Pastors have higher obesity rates than our already heavy fellow Americans

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Greg Linscott's picture

from "An Epidemic of Hot Water in the Morning"

Abundance, while it presents temptations to self-sufficiency, is not the problem itself. When abundance, a good thing, occurs, sinners will want to abuse that abundance. But the solution is the gospel, not a lecture from a food reformer.

"For she did not know that I gave her corn, and wine, and oil, and multiplied her silver and gold, which they prepared for Baal" (Hos. 2:8).

When we refuse to honor the Maker and Giver of life, and we refuse to bless the name of the one who gives us these mountains of corn from Iowa, it is not surprising that we wax fat and kick. When we appeal to the processes of evolution, as Pollan regularly does, we are perpetuating the central problem. The problem is not the corn, but rather our refusal say a blessing over it.

"For every creature of God is good, and nothing to be refused, if it be received with thanksgiving" (1 Tim. 4:4).

One other point to make in passing. America is not suffering an "epidemic" of obesity, because obesity is not something you catch from other people, as though it were the flu. And even where obesity on the rise becomes an actual problem -- you get Type II diabetes, or you have to get other people to tie your shoes for you -- we should always beware of statistics in the mouths of reformers and zealots. BMI (Body Mass Index) calculations, as in the case of athletes, can be wildly and laughably inaccurate.

Greg Linscott
Marshall, MN

Jonathan Charles's picture

I struggle with my weight. These are some thoughts I've had about my struggle:

1. Many of my church members work jobs that require physical labor, but a pastor's job can almost be entirely devoid of any physical activity, thus the pastor has a harder time keeping his weight off.

2. When I first began pastoring, my office was at home. I found this to be a bad arrangement with the fridge being less than 25 feet away.

3. It takes a good hour a day to get exercise. Many days it seems as if there is just not enough time to get this hour of exercise in.

4. A gym may not be in one's community. Some may not be comfortable going to exercise where women might dress immodestly.

5. Good exercise equipment is expensive. My dream is a Precor elliptical, models start at $2300. The thing about at-home equipment is that you can exercise before or after dark. There might not be enough free time in the daylight to get the long walk you need.

I think #3 is the key. I know I just need to make the time to get a walk or run in.

I also think that if it is obvious that the pastor struggles with his weight, the church ought to offer to help. I know this depends on a church's finances, but purchasing a good treadmill or elliptical, which might run $2500-3000, will pay off much larger dividends for the church. Some companies offer at-work gyms, others arrange for discounted gym memberships for employees, why shouldn't the church be as concerned about this? A healthy pastor will have more energy and will live longer.

Jim's picture

I would be regarded as obese. It's been a lifetime struggle.

This sounds like an excuse but being handicapped doesn't help

My Dr is on me every year about it

I do think that obesity is a bad testimony.

Bob T.'s picture

"The fat belongs to the Lord"(Lev. 3:16).

We should endeavor to be all His.

I am tired of the "new morality paradigm." Sleep with many women , have four wives, drink what you want, but jog every morning and eat healthy and you are a great example for society.

Christians always bring up the "gluttony" example without ever checking a good Bible dictionary for Biblical definition which indicates it is not just over eating and has nothing to do with being overweight. It involved the excesses of the orgy with eating, purging, more eating, drunkenness, and sexual promiscuity.

It would be pleasing to God to endeavor to have correct weight and to exercise even though God explicitly warns that bodily exercise is of little value when compared to Godliness (1Tim. 4:8). Which must indicate one can be Godly without exercise.

In regard to the Pastor and immoral temptation, Carl Henry once said; "perhaps it would be better if we all were overweight and bald headed."

There was a time in my life when I was on a diet, ran two miles each morning and was in good condition. But it was my choice for the time and did not make me any more Godly than anyone else. Now I am over weight again just like when I was in school. Weight is a battle for me. I know and have known, people that eat everything they see and don't exercise at all but are of normal weight. Weight is not always an over eating v. healthy eating issue. It varies by degrees (or pounds).

So come on tubo preachers, prance, and preach, and yell, and shout, but just make sure the platform is well braced.

I am not Bald headed!

dgszweda's picture

It is not really about exercise. Most overweight people go home and than flop down for at least 30 minutes a night to watch tv or the news. 30 minutes a day for a brisk walk is plenty of exercise for most people. The real issue is eating. It doesn't matter if you are handicapped, have bad metabolism or what. It all comes down to eating. It is the inability to control ourselves and the desire to please the flesh. And it is really not a lot different than any other fleshly desire. Gluttony is really the idea of not being able to control the Godly practice of enjoying food but really taking it beyond what your body needs. You can sit in a chair all day and eat twinkies and still not gain weight, if you balance it properly. If you like to eat more, than you need to exercise more to burn the excess calories. Yes, some people have slow metabolisms, that will be that individuals struggle, but it is no different than those that like to drink and struggle with that fleshly desire. It is all about bringing your weaknesses into submission.

Before, anyone yells at me. I struggle with my weight big time. But 3 years ago, I came under the conviction that I needed to loose the weight. So in 6 months I worked very hard to control my food intake and excercise (no fancy diets, just reduced the calories to the right amount) and lost 100 lbs. I am now at about 150lbs. It was hard, but it can be done. And even at 150lbs, I struggle with my weight and with eating. I will always struggle with my weight, because that is my weakness in life. But I cannot see how not controlling it and letting myself balloon to an enormous weight and blaming it on all kinds of things is right.

It bothers me when an overweight or obese pastor is up preaching, and banging the pulpit and telling men to control their fleshly desire and turn away from pornography, yet they are feeding their flesh in the same manner. You cannot pick one and ignore the other. I know I step on the toes of a good many fundamentalist pastors, but it is what it is.

Jonathan Charles's picture

For what it's worth, a while back I checked out a rumor that one's stomach shrinks when you diet. That isnt' true, but most dietician's assert that if you can keep a diet up for 1 month, then at the end of the month your stomach will learn to be full on what has been your intake for the last month. The problem with me is I don't usually get past 2 1/2 days.

Pastor Joe Roof's picture

Here's was Spurgeon had to say:

That narrow chest does not indicate a man
formed for public speech. You may think it odd, but still I feel very well
assured, that when a man has a contracted chest, with no distance between
his shoulders, the all-wise Creator did not intend him habitually to preach.
If he had meant him to speak he would have given him in some measure
breadth of chest, sufficient to yield a reasonable amount of lung force.