“You’re eating carbs!” This was a comical question I was recently asked by a church friend of mine. She said it regarding the fact that I am doing Trim Healthy Mama, and yet here I was enjoying a piece of a muffin offered from the church snack.
I laughed and threw back the rest of the muffin, enjoying the sweet morsels.
We enjoyed a decent conversation after that about the balance that is needed with food to help us learn to have a healthy living perspective. It is from this conversation, and a few others I have been privy to over the years, that I write this post.
Turning Away from Food Idolatry
I know that this heading may seem a little strange, because really, can food become an idol?
But I have to say that it really can be! This is a relevant topic with today’s food culture, especially among Christians.
I can understand more dogma and legalism in those who are not of Christ, but for those who claim Christ, I believe that some appropriate balance and prioritization has been missing.
There are so many varying food philosophies out there today: Paleo, Weston A. Price, Veganism, Raw Foodist, Vegetarianism, etc. This, of course, does not even account for the loads of diet fads that exist too, like the Grapefruit Diet, Atkins Diet, etc, etc, etc.
I have come across a shocking number of food legalists in these circles though, many of whom claim the name of Christ as Lord and Savior.
One time I asked a question to a Paleo-follower about The China Study and I never returned to that woman’s blog due to her lack of tact in response. Another time I have been oddly “attacked” for purchasing non-organic meats, or foods.
It is heart-breaking to see the hatred that has been perpetrated all in the name of taking care of our bodies, which are “temples of the Holy Spirit” (referencing 1 Cor. 6:19-20). I recently read an awesome blog post on this topic by Stacy at StacyMakesCents, and I thought she said it so wonderfully:
“I’ve been put off by a lot of the Christians [who say they eat a healthy diet] who seem to heap criticism on their fellow brothers and sisters for not eating the same “healthy” way. “But, but, but” you yell!!!! “God said, ‘Do you not know that your body is a temple 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 body.’” 1 Corinthians 6:19-20
You bet your bottom He said that. But you know what? He wasn’t talking about food here – he was talking about SEXUAL IMMORALITY. I hate to tell ya, but eating a Twinkie isn’t a sexual morality issue.“
Do you practice food idolatry?
We need to stop making food a stumbling block by placing it as an idol above the love of Christ that we are commanded to show.
If you personally are a food purist, by all means have at it!
Enjoy those delicious organic apples and grass fed beef, etc, but do not put a yoke of slavery upon your brother by holding them accountable to your personal convictions.
Remember, Romans 14: 1-4, 14-20 makes this topic clear:
“Receive one who is weak in the faith, but not to disputes over doubtful things. For one believes he may eat all things, but he who is weak eats only vegetables. Let not him who eats despise him who does not eat, and let not him who does not eat judge him who eats; for God has received him. Who are you to judge another’s servant? To his own master he stands or falls. Indeed, he will be made to stand, for God is able to make him stand…
I know and am convinced by the Lord Jesus that there is nothing unclean of itself; but to him who considers anything to be unclean, to him it is unclean. Yet if your brother is grieved because of your food, you are no longer walking in love. Do not destroy with your food the one for whom Christ died. Therefore do not let your good be spoken of as evil; for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. For he who serves Christ in these things is acceptable to God and approved by men.
Therefore let us pursue the things which make for peace and the things by which one may edify another. Do not destroy the work of God for the sake of food. All things indeed are pure, but it is evil for the man who eats with offense.”
Friends, though we do not dispute nowadays over whether or not it is okay to eat meat sacrificed to idols, we argue over whether or not someone should eat non-organics, or GMOs, or BPA-containing canisters of beans, or meat at all, or grains, or, or, or….
We still have the same arguments going on today that Paul was condemning ages ago. Our human condition leads us to project our personal convictions onto others and judge them accordingly.
But, “Who are you [or I, or anyone else] to judge another’s servant?”
If we are really concerned about the welfare of others and what certain ingredients or foods may do to their bodies, we ought to bring it to prayer before the Lord, seeking His wisdom and judgement on the matter, and only AFTER doing all this speaking if the Lord leads us to do so.
This is how to “speak the truth in love.”
I have to say though, there is a reason most people don’t feel very loved when someone “speaks the truth,” and that’s because there is no love present in the delivery or heart of the other person.
