I just finished reading a CNN editorial about the American Medical Association’s decision to label obesity as a disease. It was an interesting, well researched article but it made me wonder – what is the appropriate Christian response to the issue? Should we even speak of it? Is this a subject Christians should avoid talking about, be prepared to talk about, or make certain we talk about?
I don’t know how to answer those questions – in fact, I have a lot more questions that I didn’t ask. It seems like there are subjects that the Bible addresses, but are now perceived as “inappropriate” to discuss. Here is what I do know for certain: God cares about us. In fact, he cares so much that he gave us his Word, containing his perfect direction. I have studied and taught the Bible for many years and, as I look back, I realize that I can’t remember one time I found a biblical principle to be untrue. So, the AMA can address the issue of obesity as a disease. The Bible, however, is designed to address a person, with God’s response to the disease.
God cares about our earthly lives. I have written a Bible study on the book of Leviticus. I can sum up that book in this way: God wants his people to live clean, healthy, God-centered lifestyles. God wants his people to work hard, eat carefully, live thoughtfully and set a strong example for those that don’t know He is the one true God. The goal of our earthly lives is heaven. We are to live with heaven as our priority, for ourselves and for the sake of those we meet along the way.
Human nature is less than it ought to be, so God gave us his nature when he gave us his Spirit. God’s Spirit gives us the strength to live this life according to God’s high standards. That said, he also gives us grace for the times we choose to be less than he has called us to be. That is true for all of our weaknesses.
How does this apply to the issue of obesity? The same way it applies to the issue of anorexia, alcoholism, greed, adultery, self-centeredness, false piety, untruthfulness, racism, superiority, favoritism – ok…you get the picture. I do think there is a significant problem with weight in our country. So does the rest of the world. We are getting a BAD reputation for being a nation of over-eaters and under-exercisers.
My big concern is our kids. I taught second grade thirty years ago. I was in Washington D.C. visiting the monuments a few weeks ago and noticed a group on a school field trip. Truthfully, I was struck by what I saw. That class looked a LOT different than the classes I used to teach. An overweight child used to be very unusual – but that isn’t true anymore. Is that a big deal? I’m not sure – but I think so.
I don’t think the root of the problem is people. I think the root of the problem is the one who is the root of all sin. Satan wants people, especially Christians, to be unhealthy. Satan wants Christians to be self-conscious, and therefore less likely to speak up in a crowd. Satan wants Christians to be judgmental, thoughtless and unable to hold ourselves and others accountable to sin. It doesn’t matter which side of the weight issue you find yourself on – you can be tempted to sin because of it. Satan tempts us to live in such a way that we don’t feel comfortable talking to other people about their sin, because we are too convicted by our own. Satan wants us to keep our mouths shut.
So, I think it is time we get to the root of the problem. Our weakness isn’t ice-cream, it is our desire for ice-cream. Satan likes for us to be lazy. If he can convince us to stay home, eat popcorn and watch a movie – then we probably won’t be doing him a great deal of harm. Maybe it is time we speak up instead of shut up. If you need to lose weight – God will help you. If you need to gain weight – God will help you. If you need to be kinder – God will help you.
God has high standards for our lives. We are his kids – and he adores us! What do Christians do about the issue of obesity? We should keep our mouths shut. But only when it comes to a second scoop of ice-cream…not when it comes to speaking about our faith. Our “dad” loves us, even in our weakness. That is a message the whole world needs to hear.
Feel free to share your thoughts on this subject. I can use some help on this one!