It’s Probably Time We All Talked About Obesity & The Church

Update: This post. It was one of the first I wrote when I started blogging. I wasn’t prepared for the strong reactions it would stir. It seems to have stuck too. Every day people are led here from a  google search with some combination of the words: obesity, sin, church, and fat. Since writing it I’ve had a few shifts in my thoughts on it. I still agree with my original central idea; that the church should help its members dealing with obesity.

The details though, I have to amend. I underestimated the shame that those who struggle with obesity have endured and the church should be the least shame-filled place on earth. Also, some who agreed with my original post went on to say hurtful things to others that I would never say or agree with. 

So now I’m in a conundrum. I could just edit it to fit my current thoughts, but that would put the comments on the post, and the other blogs that have linked to it appear out of context, and wouldn’t do them justice. I could just leave it as is but then it keeps propagating ideas that I don’t think are most helpful or constructive. So the third option, the one I’m choosing, is to leave the original words but comment on why I’ve changed my opinions and say what I think is a better way. Those comments are in red. 

Last week there was an article on NPR about NYC’s ban on big sodas in an effort to curb obesity in the city. The article’s author astutely pointed out that the problem with these kinds of bans is that they’re based on values, and values are different from person to person. What is unacceptable to one might be perfectly permissible to another or even necessary.

I’m not interested in making a statement about what should and shouldn’t be public policy.

Here is what I do want to say: Even though there was no mention of church or religion, the writer of the article was pleading for the church to do its job, a job that it’s neglected for some time now.

If public policy is the government’s purview, then values are the churches.

The church is generally quick to point to the numerous instances in scripture where our bodies are described as a temple; those passages are convenient, when we want to address illegal drugs, smoking, and alcohol abuse. But rarely, if ever, do we address gluttony.

If I had to say why, I think there are a few reasons:

  1. Many of our pastors are obese. It’s tricky, because I can’t think of any other sin that you can see just by looking at a person. Gluttony may be the modern scarlet letter. Please, understand, I’m not saying that being heavy is a sin, but try preaching a sermon about gluttony, and lack of self-control when you yourself are standing before a congregation and noticeably overweight. Unfortunately, this doesn’t excuse us from withholding a part of the Gospel from God’s people.
    No, it doesn’t excuse us from withholding part of the Gospel, but one of the flaws in my thinking was that for the church to address something means it has to be addressed from the pulpit, by a pastor. This really elevates the role of a pastor and demotes the rest of the church, both to an unhealthy place. We should “bear one another’s burdens” (Gal 6:1-2), but I think this presupposes an intimate relationship, one where we have given permission to the other person to be honest with us. I think to bear one another’s burdens looks more like “How can I help?” and less like “You’re doing this wrong.”. It also means that I’ve opened myself up to you bearing my burden before I ask to bear yours. 
  2. Many in our congregations are obese. Same as above; being overweight isn’t something you can hide. Many pastors or fellow church members just don’t want to offend or embarrass people, and while that comes from a loving place, remember it’s never fun to be called out on your sin; we have to find tactful and loving ways to be or brothers/sisters keeper.
    The fault here is the idea that help has to come in a confrontational and public way. Even I’m open about my struggles, I had the choice to be open about it. I had the luxury of choosing to be open about it. To address obesity in a public forum, in front of guests, non-believers, and children who might be obese is simply unhelpful. Even when all intentions are loving, I’m not sure that it can be done in way that doesn’t bring shame. 

Several years ago I was working at a youth conference and went to lunch with several denomination leaders. The conversations turned to a church in Germany that decided that they would no longer have beer at their fellowships (a cultural norm) because of a problem of alcoholism in their community. Everyone at lunch believed this to be wonderful because the community was looking out for the health of their people. I agree. But if it was so obviously the right and loving thing to do, why aren’t we applying the lesson to our own American churches.

If we are truly concerned with the health of our brothers and sisters, we would probably take a cue from that German congregation, and ask in kind and loving ways, that no one bring fried chicken, fatty biscuits, or large portioned desserts to the pot-luck. Whoa… I can hear my heresy trial being assembled as we speak. A move like that might rock the boat. It might upset the sweet old ladies that tithe O so consistently. I still think that church should be a great place for people to learn moderation. However I think these kinds of decisions should be made within the church and together, with all of the church being in on this type of decision, not one segment demanding it of another segment. 

This isn’t a move we need to make flippantly. Christians, we’ll have to walk with each other through this slowly, carefully, and most of all lovingly. Those who don’t struggle with this one will need to be transparent about the weaknesses they do have, and be serious about those short comings too.

