Right, I put this here cause I THINK there may be a factual answer, but if not, Im sure the mods will toss it over to wherever appropriate.
Ok, given that for Catholics suicide is a Sin for which you go to hell, and given that smokers know that smoking can give you cancer and kill you.
Can it not be argued that a smoker who dies due to smoke related illness died through personal, avoidable action (smoking), which was a personal choice (they could’ve quit or not started), AND is technically a sin (vice), could it not be said that they chose to take their own life and as such commited suicide?
In other words, what is the distinction made by the Catholic church to differentiate between dying due to voluntarily sucking car exhaust fumes vs voluntarily sucking on cigarettes?
Im not trying to attack smokers or anything here, its actually a legit question that popped up, and Im hoping someone with some legitimate knowledge of Catholicism can help out here. (I know NOTHING about it whatsover so I appologize in advance if anything Ive said is inaccurate w/regards to said religion).
However, as far as I know, the Catholic Church does not believe that a suicide automatically goes to Hell. As for smokers, technically, they’re just increasing their risk of early death. I’m sure the Church disapproves, but it’s not suicide any more than driving without a seat belt is.
A person who commits suicide need not automatically end up in Hell, depending upon a whole host of factors like the person’s objective guilt, mental state etc. Not to mention that God’s mercy is infinite.
Anyway, smoking doesn’t definitely lead to cancer. It merely increases the likelihood.
According to Catholic teaching we do not know whether anyone ever actually went or will go to hell.
A common answer to your question - however not necessarily accurate - is that any sin can be forgiven as long as you repent. Obviously there seems to be a slight technical problem if you commit suicide willingly, but if you just die of something that you know was a mistake that is a totally different matter.
Cigarette smoking, if I remember my cathechism correctly, is a venial sin.
In and of itself, it will not send you to hell, presupposing the existence of Hell and presupposing the nonexistence of God’s mercy.
As a Catholic, I have found my faith easier to accept by trying to stick with Christ’s message in my everyday life and in my treatment of my fellow men, and considering carefully Paul’s and the Church’s missives in the context of Jesus’s admonitions to love ourselves, others, and God. So in consideration of the occasional cigarette I smoke, I would say that the punishment for my smoking is the knowledge that I am poisoning myself, thereby not loving myself as much as I could by not having the cigarette.
I don’t presume to know God’s mind, but if the punishment is to fit the crime, then an eternity in fire and brimstone (which isn’t even Catholic teaching, to address the OP) sems a little… I dunno… much.
Right. For all any mortal knows, Hitler could be in Heaven. It’s possible (though I won’t say that it’s likely) that he sincerely repented (before or after his death), and that God in His infinite mercy forgave him.
But back to smoking, there is a notion in Christianity that the body is a temple, and that we should not desecrate it. Doing so is not generally a mortal sin (a sin which if it is unrepented will damn you), but it is a sin, and damages a person’s relationship with God.
This is pretty interesting - I was always convinced that Suicide would put you on the fast track to hell - as there is no way of repenting - and you are rejecting the gift of life. I know that to Dante it was common knowledge (at least at the time.)
Current Catholic teaching does not presume to know the mental and spiritual state of a person who commits suicide. Since the will to sin is an important consideration when determining whether a sin is mortal, the various factors of mental and emotional instability that are generally associated with suicide preclude an absolute statement regarding the spiritual state of a suicide.
Of course, an understanding of the mental and emotional states of suicides tend to have arisen only in the last 150 years, so earlier teachings on suicide tended to presume complete volition and consider the person to have been (most likely) self-damned. (This was the reason for declining to permit “Christian burial” and similar traditions.)
The early 20th Century Catholic Encyclopedia article on suicide mentions insanity as a mitigating factor only in passing.
(It also has the following statement that more directly addreses the OP):
Then again, the punishment for everything is death, what with us being mortal and all.
Christ wants us to live for God, others, and ourselves. The Church (in theory, although it, like all things human, is fallible) tries to help us live like that.
The question is, as a Catholic, are you willing to accept the knowledgeable poisoning (albeit in a minor/venial way, as opposed to a major/mortal) of yourself, in direct contradiction to Christ’s commandment to love yourself?
The punishment is the knowledge that smoking is, although in the tiniest of ways, a separation from the path of righteousness. If I want to be like Christ, I wouldn’t poison myself, no matter how incidentally. That’s what the Church is trying to say, or at least, that’s how I interpret her message.