Food, Food, Glorious Food?

One of the most overlooked strongholds in America today is that of eating. Often, it is not even viewed as a stronghold. In fact, in Christian circles, we will frequently condemn the alcoholic, the drug addict, or the porn addict, all the while excusing the food addict. However, eating strongholds dominate a large percentage of the population to such a degree that a majority of our health problems stem from this root.

An eating stronghold doesn’t always have to show up through a person eating too much food. An eating stronghold can also show up in someone who either won’t eat enough food (anorexia), or eats too much food only to purge themselves of that food (bulimia.) An eating stronghold exists when food (its presence or lack) becomes the dominant factor in someone’s life. A dependance on food can produce a number of things such as offering a way of escape, a way to feel in control, to gain comfort, or even to inflict self-punishment.

Food has also played a prominent role throughout the Bible. For starters, the whole world was plunged into sin over food – an apple. For a bowl of porridge, Esau gave away his future. In 1 Samuel, we read that the priest, Eli, fell backwards and broke his neck because he was a heavy man. The Bible also tells us that his sons were gluttons who took food by force. The story of Nabal is about a man whom the Scripture declares to have been gluttonous fool, who died of a heart attack. These are just a few examples.

Food was responsible for a number of deaths in the Bible, and it is responsible for deaths today as well. God has explicity commanded us saying, “Thou shalt not kill,” and yet every year hundreds of thousands of us dig our graves with our teeth, and commit suicide with our forks.

In fact, the stronghold of eating leads to such disastrous ends that God even warns us not to hang around those who have it. In Proverbs we read, “Do not be with heavy drinkers of wine, or with gluttonous eaters of meat; For the heavy drinker and the glutton will come to poverty, and drowsiness will clothe one with rags.”[1] Elsewhere it says, “He who keeps the law is a discerning son, But he who is a companion of gluttons humiliates his father.”[2]

While the object of eating strongholds is food, the cause of them is not. Food is merely the symptom. Paul gives greater clarity on this when he writes in his letter to the church at Phillipi,

“For many walk, of whom I often told you, and now tell you even weeping, that they are enemies of the cross of Christ, whose end is destruction, whose god is their appetitie, and whose glory is in their shame, who set their minds on earthly things.”[3]

The problem is not a food problem. The problem is a God problem. In this situation, Paul compares the stronghold of an uncontrolled appetite to that of an idol, “whose god is their appetite.” Many of us say that we would never bow to an idol, but when we give into the demands of our appetite, or the desire to rule our appetite through not permitting ourselves to eat, we have essentially bowed to an idol. We have placed food in the position of preeminence in our lives that only God should hold.

[1] Proverbs 23:20,21

[2] Proverbs 28:7

[3] Philippians 3:18,19