It will be a narrow road to travel, one with pitfalls on either side. The last thing we need is to turn the church into vain snobs, calling anything that couldn’t find its way into a grocery store magazine, sinful. We also can’t make it strictly physical, neglect the spiritual side, start a P90X class in the gym and call it done.

We were never promised an easy road. But, when we ignore the problem, decide not to be our brother’s/sister’s keeper, we stand by while people kill themselves slowly, and it will be yet another facet of life in which we are no different from the world around us. We’ve got to open our eyes and see that this obesity epidemic is the church’s problem.


What do you think? Do you hate me now? Have you ever seen a community address this issue well? If not, how can we do so?


Thank you for reading and thank you for the grace and mercy. 

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.


Japan has an obesity rate of below 5% compared to America's 34%. It has been studied, and shown, that people that attend church regularly have an obesity rate higher than those who do not.  The reason being, churches overall promote and provide unhealthy food by the truck loads! I have never heard a sermon that even comes close to addressing gluttony, or taking care of the temple of the Holy Spirit, yet it is in Scripture multiple times. 


I appreciate this is a touchy topic. And yet, here is some food for thought (pardon the pun):

When someone who is morbidly obese is routinely gobbling down burgers, fries, pie, cake, cookies and diet sodas in McDonald's (or Carl's or whatever fast fat food establishment they frequent) while steering their children in the same direction, and then expecting people who actually give a damn about scripture to pay (and pray) for their diabetes, heart attacks or whatever weight-related issue, it is kind of irritating.

They are FLAUNTING it. They are tempting others to judge!! They may say “large is lovely” or they are “beautiful inside”, but isn’t that pride? Aren’t they stumbling others? Is this what a “Christian” does or looks like or exhibits self-control? Temperance is a “fruit of the spirit”, you know. Don’t judge us for judging them. You would have to divorce logic and reason to see at someone routinely shoving three Big Macs, supersize fries, two apple pies and a big gulp down in their face, and not wonder, "what's up with that? gluttony much?" as they plead for sympathy or justify their girth. It’s an addiction. They need an intervention. 

Here's the secret to "weight loss" for all but a TINY percentage of people with actual "gland" issues or whatever—most of which can be reversed with effort: Eat less = AVOID GLUTTONY and move more = AVOID SLOTH. Both are sins. Unless you are physically disabled, both are within your control. 

You know … Scriptures like Proverbs 23:20-21which warns us, “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 28:7 declares, “He who keeps the law is a discerning son, but a companion of gluttons disgraces his father.” Proverbs 23:2proclaims, “Put a knife to your throat if you are given to gluttony.”

If you have a problem with Proverbs? Take it up with The Author!!

It is also irritating to see morbidly obese people living it up at amusement parks or talking about all their favourite shows on TV or shopping all the time while mourning the state of their finances. 

Sow the wind. Reap the whirlwind. Right? Drink all you like, but don't whine about your bloodshot eyes and hangover. Eat all you like, but drop the pity party over your botched lap band surgery, diabetes and latest hospital stay— especially if you expect those of us eating their fruits and veggies, conscientiously exercising am and pm, then spending the day at work to pay for the consequences of someone else's lousy choices. 

It’s a form of greed. Just stop it. Hint: McDonald’s is not the place to confront temptation to overindulge. Either for those trying to end the cycle of feeding their fat OR those watching them feed their fat faces with unacceptable concern for their health trying so very hard not to judge (or observe and comment on) the bleeding obvious. 

Just saying. 


This post is rude and uncompassionate. As Christians we don't get the luxury to ''tolerate'' people and their sins. God says we must love them. And loving them is not ignoring them or judging them. I don't have the solution for obesity, and may not be well versed in the bible...but know that I have to keep digging into it every day. Do I follow Christ?.. yes. Do I go to church? Sometimes... mostly, yes. I am not judging you but just wanted to point out that GOD does not excuse sin of any kind, but leads us to encourage the sinner to turn to him for everything. Including health issues. In my opinion, obesity is a disease. Not a crime. And no, I am not obese. I am a fitness girl who loves to see lives changed through excersise! That's all.

beardonabike moderator

@CindyGiventer Hi Cindy, I got an alert in my inbox from your comment. I assumed it was in response to my post because the email doesn't let me know if it's in response to another comment. I was a little confused. 

For some reason I'm just seeing the comment you're responding too as well. Just to be clear I would never say what the commenter above did and appreciate your comment.


@CindyGiventer Japan has an obesity rate of below 5% compared to our 34%. Guess they haven't caught our mysterious "disease" yet. But then, they eat healthy and move more- more exercise. Please don't let them know about our American "disease", they might catch it. 


