A Theology/Philosophy of Food – Part 2

Here are some final thoughts on food. I was thinking I would create one or two more separate posts, but it turns out that daily life doesn’t present me with much time or motivation for a lot of writing! So here is a hodgepodge of other diet/food related thoughts.

We are created to serve God by serving our neighbors. Does my body prevent me from doing my duty? What are the specific tasks that I must do?

Personally, I am a homeschooling mom with 4 children ages 6, 4, 3, and 1. I need to feed them, clothe them, teach them, and then have time and energy in the day to also try to be nice to my hard-working husband. To fulfill these tasks I need to be able to move around freely, bend over, lift moderately heavy items, and occasionally sprint towards a straying toddler or dog.

I also need to be able to change diapers, lift and pour pots and milk jugs, and sew buttons back on clothing. Those small handiwork tasks have proven to be more difficult over the years because I developed carpal tunnel syndrome and so I have numbness issues in my hands. I am definitely not as thin as I used to be, but I am perfectly capable of completing those larger full-body tasks. What I eat and the fact that I don’t workout is not keeping me from fulfilling the tasks that God has set before me. If they were then I would need to change what I could so that I could do my vocation. I am sure that I would do my tasks more cheerfully if I got more sleep, but unfortunately that factor is out of my control. Just ask my youngest.

For some of us, some things truly ARE harmful for our bodies. Those with certain diseases, allergies, and sensitivities should not eat what could make them sick. However, just because some people are lactose or gluten intolerant, or allergic to peanuts or shellfish, or have Crohn’s or diabetes, doesn’t mean every single one of us must be restricted to what are better food choices for those specific people.

We also should not get caught up in the idea that what we will eat will extend our lifetimes or make us better people. Only God knows the span of our days and how long we will live. We could have the healthiest bodies but still die young from accident or tragedy. We certainly cannot view our health, diet, and exercise habits as an insurance policy against death. Also, skinny does not equal healthy. Many people with chronic health problems are skinny, and unhealthily so, and so are some people that have had organ transplants.

With modern medicine even overweight people have been able to live long and relatively healthy lives. Disease and poor health are often a sign of old age regardless of body size. Spending time and effort to perfect our body image is usually no more than turning the body and its appearance into an idol.

God gave us bodies designed to work and serve. If our choices have made those bodies ineffective at work, we have sinned. If we are constantly striving to make our bodies look and feel better based on societal assumptions of beauty, we have sinned. Let’s strive for the happy medium of caring for God’s good creation of our bodies insofar that we can gladly do the tasks He gives us, for there is always work to do.

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