“The soul is more important than the body.”
In my six years as a Biblical Natural Health Practitioner, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard people say that in response to conviction to eat healthy. But what they are really saying is,”This is not an area in my life that I want to change.”
And it’s so discouraging. It’s heartbreaking. It does not glorify God and it does not help encourage others in the very real and prevalent problems plaguing the church. The problems that I get emails about every single day.
So in honor of those dear brothers and sisters who have emailed me with their heart-wrenching stories of devastating health problems related to this topic, let’s explore some of the problems with this phrase.
It Ignores the Health Problems Plaguing People in the Church
For one thing, obesity is more common in the church than other groups of society. 1 Studies have even shown that people are more likely to be overweight the more church functions they attend.
What do we expect when we are serving donuts and cookies at every gathering throughout the week?
Once discovering the link between sugar consumption and heart disease, the American Heart Association released guidelines for a maximum daily intake of added sugars.
The average serving size of cookie(s) is 12 grams. That is a child’s entire daily maximum recommended amount of added sugars for the entire day. 2 graham crackers is 8 grams–2/3 of their daily maximum.2 You can see where this goes in their heart health…
And we must discuss the psychological effects of sugar consumption as well. There are numerous studies showing the link between mental illnesses like depression and anxiety and a person’s sugar consumption. 3
Noted British psychiatric researcher Malcolm Peet has conducted a provocative cross-cultural analysis of the relationship between diet and mental illness. His primary finding may surprise you: a strong link between high sugar consumption and the risk of bothdepression and schizophrenia.
Adding caffeine to the mix greatly increases those risks.4
…the condition of relative hypoglycemia is one of the most common causes of neuropsychiatric illness, and I should like to propose that it has been caused by changes in human dietary habits.
The study proved that a traditional diet of unprocessed foods will have a dramatic effect on 85 percent of neuropsychiatric patients
Having soda machines in the church especially is a doorway to mental (and physical) illness in our teens.
There is a multitude of other ways this high-sugar pattern contributes to poor health: destroying beneficial gut flora and thereby increasing problems like eczema, food allergies, immune health (sugar consumption shuts down white blood cell production for up to five hours after consumption 5), and feeding cancer cells.
It Ignores the Wisdom & Warnings In God’s Word on the Subject
Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies. (1 Corinthians 6:19-20)
In the Old Testament, we can see the lengthy and painstaking measures that were taken in order to maintain the temple. But when the Lord came and gave His Spirit so that we became the Temple, it seems that we have lost that holy respect for the Temple.
The prudent see danger and take refuge, but the simple keep going and pay the penalty. (Proverbs 22:3)
When he mentioned the ark of God, Eli fell backward off his chair by the side of the gate. His neck was broken and he died, for he was an old man, and he was heavy. (1 Samuel 4:19)
From Character Sketches Vol. 1:
Notice the last word in that sentence? “Heavy.” Overweight, essentially. It was one of the two causes listed of Eli’s death. Here, the Bible makes sure to mention that his death was a direct consequence of his weight.
Eli is most remembered for being the priest who took little Samuel in when his mother Hannah dedicated him to the Lord as she promised she would.
It’s not often he is known as having been overweight and gluttonous. But these habits had far-reaching consequences on the history of God’s people.
“Eli’s sons were wicked men; they had no regard for the Lord.” 1 Samuel 2:12
These sons of Eli would take more of the meat than they were supposed to and had immoral relationships with women. (Doesn’t sound too abnormal in today’s society, does it?!)
Eli tried rebuking them, but it was too late. His sons, along with the guidance of their overweight father, lead 30,000 Israelites to their death in a battle where they also lost the cherished Ark of the Covenant.
“But why had the priest failed? Why had his sons become gluttonous and immoral? The answer is found in a failure–a lack of discipline in his life. He had a problem of self-control in the area of eating. As his sons grew up, they were very aware of this weakness.
Eli’s lack of self-control in this area opened the way for Satan to defeat his sons in related areas of self-control. The discipline and training for leadership which could have saved their lives and the nation’s future were never given.”