The western church, and more specifically, the Baptists (my group), is not ready for this discussion.  It is easier to talk about homosexuality than it is this subject. This subject is the third rail. 


this popped up in my email because of my old post. I decided to google gluttony.

In his Summa Theologica (Part 2-2, Question 148, Article 4), St. Thomas Aquinas reiterated the list of five ways to commit gluttony:

  • Laute - eating food that is too luxurious, exotic, or costly
  • Nimis - eating food that is excessive in quantity
  • Studiose - eating food that is too daintily or elaborately prepared
  • Praepropere - eating too soon, or at an inappropriate time
  • Ardenter - eating too eagerly.


 gluttony is not a sin because it causes poor health, but because it is an economic sin. in ancient cultures the question that divided people according to a seminary professor was "do I know I will eat every day this year?" in roman culture those who were unsure outnumbered those who did. 

only in an industrialized bougeiose society would this sin be about "health" 

and speaking of fat issues:

such an uniformed view of why people are fat. In college the biggest gluttons I knew were thin. I new a man who always overate. he ate more than his share anywhere. ordering pizza with him was terrible. he would goto burger king for lunch and have 3 whoppers. he never exercised. but he was rail thin. my father and his brother grew up in a poor household and were literally given the same amount of food and one was too thin, and one was average. 

overeating in the bible is not about getting fat it is about scarcity of food. as in, you eat more than your share. 

I did not change my eating habits from the age of 18 to 30. But I found that eating the same amount of food over the years, while my metabolism slowed, was leading to fat. secondly, I went on anti-depressants. I was poor and ate the same cereal, same lunch, and same dinners as the months before. in 3 months I gained 40 lbs. I also no longer wanted to die. tradeoffs. I was really bummed out by the weight. 

a big fat comedian recently went from 450 lbs to 300. So when you see him, is he a Glutton? you might assume so but actually he is eating next to nothing and ALREADY LOST A WHOLE PERSON.  

what makes people fat? some now say it is evil carbs. others swear it is fat. my friend recently lost 100 lbs on the paleo. he said all his over-eating was carb related. now he eats what he likes, is full, never hungry, and down to the weight he was in high school. I did exactly what he did for 6 months and after the first 3 my weight loss stopped. why? high blood sugar. 

beardonabike moderator

@RemingtonHawk You raise some great points. I've wrestled with the idea of changing some wording in this post and adding some other good points such as some of the ones you raised. 

I never meant to infer that being fat=gluttonous or that being fat is a sin. I could/should have made that more clear. 

Thanks for the comment.


I do not have a medical condition and I am obese. While I agree that gluttony is a sin, I didn't get fat from gluttony. I really don't eat much. My issue is what I eat. First, the budget is tight...and unhealthy food is cheap. Second, although I like vegetables, I just don't eat them how I should. Third, I work on my feet all day, and I'm exhausted when I get home and never work out. I could say the skinniest person could be gluttonous scarfing down vegetables. I could also say a fit person worrying about this is vain. I hate being judged for my weight.

Fast forward a little...the above is what I would've written a couple years ago. I worked for 7 years straight on my feet, and finally quit my job after working through pregnancy to be a stay at home mom. (A huge financial sacrifice). I would say the damage I did to my feet took over a year to heal. I finally got to point where I couldn't stop gaining weight. Some months I only had $200 for diapers, food for 3 of us, plus any household necessities. I wasn't eating healthy food at all, but I also couldn't afford to eat healthy. This past January, I had had enough. Our family got approved for food stamps, and I immediately was able to change our diet overnight. I can now afford to eat low carb, no processed only fresh foods...and I've lost 75 lbs in 5 months (and my hubby has lost 85). I eat about the same if not more now. Yet, I get judged that I am gluttonous because of my weight. I still have about 150lbs to lose to be at an ideal weight, and I'm hoping to get there. But I will say that in the US, the processed, high carb crap that is passed off as a good dinner option is cheap for people who can hardly make ends meet. I am sensitive to judgmental thin people who assume if you are obese and don't have a medical condition, you are gluttonous. (I had someone say this to me at church today, no joke, and he and his entire family are tall and thin as rails.) I didn't want to go into extreme detail with him, but I caution anyone to have this sermon. It's one thing to have a sermon on gluttony and generalize that it can be with food, money, alcohol, sex, etc. each person can search within themselves if they have that issue, but to generalize in this way makes me sick.

beardonabike moderator

@Rae Thanks for reading and contributing. I hope this post didn't contribute to your feelings of judgement. I wrote this very early on in my blog and looking back I probably would have changed some of the wording in the post and made some other things clear (like medical conditions and other systematic problems that contribute to obesity that have nothing to do with self control).

Congratulations on your progress with your health. I hope it makes life more abundant for you!


