Gluttony

Gluttony is defined simply as "excessive eating and drinking."1

"Eating, of course, is crucial in biblical narratives. Our first parents plunged the human race into sin by violating a prohibition against eating. The Hebrews were given a sense of identity in a meal that signifies the defining moment in their history. The second Adam was victorious over a temptation involving bread. Christians celebrate their life together in Christ around a family meal initiated by Jesus — one that anticipates an eschatological banquet marking the consummation of history."[2]

Church leaders from the Middle Ages (e.g. St. Gregory the Great and St. Thomas Aquinas) took a more expansive view of gluttony, arguing that it also consists in an anticipation of meals, the eating of delicacies, and costly foods, seeking after sauces and seasonings, and eating too eagerly.[3]

Pope Gregory I, a doctor of the Church, described five ways by which one can commit sin of gluttony, and corresponding biblical examples for each of them:[4]

1. Eating before the time of meals in order to satisfy the palate.

Biblical example: Jonathan eating a little honey, when his father Saul commanded no food to be taken before the evening.[1Sa 14:29]

2. Seeking delicacies and better quality of food to gratify the "vile sense of taste."

Biblical example: When Israelites escaping from Egypt complained, "Who shall give us flesh to eat ? We remember the fish which we did eat in Egypt freely ; the cucumbers and the melons, and the leeks and the onions and the garlic," God rained fowls for them to eat but punished them 500 years later.[Num 11:4]

3. Seeking after sauces and seasonings for the enjoyment of the palate.

Biblical example: Two sons of Eli the high priest made the sacrificial meat to be cooked in one manner rather than another. They were met with death.[1Sa 4:11]

4. Exceeding the necessary amount of food.

Biblical example: One of the sins of Sodom was "fullness of bread."[Eze 16:49]

5. Taking food with too much eagerness, even when eating the proper amount, and even if the food is not luxurious.

Biblical example: Esau selling his birthright for ordinary food of bread and pottage of lentils. His punishment was that the "profane person . . . who, for a morsel of meat sold his birthright," we learn that " he found no place for repentance, though he sought it carefully, with tears." [Gen 25:30]

The fifth way is worse than all others, said St. Gregory, because it shows attachment to pleasure most clearly. To recapitulate, St Gregory the Great said that one may succumb to the sin of gluttony by: 1. Time (when); 2. Quality; 3. Stimulants; 4. Quantity; 5. Eagerness

In his Summa Theologica (Part 2-2, Question 148, Article 4), St. Thomas Aquinas reiterated the list of five ways to commit gluttony:

* Laute - eating food that is too luxurious, exotic, or costly
* Studiose - eating food that is excessive in quality (too daintily or elaborately prepared)
* Nimis - eating food that is excessive in quantity (too much)
* Praepropere - eating hastily (too soon or at an inappropriate time)
* Ardenter - eating greedily (too eagerly)

- From Wikipedia "Gluttony"

Anyone who knows me knows that I like to eat, and eat a lot. One of my favorite meals is to go to a "Churrascaria" or in other words, a steak house (typically Brazilian or Argentinian) that serves all-you-can-eat grilled food. Is it gluttony to go to an all-you-can-eat place? Not at all, it depends on what you do with it. The same is with any excess. Is it gluttony to enjoy your food and to eat a larger portion that others? Not at all, everyone eats different amounts and some people enjoy food more than others. I truly savor the food that I eat (if it tastes good) and there is nothing wrong with that. I think it's ridiculous that some church leaders believe "anticipation of meals, the eating of delicacies, and costly foods, seeking after sauces and seasonings, and eating too eagerly" is sinful. I believe God blessed us with food for our pleasure and enjoyment, to be eaten with sincere thankfulness, recognizing that it is a blessing of God that we may enjoy on this earth. It is also a wonderful tool of ministry. I even started a ministry called A.H.E.A.D. (Applica Husbands Eating And Drinking) for the husbands of wives that worked at Applica and we would spend hours at a Churrascaria. The Bible doesn't clearly define gluttony but it appears to enter in when it is excessively unhealthy (e.g. excessively consumed by someone who is overweight) or in excessive amounts which are unhealthy. I believe eating should be done with joy and thanksgiving. That is clearly how Jesus and the disciples ate food. Click here to read more about food.



FOOTNOTES:

1. Gluttony. Dictionary.com. Dictionary.com Unabridged. Random House, Inc. http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/gluttony (accessed: April 11, 2010).
2. Christianity Today, Rx for Gluttony, By Dennis Okholm | posted 8/28/00 http://www.ctlibrary.com/ct/2000/september4/3.62.html
3. Shipley, Orby. A Theory About Sin, London (1875) pg. 268-278
4. Ibid


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