Southern Baptists and the Weight of Gluttony

As the annual Southern Baptist Convention meeting draws near a resolution on gluttony may be proposed and I hope it is.  This resolution is written in the spirit of and response to last years Resolution 5 on alcohol.  There have been various responses around the blogging world and then some which you can easily search and find.

If it is appropriate to go beyond Scripture and bind the conscience of people by prohibiting even a glass of alcohol then sure we can address the real problem of gluttony and obesity in the Convention.  Our missionaries must meet certain body mass index (BMI) guidelines so why not take a look beyond them and to our leaders?  Also, this resolution could then serve as an exhortation to SBC members to live a healthier lifestyle.  My wife and I were watching a show called Brookhaven Obesity Clinic the other night and it said that second cause of death in the USA is obesity related problems with smoking being the leading cause.

Obesity is a serious problem and I don’t believe it’s a separate issue all together from gluttony.  Aside from thyroid problems which can be medically treated I’ve never seen a severely overweight person get that way by eating healthy food in appropriate portions.  Of course, a thin person can also be a glutton and should be held to account also though this may be a tougher thing to do.  Given the propensity for self deprecating potluck meal fat jokes from the pulpit it’s a wonder anyone remembers that gluttony is condemned in Scripture. 

See, we don’t hear jokes about having one too many glasses of wine from the pulpit.  No, that’s too serious!  But eating too much turkey and pie on a day like Thanksgiving Day and having to be rolled to the couch to lie down is too funny to be serious about.  Let me tell you, it ain’t!  We should give more thought to these issues, Scripture does.  People have gone on and on about abstinence from alcohol being the best “witness” for the believer.  So why is it okay for the very overweight pastor and Christian to promote their physical state by going back for seconds or more at potluck dinners or eating fast food meals super-sized or not?

At the For Faith &  Family blog Wendy Ashley, a Communications Development Leader and staff writer for GuideStone, includes 2005 information about the health of Southern Baptists.  You can find her article under the subtitle How healthy are Southern Baptists?  She states that, “According to the Executive Summary Report of Wellness Center statistics for the 2005 convention, more than 70% of the participants who completed the screening were at moderate to high risk for coronary heart disease.”  High body weight is at the top of her chart at 75.6%.

Setting Captives Free has an online course called The Lord’s Table which I believe is very appropriate course for this discussion.  According to their site they have had 4,773 graduates of the course with a total weight loss of 76,556 pounds.  When you do the math that is only about 16 pounds lost per person which isn’t a whole lot, but a great start.  Though if you go look at their testimonials which are in the link I provided you’ll see there is much greater weight loss than 16 pounds.

So let’s do something about this subject.  And while we’re talking it over let’s do it on the treadmill or stationary bike.

Mark

Ps. Clement of Alexandria also wrote an interesting writing called On Eating which would probably not gain too much applause today.

The above article was posted on June 5, 2007 by Mark Lamprecht.
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{ 17 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Russ June 5, 2007 at 1:22 pm

Mark,

Good to see you are still able to type. Interesting post. Resolution 5 was such a joke, and this probably wouldn’t be taken seriously. What in the world is going on in the SBC?

Russ

2 fromthehill June 5, 2007 at 1:55 pm

Mark

Thanks for linking to my post. I don’t know how you feel about the whole situation, but I appreciate you reading and engaging the matter. May God bless you.

Bro. Robin

3 Tone June 5, 2007 at 1:58 pm

When eating too much (which IS a sin) causes families to break up, people to be killed on the roads and lives to be ruined, maybe it should carry as much weight (no pun intended) as Resolution 5. Until then, I don’t think so.

4 johnMark June 5, 2007 at 4:20 pm

Tone,

Just so I understand correctly, even though Scripture condemns gluttony and it is often used in the same context as being a drunkard, we should dismiss the seriousness of gluttony because its sinful abuse is not destructive to society in the same manner as alcohol?

There are over 600,000 deaths from heart disease every year. And that number doesn’t include other health problems related to obesity. I’d say it’s a serious problem.

Resolution 5 is not about sin it’s about assigning unbiblical mandates. Whereas, abusing alcohol and food is about addressing sin in a biblical manner.

