Gluttony Is A Sin, So Why Do We Love It?

Be not among drunkards
    or among gluttony, as eaters of meat,
for the drunkard and the glutton will come to poverty,
    and slumber will clothe them with rags.

Proverbs 23:20-21

For many, of whom I have often told you and now tell you even with tears, walk as enemies of the cross of Christ.  Their end is destruction, their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things.

Philippians 3:19-20

Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.

1 Corinthians 6:19-20

I feel it is a fair critique of churches like mine that we harp on certain sins in sermons, like drunkenness, and completely ignore similar sins, like gluttony1. These two in particular are even associated together frequently in the Bible.

I have begun to wonder why recently. Maybe it’s because we see an unbiblical divide between the physical and the spiritual. Like perhaps we view things like eating healthy and exercising as more “secular” pursuits, even though are not, necessarily. Maybe it’s because the Bible calls all foods clean now, and dieting culture can be too restrictive and even harmful. Maybe it’s because the words “glutton” and “gluttony” aren’t widespread in some Bible translations.

Or maybe it’s just that we are so commonly guilty of gluttony, we would just rather ignore it. Christians are called out of darkness and into Christ’s glorious light. We are called to be holy. Different, distinct, set apart. Yet in this area, we often look just like most Americans. We satisfy every desire we have and rarely if ever deprive ourselves. This is true of things like entertainment, social media, and sexual lust. But also of food.

As I have aged I have begun to care about living longer because I was 40 when we started having kids. Yet while that may be a noble pursuit, I have begun to learn there are deeper biblical reasons for avoiding gluttony. And even for eating right and exercising. As I have learned more, I felt great shame in how often in my life I have succumbed to biblical sins like gluttony, laziness, and selfishness. Even when I was skinny, I was still quite often guilty. Yet now, I don’t care as much about weight or body type as much as just being healthy physically–and there is a difference.

Here are a few biblical truths that led me to this:

Gluttony Is Sin Because Our Bodies Are God’s Temple And We Should Take Care Of Them

Imagine God put you in charge of taking care of the Old Testament Temple–where the Ark of the Covenant (the Glory of God) and the Holy of Holies (place of Atonement) resided. If you had any sense of how important that place was for worship and forgiveness of sin, you’d take that responsibility seriously. Based on how the New Testament teaches our bodies are now the temple of God (the Holy Spirit), I think it is fair to deduce the same.

Paul in 1 Corinthians 6 draws that conclusion overtly about sexual immorality but I think the same can be inferred about gluttony, laziness (not being active if you are able to be), and anything else that neglects the care of your body.

David Lytle has written multiple times for Rambling Ever On on how important our bodies are and has convinced me of this in particular. Our bodies not only are members of Christ himself but they will be resurrected just as our souls will be! They are eternal.

God obviously cares deeply about them. So should we. Let us care for them even now as if they were God’s house.

Because they are.

Gluttony Is A Sin Because Discipline and Self-Control Are Crucial to Christian Discipleship

This is plainly communicated in Scriptures like the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5 and Paul talking about disciplining his body in 1 Corinthians 9. But it is also a part of what it means to be a “disciple” in general. “Disciple” in any language means student or follower. But that is not possible without practicing self-discipline.

If we cannot deny ourselves regularly, at least to moderation–be it entertainment, social media, food, whatever–we live like the world instead of living holy.

Biblical Fasting Is the Opposite of Gluttony

Sometimes in Christianity, moderation is even too much. At times, we do without things like food completely. Hence, fasting. And there is a strong connection in the Bible between how much our appetites rule us and how little we care about the things of God. Paul was adamant in 1 Corinthians 6 that nothing should master us apart from God himself. And in Philippians, he even claimed some people’s stomach was their god.

But perhaps nowhere is this seen more clearly than the contrast between Ezekiel 16:49-50 and Isaiah 58:1-7. Written at similar times in Old Testament history, the former passage says God’s people were worse than Sodom and Gomorrah in that they were “overfed, arrogant, and unconcerned”. And didn’t care at all for the poor and needy. The latter instructs God’s people to fast so they would care about justice for the poor. The type of fast He desired.

The correlation is clear and meaningful. If we constantly feel the need to satisfy every appetite we have, we will be less inclined to know our need for God. And our hearts will not reflect his heart. The only way, sometimes at least, to know God’s heart is to deny our stomachs completely. Gluttony or not.

Gluttony is mentioned often in Scripture without using the word for it. There is no doubt in my mind we eat to the glory of God, and that at times includes moderation and fasting.

As we raise our 4-year-old son with no manual and only general principles from the Bible, we have focused a lot with Liam on one of the words I used above: moderation. We don’t deprive him of sugar or pizza or chicken nuggets. But we tell him too much of those things, and also things like TV, will keep him from being healthy. And that we need vegetables, fruits, water, playing outside, running, reading, and resting to be healthy. When the time is right when he’s older, we will teach him about fasting. And even as I read Ecclesiastes 3 and Esther and other Scripture, that it is biblical at times to feast instead of fast2.

But more than anything we want to model these things for him. We will not perfectly, of course. But it is imperative that we study and live out the Bible with him and before him.

And he should learn we treat gluttony just like any other sin.

  1. Another example is homosexuality vs. greed. Both are Paul’s vice lists in his letters and I would venture to say he talks about greed more. I wonder if American Christians ever consider themselves greedy and I often ask things like “Do you spend more money on streaming services than helping missionaries to unreached people groups?” Those kinds of questions can help determine if we are.
  2. A big thank you in my life to David Potete first, and Phill Lytle second, for teaching me that this is biblical as well.
Gowdy Cannon

Gowdy Cannon

I am currently the pastor of Bear Point FWB Church in Sesser, IL. I previously served for 17 years as the associate bilingual pastor at Northwest Community Church in Chicago. My wife, Kayla, and I have been married over 8 years and have a 4-year-old son, Liam Erasmus, and a baby, Bo Tyndale. I have been a student at Welch College in Nashville and at Moody Theological Seminary in Chicago. I love The USC (the real one in SC, not the other one in CA), Seinfeld, John 3:30, Chick-fil-A, Dumb and Dumber, the book of Job, preaching and teaching, and arguing about sports.

3 thoughts on “Gluttony Is A Sin, So Why Do We Love It?

  • June 26, 2023 at 1:43 pm

    Thank you, Gowdy. A much needed emphasis, and I’m glad you addressed it. The Christian virtues and disciplines are so needed in our world today. Greetings to your family.

  • June 26, 2023 at 3:27 pm

    Thanks for this article, Gowdy.

  • July 10, 2023 at 9:04 pm

    Excellent point. Too often we focus on specific sins, like homosexuality, but forget that we need to repent of gluttony, greed, etc. I think most Americans are guilty of spending more of their income on entertainment, unnecessarily expensive cars, etc. than they give to charity, their church, missionaries. Living above our means is a form of gluttony, too. As the saying goes, “Live simply so that others may simply live.”


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