We must be very careful to speak in the name of the Lord if we have not consulted with Him on the words we are saying pertaining to the life of another.
Each Christian is Different, and yet still Approved by God
Some of us are drawn to legalism and therefore have to learn balance in being less stringent about things that are not essential doctrine.
Others of us are very lenient and need to learn to be more intentional about providing healthy and nutritious foods.
I personally fall into the first category, which is why Trim Healthy Mama has been such an awesome book for me.
I am what the book calls a “Food Purist” at heart, but I have neither the budget, nor the sanity to really handle what I believe to be ideal AND fulfill the other roles that the Lord has called me to.
He has never called me to providing a flawless meal plan, free of all GMOs, organic in everything possible, etc. He has called me to learn to prepare and cook healthy meals, provide food for my family, steward the money my husband earns for our family wisely, and keep my home well managed.
Other than that, any yokes I put upon myself are misery of my own making, and for years I experienced that exact thing.
The irony is that I had been following the Food Purist mentality for YEARS and then our son became sick with an incredibly rare auto-immune disorder! Hello!!!!
According to my research and human wisdom, an auto-immune disorder was not computing. It did not add up. The “world” told me that if I avoided this, this, this, this, and this that I and my family would be totally healthy and free of sickness.
You know what I learned? The world has a microscopic idea of what is really going on and there is only One Sovereign Lord who can truly lead me in the way I should go.
This was a HARD lesson for me to learn, but I remain thankful for the lesson because it helped to bring a greater peace and release of control over our health and wellbeing.
Truth is, there is only so much we can control, so we are called to do our best and leave the rest to God, period.
Any time that we think that WE are the ones providing protection or healing to our bodies through our food choices, etc. there is a hard lesson for us to learn right around the corner.
The Answer is Love
So, how should we combat the harshness that is all around us shouting what is and is not “good”? The answer is love. We need to love our neighbor as ourself, speaking in a way that we would want to be spoken to, understanding the need for gentility and kindness to be the marks of our speech.
We need to be thoughtful about our lack of Sovereignty and humble enough to know that we don’t know everything. We should be conscious of the fact that we are each called to eat and live in specific ways and that we are each held accountable to our Father in heaven to live according to that calling.
We are not here to place stumbling blocks before others, whether they are in Christ or not, but we are called to live sacrificially, putting others and their needs before ourselves.
These are the marks of the Christ follower. These are the signs of a lover of the Lord. And, as women who seek to make our homes a dwelling place of the Lord, our hearts ought to reflect this mentality both in and out of the home.
If you have been held captive by food idolatry today is the day to find freedom. There is only one God, one Savior, one Lord, and it is to Him and Him alone that we live and die.
I urge you to take your captivity to prayer, whether it be that of a guilty conscious having not the ability to afford all the organic foods you “ought” to be purchasing, or if you struggle with judging others for their choices to eat processed, boxed foods.
There is no peace, nor joy, in a heart of bondage. Today’s the day to experience true freedom!
Stacy @Stacy Makes Cents says
I love this quote: “I have to say though, there is a reason most people don’t feel very loved when someone “speaks the truth”, and that’s because there is no love present in the delivery or heart of the other person.” Exactly.
This post is very well written. Good job, girl…and thanks for the love. 🙂
I am so happy that you posted this. Sometimes it feels like the more I learn about nutrition, the harder it is to feel good about shopping and preparing food for my family. Every time I buy something that’s not organic, or use a box mix instead of cooking from scratch I can’t help feeling guilty. I want to do what’s best for the health of my son, husband, and myself, but sometimes Food Purism has taken priority over financial stewardship and quality time spent WITH the people I’m trying to nourish! I will definitely be re-examining my approach to cooking and eating (again. and again. and still again….;-)
I so very much understand and I’m glad that the post blessed you =0). That’s what this is all about!
Mary L says
Thank you for saying this so well.
This is such a well-written post. Thank you for sharing it with us.
I’m thankful it is blessing others, too =0)
Yes, you said it well. I think it is so easy for us to heap condemnation on others for not eating like we do. And I know I’ve occasionally felt it from other people too. Yes, I think God cares about the food we eat but at the same time, it is not a salvation issue. Thanks for the reminder to LOVE.