Mark

5 johnMark June 6, 2007 at 5:45 am

Bro. Robin,
For some reason I had to release your comment from the comment filter. Weird.
Thanks for the comment. This is a touchy subject and not an easy one to address since a certain level of acceptability has been established. I’d even say that over eating and being over weight is more acceptable than unacceptable.
I think we could work together and hold each other accountable in this area. And I speak as one who is not a small man.
Mark

6 fromthehill June 6, 2007 at 6:17 pm

Mark

As to releasing my comment, your filter may keep out spooky fundies. 🙂 Just Kidding.

Thanks for releasing my comment. I am all for the accountability. Let’s talk.

7 Glenn August 28, 2007 at 1:03 am

I appreciate the emphasis on over-eating as it relates to our walk with God. The most important consideration is when we as Christians, place anything ahead of God and his Kingdom purpose, it becomes an idol. Christians have lost a major portion of our witness for God when we demonstrate our lack of self-discipline. Gluttony is destroying the Christian church of North America. Who created the gradation of sins that places alcohol and sexual sins in a different category than gluttony? Phil. 3:18-19 speaks of destruction of those whose God is their belly.

8 Jane September 3, 2007 at 10:18 am

I’ve never commented here before, but I wanted to tell you that after seeing your link to the Lord’s Table, I checked out the site and enrolled. I have been working my way through the course this summer and I have lost 15 pounds so far. My desire is to refrain from overeating, take off my excess weight and do it all for the purpose of glorifying God in my body. The Lord used you in my life by providing this link to a wonderfully scripture-saturated and reformed approach to dealing with sin. Thank you!

9 johnMark September 3, 2007 at 3:55 pm

Jane,

First, praise the Lord that you’ve taken control of your health and have lost weight! This is an issue in which I too struggle.

I certainly appreciate the encouragement. I never know who is reading, do I? 🙂 This comment means a lot to me and I never know how God may use me. I certainly don’t feel worthy.

I may have to expand on this topic soon. Maybe you could share some insights or any main points that the Lord’s Table programs as brought out? If you are comfortable that is.

Thank you again,
Mark

10 Jane September 4, 2007 at 1:58 pm

I can’t say enough good about the study at Settingscaptivesfree.com. I was very skeptical when I first went to the site.

Honestly I suspected that I would have doctrinal concerns, but to my delight and surprise the founder of this organization seems to come from a very reformed perspective, which has been such a blessing to me because it’s easier to learn from someone I’m not “fighting” with.

I have been “battling the bulge” my entire life and while I’m continuously sick of it, I didn’t know what to do. It’s like I had these huge blinders on my eyes — knowing in the back of my mind that God wanted me to do something about my weight, but not clear on how to do it.

In this area of my life, I was only a hearer of the word, not a doer. When this course directed verses I have known for years toward my sinful eating habits, it was like God turned on a lightbulb in my heart. I “got” it and understood how those verses really did apply to me and my sin.

I haven’t completed the course yet — it’s 60 days and I’m on day 43. But God has made a real change in my heart, and that change started on day one. The truth of eating a drinking to the glory of God got through to me and changed me. The other reality — that food will never satisfy me and will only lead to distruction was also a huge “a-ha” moment for me. I know it sounds so simple, but I admit I was so BLIND! I hope I never turn to such an empty thing for comfort again.
It delights my heart that God is actively interested in sanctifying me and that he’s leading me toward holiness, even when I had resigned myself to wallow in my sin (I guess I’ll never shed this baby weight, I’ve always been fat, It must be genetic).
I have A LOT more weight to lose. I am ashamed that I was so blind to my sin for so long, but on the other hand I am so THANKFUL that He has done a work in my life and I am confident that He who began a good work in me is faithful.

I would encourage anyone to check out the site and sign up for the class. The site also offers some other options, which I’m sure are fantastic too. I know that I want to do the Psalm 1 study sometime soon.

11 genembridges September 4, 2007 at 6:17 pm

There are over 600,000 deaths from heart disease every year. And that number doesn’t include other health problems related to obesity. I’d say it’s a serious problem.