Our pastor has not avoided this subject. I have heard many sermons on sin. No big sin  no little sin, sin is sin  over consumption has been discussed in the pulpit, many times  whether it be food , drink, adultery, ect. But I do not intend to be my brothers keeper, and would refuse that burden of anyone as being my keeper. Eating is the same as any other bad habit. It is up to the individual and it should be.  I am not fat because I ate at a church social. I am fat because of years of not watching every bite I eat, lack of exercise, medication, and thyroid surgery. Stress from working and trying to make ends meet. That's why people get fat. I don't need anyone to tell me I am fat I already know that quiet well. It's not my pastors responsibility to point that out to me. To try to legally restrict the size of a soda really, if they want a 32 oz, and can only buy a 16 oz., guess what they will buy two. That's crazy to assume you can control the size of a glass. The only subject that I have seen to be avoided in the pulpit is suicide. That's a subject that some pastors steer away from.  Yes I am from the south, and a Baptist church. We are known for potlucks,


This is an issue that is ignored by most all ministers because now 70% of Americans are clinically overweight (36% of Americans are clinically obese now). Ministers shy away from this for two reasons, in my opinion: 1. They fear the loss of members when they rattle this cage since the problem is more common than adultery, stealing etc. etc. 2. Many of the ministers themselves are, well, just fat. In a world of being "politically correct" and overly sensitive to people, even in the face of wrong, this has become the socially acceptable thing. In fact, numerous studies show an obesity rate much higher in Christians that attend church regularly, the reason being churches condone and over-feed during social gatherings. A shame that America has come to turn a blind eye to the obvious problem, we are destroying our bodies while increasing health care costs at a tremendous rate. -MS in Health 


This was your first post?! Way to start with a bang, man!

I know I'm almost a year late on this, but I saw another comment from July 2013 so I thought I could add something.

Unlike pretty much everyone else, I agree with your post. It IS a spiritual matter among Christians and as such needs to be addressed.

I also agree with some of the comments below regarding the stuff on the inside we can't see: like, if I am an overweight person (as a result of gluttony) and God deals with me and I stop sinning, then that's great, right? But the only issue is that you wont see the physical results of my change until months or years after my body has responded to the spiritual change that has occurred. So even though I may look like a glutton, I'm really not. I think thats where people were getting a little frustrated at their belief that you implied that overweight = gluttonous.

But there's also a word/phrase that I didn't read in your post or in any of the comments that I think is vital: spiritual discipline. I think the Church in America is wildly undisciplined these days, from the discipline of reading our Bibles to the discipline of prayer to the--I'd say--spiritual discipline of not eating in excess.

And I think our goal as Christians should be to bring every area of our life under the submission of Christ. For me, usually when I eat in excess it's because I'm angry or sad or bored or (insert another emotion here). Instead of taking my feelings and emotions to Christ I take them to the fridge. When I do this--whether I'm skinny or not, and whether I'm eating healthy food or not--I'm not allowing Christ to be the Lord of my life in that moment.

Gluttony and obesity and over eating are (as I'm sure you discovered from your comments because I sure did) really touchy issues that--even if its necessary and even if its as loving as possible--people are going to pissed about.

But if our churces could start stepping up and addressing all areas of spiritual discipline, including moment-by-moment submission to Christ in every area of our lives, gluttony would (and should) totally be included in that.

beardonabike moderator

@AndreaHuffman Not THE first but one of the first. I still agree with the bulk of this post and main point of it. I will say that in hind sight I wish I had clarified some things and stated some other things differently. Also I think the order I placed things didn't help. I get the feeling by many of the comments that people are so mad after reading the first half that they don't read the second. 
You're comment is right on! It is an issue of spiritual discipline and perhaps because the church is lax in every other discipline it seems absurd to be concerned about eating/health habits.
Thanks for commenting! How's your blog going btw?


A great man once said: "I wonder how things would be different if the message matched the heart of God. If the instead the message was 'this thing you’re hanging onto is bad for you, and we love you and want good things for you,' and if we earned the right to speak into someone’s life first, before pointing out what’s weighing them down." ;)


The overall premise of this blog post, regardless of how you try to sugar-coat it (pardon the pun), is that obesity always results from gluttony. You will never earn the right to speak into the life of a person who is overweight by assuming they put themselves in that position by their own sin. Ever. Proposing that overweight people in the church need to be "called out on their sin" amounts to nothing more than the "veiled judgment" you described in the above-linked post. "They're fat, I'm not. They're sinning, I'm not" with a justification of "I love them, so I'll 'point out what's weighing them down'" (see what I did there?) tacked on to make your assertion easier to swallow. (I'm a glutton for puns!)


