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Thursday, April 08, 2004

Obesity and Gluttony

In the last couple months I have run across this equation a few times in different places: obesity = gluttony =sin. Gluttony, a word that really doesn't show up that much in the bible, is kind of hard to define. My dictionary puts it as follows:

gluttony: extravagant indulgence of the appetite for food

Now I have looked around several sources on the internet, and most nutritionists and researchers state that the majority of people who are overweight and obese in this country get that way by consuming an average of 100 calories too much every day. That is the equivalent of a tablespoon of butter, 1 1/2 tablespoons of ranch dressing, 1/2 small doughnut, or an 8 ounce serving of soft drink. A small glass of coke too much every day does not make you a glutton in my book.

Now sure, there are people who drastically overeat. That might qualify. But the majority of people who are overweight and obese got there in very tiny increments. So I don't think overweight = glutton.

Now I guess you could get people who are overweight on the "temple of the Holy Spirit" issue - we are supposed to keep our "temple" in good shape. So not to do that would be sin? Maybe so (any way we fall short of God's glory could be defined as sin...) But in that case, we need to call anything that is physically unhealthy in the long term sin:
Don't exercise? You're in sin. Don't get enough fruits, veggies and vitamins? You're in sin. Got a really stressful job? You're in sin.

So what is gluttony? Eating our fill of good things is something God has people do frequently in the Bible - feasting and celebration are blessings. Sometimes I am afraid though that what happens when we go to the Chinese buffet borders dangerously on gluttony, LOL!

I think gluttony is when food becomes our god - when we eat to satisfy our spirit, to fill a void, when we think about food all the time, overindulge. That can happen whatever your weight is at the present moment - I think an anorexic can be a glutton - indulging yourself in the area of food, giving it an undue place of importance. C.S. Lewis has an interesting passage on it in "The Screwtape Letters" - I'll try and find it and post it later....... suffice it to say that I don't think gluttony and body weight are necessarily linked.

posted by Birgit
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