Seven Deadly Sins – Gluttony

The deadly sin we want to consider today is the sin of gluttony. This comes from the Latin
word which means to swallow or gulp down. The idea of there being 7 deadly sins is not an
inspired one, and it is at this point that I would contend that gluttony is probably not a valid
candidate for even the traditional definition of a deadly sin that of being a gateway sin, a
cardinal sin, and therefore one of the deadly sins that leads to other sins. It is true that the
first sin in the bible was a sin related to food, but it was not the sin of gluttony but the
desire to be like God that lay at the heart of it. In my research of the roots and
development of this sin it seems clear to me that there was an outside influence of
asceticism that informs the choice of gluttony. The early church was not always able to
disentangle itself from some of the baggage of Greek philosophy and other bad thinking.
This was especially true as it related to matters of the body. Greek philosophy usually saw a
human being as a mind/soul trapped in a body, the body was not good though fallen it was
all bad; it was the job of the mind using the will to rule the body and not vice versa.
Beastliness and therefore to be sub-human was to be driven by these natural drives and not
by the pursuit of virtue and the intellectual leading of the mind. Giving into desire in general
was weakness, this led to all sorts of caricatures like women being weak because they are
the more emotional sex, and men being strong because they are the more intellectually
detached. This bled into Christianity in various ways were we see a high premium being put
on the monastic life, the celibate life, the simple life that held a similar attitude towards
things like sex and eating. At this point in Western culture this emphasis on discipline and
not giving into desire is making a comeback as people react to the over-indulgence of
Western culture in general. Unsaved philosophy and psychology can see how destructive it
is to be ruled by our passions and have advocated the pursuit of virtue as the good life. You
can hear how some of that emphasis on discipline and the Bible’s own message about living
by the Spirit and not the flesh can have a lot of overlap even sounding similar. But they are
in fact very different, polar opposites in fact. One is a pathway to hell as people seek to
improve themselves without God; the other is a pathway that only those who are born again
can tread with the help of the Holy Spirit.