Shane, I've been checking out your blog tonight and I LOVE much of what you have to say, but this blog post doesn't seem to fit within the context of the surrounding posts.

beardonabike moderator

 @KimOsburn1 Wow your comment was all over the place. I don't know if I should say thank you or just lick my wounds.

This is one of the first posts I wrote and haven't thought about the issue in a while. 

Ok first, you used my words about earning the right to speak into someone's life. As you'll notice this post was not speaking to a specific person. I wouldn't do that without earning the right ( and never ever ever in a blog post). You might disagree with my post, but it's in no way inconsistent with my "veiled judgement" post. We don't do each other any favors by never talking about this issue in the context of God's call to care for our bodies. I in no way said that obesity is always the result of sin. People have legitimate medical conditions. Our country has a major epidemic of people who are eating themselves to death, and all the while the church just sits back and watches. If your argument is that not all obese people are eating themselves to death, then my response is that this post is not addressed to those people. 


I'm really grateful for you as a reader and hope you keep reading, even if we disagree on this one.


@beardonabike Thanks for your reply. I do realize that you're not *intending* to say that all obesity results from sin. But when you say "I’m not saying that being heavy is a sin, but try preaching a sermon about gluttony, and lack of self-control when you yourself are standing before a congregation and noticeably overweight," you're affirming the fact that people naturally assume that the pastor's obesity results from his sin of gluttony, and therefore doesn't have the right to speak about it from the pulpit. In full disclosure, I'm extra sensitive about this issue because my husband and I both suffer from medical conditions that make it super-easy to gain weight, and ridiculously difficult to lose it. At one time my hubby weighed over 400lbs, despite eating a generally moderate diet. He's worked like crazy to take off 100lbs, but is still stuck at 300lbs despite his restrictive diet and exercising several times a week. When Tim was at his highest weight, we attended a church where the pastor decided it was time to confront the issue of gluttony in the church. One Sunday morning the pastor was encouraging the congregation to pledge a monthly donation to one of the church's programs, and said, "For the cost of a Big Mac every week, you can pledge to this ministry. How much does a Big Mac cost? I don't know... Let's ask Tim, he'll know!" Tim also applied for a youth pastor position, but was turned down because the church leadership were looking for someone "more athletic" (read: "not fat"). I get where you're coming from, and we *do* have a serious gluttony problem in our culture - not just with food, but overindulgence in general. My concern is that when I've seen churches/pastors try to address this it's been done way wrong, so it's hard for me to picture it being done right:


Bold. I Respect it. I don't really want to address it. To be compassionate and understanding might require preachers to be pastors, and churches to be families. Who would want to do that?


*Also, this is big step for me, entering the blogging world again. Thanks for the inspiration to interact, sir.


As a teacher, I value education.  Without education we lack the knowledge to make educated decisions.  At school I teach PE and health.  I teach children all the time about how to eat healthy and exercise.  This is a passion of mine.  I also know that a lot of food disorders are manifestations of other issues.  However, sometimes, it just comes from a lack of knowledge of what is healthy and what is not.  We live in a society that markets to peoples needs or wants.  People do not want to give up soda, so they can drink diet soda, which can be worse for a persons body.  It says diet, so it must be good.  To me this can be solved with education.  Now I am not going to promote one diet over another.  I grew up in a home in which my parents did and continue to do every fad diet known.  Some are more healthy than others.  What I do promote to my students is a well balanced and moderated diet.  On the other hand, different diets can be very effective for different health issues.  The glutton free diet has helped many kids with adhd behaviors as well as other medical conditions.  


Looking at this from a different perspective though, I struggled with pornography as a teenager.  No one really talked about it in church.  Part of me knew that it was wrong, but then again, no one was talking about it.  I actually started when a role model of mine, who was a christian, was talking with other guys about pornography that he was looking at.  I was then able to justify this in my own head.  With no one explicitly telling me this was wrong, I got sucked into this addiction.  Like all addictions, the first step was admitting that there was a problem.  It was then a struggle to get out of this addiction.  I even prayed and prayed to be freed from this addiction, but it wasn't until I confided in a friend my addiction and the fact that I was weak that God was truly able to free me from this addiction.  The truth was, my friend didn't even suffer from pornography addiction.  He did listen and keep me accountable in Love.  


