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Gluttony is one of the seven deadly sins. In Conquering Gluttony, John Piper, observes that we generally associate gluttony with obesity.

But “gluttony” is a better word to use in this context rather than “obesity,” because overeating is where the problem is, not how much you weigh. There are all kinds of reasons why a person might weight too much or too little that is not a result of gluttony.

Gluttony is having a craving for food that conquers you.

In Rx for Gluttony, Dennis Okholm of Christianity Today provides a history of the Christian attitude towards gluttony making this curious observation.

Eating is also a problem in our culture. In one poll, 40 percent of the respondents said that “getting fat” was what they fear most in the world. This may be one reason that each day approximately 65 million Americans are dieting, and the sales of diet books outrank all other books on the market except for the Bible.

But few books, even those by Christians, spend much time on the topic of gluttony. In Whatever Became of Sin? (1973), Karl Menninger described how cultural, psychological language has replaced moral language in our culture. The dieting industry, even the Christian version, talks a lot about nutrition and eating disorders while sidelining gluttony.

Even as we sideline gluttony, we overeat. We sin, and we pretend that disorder is not sin. Yet gluttony is a rather difficult sin to avoid. Consider how the Catholic Encyclopedia begins its definition.

(From Lat. gluttire, to swallow, to gulp down), the excessive indulgence in food and drink. The moral deformity discernible in this vice lies in its defiance of the order postulated by reason, which prescribes necessity as the measure of indulgence in eating and drinking. This deordination, according to the teaching of the Angelic Doctor, may happen in five ways which are set forth in the scholastic verse: “Prae-propere, laute, nimis, ardenter, studiose” or, according to the apt rendering of Father Joseph Rickably: too soon, too expensively, too much, too eagerly, too daintily. (continued here)

What does Piper suggest we do to avoid being conquered by gluttony? That is quite interesting and makes it worth reading his article. Here is how he concludes Conquering Gluttony.

A lot of gluttony is born of boredom. Life is not satisfying or stimulating, relationships feel empty, and work is boring, but food is always there and tastes so good.

So we need to cultivate a range of appetites for great and good things, things like good literature, people’s fellowship, reading the Bible, nature, work, etc. Discover these other appetites so that things other than food can satisfy you. Then pray earnestly and cultivate and nurture these satisfactions.

Thinking in Christ

As Rx for Gluttony noted, gluttony as a sin is not much discussed as such.  Google the word gluttony, and you will get over 8 million hits. Many of those hits will promote overindulgence as a virtue. Yet overindulgence is a sin, and overeating — gluttony — is just one form of that sin.

Few websites, even Christian websites, speak of gluttony as a sin. However, when Russ White of Thinking in Christ spoke of the flesh yielding to the sin of homosexuality in One Way Free Will, he compared homosexually to gluttony, and he spoke of sin.

The technocrats, the elite, tell us the way to solve this problem is to turn our lives over into the tender hands of those who have made a science out of controlling people. What we need is someone who specializes in making us civilized, using drugs and technique to overcome our genetic disposition. Man’s future is, essentially, completely in the hands of these few elite technocrats. The goal is a communally organized state that furthers the evolution of humans.

Christianity has a different view of this problem. This genetic disposition towards anything is called original sin. Some people might tend towards sexual sins, and others towards sins of gluttony, and other towards sins of anger, or mental attitude, or many other things. But we all have a sin nature; it’s part of our genetic makeup. There is no way we can, on our own steam, overcome this genetic disposition.

Yes, gluttony is about overindulgence with food, but the sin is in the excess, putting more importance upon the sensation of eating than we do upon our love for God.  Thus, White urges us to glorify God, not to indulge in sin.

We are not to deliberately indulge in sin, nor are we to think about it Rom. 13:14). Rather, we are to think about how our lives can glorify God, and do those things. In doing so, we will stand out from the people of this world. Some might ridicule us, but others will be drawn to the light of Christ that shows in our lives. (from here)

What White promotes is Christian love. What White opposes is anything we would use in place of Christian love.

  • Worth Reading notes that when a child knows motherly love, that child is less likely to become fat.
  • Clothe Yourself in Christ explains the value of a making a conscious decision to think about the Lord and what He would have us do.
  • Modern !Think explains that government provides no solution for gluttony or for overindulgence of any kind. If we are to become thinking beings, we must first turn to God.

Personal Observation

In 2007, as the Federal debt approached 9 trillion dollars, Congress’ own Government Accountability Office (GAO) warned of budgetary problems. That report contained lines like this.

  • “In 1797, US government spending represented about 2% of the US economy and now represents over 20%.”
  • “Government waste is growing and far exceeds the cost of fraud and abuse.”
  • “Our current long-range fiscal path is clearly imprudent and fiscally unsustainable.”

Instead of heeding the GAO’s warning, Washington’s political establishment chose to recklessly to increase spending, spiking Federal debt upward.  Thus, in 2009, Congress increased U.S. government spending to 25 percent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Since then U.S. Government spending continues to remain above 24 percent of GDP. What this suggests is that the sin of overindulgence has become national crisis.