>>I’d add that Richard Land is actually advocating the regulation of tobacco products by the FDA, which is not something one would expect from a man who advocates “smaller government.” That says something – he’s putting health concerns over his ideological commitments in politics. I say good for him – and I come from NC!

So, if the ERLC can do this, why can’t we get a gluttony resolution through the SBC?

12 johnMark September 7, 2007 at 6:53 am

Jane,

I meant to comment earlier. Thank you for a great testimony! I’ve thought that your comment deserved its own post if you aren’t opposed.

You are also encouraging me to possibly start a short series on the SCF course. You’ve also reminded me that blogging can be encouraging and the Lord can certainly use anything He wants to work.

Unto His glory,
Mark

13 johnMark September 7, 2007 at 6:58 am

Gene,

First, did you see Jane’s testimony above? Awesome!

As for the gluttony resolution I don’t know why this one is so tough for folks to get on board with. What is Land’s criteria for this new position on tobacco? Maybe there is comparative reasoning that we can use to move towards the gluttony issue.

Sometimes you’d think the only valid sins committed are with words, lust and alcohol! Oh, and Calvinism. 🙂

Mark

Ps. Will you be at the Building Bridges Conference?

14 Jane September 16, 2007 at 4:25 pm

Mark,

I think a series on Setting Captive Free would be great.

As I said before, I can’t say enough good about this ministry.

Jane

15 Jane October 21, 2007 at 11:47 pm

johnMark,

Thought you may be interested in reading the testimony I wrote as I finished the course at Setting Captives Free:

Before starting this course, how much I ate seemed to me to be completely disconnected from my spiritual life. I would go to church or a Bible study and then go home or out to eat and eat a big meal without giving it a second thought. I would snack throughout the day (while listening to Christian radio as I did my housework) and never realize how I was turning to food instead of Christ. To my shame, it didn’t occur to me to give the Lord control of my eating habits and patterns.

I have never been thin, but I really packed on the pounds over the course of two pregnancies. This excess weight didn’t come off even during my children’s busy toddler years. Sadly, I had convinced myself that I would always be overweight and that it was an area of my life that I would just have to live with.

I was blind and I had bought a lie!

God started speaking to me through this course as I worked through the very first lesson. The fact that God wanted me to learn about how to eat and drink to His glory struck a deep chord in my heart. I was absolutely delighted that God was very interested in demonstrating His strength as I sought to honor Him in what I ate and drank.

While doing this course I have learned about when it’s okay for me to eat and when I should refrain. I have learned to use scripture to combat urges to snack. I have studied about the proper role that food needs to have in my life and have turned more often to the true source of real satisfaction and nourishment; Jesus Christ.

My eating habits have drastically changed. I seldom eat between meals. I almost never eat after dinner. And I am exercising regularly.

The bottom line is that food doesn’t have the pull on me that it used to have. I have been set free.

I have lost over 20 pounds and I have a lot more weight to lose. My outside will eventually catch up with the change that has happened on my inside. I am so thankful that God is teaching me these lessons at this time in my life. I could have been in bondage for who knows how many more years or additional pounds, but instead God has used the truths in the course to change me forever. God is good, and faithful, and committed to sanctifying me to His glory alone. Blessed be the name of the Lord!

Thank you Setting Captives Free!

(and thank you again, johnMark)

16 Carl Holland September 22, 2011 at 6:38 pm

I realize this is an old post, but I clicked the link to it after reading the post “Does Southern give Southern Baptists a Bad Image” about the Southern Baptists being seen as legalistic. This is case in point, isn’t it? Yes, we should abstain from alcohol lest it cause us or someone else to stumble, and yes, we should take care of our bodies and not overeat, but it should not be a rule that tends to add a work to grace. Southern Baptists coming out against gluttony… almost sounds… Catholic!… Gasp! LOL I was raised Southern Baptist and Methodist and my wife’s background is Catholic, so I guess I can poke a little fun, huh?

17 Jennifer N Joshua Grant May 13, 2014 at 11:49 am

If u have hypothyroidism and you have gained weight cause they never got the meds straight and you eat less than any skinny person is this still a sin.

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