Is It Gluttony?
OUR Creator, Jehovah God, wants us to enjoy food and drink. The inspired writer of the Bible book of Ecclesiastes observed: “With a man there is nothing better than that he should eat and indeed drink and cause his soul to see good because of his hard work. This . . . is from the hand of the true God.”—Eccl. 2:24.
Since food and drink are really God’s gifts to man, they should be used in harmony with his will. Just as Jehovah God does not want anyone to lose his dignity through excessive drinking, he does not want anyone to overindulge in food and thereby harm himself. Were it not for the natural cycles that Jehovah God had put in operation for sustaining life, we would have no food. Hence, we show proper appreciation for this by eating in moderation. On the other hand, the person who greedily gives way to grossly excessive indulgence in food whenever he has the opportunity is an unappreciative glutton.
The Mosaic law illustrates just how serious this is. In the case of a rebellious son who overindulged in food and drink, the law prescribed the death penalty. (Deut. 21:19-21) In the Christian Greek Scriptures too, gluttony is clearly shown to be something to avoid. While a Cretan poet had mentioned the commonness of gluttony among his people, the apostle Paul advised Titus that men appointed to be Christian overseers should not be lacking in self-control.—Titus 1:7, 8, 12.
There are factors that make gluttony or overeating a serious offense. In the case of one who gluttonously overeats, his desire for food has gotten out of control. He greedily consumes it without consideration for the fact that he has no right to misuse God’s gifts. Hence, by disobediently overindulging in food and making a glutton of himself, he fails to show love for Jehovah God. Why so? Because, as the Bible says: “This is what the love of God means, that we observe his commandments.”—1 John 5:3.
Then, too, overeating is conducive to mental and physical laziness. Particularly the person who becomes fat through overeating tends to lie around a lot and engages in little physical exertion. The Bible proverb well sums up what is often the result: “A glutton will come to poverty, and drowsiness will clothe one with mere rags.”—Prov. 23:21.
Overeating can also lead to physical harm. Regarding overweight or obesity, the Illustrated Medical and Health Encyclopedia notes:
“[It] has long been recognized as a contributory factor in many diseases, especially among the aged and aging. Fat people have been generally found to be more susceptible to heart disturbances, certain types of cancer, and diseases of the pancreas, gallbladder and kidneys. Accretion of fat around the liver, heart, or other internal organs may interfere directly with their proper function. The mortality rate in surgery is higher and in general the life span is shorter. Obese persons are prone to diabetes.”
But one should not conclude that all overweight persons are gluttons. There may be glandular malfunctions and hereditary factors that are responsible for overweight, although self-control in eating may be displayed regularly. Even what a person eats can make a difference. Notes the publication Overfed but Undernourished:
“It is an unfortunate fact that the best foods for the person who must watch his weight are the most expensive ones, while the least expensive foods are usually high in calories and low in protein, vitamins and minerals. There are a great many people . . . who just cannot afford a diet of meats, vegetables and fruits on which they might maintain a high level of health and also a normal weight. So they make the inexpensive and starchy foods their chief source of the necessary calories and not only become overweight, but also eventually develop conditions brought on by the dietary deficiencies.”
It may also be that certain habits cause a defect in the body mechanism that determines whether enough food has been taken into the system. At times people who stop smoking find that they start putting on excessive weight. Presenting one explanation for this, Dr. Roger J. Williams, in his book Nutrition Against Disease, states: “It is possible that continued smoking over the years has mildly poisoned the whole balanced mechanism. Gold thioglucose selectively poisons the braking mechanism when it is administered to animals, and when it is withdrawn, the braking mechanism is impaired.”
His recommendation for those who stop smoking is for them “to watch carefully the quality of the food that they eat over long periods of time and to avoid empty or naked calories [such as sugar] as much as possible.” Concluding on a positive note, Dr. Williams writes: “It is probable that eating good food, over a period of time, can repair the damaged mechanism.”
Thus it becomes clear that whether a person is gluttonous or not cannot be determined simply by his outward appearance. A number of factors may cause weight problems. Also, there are people who seem to enjoy much better health when they weigh a little more than what might be usual for others of similar body build. And it can be remembered that what is viewed as ideal as to one’s weight or shape varies considerably from place to place. Among some peoples, being quite slender is thought attractive and sound healthwise, whereas other nationalities and peoples view being plump as a mark of beauty or good health.—Compare Psalm 92:14.
Actually, whether a person is thin or fat, his attitude toward food has much to do with whether he is being gluttonous. Is food the big thing in his life? If in the presence of others, does he selfishly ignore their needs and take far more than his share? Is he grossly overweight but exercises no restraint at all as to food, habitually gorging himself? Does he feel uncomfortable, perhaps even getting sick, because of having eaten too much? If this is the case as a matter of course, the individual has a definite problem. He needs to learn self-control.
In areas of this nature, the Christian does well to examine his inclinations. He is under divine command to do all things, including eating, for God’s glory. (1 Cor. 10:31) Manifestly the person who gorges himself whenever given the opportunity is not bringing glory to God. He impairs his mental and physical powers. Owing to his lack of self-control, others come to look upon him with disdain, and he brings reproach upon Jehovah God. That is why one who persists in making a glutton of himself has no place in the congregation of God’s people. Greediness, with which gluttony is definitely associated, is one of the works of the fallen flesh. Concerning those engaging in such works the inspired apostle Paul wrote to the Galatians: “Those who practice such things will not inherit God’s kingdom.”—Gal. 5:21.
So the Christian has good reason to work hard in being a good example in moderation. His relationship to God is involved.