God Doesn’t Care What You Eat, He Cares How You Eat

Once upon a time nobody cared about what they put into their body. We ate TV dinners, smoked cigarettes, drank carbonated beverages packed full of high fructose corn syrup, ingested mass quantities of hot dogs, spam, and other semi-processed meats, slathered things with mayo, and generally didn’t give a rip about what went into our bodies. Then people started noticing that the more junk we ate the worse we felt and looked. Doctors began telling us about eating balanced meals. The food pyramid was invented. Everyone began eating organic, shade-grown, fair-trade, superfoods. Large sugary drinks were temporarily banned in New York City.

In recent years churches have jumped on the health bandwagon. The Daniel Diet was invented, modeled after Daniel’s insistence on eating only vegetables in Babylon. There is also The Eden Diet, The Maker’s Diet, and numerous other diets claiming biblical support. Rick Warren recently led members of Saddleback in a church wide fitness program.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m all for fitness and eating well. Our health determines our ability to effectively serve the Lord. I try to exercise regularly and eat semi-well.

But does the Bible tell us what to eat? Does God have a divinely inspired diet plan we should all be following? Are some foods more spiritual than others? I don’t think so. In fact, the Bible teaches the exact opposite. In Mark 7:18-23 we read:

“Do you not see that whatever goes into a person from outside cannot defile him,since it enters not his heart?but his stomach, and is expelled???(Thus he declared all foods clean.)?And he said,??What comes out of a person is what defiles him.?For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft,?murder, adultery,?coveting, wickedness, deceit,?sensuality,?envy,?slander,?pride,?foolishness.?All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.?

Jesus’ point is that food in and of itself is not spiritual. It goes in the mouth and comes out the other end. Eating a particular food does not make us more or less spiritual. Vegetables are not more godly than meat. Organic is not more godly than processed. Oreos and Cheez-Whiz are just as holy as homegrown basil. An Eden diet is not more pleasing to God than a Paleo diet or South Beach diet. All foods are clean and can be eaten and enjoyed.

Why does this even matter? Do I care if you are on The Eden Diet or The Daniel Diet or The Maker’s Diet? Nope, not one bit. If a particular diet helps you lose weight, great! But, we Christians have a tendency to moralize our preferences and create artificial spirituality. If we say that God wants us to eat a particular food group we are on the verge of creating spiritual cliques in the church. The most godly people follow a particular diet, the less godly people eat processed food. A diet can become a stumbling block to the gospel and a source of spiritual elitism.

The reality is, God doesn’t care what we eat he cares how we eat. The Bible lays out several clear principles for how we are to eat.

  • Every meal is to be eaten for the glory of God. “So, whether you eat or drink, or?whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.?(1 Corinthians 10:31) Everything we do, including eating and drinking, is to be done in such a way that God will be honored.
  • All of our eating or abstaining is to be done with thankfulness to God. “The one who eats, eats in honor of the Lord, since?he gives thanks to God, while the one who abstains, abstains in honor of the Lord and gives thanks to God.” (Romans 14:6) If we eat we should thank God for the wonderful, delightful, delicious gift of food. If we choose not to eat we should thank God that he has given us the power of self-control. Eating is to be done with thankfulness. Dieting is also to be done with thankfulness.
  • Our eating should serve other people.?“Let no one seek his own good, but the good of his neighbor.” (1 Corinthians 10:24) The way we eat should be a blessing to other people. This is a wonderful motivation to take care of our bodies. The food I put into my body directly effects my energy levels, which directly effects my ability to serve my wife, my kids, my church, and my neighbors. All my eating should be done to serve others.

In one sense, God does not care what we eat. All foods are clean. But he does care how we eat. The way we eat can bring glory to God, be a blessing to us, and even be a blessing to others. Let’s eat for the glory of God!

Comments

  1. Jane says

    It IS all good! I would add that gluttony is also sinful, though we often don't want to think of it that way.

    We aren't, and never have been on a special diet, nor do we eat on a special way. We have a garden and would like to buy more organic, though organic is usually just too expensive. And while we never were on any of those special diets, perhaps those on them are not trying to be more godly. Perhaps it's just a matter of trying to be more wise. I do believe that honors God, when people try to eat for the glory of God by making what they believe to be wise choices. Using your example of Oreos, eating a whole pack just isn't wise and is gluttonous indeed.

    So long as it is not added on as a condition for salvation, I am not offended by their actions.

  2. Johnny says

    I think there is wisdom in looking at the OT dietary restrictions, though, even if not followed legalistically. Pork is rippled with fat, unlike chicken meat that can have fat trimmed from it. Likewise fish like catfish, shrimp, etc, aren't good to eat because they scavenge junk from the sea flood (especially unwise if you live near a Gulf shore coast during a BP oil spill.) If you eat stuff like that it should be in moderation, as the body is the temple of the Holy Spirit (I Cor. 6:19) and we should be obligated to at least try to take care of it
    (although, let's be honest, gluttony does seem to be one of those taboo sins never mentioned from the pulpit…)

  3. Michele {A Life Surrendered} says

    All foods, that are actually "real" food, perhaps, are good and clean. But let's not leave out that many of the items on the grocery store shelves are filled with man made and unnecessary additives, chemicals or genetically engineered ingredients that have addictive properties and wreck havoc on our health. And what about the amounts of chemicals being sprayed on the crops that are conventionally grown? And whether we like it or not, what we eat has an effect on our total well being, which you mentioned at the end.

    I do believe God cares "what" we eat, just like I care what my children eat. I care that what they put in their mouth is nourishing their bodies, helping them grow and keeping them strong and healthy. And I care about educating them about making wise choices in their eating.

    Though, I agree that eating is not spiritual, more like a discipline, the food we put in our mouth helps or hurts our immune system's chance of warring off sickness, disease, and aiding in ridding of toxins that enter our bodies through our food and our environment. And I rather be a healthy Christian than a sick one, and give my body the best fighting chance to stay healthy.

    The Bible doesn't tell us what to eat, per say, but God does provide us wisdom to choose what profits most — for His holy purpose in building His Kingdom.

    I have little issue with your words, except that you may give license for people who are already struggling with their health and food choices, to continue. But I do have much issue with your image. I cannot be certain, but it looks like candy. How much actual "food" do you think is contained in each piece? And the amount of sugar and artificial coloring? And "it's all good?" Well it's not good for me, or my children. I dare say, unless it's fruit that has been dehydrated without chemicals and the portion pictured is being shared, it's not good for anyone.

    Why not use an image with fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grain bread, and healthy livestock, instead?

    I do appreciate your bullet points at the end of the post, and can take those words with me to help in my journey toward a healthy lifestyle.

  4. Jengachamp says

    If we were just as concerned with what comes out of our mouths as we are with what comes in, the church would have a lot more influence on the world and not the world (and Dr. Oz) on us. We judge others’ sin and minimize the effects that our stinky sin has on our family and the Church–far more destructive than food coloring and trans fats.

  5. Allie says

    I agree, but with one addition – eating meat that has been raised inhumanely is not godly stewardship, which is just about all meat sold in the big box grocery stores. These animals are pretty much tortured. Okay, one more – some things labeled as food, really are not food, such as the picture in this post. This stuff just tickles our tongues and our tummies and is possibly causing some of the boatload of ADHD & depression diagnosis’ and maybe these “foods” could fall under gluttony.
    Also, “It’s all good” was written when the tons of junk was yet to be invented. They really did eat “real food” clean or unclean.
    Great post!

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