What About Gluttony?

Gluttony is defined in the mind of most people as “eating too much”, specifically meaning one who has become overweight because of it. While there is some correct reasoning involved in that definition, gluttony goes far beyond simply eating too much. Just like every other sin that can be listed, it is a spiritual “heart” problem before it becomes a sin. Of course, if one does overeat on a regular basis, they will likely develop a physical heart problem as well.

No doubt about it, Paul wrote “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service” (Rom. 12:1). We are charged with using our human bodies as a living sacrifice for God’s work. It is only reasonable that we should, if by any reasonable means possible, keep our bodies in the kind of condition that would allow us to do that work effectively. Sometimes it is not easy, for the same apostle also wrote: “I buffet my body, and bring it into bondage: lest by any means, after that I have preached to others, I myself should be rejected” (1 Cor. 9:27 ASV). It was a fight for him to make his body do what he knew it must do.

God has granted us “threescore years and ten” (Psalm 90:9) in which to live in this world. Obviously some things beyond our control can drastically shorten that lifespan, but what is in our control is how we treat the bodies which God has given us. Our bodies are designed to let us know when we are full, and we should respect them and God enough to stop when they do.

If one were to abuse his body by overindulging in food on a consistent basis, then yes, it would be difficult to say that such would not be sinning. Notice that is not “a sin”, but “sinning”. If he did it one time and lost control of his appetite, then it could likewise be considered “a sin”. If he was to continue to do so and that came to be his accepted practice, he would be “sinning”, meaning it is an ongoing action.

We must remember that not all overweight people are gluttonous, and not all gluttonous people are overweight. Some people seem to be able to look at a cookie and gain ten pounds, even if they regularly exercise at high cardio levels. Yet some can empty a full cookie jar and lose weight while never raising their heart rate above what it took to get to the cookie and remove the lid! Different people have different metabolisms and we must be careful not to make uninformed judgments.

But gluttony is not limited to the overindulgence of food or drink. It also could mean that one chooses to eat only the finest and most costly food accessible by him. I am not referring to healthy food that we need to make part of our diets even if it expensive, but those things that taste good mainly because they are expensive, instead of expensive because they taste good. It also includes those who are in the habit of desiring the most complicated and delicate dishes and making another’s work difficult in the process.

Let’s not stop with just food when we talk about gluttony. We can be gluttonous in pretty much anything. Drinking (even non-alcoholic beverages), shopping, watching or playing sports, watching television, surfing the internet, and yes, even bodily exercise, can be used in a gluttonous manner. It all goes back to the heart, the spiritual one that is. Consistent overindulgence in anything that can hurt our bodies, or that causes undue stress in others, is sinful. ~ B.W.P.