Q&A: What about Gluttony?

A friend of mine posed the question a while back:

“Why is gluttony so overlooked and under-preached from the pulpit?” – Jonathan; Columbia, SC

A fair question, even if it does hit a little close to home for this author.  But what is gluttony, really?  Is it actually a sin?  Either way, why don’t pastors talk about it?  Well, I’m sure there are a number of reasons that it’s not talked about, but let’s start at the top.

What is Gluttony?

By definition, gluttony is habitual greed or excess in eating (see Oxford). Gluttony is not simply the enjoyment of good food, nor is it the desire to have a feast.  For example, the Bible is filled with parables and historical examples of righteous men and women partaking of the choicest foods and celebrating with feasts.  Even Revelation ends with the Wedding Supper of the Lamb (Revelation 19:6-9) the inference being that we will feast with the King of kings.

So then what, exactly, is gluttony?  Gluttony, I would say, speaks to the heart behind the act.  Is it a heart of thankfulness and satisfaction, or is it a heart of greed and want?  Which brings us to the next question:

Is Gluttony Actually a Sin?

Yep.  As I mentioned above, gluttony speaks to the heart of the individual.  Even now, I want to go and grab a snack even though I know that I don’t need anything to eat.  The Old Testament speaks on numerous occasions about gluttony and it’s folly (Proverbs 23:2, 20-21; Proverbs 25:16; Psalm 78:18).

But Dan, we say, Paul tells us, “So, whether you eat or drink, whatever you do, do all to the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31).  Let us not forget that the context of the matter is of conscious and idolatry.  Paul is reminding the church to not become legalistic in our food habits, but to celebrate the freedom that God has given us.  But he also says in Philippians that people whose “god is their belly”, whose “glory is their shame”, and who set their minds on “worldly things” are “enemies of the cross” (Philippians 3:18-19).

Yes, gluttony is greed which is covetousness, but really at the heart of it all is idolatry.  Which god are you going to worship?  Jesus or your stomach?  To which god are you willing to sacrifice your life, your wealth, and your relationships? Which god are you going to make the biggest in your life (pun intended).

Why Don’t Preachers Talk About it?

There’s a lot to speculate here.  Some preachers probably don’t touch it because they don’t want to be seen as hypocrites.  You can hide your internal sins from people, but if you’re wearing a 46 inch waist, everyone can tell what your struggle is.  Also, the blame can be shared with those of us in the congregation.  None of us want to hear that our late night taco binge is sinful.  Nobody wants to be told that eating the entire carton of ice cream is sinful.  No one wants to hear that our $200 plus all organic, locally grown or fair trade only diet that consumes our minds with every food decision we make is sinful.  Are they sinful?  Not necessarily, but they can be; as I said before, it’s about the heart.

Also, some preachers probably don’t talk about gluttony because we live in a world where the headlines are filled with news of the latest ISIS execution video, military conflicts, natural disasters, moral decay, and other things of the like.  With all of these things going on, it seems like gluttony is not that important.  Of course, we know that all sin is equal in God’s eyes, but as far as human impact goes preachers have a lot more to talk about from the pulpit.


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