Gluttony is often considered a major sin. In fact, in the 6th century, Pope Gregory made the famous “seven deadly sins” and guess what made the list? Yep! Gluttony. For many years I have listened to people compare gluttony to sexual immorality, murder, and general debauchery, as if they were all the same in God’s eyes. Usually, the motivation for doing this seems to be a way of justifying sin: “hey we all sin, some with this and some with that, (then looking at me) others with gluttony.” Yeah, I can read behind those lines, but who didn’t put on the quarantine fifteen? So, is gluttony really a sin?
Is gluttony in the Bible?
Gluttony is not mentioned in the gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John), other than some false accusations (Luke 7:34) made against Jesus. Jesus drank wine and ate good food, and because of that he was labeled a glutton and a drunkard.
None of the New Testament writers (Paul, Luke, Peter etc.) mention gluttony. They all detail different sins at length, but never gluttony.
There are some solid references in the book of proverbs-
“A discerning son heeds instruction, but a companion of gluttons disgraces his father.” Proverbs 28:7
I think from this verse it’s safe to say that overeating at some level is bad. Maybe even sinful. Definitely not wise. Now we have to determine: what exactly is gluttony and when does eating a little too much become a sin?
When does overeating become gluttony?
Most people at some point get too full and say, “dang, I ate too much.” Is this gluttony? Probably not.
Is it gluttony when someone loves food to the point of obsession? I think we all love food, and we shouldn’t feel bad about that. God created it for our pleasure. I know people who obsess over the perfect kale salad. Yuck!
Ok, I got it: gluttony is when you eat even when you’re not hungry! Maybe. However, most of us could change our diet from 3 meals a day to more like 2, if that were true. Storing food is a natural behavior.
Let’s ask the big one. Is being fat being a glutton? Being overweight means you may have been gluttonous at times, maybe many times, but the inability to lose weight does not mean you are currently a glutton. Our culture values health, which is great, but that doesn’t mean being overweight is what is being refereed to in Proverbs 28:7.
Proverbs 23 gives the best description of gluttony:
“Do not join those who drink too much wine
or gorge themselves on meat, for drunkards and gluttons become poor,
and drowsiness clothes them in rags.” Proverbs 23:20-21
Conclusion: Repeated obsessive gorging that leads to laziness and being poor is bad. Got it.
I am a fat guy
Currently, I am a fat guy trying to lose some weight. Well… not some weight, a lot of weight. My goal is to lose 70lbs. in the next 6 months! I know that this won’t be easy, but finding the motivation to lose weight is the key.
As a Christian I am conflicted; when I discover that God considers something a sin, like sexual immorality or drunkenness, my motivation is incredibly high. Not because I am afraid he will send me to hell if I don’t stop, but because I realize that God wants what is best for me. If God says getting drunk or watching pornography is wrong, then I know it’s something I want to get out of my life and I will take drastic measures to do so.
Being unhealthy just doesn’t make that list for me. Now, people are always trying to make you feel like you should change your life:
- Drinking too much coffee is an addiction and God doesn’t like that
- Diet soda is evil
- Cleanliness is next to godliness
- God designed us to be vegetarian
My first thought is, “but is this something God considers wrong?” So I consult the Bible. I read, seeking to understand if these things matter to God. Here is what I find:
- There is no mention of caffeine (or anything like it) in the Bible
- Jesus never talks about anything regarding unhealthy foods (like diet soda)
- Cleanliness is not in scripture
- Jesus ate meat
This means they are not direct commands. Maybe there is some wisdom in there, but let’s not get drinking coffee and doing shots confused.
So at the end of the day, gorging yourself is bad. Doing it consistently is gluttony and that’s bad. This is much different than gaining the freshmen fifteen, and never losing it. Being overweight is not sinful gluttony.
There are though, all kinds of motivations to be healthy. Here is my list:
- I have four kids and I want to be around as long as I can for them
- Feeling good is worth a lot
- Having more energy
Influence is, however, my greatest motivation: the lighter I am, the more influence I gain. People have a hard time listening to a fat guy talk about how God can transform your life. Harsh truth.
I am losing weight because of all of the reasons above. It is very wise to be at a healthy weight and that is good motivation!