“Dear Sirs, recently I came across your website. I am a Christian and am always interested in learning more about God's Word and gaining as much information as I can. I read a number of tabs on your website and there was a lot of good information on there. I was however a little concerned when I came articles that were talking against other pastors who I had read some earlier articles from on other sites that I had previously been to whose writings I had found Biblical. I then went to the Church Directory tab on your website and as I clicked through some of churches I noticed that a lot of the Pastors on the sites were extremely obese and looked like they were overtaken with the sin of gluttony. Why is it that you so easy condemn other men and yet you condone fat men of the faith? It is obvious that these men have no control over what they are putting in their mouths. Some looked like they could barely walk. I would suggest that you begin to look at some of these men on your site and their sin before you begin condemning others.
“Gluttony seems to be a sin that Christians like to ignore. We are often quick to label smoking and drinking as sins, but for some reason gluttony is accepted or at least tolerated. This should not be! Proverbs 23:20-21warns us, ‘Be not among winebibbers; among riotous eaters of flesh: For the drunkard and the glutton shall come to poverty: and drowsiness shall clothe a man with rags.’ Proverbs 28:7 declares, ‘Whoso keepeth the law is a wise son: but he that is a companion of riotous men shameth his father.’ Proverbs 23:2 proclaims, ‘And put a knife to thy throat, if thou be a man given to appetite.’
“Physical appetites are an analogy of our ability to control ourselves. If we are unable to control our eating habits, we are probably also unable to control other habits, such as those of the mind (lust, covetousness, anger) and unable to keep our mouths from gossip or strife. We are not to let our appetites control us, but we are to have control over our appetites Deuteronomy 21:20; Proverbs 23:2; 2 Peter 1:5-7; 2 Timothy 3:1-9; and 2 Corinthians 10:5). The ability to say ‘no’ to anything in excess—self-control—is one of the fruits of the Spirit common to all believers (Galatians 5:22).
“God has blessed us by filling the earth with foods that are delicious, nutritious, and pleasurable. We should honor God's creation by enjoying these foods and by eating them in appropriate quantities. God calls us to control our appetites, rather than allowing them to control us.
“Let's look in the mirror before we cast the first stone. Get the pigs out of the mud and clean them up before you throw someone in.”
(In the previous communication, we have replaced the modern Bible version quotations that the individual used with the KJV.)
REPLY FROM D. CLOUD
Thank you for taking the time to share your opinion about our church directory.
Obesity could be an issue whereby a pastor might lose respect, and it can result in unnecessary physical problems, but I believe that this particular issue is a matter between pastors and their doctors and their congregations and God. No one is forced to attend a particular church. It is a free will issue, and my church directory is only a guideline for people to use or not as they see fit.
The passages you quote in regard to gluttony are often misused. They are not talking merely about eating too much. They are referring to the whole package of drinking and partying and living for the flesh. In Scripture the words "glutton" and “gluttonous” appear four times and are always associated with drunkenness (Deut. 21:20; Prov. 23:21; Mat. 11:19; Lk. 7:34). The Pharisees were not charging Jesus merely with being an overeater; they were charging him with being a "man gluttonous, and a winebibber." It was a slander, of course.
As for Proverbs 23:2 -- “And put a knife to thy throat, if thou be a man given to appetite” -- you are abusing that passage, as well, by lifting it from its context. The context is eating with a ruler who has an evil intention. It is not a warning about eating in general; it is a warning about eating food provided by someone who wants something from you in return. It is referring to “deceitful meat” (Prov. 23:3).
I don't intend to have a waistline test for my directory, but if you want to start a church directory along that line, you are welcome to do so. Following are some of the questions you will need to answer before you get it up and running:
1. What about those cases in which the “overweight” is not caused by overeating? There are many physical issues and problems, including age, which result in overweight conditions in people who don't eat a lot. Are you going to require a full medical and lifestyle evaluation for all pastors listed on your directory? At age 63 I am overweight according to the BMI, but I had no issue with excess weight until I was in my 50s. I was skinny until about 40 and then I was a “normal” weight until I was well into my 50s. Since then I eat much less than when I was younger but I still gain weight. I live in a country where there are is only one Western fast food restaurant. I go months at a time without eating such things as cheeseburgers, donuts, cinnamon rolls, potato chips, and ice cream. Months at a time. I'm not a big chocolate eater. I eat two meals a day and don't usually snack much at night. But I still gain weight. Honestly, it is discouraging. Would you suggest that I spend my "golden years" starving myself in order to maintain an “ideal weight”? I know that there can be health issues with excess weight and self control is indeed an important aspect of the spiritual life, and I don't want to slight those things, but part of the problem here is that we live in an age that worships the body beautiful and that puts far more emphasis on the physical than the spiritual and moral.
2. In testing pastors for your church directory, how would you judge fat or overweight or obese? Would you go by the BMI (body mass index) and require every pastor to submit his score? The science behind the BMI is anything but infallible. It wasn't invented by a medical doctor, but by a Belgian mathematician "in the course of developing social physics." Whatever that is, it is ephemeral. There is no scientific consensus on the BMI. Its deep flaws have been documented. Yet in 1998, the Centers for Disease Control lowered the overweight cutoff from BMI 27.8 to BMI 25, a large change that instantly shifted 29 million Americans from the "healthy" to the "overweight" category. The government simply changed the definition of fat. Many studies have indicated that people who are overweight or even of "mild obesity" by the BMI have the same or even better survival rates than those of "normal" BMI. The BMI doesn't take into proper account different body and "racial" types. I live among skinny little people in one of the poorest parts of Asia. Most of the ones I know would be glad to be wealthy enough to afford to eat any type of food they wanted at any time, like most Americans can afford, and would welcome a little "fat"! I was talking with a Nepali man recently who owns a little shop, and I asked him if he is making a lot of money these days, kidding with him a bit. He replied, "If I were making a lot of money I would be fat like you." He wasn't putting me down; he was praising wealth! Back to the BMI thing, are you going to use such "science falsely so called" to judge the qualification of pastors on your church directory? If not BMI, what then? Maybe the pastors could submit a photo to you and you could simply approve them according to your own personal judgment. You criticized me for listing churches that have “obese” pastors. I’m trying to figure out the mechanics of what you would like for me to do.
3. In testing pastors for your church directory, where would you draw the line? If you use the BMI, what percentage would you use? Where would you draw the line for a pastor?
4. Who will do the work of measuring the pastors’ waistlines and height and putting them on the scale before they can be approved for your church directory? You will need a workforce, so you will either need to have a group of volunteers for this who will travel at their own expense or you will need to find the money to hire workers and pay their expenses. I’m not sure that you could depend on a pastor’s own witness about his BMI. Perhaps you could require a doctor’s recommendation.
Anyway, those are your problems and not mine. I will test doctrine and spiritual qualifications and let the Lord judge waistlines at the judgment seat of Christ, if He is so inclined, since I am nowhere commanded in Scripture to judge such things.
The standards for pastors in 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1 say nothing about waistline, and personally, I wouldn’t want to add to God’s standards.
In fact, I know many men of less than ideal BMI who, in my estimation, are much better qualified to be pastors than the whole lot of skinny-jeans, oh-so-cool emerging pastors.
May the Lord Lord richly bless. In Christ, D. Cloud
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