Summary: There are two variations of gluttony: there is the ordinary sin of gluttony which the Catholics call a venial sin meaning it’s forgivable and not going to derail our walk with God. Yet we still need to confess, repent and then move in the opposite directi
Chef Chris Cosentino, Food Network star and executive chef at Incanto restaurant in San Francisco, has created the Gluttony Pants for those of us who occasionally indulge and engorge without the post-meal awkwardness. The pants have three buttons, allowing you to expand the pants’ waist. The buttons are labeled “Piglet,” “Sow” and “Boar”. Gluttony seems to be a sin that we like to ignore or at least accommodate. Christians are often quick to label smoking and drinking as sins, but for some reason gluttony is accepted or at least tolerated. Yet Proverbs 23:21-22 warn us, “Do not join those who drink too much wine or gorge themselves on meat, for drunkards and gluttons become poor, and drowsiness clothes them in rags.” Do you struggle with gluttony? During this Lent, a time of reflection and repentance, we are focusing on The 7 Deadly Sins because we all struggle with these sins in our thoughts and actions. There are moments in our lives when we wrestle with them and other times when they overcome us. Today, just before Mardi Gras, a day founded to eat and drink in excess just before the season of fasting, Lent, we’re looking at gluttony.
There are two variations of gluttony: there is the ordinary sin of gluttony which the Catholics call a venial sin meaning it’s forgivable and not going to derail our walk with God. Yet we still need to confess, repent and then move in the opposite direction in our lives. Then there is the mortal or deadly sin of gluttony which becomes the obsession and consuming passion of your life so that it separates you from God and relationship with other people. That’s what we want to talk about today as we discuss gluttony.
Most of us deal with the venial sin of gluttony and we as a nation are paying the price. Obesity and being overweight have reached epidemic proportions. Since 1990, the prevalence of obesity has increased by 135% and it doesn’t seem to be stopping anytime soon. 65% of us are overweight today and Johns Hopkins University says that number will rise to 75% by 2015. Louisiana is ranked 5th highest in the country in obesity. 65% of Louisiana adults are overweight or obese and 48% of our children are overweight or obese.
But let’s be clear: gluttony and obesity are not necessarily the same thing. If you are a glutton, there is a likelihood that you will be obese over time. When we take in more calories than we burn, we store it somewhere in the body, unless you’re fortunate to have a metabolism that burns all of those calories. You know those people and hate them like I do. But for most of us, that’s just now how it works. However, obesity is not the same thing as gluttony. Obesity can be caused by a lack of an active lifestyle like spending too much time in front of the TV or computer. It’s also caused by longer work hours and commute times, oversized food portions, a lack of access to healthy foods, your family genes, hormone problems like an underactive thyroid, certain medicines and even a lack of sleep.
So what is gluttony? It comes from the Latin word gluteo which means to gulp down which says to us that they didn’t even stop to taste, enjoy or experience their food. They just crammed it into their mouth as fast as they could and then swallowed it. So that begins to paint a picture for us of what gluttony is. Gluttony is consuming more than you need and more than it takes to satisfy you. Gluttony is consuming to the point that it hurts you. This is gluttony. It’s not just what we eat but also is what we drink. But it’s also not just what you consume in excess, it’s also what you think about in excess. We can be guilty of that in New Orleans. We are the only city that I know of where we can go out to eat and the topic of conversation will be about food and other restaurants to eat at. Gluttony is when you can’t stop thinking or talking about your next drink or next meal.
The problem of gluttony. First, our culture has created an unrealistic body image in our mind that for example, women should be skinny, sometimes even excessively so. The problem is that we value something which is unrealistic and so we find ourselves caught in a body image that we will never meet. It hasn’t always been this way. In the Renaissance period, the ideal woman was not ultra thin. Michaelangelo’s painting in the Sistine Chapel shows Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden and Michaelangelo was trying to capture the ideal woman. Take a look. Now tell me does Eve look like a size 2 here? She looks closer to a size 12 or 14 but she is the ideal woman for the Renaissance period. If a size 2 had shown up at Michaelangelo’s door, he would have thought she was starving to death and certainly would not have found her attractive. So we have to be very careful about getting caught up in unrealistic images of what your body should look like when it comes to size, shape and weight. Even be careful about what your doctor says about your ideal body weight because those are taken from actuarial tables from Met Life Insurance company in the 1950’s. In fact, when I put in my height and weight, it said I was overweight. So we have to be clear: that’s not what we’re talking about when we speak of the sin of gluttony.