After years and years of church attendance, I have heard sermons preached on just about every topic relevant to Christians.
Salvation, increasing our faith, sin and hell, love, and even finances have all been covered.
But one topic that is literally sitting in each and every pew I have never heard discussed: obesity.
When was the last time you heard a sermon about how much we weigh and if it’s healthy?
My guess is never.
The Sin of Doughnuts has never been the sermon topic on our weekly church flier. Our pastors and church leaders (whom I love and highly respect) have no problem stepping on our toes on spiritual matters (as they rightly should) but in the area that physically holds so many of us back … not so much.
But this topic is so incredibly relevant in our society today.
According to the CDC over 70% of adults are overweight or obese while over 20% of adolescents age 12-19 are already obese.
This is not just a problem, but an epidemic.
But should the body of Christ care? I mean, should our pastors, preachers, and teachers worry about this issue when they already have so much on their plates? No pun intended. Let’s find out.
The church should tackle the issues of weight and its effects on health by addressing three questions.
- Is it a sin to be overweight?
- What role does the Church play in weight/physical appearance?
- What does the Bible say about it?
Author Note: in the past, I have addressed the personal decision side of this issue so today we’ll be tackling this topic from the standpoint of the Church as a whole.
For the personal side head over to Is Losing Weight Biblical? Why Christians Should Care About Getting In Shape
Is it a Sin to be Overweight?
Our Church leaders are responsible for looking out for us spiritually above all else. It is their role in the Body of Christ and one that should be taken with all seriousness. So before anything else let’s find out if being overweight is actually a sin.
This is a very tricky question to answer due the multitude of reasons a person might carry excess weight.
Some people have medical reasons that make it very hard for them to maintain a healthy weight including thyroid issues, PCOS, childbirth, and a multitude of others. For these people, I wholeheartedly believe it is un-sinful to be overweight or obese. However, this is not an excuse to ignore our physical health and not strive to be the best steward of our bodies we can be.
On the other hand, if our excess weight is due to gluttony, lack of self-control, or allowing our fleshly desires to overtake us then it may very well be a sin for those individuals. This in no way means we should aggressively confront these people on their weight. Remember, we ALL struggle with sin and just because being overweight makes it visually obvious does not give us license to attack.
As fellow believers we should strive to help each other overcome our struggles out of the same love Christ shows us.
What Role Does the Church Play in Dealing with Overeating?
I completely get that weight is a highly personal subject. But so is tithing, abstinence, abortion, and so many other topics that the Bible guides us on. Jesus is relational. Relationships are up close, personal, and messy. That’s just how he roles.
The Church should be all over personal topics. These are how relationships are built and sustained. This is especially true in a world where technology is making it easier every day to keep people at arms length. But that’s not how Jesus meant it to be for his body.
What kind of a Body of Christ would we be if the eyes had no idea what the feet were thinking or doing? We’d be stumbling around everywhere and fall flat on our face. We NEED real personal relationships in order to make lasting connections that will guide us closer to Christ.
What Does the Bible Say About Being Overweight?
The Bible guides us to value our bodies and to take good care of them for however long we are here. Not obsess over them, not ignore them, and defiantly not idolize them … but properly care for them to the very best of our abilities. It is one way we should be a good steward of what God has given us.
For an overseer, as God’s steward, must be above reproach. He must not be arrogant or quick-tempered or a drunkard or violent or greedy for gain, but hospitable, a lover of good, self-controlled, upright, holy, and disciplined. Titus 1:7-8
Our bodies are a temple of the Holy Spirit.
Have we been up-keeping our temple or have we let it fall into disrepair?
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
Without a shadow of a doubt our spiritual health, not our physical one, should be the Church’s top priority. If a person isn’t saved it shouldn’t matter one bit how much they weigh… not even on the radar. BUT, if we are saved and struggling with our physical selves then maybe this tent we call our body needs a little work.
If we are in turmoil due to physical temptations or limitations then subjugating our flesh with diet and exercise is one tool that we can use to overcome. After first trusting on Jesus’s grace and deliverance of course.
But I keep control of my body, and bring it into subjection, lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway. 1 Corinthians 9:27
Now, does all this mean that we should cry from the pews for our pastors to preach against The Sin of Doughnuts? Not even close. But should the Church and it’s leaders be addressing the issues of weight, obesity, and their effects on the congregation? Should the congregation know it is a valued issue?
Yes … absolutely and wholeheartedly YES.
What Should, We, The Church Do About Weight-Related Issues?
How should our leaders address this real and lacking need in the Church for weight/health awareness? I believe the ministry opportunities in this area are wide open. If church leaders and their congregation knew it was something that was valued, a local health and workout group could be a wonderful place to start!
And that is where we come in! Christians need to make it known that we value the health of the bodies we have been given. So bring it up to your local Church leaders! Turn it into a community open group that can both serve physical bodies and reach out to the people who live around us. They might not walk into a church, but they might just walk into a low-cost weight loss group. The possibilities are endless!