A Theology/Philosophy of Food – Part 1

It seems to me that we are in somewhat of a food war. Which is the best diet to eat? Are some foods toxic? Is it wrong to eat certain foods? Can we even call processed food “food”? Many conflicting viewpoints exist on what is the best food for the human body. One camp says that a vegetarian diet is best. Another says that a low/no carbohydrate diet is the best. Another says to avoid any processed/manufactured/packaged foods. The words “toxic” and “toxin” get thrown around as if they mean something less powerful than I have always understood them. The difference of opinion available among food “experts” can be overwhelming and confusing for those of us with a family and the desire to raise healthy, happy children.

Our American society has made an idol of the body. Movies and pictures show us skinny women with perfect skin and no extra weight. They show us men with well-toned muscles and no extra weight. We are told that we are lazy if we don’t exercise and that we are harming ourselves if we occasionally eat a candy bar. If we don’t have perfect looking bodies and eat whatever food is supposedly best for the human body then we are in the wrong. I think we need to approach the idolatry of the body in light of Christian freedom, vocation, and original sin.

Both 1 Corinthians 6 and 10 have the phrase, ““All things are lawful for me,” but not all things are helpful.” Chapter 6 goes on to say, ““All things are lawful for me,” but I will not be dominated by anything.“Food is meant for the stomach and the stomach for food”—and God will destroy both one and the other.” Chapter 10 continues with ““All things are lawful,” but not all things build up. Let no one seek his own good, but the good of his neighbor. Eat whatever is sold in the meat market without raising any question on the ground of conscience.” 1 Corinthians 6 is dealing with sexual immorality and 1 Corinthians 10 is dealing with food sacrificed to idols. However, both chapters are dealing with the burdened consciences of those trying to figure out how to live a God pleasing life and those who think they can do whatever they want without regard for what is right and what is wrong.

Christians are not obligated to follow any dietary laws. The Apostle Peter had a vision, as recorded in Acts 10, that told him that Jewish believers no longer were required to follow the dietary laws of the Old Testament. Christians especially are not required to follow these dietary laws, as Paul wrote much about not requiring Christians to become Jews in his epistles. Jesus said, “it is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person, but what comes out of the mouth; this defiles a person.” The world may argue over what food is, what is healthiest, what is best, but a Christian should remember that we have no obligation to make laws for ourselves. We should especially not call ideas of men the commandments of God.

Individual Christians can decide what they want to eat and feed their children, but should not push others about what they eat and feed their children. Food is not a salvation issue, not a doctrinal issue. The only food that is salvific and doctrinal is the Lord’s Supper, and Christians have been debating that topic for hundreds of years. If we want to talk about diets as Christians we should be discussing spiritual food and the Holy Meal provided by our Lord Jesus for our forgiveness and benefit.

In future posts I will talk about food in light of vocation and original sin. Today all I have time for is Christian freedom. I may also ask my RN sister to write a guest post about the physiology of the body in relation to food.

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One thought on “A Theology/Philosophy of Food – Part 1

  1. Pingback: Guest Post – The Religion of Food: A Nurse’s Perspective | Letters to Marilyn

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