Like my friend, as a church, we need to help people recognize the problem, whatever it may be, and help people get through the problem with love.  We need to know the people in our church enough to help them through the problems.  The church should be a place we can talk about our problems, no matter what they are, whether it is pornography, alcoholism, or gluttony.  This will only happen if the church is a place free from judgement.  I am completely against condemning people for their sins, but I am for the church educating people to grow closer to what God desires for our physical and spiritual lives. 


two separate streams of thought. a) banning beer is terrible idea. studies show that alcoholism is worse in cultures that have bad drinking habits or ban drinking. rates of alcoholism among jews, (with a wierd recent anomaly among orthodox which I think is about repression) are very low historically. don't ban drinking. model good behavior. and dialogue with those that break healthy patterns, and be willing to ask them to leave the community if they can't keep sober. 



b) gluttony. before we can talk about gluttony we need to talk about gary taubes. google him. humanity has been around for a long time, but carbs became major into our diet 12,000 years ago when we became agricultural.  then stupidly after world war 2, nutritonists decided fat was bad and carbs were good. secondly sugar is a drug. I had a friend who was 100 pounds overweight. he tended to overeat. was he a glutton? he cut out all carbs, and also dairy which also ups glucose. he ate if he was hungry. he had no more cravings for overeating. oh btw, giving up carbs was like giving up cigarettes. he said he nearly lost his mind. He said his body knew how to regulate what it needed when it had no carb interference. his problem was that his body had become carb sensitive. a year later, after eating whatever he wanted, he lost 100 pounds, and said he never really over ate. he said "overeating just meat and vegetables sounded and felt stupid."  


native americans on 3000 calorie dies (estimated) that was meats and vegetables) were buff, but then 50 years later on poverty diet of coffee and bread 2000 calories, 10% of women were underweight (not carb sensitive and not getting enough nutrition) but 40% were obese. obesity is an insulin/glucose related problem. carbs up your glucose. the more carb sensitive you are the more the "high" you get is from carbs and the worse the crash. 


that said gluttony then becomes the sin of "too much" -- it may even be talking about precursor to addiction and addiction. a "glutton" is a husband who comes home and watches 7 hours of tv and ignores his family. but is calling him a glutton a helpful language designation? "hey I prayed about it and you are a glutton."   I think the word glutton might be fine as an academic term but any word you have to redefine to use quickly becomes jargon. 


some people in the church are over-eaters. most of them are carb senstive with insulin issues and don't know it. but behind that is probably the emotional reality that carbs bring comfort as well. when I gave up carbs totally (I am now on a drug that lows my blood sugar so I can have carbs, trying to live carb free in america is really hard) I actually cried one day. I missed the emotional comfort. carbs were a comfort closer than a friend. 


interestingly, guess what helps lower blood sugar levels? fasting one day and then eating a normal diet the next day. 


Do I hate you? No. Do I think you are missing the mark? BY A MILE.

Why do people think that somehow "fat" people don't know they are fat? Don't know they have a problem? And why do they assume they are not already trying to do something about that problem? Why also do non-fat people assume that fat people "got that way" from a lack of self-control? 

Gluttony is not the only reason for obesity, not to mention gluttony is also not the only sin afflicting the Church.

Where are you going to draw the line here? Are you going to also tell the smokers at the back door "no tobacco on the premises, and oh, by the way, smoking is bad for your health."?  Yeah, I can see that flying in a Southern Baptist church... NOT. (At least not the one I grew up in.)

I think you need to back the train up and start dealing with the REAL issues of weight (and other health problems) and if people were to understand WHO they are in CHRIST, and really understand what their position is in Christ, it would be a monumental start on the road to healing. 


Obesity has many causes so automatically assuming that gluttony and obesity go together is ignorant and harmful. Our worth is not determined  by the number on the scale and our intimacy with Christ doesn't depend on my calorie intake.Maybe many churches don't preach on it because they let the Word of God and the Holy Spirit do the convicting.Check out Romans 14:1 "Accept him whose faith is weak, without passing judgment on disputable matters. 2 One man’s faith allows him to eat everything, but another man, whose faith is weak, eats only vegetables. 3 The man who eats everything must not look down on him who does not, and the man who does not eat everything must not condemn the man who does, for God has accepted him. 4 Who are you to judge someone else’s servant? To his own master he stands or falls. And he will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand.". All we need is church members monitoring each other's food intake and calculating waist measurement.

Many many years and diets ago I was having great success losing weight on the plan I was on. It included a baked potato at lunch. A co worker went off on me about how could I possibly lose weight eating that? In her judgement, in her lack of knowledge, she believed me to be "cheating" on my diet. Fast forward to this past August. At a birthday party I had someone criticize the eating of bacon. The Paleo eating plan includes bacon. I can list several "plans" that include food that others would disapprove. All of this sets us up to judge each other without even knowing the heart of another person. Yes, it would seem that those of us with weight issues wear ours on the outside. We have no choice but others are able to hide their "sins" away. 

