Gluttony, after all, is the sin that you can see. Therefore, to be fat is a sin because many believe to be fat is to be a living, breathing testament to overindulgence or lack of self-restraint. To be fat is to be a bad witness for Christ — or so I’ve heard some pastors preach. How can God redeem and save my life if he’s not even able to help me maintain a healthy weight? Somehow, my body is sizable enough to undermine the power of the Gospel.
It is true that gluttony may be a sin. It is very far from true that being fat is evidence of gluttony. Earlier in this same piece this poor Christian woman lets us know that she has been on a diet on and off since her eighth birthday. Eight years old is probably about the time a young lady first realizes that she is in constant competition with the other girls in appearances. Going an entire lifetime trying to follow the advice of dietitians, doctors, even the national government to lose weight by eating less than you work has led to a lifetime of self-abuse and self-ridicule to tens of millions of women in the US.
The entire ‘blame the victim’ logic of “if you are fat, its because you don’t hate being fat” has led to multiple generations of women that feel as though it is their fault, when the fault actually lies in the advice they are being given. Listen to this anguished cry for help…
…unrealistic body expectations are just one way that we diminish and derail the value of women in the church. My weight does not determine my worth. Only by ignoring the shame and embarrassment I feel in writing a post like this can we begin a healthy discussion, acknowledging the detrimental effects of our preoccupation with physical beauty.
No fat person is fat because they eat too much, it is because they eat foods that make people fat. These days two out of three of us are overweight. If we are all gluttons then we need to modify the definition of glutton. We are not gluttons. What we are is misguided and offered a predominance of foods that are sure to make us gain weight and keep it on.
This blog is full of advice for this woman, her church-sisters, and all of the overweight men out there, too. The prescription of “work more, eat less” that has been given out by every voice of authority has failed often enough that it deserves to be retired. In it’s place the advice should be “eat real food, eat no carbs.” If we would eat real food we would stop eating all of the sugar hidden in processed foods. If we would eat no carbs we would stop putting fat into storage, and our bodies would begin using the fats stored up by the years of damage done eating carbs for decades. Most people when they hear “eat healthy” they don’t think that the bread on the sandwich is more fattening than the meat in it. They don’t think that the orange juice at breakfast is more fattening than the bacon. Eating fats does not make one fat, eating sweets does. If it tastes sweet it is fattening.
So as I’m covertly hiding the Snickers in my cart and contritely loading up my diet shakes, I take peace in remembering that God sees the heart. God cares so much more about my prayer life than my calorie intake. He expects me to love my neighbors, of all shapes and sizes, and He welcomes me at the foot of the cross where there’s enough room for all, even those of us with sizable hips.
The first thing your God expects is that you love yourself. Don’t believe it when they tell you your weight is there because of your sin. This may be the first time you have ever heard how to really shed fat that does not serve you. You may still not believe me when I tell you that it’s not your fault. Do believe me when I tell you that you should not feel shame, the advice of your doctor and your government has been wrong for most of your life. They are getting it right, finally, and you should too.