If you’re over-weight, or struggle with food, don’t be condemned, K.
Radio Rhema is kicking off a series discussing the Seven Deadly Sins; I’m doing Gluttony. Here are some thoughts…
This is a wall carving from Hat-shep-sut’s mortuary temple, ca. 1450 BC about the time of Moses. Many scholars believe Hatshepshut was Moses’ Egyptian mother. She was actually Pharoah (and hugely successful). The Washington monument in DC is a copy of one of two obelisks she erected in Egypt, the tallest obelisks in the world. The carving shows King Parahu and his obese Queen Ati of Punt, a land full of “wonderful things,” luxuries craved by the nobility of Egypt. (The Egyptians were sticklers for showing myopic details in their carvings. In one carving six different breeds of deer are depicted). This image shows Queen Ati’s rolls of fat even hanging off her arms.
The Seven Deadly Sins or the “capital vices” were used in early Christian times to teach the people about the nature of sin and humanity’s tendency to live in sin (wrath, greed, sloth, pride, lust, envy, and gluttony).
It is not that these sins are especially evil, just chosen tools, or categories, to unpack sin theologically. Seven means “whole” or “complete” (so all sins) and things were often grouped into sevens *(Satan’s seven heads -completely evil-seven churches -all churches, etc). It was a theme picked up by artists who often portrayed each of the seven as an artistic meme.
“Gluttony” comes from the Latin ‘gluttire‘ to gulp down. Habitual Greed. The word used in the New Testament was (Greek) gaster(es) as in gastric or gastro-enteritis, etc. to do with the stomach. Her Majesty is currently in hospital with a ‘gasteres’ condition. Philippians 3:18 says “their god is their stomach.”
Gluttony and Obesity are not the same
It’s important to differentiate between modern obesity and what is meant by gluttony (biblically). Fat people are not necessarily gluttons. Gluttons over indulge (“gulp down”) while others are poor. It is associated with selfishness or pride (I’m better than you because I have more). Some aspects of American evangelicalism and Buddha associate this prosperity and largesse as spiritual virtue (Buddha is fat so is prosperous, has lots of good food) so is spiritually bless-ed.
Over-weight people in modern life is associated with WHAT they eat habitually, not whether they over-indulge. You had to overtly overeat in the ancient world to get fat; you only have to have a diet of fatty foods (fast food), dairy etc to become over weight, not necessarily over-eating. One is an attitude, another an imbalanced type of food.
Gluttony can be non-food related
Gluttony is not just over-eating, it is actually over-indulgence, (smoking, drugs, money, power, anything that comes in excess….getting a high from over indulging in endorphin-highs from adrenalin sporting or activity, abandoning a wife and children to go on endless excessive adventures, to meet some craving need in you).
It is “Idolatry” – replacing God with something else as a source of need or contentment when people are made for God.
Gluttony is not actually quoted as a sin per se in Bible, but overeating is (equivalent with drunkenness). Feasting was permissible on special occasions, even Noah got drunk, but habitual overeating was a sin because it was selfish with so many poor around. It became a symbol that you had more than others in lean times (pride).
Tomorrow: what the BIble says about Gluttony.