Healthy eating doesn’t just include eating foods that nourish our bodies, and it isn’t about being skinny. It also means eating in a self-controlled manner; and it means teaching our children to be self-controlled as well.
“But the fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, and self control.” Galatians 5:22
The way we eat and maintain our body, God’s Temple, is outward evidence of our spirit and where our heart really is in our relationship with God. They are equally as important because they interrelated.
And it can have a direct impact on our children’s spirit as well.
It Mocks Sin
There are dozens of verses in God’s Word about gluttony. Unfortunately, many Christians joke about it instead. Memes on social media like this one shared by a church leader:
I know, I need to lighten up. But I can’t when I get emails every single day about the overwhelming health problems plaguing my brothers and sisters caused by poor diet. It would take a 10-part blog post series to share some of these heartbreaking emails I get daily. And it’s from the same people who share these kinds of things and their friends who like these posts. These same people who struggle with depression, constant sickness, and being overweight.
We have to stop making a mockery of this lack of self-control and poor stewardship. We want our children to demonstrate self-control in the way they treat others, the way they choose their friends, what they choose to do for extracurricular activities and for peer pressure issues like sex and drugs, but for some reason we feel that having self-control over how we feed our bodies, God’s Temple, is not important. I’m just struggling to understand this.
We must start exposing the sins of gluttony and food addictions, rather than joke about them or make light of them, so that we can set people free and save them–physically, emotionally, and most importantly, spiritually.
Sugar is a Class A addictive substance, just like cocaine and heroin. (Click here to read my post proving that point with research.) I have helped many people overcome sugar addiction the same way drug and alcohol recovery counselors help people overcome other addictions. It’s just not something to joke about.
Some may say that all food is good that God has made. That is very true. But we are calling everything in the grocery store “food.” Twinkies with hydrogenated oils, processed sugar, and artificial colors is not food. Propylene glycol (ingredient used in anti-freeze) found in almost all store-bought ice cream is not food that God has made. It is a food-like substance made by Man. Where does it end with what we call “food?”
Saying, “The soul is more important than the body,” gives God’s people the excuse to continue dishonoring God with their Temple stewardship. It gives people the excuse to feed their gluttony. It steals the opportunity to grow closer in our walk with God by honoring Him with our daily choices and clinging to Him when we struggle with food addictions. It gives the Enemy an open door to our mental health. And it leaves many feeling too plagued with food-induced health problems to be effective ministers of God’s power.
You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love. (Galatians 5:13)
I also pray that you will understand the incredible greatness of God’s power for us who believe him. This is the same mighty power that raised Christ from the dead and seated him in the place of honor at God’s right hand in the heavenly realms. (Ephesians 1:19-20)
God has given us so much in His creation for our health–plants for food, plants for healing herbs and oils, and so much more. (Check out my post here contrasting the differences between what God has given us for medicine and conventional medicine and what Scripture says about this.) And since I have discovered this for myself, my family, and my clients, I have seen God’s blessings and glory poured out. It is so amazing, and it is my most sincere desire and my passion to see more of God’s people experience this.
But I would like to clarify–this message is intended for people who have already received their salvation and are secure in their eternal destiny. Because people who aren’t Christians usually don’t use this phrase.
For those who have NOT committed their lives to Jesus Christ and accepted His gift of eternal life, it would be better to lose your physical health than to lose your eternity. Living a healthy lifestyle will not matter if a person will spend eternity without God. For those who may be reading this and are not sure about their eternity, please feel free to contact me anytime to discuss this. Because if there has to be a choice, your eternity is far more important.
This post is for those who are seeking to honor God with their whole lives and not settle for just “working on the soul.” It is for those who desire to experience God’s goodness and His power in all areas of life and want to glorify Him in their stewardship. Because for those who truly do have God’s Spirit living inside of them, there is no need to choose between your soul and your body. God’s Spirit gives us the power to be victorious in all areas of life.
Blessings of good health,
~Sara Jo Poff