The short answer to this question is no – being fat is not synonymous with gluttony in the Bible. Biblically speaking, sometimes fat people are gluttons and sometimes they are not. It all depends on how fat they are as well as the reasons that they are fat. But from a biblical perspective, it is also possible for a fit person to be a glutton as well.
This will be the first in a series of articles I will be doing on the errors of what I am calling “Fitism”. Fitism is not a term that is original to me, however my use of the term for theological purposes is new (to the best of my knowledge).
Fitism as I am defining it for theological purposes, is the belief that part of being godly is being fit. “Fitists” believe that God wants all people to have a strictly regimented diet and exercise program with the intended result of producing a toned body with a flat stomach. Having any excess belly fat, as opposed to a flat stomach is “immoral” in the view of fitists.
William Spencer, of renofmen.com has a large following on Instagram (@renofmen) with traditional Christians. Recently he wrote a post on Instagram entitled “Obesity, Christianity and Relationships Part 1”. In this post Spencer wrote the following:
“The Bible doesn’t include specific guidance on physical fitness. It talks about moral fitness and spiritual fitness, but apparently not physical fitness…
This poses a problem for those of us who care about these things.
We know in our bones that fitness is moral.
We also know in our bones that fatness is immoral.”
So, the synopsis of Spencer’s argument is “The Bible never tells Christians to have diet and exercise plans to have toned bodies and flat stomachs – but we fit people just known in our bones that being fit is moral and being fat is immoral.”
I have been meaning to write a series of posts on the Biblical view of health and fitness for a very long time. And when I saw this post and that statement from William Spencer, it was like God was hanging a neon sign in front of me saying “Larry its time to write that series on a Biblical view of fitness and health”.
I originally did this series as a set of Instagram posts (my Instagram handle is @biblicalgenderroles). This series for Biblicalgenderroles.com is mostly me porting that series back here with a little extra information in some places.
Not only will I be correcting the error of Spencer in his statements above with the Bible, but I will also in this series cover other arguments that fitists attempt to make in support of their false doctrine of fitism.
And finally, before we dive in deeper into this subject of fitism, I want to say one more thing. I have friends, both on Instagram, this blog, Facebook and in person who are big time into fitness. In the same way that I maintain that not all fat people are gluttons, I also believe that not all Christians who live a fit lifestyle are fitists. But the sad truth is, many Christians who live a fit lifestyle are indeed fitists.
The Bible Actually Does Speak Directly to Fitness
A critical aspect of a fitness is having an exercise routine. And the Bible speaks specifically to the relationship of bodily exercise to godliness in 1 Timothy 4:8 (KJV):
“For bodily exercise profiteth little: but godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come.”
The Bible makes a clear separation between bodily exercise, one of the two pillars of physical fitness, and godliness. God could have said “bodily exercise is part of godliness, but it is not the whole of godliness” or something like that. But God completely separates and divorces the concept of Christians having exercise routines from them being godly.
In other words, having an exercise routine is not a requirement of being a godly Christian.
But what about the second pillar of fitness which is diet. Does the Bible require that Christians have a regimented diet? The answer is no.
The Bible Does Not Require Christians to Have a Regimented Diet
While there certainly were many dietary restrictions in the Old Testament, the New Testament lifts all dietary restrictions.
Jesus said the following in Matthew 15:11(KJV):
“Not that which goeth into the mouth defileth a man; but that which cometh out of the mouth, this defileth a man.”
And the Apostle Paul wrote the following in Romans 14:2-4(KJV):
“For one believeth that he may eat all things: another, who is weak, eateth herbs. Let not him that eateth despise him that eateth not; and let not him which eateth not judge him that eateth: for God hath received him. Who art thou that judgest another man’s servant? to his own master he standeth or falleth. Yea, he shall be holden up: for God is able to make him stand.”
The New Testament is clear in the above passages that we as Christians are not to judge one another based on our diets.
One of the common things I have seen with fitists I have dealt with in traditional Christian circles is that not only do they believe being fit is a requirement of godliness, but they also believe that Christians must eat only organic and foods and nothing artificial or processed.
Again, there is nothing wrong with a man choosing to have an organic diet for himself or his family. But it becomes sin when he adds this to the commands of God.
The two pillars of physical fitness which are having a regimented diet and exercise routine – are never prescribed in the Bible. In fact, as we have shown in the previous Scripture passages, the Bible completely separates godliness from physical exercise and it condemns Christians who judge others based on their diets.
In part two of this series on the false doctrine of fitism, I will cover the fitist argument that our bodies being the temple of God requires that we be fit.