March 24, 2011

Is Fat a Faith Issue?

After reading this article today, I was challenged with a question: Is FAT a faith issue? Well, we all know my answer to that question, but I think there are some deeper questions to be answered in light of these new studies and the attention that obesity is getting in America and in the Church.

Does being overweight/obese indicate a spiritual problem?
Is food addiction viewed in the same way other addictions are?
Can someone be obese and still be "right" with God?
What does our outward appearance say about our inner souls?
Why might someone think it was wrong to abuse alcohol but okay to overeat on a regular basis?
Could Jesus have been fat?

Just wondering what you all think...Don't hold back!!!


Gina said...

3 points stuck out to me between the two references you provided:

1)Both studies were less than 4,000 people; that's hardly representative of any population as a whole.
2)It referenced that religious organizations might be a safe & accepting place for those that are ALREADY overweight & dealing with weight issues. Chicken or egg?
3)"However, when we controlled for social class, ethnicity and marital status, the denominational differences in body weight were not significant." It might be more of a social/ethnic/etc issue than that of whether one's religious or not.

I get that gluttony w/food is something that may be overlooked as a sin as it doesn't seem "as bad," as drinking drugs/etc. The reasons behind binge eating may indicate a lack of spiritual strength/maturity at that point in a person's life. The reason's for over-eating are in many cases similar to those of other addict's. Hardest one to kick though as you need food to live, but not the other's, so one is constantly tempted.

Really interesting questions to pose. Thanks for the intellectual debat:-)

Absolutely, Positively Josie said...

Hmm, interesting.

I like Gina's points about the "study." My personal, unsolicited opinion is that USA Today is junk and full of junk science, usually in an effort to undermine Christianity. That tends to be my opinion on everything.

For a long time, I characterized weight as my #1 spiritual problem, a manifestation of my lack of faith in God. Now I think my biggest spiritual problem is kicking against the pricks of Grace.

I idolized both food and my food problem. When my eating was
out of control, I wallowed in guilt. I’d ask for forgiveness, but I carried the guilt into the next binge. In the midst of all the gluttony, my top goal was to stop bingeing and be perfect in the past/present/future. I thought many times, I’m just like any other addict. This made me sad because I thought I was better than that; I forgot that I was just as depraved as any and every other human, and I would never own up to being the legalist I was. I wanted to work my way to heaven by being a good Christian who
practices temperance in every way (and loses weight and gets hot in the process); and to do that I had to pretend that God’s all-encompassing Grace didn’t exist and that the most pressing spiritual issue in my life was my physical size, and I had to fix it myself. And I don’t mean to downplay weight issues. I still believe mine was evidence of a spiritual problem, but so is every other sin I commit. Most times all the Spiritual babble was my front for just wanting to lose weight and look better. I am trying to lose weight now, and if I do, I know it can’t make me a better Christian. Maybe I’ll get in the habit of foregoing more binges, but it won’t keep me from sinning. I’m so incapable of keeping God’s law with perfect temperance that Jesus Christ had to walk the Earth and die on the cross to fulfill the law for me; my weight, food hysteria, and idol worship are manifestations of this fact.

Sorry to write a blog post on your blog post!

As far as Jesus being fat, in all images I’ve ever seen of Him, He has blue eyes and fair skin and brown shoulder-length hair and a very toned abdomen.


Jan said...

I don't feel like my relationship with God is any different depending on what weight I am (and I'm currently overweight and have been for 13 years...working on that though).

I am, however, an emotional eater and do tend to run to food when I'm stressed, upset, happy, etc.. That's where it becomes a big sin for me. I should be running to God and not finding comfort in food (that's what has gotten me overweight).

I don't think God loves me any less because I am overweight. I do, however, think he's disappointed in me for the choices I've made when it comes to food.

Great questions to think about. Thanks!

Blubeari said...

There is no such thing as a spiritual 'problem'. Some people choose not to partake in any religion at all. This does not make them bad, sloppy, or more likely to be obese. It means they believe differently than a religious person.


Kristin Hope said...

I don't and have never felt that my weight means that I'm not right with God. I do, however, know that my emotional eating means that I am not giving God every single situation. Instead, I run to the satisfaction that a momentary indulge can give me, to me the same as any other "comfort" other than Him. To me, the same as any other sin - and like anyone, we may do that sin over and over again until we learn to completely rely on God to not do it. We still may fall occasionally. The consequences of continued emotional eating paired with little or no exercise means I am overweight and I stay that way.

What I've recently learned is that I, personally, cannot pay much attention to my weight anymore. I need to focus on His strength to do the things that are healthy for me, rather than be anxious week after week for a one or two pound loss - then get frustrated with a one or two pound gain. For me, the scale can't matter. I was looking at it as "did I do well enough this week?" The scale hinders me and it hinders my road to being healthy, and I can't believe it took me a year to see that. :)

It is not how well "I" is this: Waking up every day and choosing to give that day to Him, and then choosing, minute by minute, to not take it back.

Hmmm....maybe it's time for my blog to be updated. :)

Jeannette said...

I;m reading a Bible study about weight loss called Made to Crave and I agree with the author. If you crave food more than God it is a sin. I do and I need to work on that. Some people don't. I don't think for them it is a religious issue.

Jess said...

You know, I never really thought about the fact that Jesus might have been fat. That's a wild thought.

Surely in biblical times there were fat people. Most likely wealthy, fat people who could afford the luxury of overeating but fat nonetheless.

What a thought. I don't know if that means you can't be right with the Lord just because you are fat. I mean I think that being overweight is an internal struggle. I know many church goers who struggle with weight. I mean look at smokers or people who skydive for a living. These are all things that could potentially hurt or even kill them but if they do those things regardless of the consequences does that mean they can't be right with God?

Something to think about.

Kate said...

I think you probably know where I stand on this issue. I don't think it's a matter of not being "right" with God. We are always right with God. He accepts us as we are wherever we are. And I also don't look at my alcoholism as a "sin." I do know that time in my life was as dark as it's ever been, but no matter how awful it got, I always knew that God was on my side. No matter what actions I ultimately took. And that glimmer of grace is what allowed me to give up my addiction.

You're on the right track, Keelie. Don't forget that.

momof3girls said...

You are such a source of encouragement! Thank you for sharing your insights! I have been dieting and losing weight from Jan. of this year. I loved your idea of taking pics to keep yourself motivated when others can not tell!! Thank you!

Beginning Anew said...

food can be an unhealthy addiction just like so many other unhealthy addictions. Mary Mary (religious singing duo) said it best...

take the shackles off my feet so I can dance, I just want to praise You, I just want to praise you,

You broke the chains now I can lift my hands, and I'm gonna praise You, just wanna praise You