what is gluttony anyway?

after i posted on the parallels between obesity and homosexuality i wanted to find out more about the spiritual issues of gluttony which, i've learned, sometimes but not always manifests physically as obesity. It turns out a fellow blogger at the evangelical outpost recently pondered on it also...

Oddly enough, with the exception of those related to sex, American Christians tend to take an antinomian view of “physical sins.” We act as if corrupting our bodies will have no impact on our souls. Such an un-Biblical view, however, must be rejected by anyone who acknowledges that the body is the temple of the Holy Spirit.

Lest we start to feel superior to the obese neighbors, we should remember that not all gluttons are overweight. I’m 5’10”, 170 lbs and though I no longer have to endure the rigors of Marine Corps PT, I’m still in relatively decent shape. But while my waistline may not expose my shame, I’m prone to overindulging in food. I eat several snacks between meals. I eat when I’m in my car. I eat when I’m bored. I eat when I’m restless, when I’m frustrated, when I’m watching TV, when I’m on the computer…I eat constantly for no other reason than that I can.

In stuffing my face, I neglect my spiritual life. I turn to the refrigerator instead of turning to prayer. I pause at the vending machine instead of pausing in meditation. I seek out a piece of bread instead of seeking the Bread of Life. I fill my life with food in order to avoid filling it with God.

“Their end is destruction,” the Apostle Paul warned, for those for whom “their god is the belly.” We worship a false idol when we succumb to the sin of gluttony. We replace the focus on the Lord with a focus on our own indulgences. We make a god of our belly and allow our souls to turn softer than the crème filling in our Twinkies.


He considers himself a glutton in need of repentance before his sin bears fruit. The Catholic encyclopedia provides a definition but moetly focuses on the eating and drinking aspect with a weird digression at the end on spiritual gluttony.

according to the teaching of the Angelic Doctor, may happen in five ways which are set forth in the scholastic verse: "Prae-propere, laute, nimis, ardenter, studiose" or, according to the apt rendering of Father Joseph Rickably: too soon, too expensively, too much, too eagerly, too daintily. Clearly one who uses food or drink in such a way as to injure his health or impair the mental equipment needed for the discharge of his duties, is guilty of the sin of gluttony. It is incontrovertible that to eat or drink for the mere pleasure of the experience, and for that exclusively, is likewise to commit the sin of gluttony. Such a temper of soul is equivalently the direct and positive shutting out of that reference to our last end which must be found, at least implicitly, in all our actions.

another Catholic site, the White Stone Journal enalrges it a bit more.

The cure for Gluttony lies in deliberately reducing our use of pleasurable things, not in eliminating them. When eating, quit before feeling stuffed. When snacking, don't just keep stuffing, but quit after a while. With people, allow some quiet time together, and also get some time alone. Of course, if time alone is very pleasurable, get out more often. And if the toast is a bit too brown, eat it anyway.

Finally someone else opens it wide and almost makes it the term for anything bad.

The sins associated with gluttony war against that harmony between man and God and man and man. It is basically a sin in which one lives to please self. It is associated with:

Stubbornness - This is, "I am going to do things my way and that's it - period." This is the enforcer to control situations in order to have one's way to live or do as they please.

Rebellion - Gluttony wars against self-control. Rebellion is going off the set standard and disrupting the harmony between God and man. It is going against the normal use of things that God has given to man.

Disobedience - A refusal to submit to God and His word concerning excess, such as don't be filled with wine, but be filled with the Spirit.

Drunkenness - excess; filling the need for something lacking inside one's self. I remember when I used to play computer games. I would do it 24 hours a day. I was to go to Cleveland clinic once and kept playing even while Mary was warming up the car. Excess does not necessarily mean the consumption of food or drink.

Wastefulness - where there is excess, there is waste.

So there you have it. We believers are learning to submit the body to the spirit by the power of the Spirit of God. Its not unlike improper sexual expression.

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