church: where gluttons point fingers at gays

The New York Times recently published an article highlighting a couple studies about human metabolism showing that only the first half of the mantra "eat less, exercise more" contributes to weight loss. It does not mean that exercise is not a good thing, but it's not a weight loss thing. Self-control is the key to weight loss. The Bible even speaks to this in Proverbs 23:2 and put a knife to your throat if you are given to gluttony. (NIV)

It's no secret that America has an obesity problem, and obesity is a symptom of gluttony. In the church's history, gluttony is viewed very severely, check out this definition from the Catholic Encyclopedia. Since America is mostly a church going nation, the American church, unsurprisingly, also has an obesity problem which indicates that it probably has a gluttony problem. Now some may claim that their genetics, and not the sin of gluttony, are the reason for their obesity. That could very well be, but a drastic reduction in calories can overcome most genetics. Some people resort to invasive surgery, and go under the knife which isn't much different than the above Proverb. On the other hand, some people are gluttonous in response to trauma in their lives, and choose this sin among other options. I'm reading a new Vietnam veteran memoir, Autopsy of War, and the author describes his outwardly successful father who was a military chaplain and a church pastor, who suffered from untreated PTSD, which manifested, among other ways, by compulsive snacking and smoking in the evenings, away from the eyes of his parishioners. He had a psychological symptom that he kept "in the closet." I confess to being a closeted glutton when it comes to chocolate chip cookies. I'm in the closet in that my BMI is just on this side of "healthy" but it wouldn't take too many binges of chocolate chip cookies to send me over that edge. Gluttony, like the other seven deadly sins, is complicated. I think this complexity, as well as it's prevalence, has resulted in the American church taking great tact in dealing with it, to the point of ignoring it. Some groups put a focus on healthy bodies, like the Seventh Day Adventists, and some churches focus on a regular practice of fasting for all members, like Eastern Orthodoxy.

All I'm saying is the American church has developed a high tolerance, abundant grace, for those among her who eat, in the words of Aquinas, "too soon, too expensively, too much, too eagerly, too daintily." She allows those guilty of such to pastor her people and live their lives as examples of Christ. Our motives for such grace are abundant, as I've listed above: our own guilt, our knowledge of underlying issues, our denial of the seriousness, our ignorance of the issue. There is another group among us, which certainly overlaps the gluttonous group, who also have appetites which the Bible also calls into restraint, gay Christians. In the same way that I am not endorsing wiping gluttony off the sin list, I am also not not arguing to strike sexual acts from those things God can or cannot judge. But maybe we can treat both sins with the same amount of grace and tolerance. And when we decide to apply Jesus's teaching in Matthew 18 and talk to our brother in sin, and fail in our quest, that we then treat our disagreeing comrades like Jesus treated tax collectors and Gentiles, with grace and tolerance.

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