Is Over-Eating Really A Sin?

By Fin Sheridan

We have a terrible habit as Christians: we rank sins. There are the ‘big sins’ and the ‘little sins’. We don’t like admitting we do this but there is certainly a shared understanding – some are worse than others. It’s unbiblical and certainly distorted but we still do it. We gasp as sins like pornography, anger and bad language yet don’t seem as troubled by greed or impatience.

So how about your self control? Most people say they’re pretty good at restraint… until their favourite food is in front of them. Whether it’s a big tub of ice cream, a box of Krispy Kremes or just taking another chocolate Hobnob to dunk in your tea, we all have those little weak spots that get us every time.

We don’t think about overeating as a sin. After all, we have to eat right? It’s fairly essential to surviving. Yet the Bible mentions “glutton” several times and never in a favourable way. ‘Glutton’ is a bit of an old fashioned word meaning “an excessively greedy eater.” Eeek. So if I have a second helping of pudding, am I sinning?

“This isn’t to do with weight at all; it’s about the principle and posture of gluttony rather than the potential consequences of it.”

We’ve got to be wise here: this isn’t talking about people who have a medical issue with their weight. In fact, this isn’t to do with weight at all; it’s about the principle and posture of gluttony rather than the potential consequences of it. So what does the Bible say? Well, in Proverbs 23:21 it says “drunkards and gluttons become poor, and drowsiness clothes them in rags.” Not exactly the picture of the sharp soldier of God described in Ephesians 6, is it?

Our bodies are “temples of the Holy Spirit”. They’re gifts from God and how we treat God’s gifts says a lot about how we feel about God. Our original purpose, given to us in Genesis 1 and 2, is stewardship – and ruining our bodies with excess of food or alcohol, due to “drowsiness” does not present a good picture of those who honour the temple of the Spirit.

This may sound severe but we have to allow Scripture to shape our lifestyle – not the other way round. Jesus is not a fitness coach – after all, he’s preparing a feast for us, and I hear he has a thing for bread, but this Christmas season, in order to be sharp tools of the gospel, we would do well to steer clear of gluttony or anything that resembles it.

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