Another thing about this whole notion that really chaps my hide is that just by looking at my appearance, you think you could judge how I eat or don't exercise. Would you know that I have been keeping a food diary for 3 weeks and I have to work to eat enough calories in a day so I don't get alerted that I am not eating enough? You can't tell that my metabolism is shot by the continual dieting and near starvation I've put it through in my life. You wouldn't know about the six months I spent in an eating disorders unit after drinking only shakes (under a doctor's care) for six weeks putting my heart into an irregular beat with my weight loss journey. If you didn't visit my home you wouldn't know that you will not find fried or processed food in my house. My pantry looks like a health food store but my body looks like I frequent McDonalds *shudder*. My heart rate and BP are well within the normal range but you won't see that in my dress size. You can sit back and discuss willpower till you are blue in the face but until you have sat in my place, until you have been part of my struggle your preaching will only create an environment of judgement rather than an environment of grace. Grace will eventually win.

Two recent studies have shown that two major factors to obesity are lack of sleep and stress. Are you going to ask pastors to monitor bedtimes and provide help for those of us caring for a disabled family member? (I sound stressed don't I?)

Gluttony can also be defined as someone who is so picky about food that they won't attend gatherings if they don't think they will like what is being served. Are we going to also rail against those who make food an issue in the other direction? Gluttony isn't going to be cured by asking someone to leave the fried chicken home. If gluttony is a spiritual issue, then you need a spiritual answer. Some diets give allowance for a biscuit, some bacon and even dessert. Focusing on the physical will just focus us all on the physical. Let us preach what really matters. Spiritual health, grace, love, relationship and the beauty that our Lord brings to our souls. Let the Lord speak into each individual if food is being abused or misused.  Thank you in advance for allowing me to vent. I'm sure it was inarticulate but I woke up several times through the night wrestling with this article. I just had to beat it out on my laptop before I exploded and before some churches started signing up their congregations for gastro bypass surgery at a group rate.


About four years ago our congregation began having lunch after morning service for the widows and widowers, so that they wouldn't have to eat lunch alone. It has turned out to be a luncheon for the whole congregation. Needless to say, I bet we have gained several hundred pounds together.


Not everyone in the congregation attend the luncheon, and it is very nice to get to spend this time together visiting... But it is amazing to watch how the folks have changed in their attitudes. At first people would wait in line to get to the tea and desserts or wait to see if there would be a stuffed egg left. Now they get their tea, their dessert and an egg. They don't want to miss out on getting the dessert and egg, nor do they want someone to get their "spot", so they set their tea where they want to sit. And if their cup is moved one seat over, it messes up their whole "chemistry" and they become a bit disgruntled.


Over the years I have had to battle the "greed" monster myself. You know what I mean, there is so many choices. It all looks so good. Your tummy is growling because you had to skip breakfast to drive the church bus or get the classroom ready for the children. The taste buds are watering before you get your flatware. You start out with, "I am going to be careful this time. I am going to make better choices. Only a taste of this or a bite of that..." And by the time you are at the end of the line the plate is heaping with food.


My husband is over the bus ministry. Many of those who ride the bus are children or the "un-churched." These weekly meals have given many opportunities of growth. First there are the children who have eyes as big as saucers, and then there are those less "taught" adults who either are hungry, they don't know better, or who don't have a "turnoff" switch for their tummies. At first these few would be first in line and would heap their plates so high without even realizing that they needed to share with those behind them.  Many times the meat dishes would disappear before everyone could get any (kind of sounds like the problem at Corinth.) No one knew what to say, especially to the adults. The hosts/hostesses grumbled and finally moved the meat dishes to the end of the line so that plates would be filled with veggies and salads first. But no one in the leadership ever addressed the issue of greed.


My husband and I finally pulled the children aside and were able to slowly teach them to limit their choices to 1 meat, a starch, a salad, a veggie and 1 dessert. (Not that this is what happens each time, but we try to remind them.) We didn't know how to handle the adults who over indulged, we just hoped that they would hear us teach the children. Finally when one woman had 2 strokes and a mild heart attack, we felt that we could be more forceful in keeping with her diet. (It's sad that we think that if we admonish one another we will offend. We don't realize that by admonishing we could save their physical life as well as their spiritual life.)


Admonishment does need to be administered, but first we need to teach as Paul states in 2 Timothy 3:16-17. We need to be taught that any form of gluttony is greed which is idolatry. Idolaters will not enter into the kingdom of heaven. We must flee from every form of evil. But in order to know these things we must first be taught. And we cannot be afraid to teach the truth, even if it does cause a brother to grumble. After all, to offend means to cause to stumble (to fall.) Will we be offending or just hitting a heart string and cause grumbling?


