The first of the seven deadly sins I chose to tackle is one that many people think has been wiped from existence, gluttony. In C.S. Lewis’s The Screwtape Letters he says, “One of the great, achievements of the last hundred years has been to deaden the human conscience to this subject, so that by now you will hardly find a sermon preached or a conscience troubled by it throughout the whole breadth of England.” Gluttony by definition is the sin of over-consumption of either food, drink, or wealth. It was originally taught by the church as eating more than one should and not giving properly to the poor. However, in our culture today it can look a lot different than sneaking the extra slice of pie.
I have broken down gluttony into what I like to think are 3 main parts:
- Overindulgence: This is not the same as it was hundreds of years ago. Nowadays it is not seen as a sin to eat a snack before dinner. However, it can be eating the last bit of chips when you’re not hungry so your brother has none to pack in his lunch. Or it can be as serious as getting super drunk every weekend or even every so often. Overindulgence can even show up in things we consider good and healthy, like going to the gym every day. This is a great thing. However, it becomes a problem when we are consumed with working out, or with eating healthy. When we get to the point that we can’t skip a day of working out or can’t enjoy the occasional cookie or 8. Everything needs to have moderation.
- All-I-Want-Mindset: This is the type of gluttony that is mentioned in The Screwtape Letters, “ The woman is in what I call an “All-I-want” state of mind. She is an absolute terror to hostesses and servants. She is always turning away what has been offered to her with a demure little smile. She never recognizes as gluttony her determination to get what she wants, however troublesome it may be to others.” We live in a generation that is the era of customization and of making everything able to fit everyone’s smallest needs. This is raising a generation of people to not be able to handle not getting what they want. An example of this could be getting upset at your mom because she won’t let you get your dream formal dress because it doesn’t come with a dream price tag. You might pout for days and never think about how hard your mother had to work for that money, what else it could be going towards, or how it might break her heart that she can’t provide it for you. It can be getting really upset that your sketchy college cafeteria suddenly got rid of your beloved flavored water for a week. Now, they still had water, milk, a variety of teas, juices, and sodas but I’m pretty sure I told half my friends how ticked I was to have to drink “regular” water. I didn’t stop to think how lucky I am to have acceptable drinking water at my disposal, or about how the college might be using the funding that came from my flavored water to give to scholarships or to build new buildings that would benefit the campus. We are so blessed that sometimes we take things for granted.
- Cultural gluttony: This can be as normal and awesome as spending all day in a Netflix coma while you binge yourself to death on Grey’s Anatomy. While you keep hitting the “Yes!! I’m still watching” button, you curse your mother and ignore the checklist of things to do she left you, forget to pray for your friend who just texted you telling you she is struggling, and yell at your dog to stop her feeble attempts to try to get you to pet her. All because YOU wanted to spend time watching Netflix. Can’t you relate? I know I can. Gluttony at its core cannot be disguised as anything but selfishness. Another example could be spending too much of your time being a slave to certain social medias. Being consumed with how many likes your last picture on Instagram got or how funny your next tweet can be to get a ton of favorites, I’ve been there. I still offer my tweet suggestions to my mom or roommate before I post them just to make sure they’re as funny as I think. It can even be our drive to have the most expensive this or that so we can brag to our friends. When we find ourselves thinking too much about how many likes to get on Facebook or how we can one-up our friends on social media and the world, we stop thinking about what God wants. We stop thinking about how our worth can only come from Him alone. We forget that our worldly possessions and all the likes and favorites we ever get won’t earn us any brownie points for furthering His kingdom.
These sins might disguise themselves as not seeming like a very big deal, but just like a scab you can’t stop picking at, they have a funny way of becoming an infection right under our noses. Ways to fight off gluttony can be praying to God to give you wisdom to weed out areas of your life where you are idolizing things over Him or other people. Pray to be less selfish (this is something I should do hourly) but pray that you can try your best to put other people above yourself. It’s time to curb our diets from the worldly things we all like to overindulge in. Are you up for the task?