Three Taverns Church

The 4 “Acceptable” Sins of the Church – #3: Gluttony


Many people use food for the same purpose that others use drugs and pornography: to self-medicate and make themselves feel better. ‘Comfort foods’ are marketed to us on a daily basis. Our nation’s gluttony is evident in the rising obesity and heart disease rates across America. Christians are not immune to this trend. And unlike the ‘lucky’ folks who can sin in private with prescription drug addictions and greed, people who struggle with gluttony do so very publicly.

This is by far my favorite “acceptable” sin because the problem is so obvious, yet we all pretend that there is no problem…try to imagine a church full of people flipping through adult magazines or statues of Shiva and Buddha on stage next to your pastor.

But I’m just another sinner, and I do not want to “preach” and make you feel bad. I am praying for open eyes and changed lives.

1. What does God’s Word have to say?

  • Derivatives of the word “gluttony”only appear 7 times in the NIV translation; 2 of those instances are in reference to Jesus Himself
    •  Note: The Pharisees called Jesus a ‘glutton’ because he did not observe their many ritual fasts, not because he actually was a ‘glutton’ as we would understand it
  • Gluttons are associated with drunkards, causing family disgrace, becoming poor, liars, evil brutes, and the lazy
  •  The Hebrew word for ‘glutton’ in the NASB translation of Proverbs 23:21 is “zalal”, which in the original language means: “to make light of, squander, be lavish with”
  • The Greek word for ‘glutton’ in Matthew 11:19 is “phagos” and translates as: “a voracious man, a glutton”
  • The sense I get from the original language is a person who squanders food or who is overly lavish with food, a ‘voracious’ person; someone who really over-does it with food (like me at a Chinese buffet)
  • Wikipedia says that gluttony, “means over-indulgence and over-consumption of food, drink, or wealth items to the point of extravagance or waste”

2. Is the church misaligned with Scripture?

  • Are religious organizations over-indulgent with their members when it comes to food and drink? Supplying free coffee and a donut probably doesn’t qualify as gluttony, but what about an extravagant Christmas dinner? What about giving out gift cards to restaurants?
  • Are obese Christians ‘gluttons’? WebMD says that only 1% of obese people have a medical condition that causes obesity (Hypothyroidism and Cushing’s Disease); the rest just overeat…so it would appear the answer is ‘yes’
  • Instead of trying to find the line where “baby fat” ends and “gluttony” begins, I’ll just say this: If you’re a glutton, you probably already know it. And you know that you know it because you have a warehouse full of rationalizations and justifications for your current diet and lifestyle
  • I also wonder about the Hebrew translation “to make light of” as it relates to food. I often rip open a bag of chips and start munching away without so much as a “Thanks, God” before doing so. This would also seem to stand in contrast to Jesus’ command that we thank the Father for our daily bread…in other words, don’t take your food “lightly”

3. What can we do about it?

  • Organizations should examine the way they handle any meals they serve and any other food-related business to determine if they are being overly lavish or wasteful. If you’re not sure, give it the old ‘headline’ test: If the headline of your local newspaper published a story about how your church put on a fabulous  seniors dinner, would you be comfortable with that? What if they criticized your use of funds to stuff your members while the poor and needy sat outside hungry…would you be comfortable with that?
  • Individuals who suspect they might be gluttons should reach out for help, the same way the rest of us with self-medication problems have done. No, it’s not easy or fun; yes, it is the best thing you can do for yourself
  • Imagine if we considered gluttony in the same light that we do addictions. Self-medicating with food is no different that doing so with drugs, alcohol, or pornography, because the state of your spiritual heart is suffering tremendously in all cases. Do you think people might change if the pressure gets turned up?

What are your thoughts?

Rabid Mongoose

4 thoughts on “The 4 “Acceptable” Sins of the Church – #3: Gluttony

  1. I so agree with you. I was told that if you confess Jesus and you weight 500 pounds you would go to heaven that God does not care about your weight. I just dont believe that when I see people dying, unable to preach because they are out of breath, people in nursing homes because they could not control their eating. They hide their gluttony behind “I have a disease” diabetes, high blood preasure, etc. I know I need help and I know food keeps in it a state of numbeness. So if homosexualls, liars, theives, adulteres are going to hell if they dont change their ways what is going to happen to the glutton. God help me.

  2. I just had a conversation with my pastor and 1st lady about me being overweight. One thing they said was even if I am 500 lbs I would still go to heaven. I was saying to myself ok then so will the homosexual, liar, adulterous. It is not about the diabetes but the cause of the diabetes which for me and my family is because of the food we eat. Some one said it is a generational curse. This is such a hard topic for me because I have been large all of my life I can remember. I know God does not want me numbing out on food or turning to food to comfort myself. I tried overeaters annoymous, Celebrate Recovery, and surgery with no success. I believe being molested as a young child has a lot to do with my eating habits. I have been thinking about going to shades of hope but I just dont have the money at this time. Well anyway hoping one day I turn to God instead of food.

    • Fatinthechurch, I hope my post didn’t give you the impression that I was speaking to our fate after death…the “acceptable sins” series was simply a call for the church to look at the way we treat sins differently. Reading pornographic magazines in church is clearly out, but gluttony seems to be OK. Thank the Lord that His mercy is great enough to cover all our sins.

      I can’t speak to whether or not you will ‘go to heaven’…thankfully that is not my call to make. I will say, though, that using food as an idol the same way I used to use pornography is wrong.

      Thank you for being brave enough to disclose the sexual abuse you suffered as a child; that has happened to many people who eventually turn to addictions to cover their pain. I would urge you to keep going to Overeaters Anonymous. Though it may not seem to ‘work’ at first, I believe that your perseverance in that recovery program will be honored by God.

      Read my most recent post, Question 11, for some motivation to do what you know you must. Thank you for posting here, and God bless you.

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