Some Christians take a true doctrine, that our bodies are the temple of God and use it to teach a false doctrine that our bodies being the temple of God means that all Christians must be fit.
This the second part of my series on the false doctrine of fitism.
Just a quick recap from part of one this series on fitism. I am defining fitism as the belief that a requirement of godliness is being fit – meaning that Christians are required to have regimented diet and exercise plans for the purpose of having toned bodies and flat stomachs.
Despite the clear teaching of 1 Timothy 4:8 which separates physical exercise from godliness and the biblical condemnation of judging others based on their diets in Romans 14:2-4 fitists try to undermine these passages with another biblical teaching that our bodies are the temple of God.
Our Bodies Are Indeed the Temple of God
In 1 Corinthians 3:16-17 the Bible states “Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are.”
Adherents of Fitism would claim that people who don’t have flat stomachs due to lack of a regimented diet and exercise plan are defiling the temple of God. But Jesus told us something very different about what defiles our bodies.
In Matthew 15:11 Jesus said “Not that which goeth into the mouth defileth a man; but that which cometh out of the mouth, this defileth a man”. Christ said it is not the food which goes into our mouths which defiles our body, but it is when we use our body for sin – that defiles.
In 1 Corinthians 6:18-20 the Bible says “he that committeth fornication sinneth against his own body. What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? … therefore glorify God in your body…”
Again, we see a common theme in the Scriptures when the principle that our bodies are the temple of God is mentioned. And that theme is that we defile or sin against our body and against God when we use our body for sinful purposes.
The Fitist would respond “Well engaging in gluttony is using your body for sinful purposes”. And I would agree with that statement. But the Bible would disagree with the fitist definition of a glutton being someone who does not have a flat stomach.
What Does the Bible Say About Gluttony
The Bible says in Proverbs 23:21 “For the drunkard and the glutton shall come to poverty: and drowsiness shall clothe a man with rags”. The Hebrew word “Zalal” which is translated as “glutton” in this verse means “to be vile or riotous”. The same Hebrew word is used in Proverbs 23:20 where it states “Be not among winebibbers; among riotous eaters of flesh”.
Proverbs 25:16 gives us a clue as to what the Bible is actually condemning when it condemns zalal which we call gluttony. It states “Hast thou found honey? eat so much as is sufficient for thee, lest thou be filled therewith, and vomit it”. Gluttony is the sin of eating so much, that you feel like you’re going to vomit or you actually do vomit because of how much you have eaten.
Gluttony in the Bible is riotous eating. It is always closely linked with drunkenness. It has to do with non-stop eating and drinking such as one would do at parties. A glutton could be a skinny person or a fat person. But being fat is not equal to being a glutton.
The Bible Shows Some Amount of Fat to Be a Good Thing
When Proverbs 28:25 says “…he that putteth his trust in the Lord shall be made fat” the Bible is not saying that only people who are overweight are trusting in God. It uses the Hebrew word for fat, “dashen”, as a metaphor for prosperity. But biblical metaphors matter.
For instance, in Proverbs 5:15 the Bible uses the picture of a man drinking water out of his own well as a metaphor for him having sex with his wife. The metaphor is important – because it teaches us that sex is a need for a man, much like water is a need for the human body.
Many modern translations replace biblical metaphors with what the metaphors literally mean, thus robbing Christians of the additional truths that metaphors can teach us. Every word of the Bible matters and every metaphor matters.
So, when the Bible uses the metaphor of someone being made fat to communicate that those who trust in the Lord will be made prosperous, we need to look at the metaphor itself, not just what it points to. In Biblical times wealthy men and women were often overweight and this was a sign of prosperity.
Metaphors can be used in positive and negative ways in the Bible. And when God uses a metaphor to communicate something positive, such as when a man trusts in God he will be made to prosper, the metaphor is also something God approves of.
God is teaching us two truths in the last half of Proverbs 28:25. The most literal truth is that God will make the man who trusts in him to prosper. The second truth found in the use of the metaphor is that God sees some form of fatness on a person as a good thing.
Now the fatness which God uses in a positive sense is not speaking of morbid obesity. God does not make people weigh 600 pounds. The sin of gluttony makes people weigh 600 lbs. So, if God is not speaking positively of morbid obesity, what fatness on a person could be positive?
There is not an exact answer given in the Scriptures. This area of body weight, like many other gray areas in the Bible, is left to husbands and fathers to decide as the interpreters and appliers of Scripture for their homes.
The Bible never connects the principle that our bodies are the temple of God with us needing to meticulously care for our bodily health. But rather it connects the principle of our bodies being the temple of God with us using our bodies for sin.
The Bible shows us that God sees some level of fatness as positive thing (Prov 28:25) while at the same time God condemns the sin of gluttony (Prov 23:21). This teaches us the Biblical truth that it is possible to be fat and not be a glutton.
In part three of this series we will address the Biblical definition of health verses the worldly definition of health.