Friday, June 14, 2013

Christian Gnosticism showing up: Showing up on unhealthy bodies.

A 2006 Purdue University study first broke the news that religious people tended to be heavier than nonreligious, with "fundamental Christians" weighing in as the heaviest of all religious groups.  Lead researcher Ken Ferraro minced no words: "America is becoming a nation of gluttony and obesity, and churches are a feeding ground for this problem."

-from an excellent article in the June 2013 issue of Christianity Today, entitled "The Fitness Driven Church."

More from the article, written by the very gifted Leslie Leyland Fields:

"We've been teaching very little about 'body,' and when we do, it's primarily negative: don't get drunk, don't smoke or take drugs, and don't have sex outside of marriage," Gary Thomas, author of Every Body Matters: Strengthening Your Body to Strengthen Your Soul, tells me. "Until recently, we've not known where to go from there."

After years of being a consumer of MSEM ("Mainstream Evangelical Media,") whether directly from the pulpit, in Sunday School classes, at conferences, magazines, etc., it has only been in the last several years that I awakened to what I describe as an aspect of Christian Gnosticism, an aspect that ignores the importance of what we put into our bodies and taking care of them.  Ms. Fields refers to the problem as "dualism".  Her article quotes 1 Corinthians 6:19-20, and that's one of many appropriate Biblical references:

19 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;20 you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.

My kids will remind me that, years ago, when I taught a high school Sunday School class that each of them attended, I would bring to each class meeting a box of a dozen freshly baked donuts from Dunkin'.  Mea culpa.  On the subject of churches feeding children and young people bad food (not to mention adults), Ms. Fields reports:

An 18-year Northwestern University study released in 2011 found those who attended youth group as teenagers were 50 percent more likely to be obese by the time they were 50 than those who didn't.

(Two years I posted on a fine article in CT written by Leslie Leyland Fields on the matter of what church-goers eat.)

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