Over the years I have learned some valuable lessons about food. First in 2000 I was blessed to go to Ghana, West Africa. We were to carry with us food for 14 meals for ourselves and our interpreters. Now this amount of tuna, crackers, dried nuts and fruit can really add up. I followed the guideline and took this food only to realize that each day as I worked in the field there wasn't much time to eat a lunch. And when I did I had only time to eat a couple peanut butter crackers, sharing the rest with my interpreters. I also realized that I didn't have much hunger. My stomach didn't travel up my throat to see if my tongue had been cut or if my mouth had been tied shut. Upon reflecting why I wasn't hungry I came to understand that God's word was actually feeding me with each Bible study that I taught. His word became life for me! (Oh, we left a lot of food, and today we hardly take any at all.)


With more Bible study I realized that it is not the food that we eat, but the amount which we consume that causes obesity. There is actually much to say about the food that we eat, and the word does not tell us to limit the types of foods, but says to not have any god before our God. I began applying this knowledge to how I think about food. I still struggle. There are periods that I have more victory and times that I fall. I am learning to eat when I am hungry, stop when I am satisfied. When I obey God in my eating I have less indigestion, I sleep better, and I shed weight.My biggest problem is that when I eat according to what my body needs, I eat very little, and guess what? I don't like it! (There is the rub...the real issue...greed.)


I have learned that food has been an idol to me, that I didn't trust God to provide for me, and that I believed man's wisdom concerning foods (what is healthy and not healthy...) I also have learned that if I feed myself the word of God throughout the day I have more victories with food and even in other problem areas in my life.


Shane, I hope that you will continue encouraging the brethren to check their hearts and repent. We do need to be a people who honors God with our bodies in all things, and food is only one of them. Thanks for blogging. Glad I saw it. Love and miss you guys.




This is a timely and appropriate article with which I find agreement.  But from a pastoral perspective, it is THE third rail in theology and the church along with homosexuality.  No, it is a bigger third rail, because at least the church has been talking about homosexuality (albeit not always a productive theological discussion) for some time now, but almost no one wants to touch this one.  


We live in a "super-size" culture that is so food-oriented.  I think also the western church has developed an anthropology that leans heavily at times toward gnosticism, either spiraling off toward asceticism on the one hand or hedonism on the other.  Of course that characterizes almost every act in a fallen world- dis-eased people cannot find balance apart form God in Christ and abiding faith in him.  For me,  (getting dramatic), it took walking on a treadmill at 47 years of age and getting radioactive dye shot into my veins to test for blockage along with taking 2 blood pressure pills daily and a very powerful statin drug to lower a total cholesterol rate of over 1000!  That finally got my attention and I realized this was a spiritual issue for me.  I couldn't claim to be walking in the Spirit as I continued to treat my body like I had been treating it.    


But this is a swim against the tide.  I completed a revival last year that was totally food oriented (in the Baptist context). The people were God loving people, but honestly, there were 4 people out of 100 that showed up for prayer meetings before the revival but everyone showed up for the meals.  Traveling in other parts of the world where people live with food insecurity every day has totally changed my outlook on this.  Now I see how gluttonous this culture is.  Yes, we need to eat, and we can enjoy food, but I fear the reality in the USA is that we are increasingly living to eat, and not eating to live.  


Yet, I am not sure there is a more sensitive and emotionally charged issue in the church than this one, because food is closely linked with culture and emotions.  


I am aware of an associate pastor who just passed away at 50 years of age from obesity. He ate himself to death.  It was one of the tragic things I have witnessed.  


I've been wondering where this sermon was!  The churches I've been to sure talk enough against drinking and gambling, right after they stuff their faces with donuts and right before they load their plates at the pot luck!  I, for one, struggle with weight, but more specifically, gluttony.  Whew!  I said it!  That was a hard one to actually put in print!  And I think a lot of people struggle with the same thing! Churches I've been to usually have an unwritten and sometimes written rule about abstaining from alcohol, why not at least START talking about the sin of eating too much. After all, isn't self-control one of the fruits of the spirit?  Stepping on toes hurts, both the steppee and the stepper, but it's got to start sometime!  Thanks for getting the ball rolling!


You are absolutely correct. I am a pastor who weighs in at almost 300 lbs. I put on my facebook page this weekend that the sermon could have been ripped from the front page of The Onion. "Morbidly Obese Pastor Preaches About Hunger". It was a sermon helping to promote Crop Walk. Did I acknowledge the irony? Yes. Am I working towards losing weight? Yes.


  1. […] you all know I like to write about foodish things. Yesterday, Pastor Shane Blackshear wrote a blog post calling for the Church to address the problem of obesity. I heartily agree that the pastorate would […]

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