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26 February 2005

I Can't Stop Eating

Recently Brandon at Bad Christian has been attempting a diet. He’s not doing so hot. I feel for him. I’m constantly trying to give up a) caffeine b) fast food c) junk food and d) soda. I’m constantly failing, too. Right now fast food and soda are going well. I gave them up for Lent. Caffeine isn’t so bad when all you’ve got to work with is coffee and tea. Junk food? I’m struggling. I’m addicted. I keep telling myself that tomorrow I’ll eat healthier, but tomorrow predictably always becomes today.

But that’s not really what I wanted to talk about. Lately I’ve been thinking about food as it relates to Christianity, specifically the conservative Baptist brand from which I’ve come. I grew up in a pretty typical East Tennessee Baptist church. Where I went to church, it was a sin to drink alcohol, have premarital sex, work on Sundays, be gay, swear, watch R-rated movies, smoke, wear shorts in the sanctuary, and, for a lot of folks, listen to rock and roll. You know, the basic stuff.

But overeating? That was cool. Eating was a something we did a lot of at church. There were pot luck dinners once a month on Wednesday nights. Sometimes there were lunches after church on Sunday afternoons. Sometimes there were finger foods after church on Sunday nights. There was a consistent pattern of dining out, both after Sunday morning and Sunday evening services (while it was a sin to work on Sundays, apparently it wasn’t a sin to directly contribute to other people working on Sundays). I’d say I had a meal at my church two or three times a month.

That’s not necessarily a bad thing. Meals build community. The gospels show Jesus and his disciples eating together rather frequently. Eating a real meal as a community is a far better depiction of the Last Supper than nibbling a cracker and throwing back a thimble of grape juice.

Nonetheless, judging by the size of the waistlines in that church, food was more than a communal bonding experience. It was also an obsession. Which begs the question: why wasn’t gluttony a sin in my church? Is it because gluttony is a “little sin,” one that pales in comparison to murder or theft? Or is it because it’s a sin that the church is committing, so it’s one of which we cannot speak?

As I’ve noted here before, I feel like the church does pick on the sins it isn’t committing, which is partially why abortion and homosexuality are singled out. I know it’s more complicated than that. But it does at least partially account for why there can be massively overweight pastors, but not homosexual ones.

Comments on "I Can't Stop Eating"


Blogger jvpastor said ... (2/28/2005 11:48:00 AM) : 

this same thing has bothered me for years in the church, as my waste ling grew and grew....

About a year ago I started a diet and am down about 30lbs, and have about 30 to go! I am eating better, and running/working out on a regular basis. I was about to turn thirty and knew I needed to make a change.

The big catalyst was that I knew my eating happens did not please God, I over endulged and took very little of care of myself. I knew this was not "proclaiming" the right message to our congregation, my family and my friends. Anyway, good luck with the lifestyle change it is hard, but worth it.

I also have always found it difficult to listen to a 300lb preacher tell me that drinking and smoking are sins, I always felt a little irony in the message...


Blogger Wasp Jerky said ... (3/01/2005 06:29:00 PM) : 

Ideally I'd like to go vegetarian, too. But I should probably work towards something like that. Good luck with the last 30 pounds.


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