“I feel like God isn’t a huge fan of gluttony”. That’s what the Tweet said. It was in response to a Tweet from me about being “More than a “before” photo”. It had a photo of me, overlayed with the words “You were made to be more than a “before” photo”, and text about how the size of your body has no consequence on God’s calling on your life.
I wasn’t shocked, really, but taken aback that this stranger on the Internet decided from one Tweet that I was a glutton because my body was larger. I have been thinking about this all morning – the automatic assumptions that fat people have thrown at them about the state of their physical, mental, and spiritual health. This person, who was in a Twitter hashtag search, who doesn’t follow me, decided with one tweet that I was greedy and that I eat in excess.
Gluttony by definition is “habitual greed or excess in eating”, and in Christianity, it includes any type of greed that takes away resources from others. (Ezekial 16:49)
So, my Tweeter thinks that I am living in a large body because I eat so much that I cause it to be withheld from those less fortunate. And that my body size is “disrespectful to God”.
I know I am not the only fat-bodies Christian who has been told I am disrespecting God’s temple by living in a larger body and not trying to buy into diet culture. I know that there are a lot of Christians who think I’m promoting laziness, eating in excess, and who knows what other behaviors. Because the truth is, people are concerned with our outward appearance more than they are the behaviors that go along with it. My weight gain was a direct result of disordered eating that plagued me for nearly all my life. I remember playing youth basketball and being worried that I was the “fat kid” on the team. I was in 5th grade…
So I spent 18 years hating my body, starving my body, and fighting all the natural instincts built in to protect my life. My body finally revolted and I began gaining weight “despite doing all the ‘right’ things”, which is what I told my doctor before she tried to put me on a starvation diet without any bloodwork or testing to affirm that choice. When I finally stopped fighting my body’s natural reaction to starvation, I began to see how shameful it feels to be a bigger-bodied Christian.
A fat Christian. A “gluttonous” Christian who doesn’t “take care of my God-given temple”.
When I starved my body, not only of food but of love and kindness, I was not, I repeat, NOT taking care of God’s temple. I cried before church because I was worried I’d look fat. I’d drink coffee until I wasn’t hungry for breakfast. I went for runs on sprained ankles. I ate once a day, after working 8 hours in a physically demanding job, and then fit in a run before bed. I spent more time counting calories and reading weight loss tips, than I did talking to God, reading the Bible, and making my heart more Christ-like. Nothing about that glorified the life and body God has blessed me with.
To be honest, 1 Corinthians 6:19 refers to sexual sins, but it is often quoted as a stand-alone statement about how we should treat our bodies. Which is fine, if you couple it with Romans 6:13 and Romans 12:1, which both speak of giving the authority of your body over to God. Did you catch that? Over. To. God. Not giving it over to current social norms. Not giving control of yourself over to a weight loss program that controls when, how, and what you eat, and how much you exercise. Nope. Giving it to God, the one who rescues and saves our souls.
Do not let sin control the way you live; do not give in to sinful desires. Do not let any part of your body become an instrument of evil to serve sin. Instead, give yourselves completely to God, for you were dead, but now you have new life. So use your whole body as an instrument to do what is right for the glory of God. – Romans 6:12-13
You might be thinking “But Heidi, isn’t being fat and lazy and eating all the time sinful?” and to that, I would counter with “Do you think that every fat-bodied person is lazy? Do you think every person who gains weight sits around eating all day? Have you considered that smaller-bodied people engage in those behaviors as well?” I know many smaller-bodied people who engage in gluttonous, prideful, sinful behaviors who do not have a slew of people tell them they should be ashamed for treating their temple of God poorly.
Don’t you realize that you become a slave to whatever you choose to obey? – Romans 6:16
When I was worried about weight loss, all I cared about was the size of my body. The state of my heart and soul were of no consequence to me. I was in an extra-marital relationship, I was having sex before marriage, I was prideful of my new “attractive” body and the attention it garnered, I was lazy in my faith, I was greedy with my money. But no one told me I was trashing my personal temple of God when I was starving my mind, body, and soul, because I was living with a smaller body. And now that I am aligning with Jesus’ plan, and not focusing entirely on my weight, all while enjoying vegetable, fruits, and joyful movement, suddenly I am being told I am gluttonous, lazy, and disrespecting my God.
If you like Proverbs 31, I implore you to think “Would she have time to pursue a weight loss program?!”. If we believe that being a “Proverbs 31 woman” is so valuable to Christian feminity, then why don’t we begin to focus on this portion of A Wife Of Nobel Character
Charm is deceptive, and beauty does not last, but a woman who fears the Lord will be greatly praised – Proverbs 31:30
I want to be a woman who helps the poor and needy, who silences the voices of shame in the name of Jesus, and who recognizes that at the end of the day, my body is flesh and bone that will turn to ash and dust, but my soul is eternally saved by the One who made me and my fat body.