Gluttony — St. Peter's Fireside Church Vancouver

by Kate Dobson
January 12, 2016
4 min read

As I write this, I’m just boarding a plane from South Africa, my home country, where I was for the Christmas break. As usual, it has been an extremely indulgent Christmas, mostly revolving around the meal that we ate together. In fact, even in my Christmas messages to friends I wished them a happy time sharing a meal together.

So as you’ve probably guessed, food is very much a centre point in my life, and one of the seven deadly sins: gluttony is the ugly monster that sits beside me as I taste, savour and devour every meal, wanting more than I need often far past the point when I’m actually full. Of course I know there is nothing wrong with enjoying the taste of food and savoring it. God has given us thousands of wonderful taste buds to do exactly that. Food can certainly be a language of love between people, especially when a meal is shared together in fellowship. God loves it when we break bread together. However, I think it’s the misplaced appetite that leads to the excessive eating and drinking(?) that is the sin of gluttony.

I am lucky enough to have never known true hunger in my life. Eating for me is not so much about fueling a human need but more so about tasting all the different things on offer. A ‘buffet’ is my absolute ideal where I can taste a little bit of everything without much thought on how hungry I actually am. The problem is when I fail to recognize the contentment and satisfaction signals, advising me that I’ve have had enough. Sometimes, I do feel them, but I choose to continue to eat, because I’m trying to fill a need that isn’t physical. Why do we do this? Why do we indulge? Why do we always want more, bigger and supersized?

For me, a lot of my gluttony comes down to emotional eating, I use it to fill a hole I feel in my self worth. If I’ve had a bad day, a difficult client, a tricky meeting, I miss a friend or feel homesick, then food (usually savoury snacks) is often the interloper that masks itself as comfort. Food for the soul, you might think. But I also know that this behavior is in fact reflecting how I feel, and I’m just using those snacks as a temporary fix, which often spirals into a vicious cycle that ultimately leads to me feeling more unhappy as I judge my body image.

Gluttony is having a craving for food that conquers you.

There are certainly weak moments when I have over indulged in food, recognized in myself the gluttony, the ugliness of sin, and felt out of control. I also see a betrayal of God my father because when I am gluttonous I know that I am dishonouring my body given to me and made in his image.

Gluttony is having a craving for food that conquers you.

So how can we avoid this type of sin? As you can tell, it is certainly one I struggle with and so this one needed reflection in God’s word. God is our Lord who can change our hearts and make us stronger to resist sinful temptations. He is the one who can guard our hearts and minds and he is our rock and our salvation in whom we can place our hope.

I believe that God is the only one that can fill that feeling of emptiness, not food. It seems like the best place to start is to ask for help from God. God wants us to have self control; in fact it’s a trait identified as one of the fruits of the spirit we can receive from God in Galatians 5:22-23: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.”

So I’ve learnt that one way we could avoid gluttonous behaviour is to pray about it, to ask for the fruit of self control and fill our thoughts with scripture rather than of cake! We can also ask God for insight so that we can recognize when our appetite is physically satisfied. God loves us and our bodies unconditionally and so we should try to see ourselves as God does.

about the author
Kate grew up in South Africa and trained as a Human Factors and Ergonomics specialist in the Rail and Transit industry in the UK. She does not personally know Thomas the Tank Engine. Kate is currently serving on the St. Peter's Board of Trustees as our People's Warden. Some of her personal passions are playing field hockey, snowboarding at Whistler and hiking and biking in the beautiful Canadian wilderness.

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