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Gluttony and Overeating

Updated on June 14, 2015


With so much emphasis on proper diet and exercise today, many have begun to take a closer look at their lifestyles. In and of itself this isn't a bad thing.

Gluttony is an inordinate desire for food and drink. Some who aren't overweight may feel they don't have anything to worry about. Yet, slender people who eat less might actually be more gluttonous than an overweight person. There are many ways one can fall into gluttony other than overeating. It's not about how much one eats, but also, what, how, and how often one eats.

Many of us are desperately seeking help to lose weight. We've tried every diet under the sun, only to end up in utter failure. Manufacturers selling us diet food products probably had good intentions, however, they had one fatal flaw. They assumed food was the problem.

The diet industry is correct in that too many calories can cause weight gain. But God’s solution puts their hypothesis to shame.

The world concentrates only on the external body, not the spiritual. It does not deal with the real issues. So, when we understand our problem stems from indulging the flesh, we can begin addressing it. The apostle Paul warned the Colossians to beware of those trying to control and manipulate them into following man's law instead of God's.

Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.

For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily.

And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power:” (Colossians 2:8-10).

This Christian life is not about outward behavior. Denying ourselves certain foods by following a set of man-made rules isn't the solution. God wants our hearts to be filled with Him. Our outward behavior will then become more in line with our creator's.

Reasons for overeating may vary, but often it's an emotional or spiritual void is trying to be satisfied with a temporary filler instead of a permanent solution. But to fully understand we must first know the difference between certain terminology pertaining to the problem.

The Terminology

  • Compulsive Overeating: A seemingly irresistible impulse to eat, Or uncontrolled eating based on satisfying emotional hunger rather than physical.

  • Gluttony: Excessive eating and drinking, typically resulting in obesity characterized by body fat 20% or more of recommended weight.

  • Binging: A period of unrestrained indulgence.

  • Some have been motivated by thinking of their overeating as a lack of submission to God.

The Sin of Gluttony

Gluttony is presented as an ongoing practice, which many wish to ignore. There are several direct references to gluttony made in Scripture:

"And they shall say to the elders of his city, 'This our son is stubborn and rebellious; he will not obey our voice; he is a glutton and a drunkard'" (Deuteronomy 21:20).

"Be not among drunkards or among gluttonous eaters of meat, for the drunkard and the glutton will come to poverty, and slumber will clothe them with rags." (Proverbs 23:20-21).

"The one who keeps the law is a son with understanding, but a companion of gluttons shames his father" (Proverbs 28:7).

"The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, 'Look at him! A glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!' (Matthew 11: 19).

Based on these passages, we recognize overeating is an unhealthy practice and incompatible with God's law; and therefore, sin. It's also associated with laziness which God despises.

God calls us to honor Him with our bodies. Paul writes:

"Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body" (1 Corinthians 6:19-20).

God’s Word condemns drunkenness and gluttony as behavior incompatible with serving God. Therefore, they are viewed the same as a drunkard. Neither a drunkard nor a glutton can be part of God's kingdom.

Gluttony is a form of greed, and God’s Word tells us “greedy persons” will not inherit God’s Kingdom. When Paul talked about “the works of the flesh,” he mentioned “drunken bouts, revelries, and things like these.” (Galatians 5:19-21).

Overeating often accompanies drunken bouts and revelries. A gluttonous Christian who vehemently refuses to change their greedy behavior ought to be removed from the congregation.

But now I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such a one do not to eat” (1 Corinthians 5:11).

Although God’s Word places a drunkard on the same level as a glutton, a drunkard is easier to identify than a glutton. However, determining when someone becomes a glutton is more difficult, not because it's easily recognized by outward appearance, but no one knows when the condition began. Therefore, handling these situations by elders in a congregation requires great perceptiveness.

Obesity may be one sign of gluttony, but there are others. Being overweight may be caused by an ailment as well as hereditary factors may also contribute to obesity. We should remember obesity is a physical condition, while gluttony is a mental one. Therefore, gluttony isn't always ascertained by someone’s belt size. Sometimes it's their attitude toward food. A person may be of normal size and yet be a glutton.

We are often quick to label smoking and drinking as sins, but gluttony is accepted or tolerated. Many arguments against smoking and drinking, such as health and addiction, apply equally to overeating. Many wouldn't even consider having a glass of wine or smoking a cigarette but have no problems gorging themselves.

If we are unable to control our eating habits, we are apt to be unable to control others, such as lust, covetousness, and anger. God has blessed us by filling the earth with delicious nutritious foods. We should honor God’s creation by enjoying them in appropriate quantities.


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