There is a common misconception in the Christian church that God doesn't care what we do with our bodies. I think Scripture teaches us something different.
Take a look at these verses:
1 Corinthians 6:19-20 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 10:31 So whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.
Matthew 9:35 Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness.
It is obvious to me that we are to treat our bodies as holy, or set apart, because of the Holy Spirit that dwells in them. If that is true, are we honoring our bodies when we make them sick with food?
It is also obvious to me that we are called to glorify God with our bodies and our actions. If we are intentionally putting foods into our bodies that are damaging our health, making us weak and dependent on medications, or even ending our life early, then I question if we are truly showing the world that we care about God's kingdom first.
I know this may sound harsh! Especially after God told Noah, "Everything that lives and moves about will be food for you. Just as I gave you the green plants, I now give you everything," (Genesis 9:3) and Peter "Get up..Kill and Eat" (Acts 10:9-16). However, if we look at Genesis, God designed our bodies for something different. "Then God said, 'I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food'," (Genesis 1:29).
So while God has made it permissible to eat anything on the face of the planet, I wonder if it is truly best for our bodies. Is there a way to have the freedom to eat everything and yet not eat it all?
At the same time here, I am not advocating that we make health an idol either. There are so many scriptures encouraging us to flee from idolatry, whether it be a carved image or a sin pattern that has taken over our lives.
In Jonah 2:8 we read, "Those who pay regard to vain idols forsake their hope of steadfast love," (ESV). Don't pursue anything in life more than the God from whom we receive mercy and lovingkindness (AMP version). Health, wealth, and prosperity are good gifts from God, but should not become the gods we serve.
So, what then is the balance?
I propose that we take an approach to health that is balanced.
While we recognize there is no moral weight to eating food, there is sin that can reveal itself in the way we relate to food. Am I making an idol out of food? In such a way that I can't wait to eat, or I lose self-control when I sit down to eat?
Have I made an idol out of health, where I value appearance or demonize food because of the way it can change my weight or appearance?
I'm not trying to oversimplify the complex and very challenging to understand relationships with food that many of us grow up with. There is no easy solution to severe eating disorders or emotionally charged relationships with food.
Please, if you struggle on a deeper level with these issues, seek help from a compassionate counselor or dietitian.
However, for possibly the majority of Christians, even taking the time to look at our relationship with food through a theological lens might be something we've never done before, and that is all I'm really advocating for here.
The balance I propose would be to seek after those foods that will promote health and longevity on a daily basis. At the same time, enjoy the gifts that God has given you and do not demonize certain foods or the people that eat it. You can decide for yourself what that may look like. For me, I aim to eat about 80% of my foods on the whole-foods plant-based continuum, while leaving room for fun foods like cheezies and ice cream approximately 20% of the time.
Take some time today to think about the way the creator has designed your body, the scriptures that teach us the way we are to honor God with our bodies, and your own personal relationship with food.
Are you honoring God with the way you eat?