That question was asked by a church member as I recently preached on gluttony. Why might we ask? Christian culture approves of giggling about gluttony in ways that it would never bless laughing at lust. We probably laugh more comfortably about gluttony because the right use of food and drink is a very public matter where the right use of sex is a very private matter.
But the fact that we giggle about gluttony might reveal it as a most pernicious sin. The English word comes from the Latin and means “to gulp.” Gluttony idolizes food to feed our own self-love. The holidays being upon us, it’s a good time to ask the question. Is gluttony really that serious? Consider the following:
- Gluttony plunged the whole human race into a state of sin and misery with the first transgression (Genesis 3:6).
- Gluttony, or “excess of food,” helped earned a curse of utter destruction upon Sodom, the standard example of God’s wrath and judgment (Ezekiel 16:49).
- In Moses’ day, When Israel craved meat in the wilderness, the Lord sent quail. “While the meat was yet between their teeth, before it was consumed, the anger of the LORD was kindled against the people, and the LORD struck down the people with a very great plague.” Strikingly, the name of the place was called “Kibroth-hattaavah,” which means “Graves of Craving” (Number 11:18-34; Psalm 78:26-31).
- Drunkards (liquid-based gluttons) will not inherit the kingdom of God (1 Corinthians 6:10).
Even a quick glance at Scripture shows us that gluttony is a big deal. It is no laughing matter; it earns eternal judgment. But there are also more immediate consequences:
- Gluttony is often connected with idolatry (Philippians 3:19; 1 Corinthians 10:7), and leads to deadness of heart (Psalm 115:4-8, 119:70).
- Gluttony and hopelessness go hand in hand (1 Corinthians 15:32).
- Devotion to food for Christians gives birth to legalism and judgmental-ism in Christians (Romans 14:13-17).
- Gluttony induces laziness (Titus 1:12) that brings forth poverty (Proverbs 23:21).
- Gluttony is a visible expression of rebellion against God and man that destroys life (Deuteronomy 21:20).
How can we identify gluttony in our lives?
Gregory the Great and Thomas Aquinas laid out five everyday expressions of gluttony (Summa Theologica Part 2-2, Question 148:4):