Every year, the families from my church celebrate the 4th of July together at the Wests’ cabin in McCall, Idaho. After one of these celebrations, Mrs. West told me about how she had invited her cabin neighbors to come to church with them. She knew these neighbors were not Christians. The neighbor responded, “I don’t think I could ever go to your church! I see you guys at your cabin for the 4th, and every single one of you is skinny! I’d feel completely out of place!”
I’m afraid this neighbor had quite the misconception of what Christians look like. Christians are not skinny — far from it. In fact, I’d venture to say that evangelical Christianity has reduced the seven deadly sins down to six. We have forgotten about gluttony.
Think about it — church potlucks are one of the most common kinds of church gatherings. Watching believers gorge themselves on potato salad and fried chicken is not my idea of a “holy gathering.” How many overweight Baptist preachers’ sermons have you sat through? And even among my Christian friends, it seems as if people encourage each other to eat to excess.
Why does gluttony seem to be a sin no one addresses? Maybe it is because evangelicals, and Baptists in particular, are so dialed in on something else. In the prophetic words of the Brad Paisely song, “I’m medicine and I am poison; I can help you up or make you fall; You had some of the best times you’ll never remember with me — alcohol.” So many Christians not only think drunkenness is a sin, but they don’t want to drink any alcohol at all, even if they don’t get drunk.
The Bible clearly states that drunkenness and gluttony are sins; in fact, they are often paired together, equated as the same sin. “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 20-21).
The definitions are the same: drunkenness is drinking to excess, and gluttony is eating to excess. Drunkenness, not alcohol, and gluttony are the same sin; they are both a lack of self-control. If this is true, someone please tell me why — oh why — do Christian leaders tell me not to drink a glass of wine with my dinner, while they are simultaneously stuffing their faces with french fries?
Corban students, even if they are of a legal age, are not allowed to drink alcohol. The Corban Handbook addresses drinking in this way: “Since Scripture admonishes us to refrain from harmful practices, Corban students may not use, possess, manufacture, distribute, or disperse tobacco (including chewing tobacco), alcoholic beverages or illegal drugs while associated with the University.” One of the verses used to support this statement is 1 Corinthians 6:19-20: “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body.”
If alcohol is banned at a Christian institution, I find it inconsistent that certain foods are not banned as well. Clearly gluttony is just as harmful practice as drunkenness. About one-third of all Americans are obese, and obesity is one of the leading causes of high cholesterol, liver damage, diabetes, depression and other health issues. Christians are not treating their bodies like temples if they think they can get away with eating trans fats and high-calorie diets.
Additionally, many studies (like the Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults) are showing that churchgoers ages 20-32 are more than twice as likely to be obese as non-churchgoers. But, hey! At least they’re all teetotalers, right?
All I’m asking for is some consistency, people. Being selective about sins does not lead to a holier life. Drinking alcohol is not even a sin, yet parachurch organizations like Corban think it is a bigger problem than the obesity and gluttony running unchecked in believers’ lives. How about Christians practicing some self-control in both eating and drinking? After all, Jesus did turn water into wine. Using the Holy Spirit as a guide, maybe we can all lighten up on the Coors Light and tighten our belts in the process.