Absolutely, Lydia! Love conquers all. =0)
Julie @thenewlighterlife.com says
Wow Julie! Your post so perfectly conveyed many of my own thoughts on the matter (but much more eloquently that I could). It’s hurtful when those who name Christ make such a dividing issue over food.
I use to be very zealous about eating healthy and one day realized I couldn’t eat one thing my mother had made for our family when we went to visit her. I remember praying for the food to not make us sick. Seriously. Bondage is what I was under and that was a turning point for me.
We miss out when we forget John 13:34-35, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
Yes, Julie, we do, and it’s to our own demise and shame because The Lord will most certainly humble us, one way or another, one day. We would be wise to be humbled sooner rather than later and assume that God’s got the whole “providing the Holy Spirit to convict the heart of
His children” thing under control. We are not called to be the Holy Spirit in people’s lives, though many times that is exactly how we behave.
Powerful! It is oh too easy to get caught up in being so healthy and lose sight of our love for others and the sovereignty of God. All too often I have to remind myself that the blogs and articles I read shouting for all organic, non-GMO, no BPA cans or plastics (which I do buy at varying levels due to the budget) are by those who may not know God or who don’t trust fully in His sovereignty. I soo often need to remind myself that He calls us to be good stewards with what we put in our bodies, but not to lose sight of His sovereignty over our lives, our bodies, and our health. Thanks for a timely, well-written post!
Absolutely, Emily! I definitely agree that it is easy to get caught up in the hype and forget that we do not know to whom the author’s allegiance lies, but “For me and my house, we will serve the Lord” (Joshua 24:15). Thanks for commenting!
Thank you so much for this wonderful reminder, Julie!! I’m not much of a food purist, but have found my thoughts being judgmental of how poorly someone else’s food choices appear to be. Thank you for sharing so beautifully and lovingly!!
Thanks so much, Dana! =0)
I could share and write a paragraph or two, but I think I’ll just say, “Refreshing!”
Okay, just can’t get Tim Hawkins voice out of my head about praying over Cheetos like God is going to turn those into carrots on the way down. Cracks me up every single time.
Jennifer L. says
Yesterday, our devotion for the morning centered on Luke 12:22-31, the “Do not worry” passage. I have always thought of that passage in terms of not worrying that you will have the things you need, which truthfully, even at the hardest times in my life, hasn’t been an issue. I have always lived with an abundance of these things. I have worried over my diet ever since my sister died from cancer at age 34. Outside of myself, I can see that my worry over eating organically and “safely” stems from the lack of control I feel over losing my sister. But yesterday, as we read the passage together, I began to think my constant research and attempts to eat as healthfully as possible was not what God has in mind for us. I do not think this “Do not worry” passage is meant to condemn us for worrying over being taken care of, but rather our loving God’s assurance that He knows our needs and wants to meet them. On the other hand, I still believe it is completely wrong for food companies to inundate our food with harmful pesticides, and keep animals in horrible, unsanitary conditions , knowing these things are harmful to people’s health, but trying to convince them otherwise.
Yes, Jennifer, and this is the necessary part of finding balance. We are definitely called to fight where we can fight and to seek out changes where we can, but it ought not to become something that controls and consumes us, as though we are the ones bringing about the changes, not God. We vote with our dollars, as we can. We contact our representatives to make our voices heard, but ultimately, we have to live in the world as it is in the meantime as best as we can within the confines of our individual realities. Most of us do not have the resources to access such things as EVERYTHING organic, or EVERYTHING non-processed, or EVERYTHING chemical/BPA FREE. Not to mention, though, that there is only so much that can be controlled of these things even with unlimited resources, because it is all throughout our environment. There is no escaping the fallen world in which we live, so to try to act as though we can rid ourselves of the effects of its fallenness is a fallacy. The serenity prayer has been on my heart today, and it strikes me as applicable here: “Lord, give me the peace to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can’t, and the wisdom to know the difference.” May this too help to bring peace to your heart today =0)
Wonderful post! This said so many things I have been thinking in a more eloquent way than I ever could.
I’m so happy to hear it! The Lord is good =0)
What a wonderful post! Bondage, indeed..and lack of trust in the Lord. This is very helpful/
God bless you!
Thanks Dianne! I’m glad it blessed you!