Particular Sins With Food … (continued)
“In the nineteenth century there were prominent liberal and sectarian theologians who believed that the sinfulness of man could be curbed through diet and hygiene. John Harvey Kellogg, a Seventh-Day Adventist, invented corn flakes as a meatless breakfast food designed to reduce the sexual drive. Control of ‘bestial sexual impulses’ was linked in the popular imagination, both sectarian and liberal, with a bland diet devoid of alcohol, coffee, tea, tobacco, condiments, and largely devoid of meat. Assumption of this diet would reduce what is today called libido, and this reduction of the ‘animal’ in man would be passed on to one’s children, who would grow up with less ‘original sin.’ Salvation through diet passed into the popular imagination through the writings of liberals like Horace Bushnell, sectarians like Kellogg and Charles Finney, and cultists like Mary Baker Eddy. As a result there is a pervasive orientation toward dietetic theology in American Christianity that colors our discussion of the Sinaitic dietary laws.” Wilson, Douglas. Confessions of a Food Catholic (pp. 25-26). Canon Press. Kindle Edition.
One’s standing with God or spirituality does not hinge on whether one does or does not eat certain foods.
Colossians 2:16-17, 20-21 – “Therefore no one is to act as your judge in regard to food or drink or in respect to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath day—things which are a mere shadow of what is to come; but the substance belongs to Christ …. If you have died with Christ to the elementary principles of the world, why, as if you were living in the world, do you submit yourself to decrees, such as, “Do not handle, do not taste, do not touch!”
- Perfectionism & Idolatry
“Even among Christians, it is common to see people fretting constantly about the levels of toxicity in their bodies courtesy of Certain Corporations (fear), the fattening effects of that entirely unnecessary cheesecake they had at lunch (shame), and the fact that the coffee beans for their mocha were picked by an underpaid laborer in the third world (guilt).” Wilson, Douglas. Confessions of a Food Catholic (p. 34). Canon Press. Kindle Edition.
When fear, guilt, and shame dominate every meal, idolatry is present.
Doug Wilson: “Christians who feel guilt over their decisions of what to eat need to go to sleep on the roof, like Peter did, so that they might see the entire inventory of General Mills lowered in a sheet from heaven. If your food is your guilty pleasure, or if your parsimonious disapproval of others is your guilty pleasure, then it is time to bring your kitchen (and all the cupboards therein) to the feet of Christ. ”
1 Timothy 4:1 – “Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons, 2 speaking lies in hypocrisy, having their own conscience seared with a hot iron, 3 forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from foods which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth. 4 For every creature of God is good, and nothing is to be refused if it is received with thanksgiving; 5 for it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer.”
- Financial Foolishness
“Paying three times as much for a really good apple is a fine thing to do, so long as you know that you are doing it. But if you think that you are a humble creature of the soil because you are whooping it up on luxuries is one of the oddest things that I have ever seen in my life.” Wilson, Douglas. Confessions of a Food Catholic (p. 22). Canon Press. Kindle Edition.
Shouldn’t Christians Prefer Natural or Organic Foods?
The problem with the word natural is that it is never clearly defined. Most food requires the use of some artifice to get it into an edible state. Another great example is petroleum. There’s a natural product for you—right out of the ground, from the bosom of mother nature. Boil it off and you get sugars, and then flavor chemists can tinker with it and get you some stupendous flavorings. Now suppose we have defined natural, and defined the limited number of steps to keep a product natural. We have determined that this particular product falls within that stipulated definition. Poisonous mushrooms can fit within the definition, and almond-flavored petroleum sugars won’t.
All of creation is now cursed. Now this means that we cannot point to anything in the created order and justify its use in a particular way simply on the basis of its being “natural.” Nor can we reject anything on the basis of it having been “processed.” The creation around us is a damaged good, and this means that when we point to a particular aspect of it, we are not yet clear whether we are pointing to an aboriginal good, or to one of the defects introduced by the Fall.
So those Christians who use “natural” and “organic” as terms of praise, and who eschew the use of “chemicals” in food preparation are failing at three places. First, as I have noted, they are not applying the doctrine of the Fall. They are not capable of finding any food in this world that has an unfallen nature, for which natural would work as a term of unqualified praise. Second, they are not able to find a food anywhere that is not made out of chemicals. Chemical-free food would a sight to behold, and a miracle in its own right. And third, they are giving weight, and moral weight, at that, to standards that have little to do with objective value and much to do with marketing.
What about Boycotts? Should we Support Animal Cruelty/ Bad Practices?
The question of supporting or boycotting practices that are present in the larger economy is difficult to answer, because it is impossible to be consistent, except where evildoers are known to you.
May I drive on highways that go over property that were seized unjustly by eminent domain? May I buy an automobile when the carburetor was manufactured by slave labor in mainland China? How about the carburetor and the distributor cap? May I buy petrol from a joint that has three racks of porn behind the counter? May I buy books from a company that has a soft porn division? May I buy unit trusts that include corporate farms and plantations in the portfolio?
Does buying meat from the shambles in Corinth (1 Cor. 10:25) help provide an income stream for the idolatrous temple services? Sure it does, but who is worried about it? Not God! God has other ways of affecting their income stream (Acts 19:24–27). Buy their meat, but not their silver figurines.
If we know our neighbour is harming animals (Prov 12:10), we can deal with that – by reporting him, exposing his cruelty, or not buying from him. But accounts of farms far away made by socialists like Michael Moore really should not move us.
With regard to any claim that matters enough that we need to check it , the Bible teaches that we look for external corroboration , internal consistency , and a clear willingness for the claim to be falsified. “In the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every word be established” – 2 Cor. 13:1. “ But neither so did their witness agree together” –Mark 14:59. “He that is first in his own cause seemeth just ; But his neighbour cometh and searcheth him” – Prov 18:17. Consequently, the big concern that I have about many believers going in big for foodie concerns, or those with treatments for designer allergies, or exotic treatments for various ailments, is not the proposed treatment itself. The issue is the nature of knowledge, not the nature of the stuff in the world . If oils made from pine needles were able to do marvelous things , there would be no one happier than I . But if no one is allowed to ask any judicious questions , then you may depend upon it — a scam is being run.
– David De Bruyn, Professor of Church History, Shepherds’ Seminary Africa