giving him a list of what to look for. In verse 2, he says that a man must be above reproach then he lists the things that will keep that man above reproach. If one holds to the idea that the portion that states “above reproach” includes not drinking at all, on what basis can you reproach the leader? It is circular reasoning.
Cigars, obviously are not mentioned specifically in the Bible so there is no single verse that one one can point to and call it a sin. It then may be a sin by secondary means such as addiction or the harm that it causes to the one smoking. If it is a sin because of it’s adverse health effects, to this point in my life football and skateboarding have been much more detrimental to my physical health. I have had so many ankle injuries that I have scar tissue that makes it painful to walk. If its not my ankles than my knees act up from my left knee that has a ruptured meniscus to my right knee which has a slightly torn MCL. My cigar/pipe smoking is limited to once a week, I do not crave it the rest of the week. If it is a sin then because of the health effects, then sitting in traffic during the summer months in L.A. may be sinful as well.
As for the proper response to the question of tattoos, I will display what what my brother Mark wrote:
As with all of the scriptures, there is a context here (content plus context equals meaning!). This scripture is talking specifically about the practice of tattooing oneself in accordance with cultic religious worship… the kind that the surrounding people groups of the day were involved in. The word that we translate “tattoo” is also only kind of a “best fit” word as the original text implies that it may have meant more of a “branding” or “scarring” as well as the inlaying of ink into the skin, although we can’t be sure as there is no direct translation. This is just another instance of God protecting his people and keeping them sacred from the rest of the world in order to preserve them (and through them, the Messiah). When I hear this question asked (”Is it a sin to get a tattoo?”) or others like it, I always think of this:
The Law was given in 4 parts:
1. Moral Law: To preserve the soul
2. Cultural Law: To preserve the message
3. Dietary Law: To preserve the promise
4. Levitical Law: To preserve the calling
Jesus’ first coming fulfilled the Cultural, Dietary and Levitical laws (as they were put in place to preserve the people so that the Messiah could come out of the Nation of Israel), but we are still bound by the Moral law. There is a ton that could be said about this, but as with most things of God, the answer of the question ultimately lies with the intent of the Heart of the one asking it.
Here’s a great study where Waxer talks about this verse:
He talks specifically about this around 56 minutes in. I wish I could find the study where he talks about the four types of law, but I’ll have to dig around for it.