Unfortunately, nowadays being overweight and obese is becoming a growing crisis. The average obese person that you might see several times throughout a day was almost unheard of a hundred years ago. As a matter of fact, in the early 1900’s a 300+ pound person was so rare and unusual that one could be seen for a fee as an attraction at the circus. However, even then those people were not as overweight as some people are today. With so many people suffering, dying, and having poor health because of diseases and complications that are directly related to obesity―if not caused by them, I could not help but wonder what God thinks about all this. Does he feel that obesity is simply a physical issue and that He’s more concerned with a person’s heart and spirit? Does He see all His creation as beautiful despite their sometimes unhealthy size? Does He feel pity for a 700 pound man that cannot get out of bed or use the bathroom by himself even though He may have gotten that way from overeating? Does He search the earth for a man who would be willing to love and marry a 400+ woman whose been praying for a husband? During my own weight loss journey, it gradually became apparent to me that although God’s patience, mercy, love, and blessings are not voided or even shaken by a person’s weight, there’s no way that God can be OK with obesity. Let me explain.
There are not many diseases that can cause a serious increase in weight. I’m not talking about 20 or even 30 pounds here and there, but the kind of weight gain that makes a person almost unrecognizable if you hadn't seen them for awhile. For the most part, the only thing that can cause a person to gain the kind of weight that would classify them as an obese person is overeating coupled with unhealthy eating. Now I know that there are some exceptions to this rule, for example people who have suddenly lost their mobility, pregnancy, and certain medications. However, most of the obesity in American that has now classified us the fattest country in the world is simply due to overeating (Proverbs 23:2). Now I could go through all the reasons for over-eating such as busy lives, empty lives, and temptations on every other corner advertising tasty indulgences. However, the fact of the matter is that all of these things stem from living outside of God’s will.
In many cases, not all, obesity is the outer evidence of a person’s lack of self control, lack of wisdom, and lack of knowledge which the bible clearly states that even God’s own people perish because of (Hosea 4:6). It also shows a lack of perseverance, discipline, and sometimes even joy because many people overeat due to emptiness, unhappiness, and unaddressed emotional wounds. Even all of this does not include ignoring God’s command that we should take care of our bodies or that sickness in itself does not come from Him. God is not only the creator of our bodies, but also of food. He knows how much we need to keep our bodies functioning at the level it should. He also allows us to some extent to eat for pleasure which I realized myself after indulging from time to time in unhealthy dishes but it didn’t cause me to gain weight. Even fasting which should be a part of any Christian’s life, highlights that we are to control our flesh and not let it control us (Galatians 5:16, Proverbs 23:2).
I realize that everyone isn’t going to be the same stick figure size (I’m not too small myself). However, we should not be so big that our health is in danger, that our weight interferes with the quality of our lives, or our ability to do God’s will or fulfill our calling. I mean think about it, how would Jesus’ message and image been changed if he was obese? What would being obese have said about his character, or how would it have changed his life and message? Would he have been able to fast for 40 days and 40 nights (Matthew 4:1-2)? Would he have been fit for rigorous travel, or be able to ride in boats or on animals? Would those thousands he fed accuse him of keeping more food for himself? The sad part about the whole thing is that more and more in all types of ministries seriously obese people are filling the pulpits. It seems that these habits and characteristics that can only be associated with sinful behavior are not being seriously acknowledged as a poor reflection of Christ and a problem that needs to be dealt with at the root.
Now I don’t think that God would be any less merciful to an obese person than He would be to an adulterer or a murdered who sought him out for forgiveness, but I think that just because those other kinds of sins are more of what we recognize as sin, we tend to sweep this over and unhealthy eating thing under the rug. Moreover, it seems that all the time that we are working so hard to guard the front door (the more obvious sins) the enemy is sneaking his way in the back and into people's refrigerators.
Stephanie Kekeocha was born and raised in Chicago, IL. She has a bachelor’s degree in Liberal Arts and Sciences from University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC). (read more)
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