I think that in today’s culture, we tend to shy away from discussing gluttony. We talk about things like anger and laziness, but we almost never address gluttony. In the chronic illness community, especially those who have GI issues, I think that gluttony is something we have all been forced to battle and win. But, what is gluttony? Some might say that it is simply ‘overeating’. I would argue that gluttony goes far beyond the act of overeating, and that it is about the intentions behind it. Gluttony is the decision to take too much pleasure out of eating food. It can be the sin of a picky eater, or the sin of someone who chooses to overindulge. And, I have learned more about this from my battle with gastroparesis.
I have always been a picky eater. For the longest time, I thought nothing of it. Above all foods, I enjoyed cheese. I am only three months dairy-free, and the cravings have not stopped. I keep picturing this perfect grilled cheese, and I love it. But when my nausea started, I lost all interest for food. I remember, when I was dealing with the nausea, I had lost 10 lbs, and one of the doctors had asked me, “Did you intentionally lose this weight?”
At the time, I knew they were trying to rule out an eating disorder. My answer? “I only have a few months left to eat at some of these restaurants near home before I leave for college. I just want to enjoy this food again.” It seems like a simple request, but there is more to this than it might seem. Did you know that eating releases endorphins into the brain? Endorphins is a hormone that the brain secretes, and it is what causes a feeling of euphoria or happiness.
I was less consumed with the fact that I had lost weight, and more absorbed with the pleasure I wanted to get from food. I wanted food, but I wanted to feel good when I ate it. It wasn’t about nourishment for me; it was about pleasure. That is where gastroparesis saved me. I had to learn that food wasn’t going to make me feel good. Food was going to make me sick. And, even though I hated it, I would have to give up the things I loved to stay healthy.
“Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” – Matthew 19:26
This is one of my the saddest Biblical passages I can think of. In this story, a rich man comes to Jesus and asks how he can get into Heaven. Jesus tells him to keep the commandments, and the man actually claims to have done this. Then Jesus tells him to sell his possessions and follow Him. The man goes away sad, because he is wealthy. The story isn’t to show the dangers of wealth, or even that it is possible to not sin, but to show the shortcomings of humanity. No human being can keep all the commandments, and all human beings fall short.
You might be wondering what this has to do with gluttony, as this passage is about idolatry and love of money. But that’s all gluttony really is; it is, at it’s root, idolatry. We take too much pleasure from food, and put taste above our own nourishment. We put food above God. In a way, my nausea has reminded me that God has created me for something better than the insignificant taste or feeling from one single meal. It has reminded me to be healthy.
One of the verses states that it is harder for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God than it is for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle. Today, we look at this as an impossible feat. But, the eye of the needle isn’t a literal eye of a needle in this passage. It’s a narrow gate in Jerusalem. To go through it, the bags a camel was carrying were removed, and the camel would have to crawl through on it’s knees. The interpretation is that we have to unload our baggage – our sin – in order to get to Heaven.
Faith is the only thing we keep when we die. Gluttony, wealth, sexuality, disabilities, or whatever it is, will not follow us into Heaven. Our faith is all that will matter. We are called to lay down our baggage and come to God on our knees.
You Say by Lauren Daigle
“I keep fighting voices in my mind that say I’m not enough
Every single lie that tells me I will never measure up
Am I more than just the sum of every high and every low?
Remind me once again just who I am, because I need to know”