Obesity is a faith issue as well as a health issue

  • Follow Your Faith

I should like to speak today about gluttony. But first, I humbly admit to the reader that this is one of my biggest struggles. Well, really, it’s not a struggle; it is a sin. Ouch.

Overeating is not just a bad choice; it wreaks of idolatry, and yes, this article does belong in the “Faith” section. If this is hard to digest (pun intended), consider a few facts.

Overeating leads to obesity, which leads to heart disease, is the number one killer in America. In this country, one person dies from heart disease every minute, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. By the time you finish reading this article, three people will have died from a disease that is directly caused by the way they ate.

I do not think that this is God’s design for his creation.

“Why don’t you ever preach sermons on gluttony?” I was asked this a few years ago by a young man in my church. This began a meaningful conversation that has been going on in my head ever since. It is very common for a Bible-thumping preacher like myself to rail against the sins of hate, lust, and greed, and then fill my plate with five desserts at the church potluck after the service.

It seems that gluttony is a sin that Christians like to ignore. We are quick to warn against the dangers of addiction to tobacco, alcohol, or media, but what about an addiction to overeating?

The sobering statistics above should make it obvious. And for the person of faith, the Bible speaks directly to this issue.

Proverbs 23 warns, “Do not join those who gorge themselves on meat.” And again, “Put a knife to your throat if you are given to gluttony.” And in the New Testament letter to the Philippians, we read the sobering account of those “whose god is their belly.” Gluttony has much to do with the way we approach food. Is it our nourishment, enjoyed and eaten in gratitude to God who has provided? Or is it our medication, our comfort, something that gives us good feelings to balance out the bad ones that we live with day to day? Is our eating, as John Piper puts it, merely the “anesthesia of sadness?” Is God the God of all comfort, or is food the god of my comfort?

For me, this is a real daily battle. There is nothing wrong with eating and enjoying what God has provided. But I am constantly asking myself a few questions. How much should I eat? How quickly do I eat? What would happen to me if I gave up sweets, or perhaps caffeinated drinks, for a spell? Who is really in control? Who is really God here?

Back to my point: this is a faith issue. It is for many reasons, but most importantly for this one: As a man who pursues God, I shall have no other god before God. Any excess that becomes my god is a dangerous evil – be it money, sex, or hamburgers and Coke.

John Piper again: “The most deadly appetites are not for the poison of evil, but for the simple pleasures of earth. For when these replace an appetite for God himself, the idolatry is scarcely recognizable, and almost incurable.”

Let us consider these things. Who is in control? God? Or my belly? May we honor God not only during service on Sunday, but also at the lunch buffet afterward.

THE REV. JEFF MILLER IS THE PASTOR OF VINEYARD COMMUNITY CHURCH IN AUGUSTA.

Comments (14) Add comment
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shrimp for breakfast
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shrimp for breakfast 10/15/11 - 03:47 am
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Well this is one sin I don't

Well this is one sin I don't have to worry about!! Thank God. I don't eat that much!. I have wighed between 169 and 172 for about ten years now. I eat what I want and never gain or lose. I'm lucky in this aspect!

jeffreymiller5
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jeffreymiller5 10/15/11 - 05:55 am
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The Chronicle changed the

The Chronicle changed the title of this article in such a way that skews my intent. The focus was not to be on obesity, but gluttony. Obesity is not a sin - it may be the result of sin, but it is not sin - the sin I speak of here is gluttony, which is indicative of a lack of self-control. Obesity itself is usually due to overeating, but can also be the result of a variety of medical conditions. In no way was my intent in this article to condemn anyone who struggles with weight, especially if it is due to medical reasons.

Also, another thought, I couldn't fit this in the original article, but fortunately I can here. It is this: For thin people like myself, gluttony is easy to hide. That is why it is so deceptive. No matter how much I weigh, the sin is the same. It has to do with my eating, not my weight. For a thin person with a great metabolism, it may be even more of an idol; since it does not appear to be, it can be masked to all but me, my belly, and God.

InChristLove
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InChristLove 10/15/11 - 06:43 am
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Rev. Miller, what an

Rev. Miller, what an excellent letter and comment. Obesity is not always from overeating and thinness is not always a sign of self control over eating.

howcanweknow
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howcanweknow 10/15/11 - 07:11 am
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What a hate-filled letter,

What a hate-filled letter, Jeff. Don't you know that God MADE me fat. It's genetic. I have no control over my passions. It's not my fault. If God had meant me to be thin, he would have made me that way. You have no right to condemn me for just being me. I know God accepts and loves me whether I am fat or thin. You need to undergo some serious sensitivity training. It's time to combat this prejudice and "iron age" attitude you are projecting.

Seriously, there is a genetic predisposition for obesity and metabolic rate. But, gluttony -- the real message of your article -- is something to be controlled. Nice words.

Vito45
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Vito45 10/15/11 - 07:48 am
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Hate filled? Hmmm.... I don't

Hate filled? Hmmm.... I don't think so.

howcanweknow
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howcanweknow 10/15/11 - 07:50 am
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Tongue-in-cheek, Vito.

Tongue-in-cheek, Vito. Tongue-in-cheek.

Vito45
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Vito45 10/15/11 - 08:38 am
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Oops!! Sorry:)

Oops!! Sorry:)

howcanweknow
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howcanweknow 10/15/11 - 08:43 am
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;)

;)

Jane18
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Jane18 10/15/11 - 09:08 am
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If only Pastor Miller would

If only Pastor Miller would have given scripture for people who do not know the correct foods to eat. The main thing to remember is, do not eat scavengers----of the air,earth and water(fresh and saltwater). I knew hcwk was being 'cute'.

Pu239
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Pu239 10/15/11 - 10:03 am
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Will the next column be on
Unpublished

Will the next column be on VANITY?

jeffreymiller5
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jeffreymiller5 10/15/11 - 10:31 am
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Thanks for the great comments

Thanks for the great comments everyone. Yes, I am very aware of the genetic predisposition issues, and was very careful to pinpoint gluttony, not obesity, as the issue. Unfortunately the paper edited my title of this article and it sounds like I am targeting obesity. I am not.

shrimp for breakfast
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shrimp for breakfast 10/15/11 - 02:50 pm
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I'm going to eat a whole hog

I'm going to eat a whole hog and the go to the vomitorium. hehe
Can you believe that in ancient Rome they actually had those things?
Man talk about gross!
Nice article Jeff!

blakkone
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blakkone 10/15/11 - 03:44 pm
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what if im an athlete or I

what if im an athlete or I want to bulk up which means I would have to eat more than i usually do...

harley_52
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harley_52 10/15/11 - 04:57 pm
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Personally, I think it's a

Personally, I think it's a self-discipline issue. For some, looking in a mirror, or the price of a new wardrobe, is enough to curb overeating. Others need more.

For those who need more, once most of them become aware of the health hazards of obesity and diabetes, that becomes enough to convince them to stop overeating and to watch the kinds of foods they eat. Still, a few holdouts keep on overeating.

For them, hearing it's a "sin" may be just what the doctor ordered.

Just my two cents.

formerlhs
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formerlhs 10/15/11 - 08:10 pm
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If obesity is caused by a

If obesity is caused by a lack of discipline in eating than it makes obesity a sin.

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