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Blog // Thoughts
June 7, 2006

A Weighty Issue For The Church

Read this. Now read this. Do you see an issue here that the church should be addressing? Because I do. In fact, I’m quite worried both that the church is not addressing this issue and that it might be hard for he church (maybe harder for some sections than others) to face up to it. […]

Read this.

Now read this.

Do you see an issue here that the church should be addressing? Because I do. In fact, I’m quite worried both that the church is not addressing this issue and that it might be hard for he church (maybe harder for some sections than others) to face up to it.

What I am talking about is the problem of obesity (which is far from just a western, or developed nation problem). Childhood obesity is an alarming problem. The cost to healthcare of obesity related diseases is going to change the face of public policy and healthcare. The culture of weight control is only going to harden.

Make no mistake, weight-control is the new smoking control.

Forget faddish diets; the pharmacolisation of weightcontrol (through new drugs) is going to radically alter the issue. Moreover, the medical profession, backed up by politicians (and to a certain degree investors and the legal professions) will change the whole way societies think about obesity.

Alarmingly the church could well end up looking very hypocritical on this point! Why? Because the church so often makes black and white pronouncements on moral issues because “the Bible says so,” but in practice is quite soft on the issue of weight and obesity. Forgive me if I offend, but childhood obesity is (in most cases) a parental failure and the Bible has a lot to say about good parenting. Obesity is not always the result of gluttony (an important point), but let’s be honest, it frequently is. The Bible is nothing but harsh on gluttony and there is a rich vein of theological reflection on it, yet the church today is cautious on the topic (or just ignores it). Also, it is important for the church to have a pastoral discourse for those struggling with their weight, or feeling alienated because of it (a problem that will only grow).

A few weeks back I tried to start a discussion on this topic on a Christian forum and whilst there may have been some fault in my presentation of the issue there was no question that some respondents were very sensitive about the topic. My point is not in anyway to ridicule or harass anyone struggling with their weight. I’ve been there and struggled with the problem myself. Rather I’m concerned to point to a healthy direction and I want to encourage and enable the church to have a voice on this issue, given the central role it will play in cultural debates in the next decade.

In my view we need to resurrect our theology of gluttony and develop a theology (and ethic) of obesity. For thinkers interested in theology and culture this is one of the hottest topics going around. It may well be the issue that defines a generation.

[tags] Gluttony, Obesity [/tags]

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Responses
Pete Lev 16 years ago

I agree- funny how sexual stuff and other sins are condemned by the church and given high profile, but greed (in all its forms, both food and consumerism) is ignored.
I know some youthworkers trying to look at this in different pratical ways, but not much from the wider (!) church.
Philippians 3:18-19 is a verse we should take seriously – “thier god is their stomach”.
Now must be time to go to McDonalds…

paul merrill 16 years ago

it’s an easy issue for me; i’m skinny. so are my wife & 3 kids. luck of the genetic dice, as it were. (i know, there’s no “luck”.)

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