Do you know what the new R-Rated word is now in the Church? The answer might shock and intrigue you – Gluttony. Gluttony is the new 4 letter (wait, there are 7) word that most clergy from the pulpit dare not speak of. In the modern age of Harry Potter, social media, and mega-churches gluttony has become the topic of “that which shall not be named.” The reason being is that according to statistics, 7 out of 10 of them would be the fat pot calling the fat kettle – obese. The truth of the matter is that gluttony is an enormous problem in the church, and no one dares mention it for fear of reprisal, hypocrisy, and fat-shaming.
The following is a great short article about some of the problems dealing with obesity in America. Take a few minutes and educate yourself:
For the purposes of this article, we are going to put aside the obvious problems with gluttony – a short life span, problems in aging, diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, immobility, etc. The list goes on and on. Today we want to focus on negligence.
The issue with speaking about obesity from the pulpit is that it immediately allows the congregation to look around and see who is culpable. This is one of those apparent sins that cannot be overlooked. Nothing like adultery, theft, gossip, or hate which is done in the dark corners of the home or under the guise of self-righteousness. Gluttony is a spectator sin.
Gluttony is an in-your-face sin like when someone is slamming multiple hamburgers during a church picnic or a third helping at the potluck. Gluttony is ugly, open, and everywhere. So why preach about it? That is easy, because it is a sin, it is unhealthy, and it is killing thousands of Christians every year. Not to mention the thousands of pre-mature funerals attended by churchgoers in needless deaths at the hands of gluttonous lifestyle choices.
The next time you take part in a health crusade or healing rite, take a Christian look at those people pleading for the divine healing of God; 7 out of 10 of them (according to CDC statistics) are obese, overweight, or seriously unhealthy. It is as if a smoker was praying for healing from lung cancer by kneeling at the altar with a pack of lucky strikes in his/her pocket. Do you really think it is God’s will to heal a person who cares so little for his/her temple? When did Christianity become so ignorant and self-indulgent in its precepts? That was a dumb, and rhetorical, question.
Here is a startling graphic from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:
The numbers are just catastrophic! We no longer live in a healthy nation, nor have we for years. It is getting worse and the more populated America gets the more McDonalds and KFC expands its operations with little, if no response from the Church.
The health and wellness industry is a billion-dollar enterprise and America is just getting fatter and fatter. A large population is obviously from the Christian community and not a peep from Church leadership. In fact, most are leading the charge. And why would he? It would be equivalent to your pastor preaching a sermon about adultery to his wife and mistress… think about it.
It is obvious that gluttony is a sin, the Bible is not ambiguous on this subject: Philippians 3:19-20; Proverbs 25:16; Proverbs 23:1-3; Psalm 78:17-19; Proverbs 25:27; just to name a few but believe us, we could go on. Gluttony is most assuredly a sin. Charles Spurgeon once said: “I believe that gluttony is as much a sin in the sight of God as drunkenness.”
If this is all true (which we adamantly claim), why so quiet on the Christian front? Because it is hard and confrontational. It takes first, clergy realizing the sin in their own life, confessing that sin, repenting, and then proclaiming. Those are all hard and difficult steps to take, especially for leadership.
This issue should be at the forefront of most Church sermons, meetings, Bible Studies, etc. Sadly, it remains as a footnote in the halls of complacency. Gluttony will never take center stage until the silent majority – that is you the congregation – demands its attention. That attention will never be given if the sin, itself, is not recognized openly and honestly.
The great irony in all this is that the secular, even religious hostile, communities are fanatics about health and fitness while certain Christian communities sit in their gingerbread (glass) Chapels preaching repentance while hurling meatballs (stones) at the unrepentant. Did your catch the sarcasm?
One of the greatest discipleship passages in the New Testament can be found in the epistle to the Romans: “I appeal to you, therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect” (Romans 12:1-2 ESV). Presenting ourselves as a living sacrifice is our call to follow Jesus Christ. Most people gloss over this passage and forget about the sacrificial system in the Old Testament. The Lord demanded the best, without blemish, animals to be offered to Him. This is why the Torah (Pentateuch) is still so important. Read Leviticus and notice how persnickety God was with the animals in which he demanded the people of Israel offer to Him. They were not the runt of the litter. It is about respect and holiness to the God who provides all, it is worship.
This has theological parallels in our lives today. Now ask yourself: Why do we present ourselves as gluttonous bodies, unholy, and unacceptable, which is not part of our spiritual worship? Paul is calling believers to live Holy (separated) lives conformed to the image of God, not the world. This means that when the rest of society glorifies food, we see it for what it is; another vice to misdirect and poison our worship.
It is time for the Christian community to stand up for the word of God and obey His commandments; “Jesus answered him, ‘If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. Whoever does not love me does not keep my words. And the word that you hear is not mine but the Father’s who sent me’” (John 14:23-24). This means living out our worship in a sacrificial way that brings honor and glory to God’s kingdom; which over-eating, glorification of food, and harmful lifestyle choices most certainly do not.