Before I begin this post, I want to acknowledge 2 things:
1) Yes, there are medical reasons and injuries that cause people to be overweight. There are also many medications that cause people to put on weight and it’s almost next to impossible to lose that weight.
2) Yes, there are people who suffer from eating disorders and food addiction. These issues are a whole other story and post all together. Many people who deal with either one of these issues have events in their lives that have caused them to have negative coping skills and only a therapist can get to the heart of these issues.
If you fall into one of the above 2 categories, this post is not directed at you. No, I don’t believe that either one are sin issues, but the result of biological issues, a traumatic event or a mental health issue. I will be the first to admit that I don’t have it all together and I am not even close to perfect when it comes to this issue.
To answer the original question in the title, yes, gluttony is both a sin and a stumbling block. The funny thing is in all of my years growing up in church I have never once heard a single sermon on gluttony. I have heard multiple sermons on the dangers of drinking and getting caught up in other addictions. There have been sermons on greed, coveting neighbor’s stuff, pride, lust and other things Christians shouldn’t do, but never on gluttony.
When I think back to my childhood and the wonderful church I grew up in, I can picture and almost smell the amazing food sitting on the long tables up the center aisle of the fellowship hall. I can also picture the slightly shorter table that was pushed up against the platform that held all sorts of delicious desserts that were sweet enough to send almost anyone into a diabetic coma. I am talking about good southern down home food cooked by true southern women. Food seemed to be at the heart of all church fellowships and I loved those Sunday afternoons and Wednesday nights. In the few other churches I have been a part of since then, food seems to be a uniting factor and at the heart of most fellowships.
The majority of people in our churches today are slightly overweight to morbidly obese and everything in between. There are very few truly healthy people sitting our pews. Our churches and society use food as the center of most of our activities. Don’t get me wrong, we all need to eat and enjoying a good meal with our favorite foods every now and then is not a bad thing. It only becomes wrong when we choose to over indulge.
How often do we choose to eat a bacon, Swiss and mushroom burger with fries or a nice juicy rib-eye steak with a fully loaded baked potato on the side over grilled chicken and veggies? How often do we try to justify our “need” for Godiva Cheesecake, Oreos, dark chocolate M&Ms or sour patch kids? When going for a snack, how often do we go for the Doritos and a large glass of sweet tea over grapes and a glass of water? Yes, these are my weaknesses, but we all have them. We tell ourselves “We deserve it.” It’s been a crappy day.” “I am in a foul mood.” “I am happy because _______.” “I am celebrating ___________.” We never seem to run out of excuses. Honestly, I am an emotional eater. If I am happy, sad, angry, frustrated, food is the answer. Typically, that answer is some form of chocolate.
We are quick to judge someone for having a glass of wine, but refuse to acknowledge when someone is making unhealthy choices and neglecting their health. When I have heard sermons/ teachings on our bodies being “the temple of God,” they have only been in reference to drinking or having sex outside of marriage. We don’t talk about it in reference to eating healthy and exercising. The reason? That sermon/ teaching would step on too many toes and would make too many people angry. It seems to be easier to preach and/or teach on the “big” sins, but we are going to ignore a major problem within our churches. Gluttony does appear to be on the list of “tolerable sins” or a sin that we can pretty much ignore and sweep under the rug. Reality is, there is no such thing as a “big” or “little” sin. In the eyes of the Lord they are all sins. Reality is, we are only given one body. We can choose to honor the Lord with it or we can choose mistreat and abuse it.
Now, let’s explore gluttony as a stumbling block. I have read many posts on Facebook, heard several sermons/ teachings about why Christians shouldn’t drink and how having a glass of wine or a beer can cause anyone who sees us to stumble. This post has nothing to do with whether or not I think it is acceptable for Christians to drink, but I think we choose to overlook how our food choices could also cause another to stumble. No, I don’t feel that we are responsible for the choices of those around us, but there are times when even perceived peer pressure may influence the choices we make.
When I go out with certain friends I know this group will more than likely order water to drink and will go for salads or something that has been baked or broiled. Another group of friends may choose to indulge in foods which are fattier and higher in calories. Many times, I will order along the lines of my friends and I would be willing to bet that many other people do the same.
When we choose to put food at the center of all that we do, we are in a way enabling others in the group. Most of us would never know if a person in that group is struggling with an eating disorder or food addiction because it’s just not something people go around talking about and letting others know before a gathering. In the same way we never know who may be more susceptible or struggling with an addiction to alcohol, we also don’t know whose main struggle is food.
As churches and small groups plan their events and outings, it would be crazy to think that we could ignore food all together. It would also be crazy to expect all fellowships to serve only grilled or broiled meats and veggies or to bypass desserts all together. When planning these events and outings make sure there are healthy options.
You don’t have give up and throw out all delicious treats and give up chocolate all together. You don’t have to go the rest of your life without ever eating another burger with fries ever again. You also don’t have to take up working out like a crazy person and running full marathons. Choose wisely and eat fresh fruits and veggies most of the time. Choose to start walking for at least 30 minutes, twice a week.
This isn’t an all or nothing life style. Honestly, I couldn’t do it and I won’t do it. I also won’t encourage anyone else to do it. I love my chocolate. Start small and make changes you can realistically make. As you feel confident in those changes, decide what your next move should be. I will also strongly encourage you to find at least 2-3 friends who stand by you and encourage you in this process. You can’t do it alone. Yep, attempting to do it by yourself can be considered prideful. Don’t let addressing one sin cause you to commit another one.
If you have questions about how you are eating or what your exercise routine should look like, please consult your doctor first and then, if needed, consult a personal trainer. You only have one body and it’s up to you on how you choose to use it in this life. We have to wait until the other side of heaven to receive our new and perfect bodies.