[Mbird friend John Stamper recently forwarded me a fascinating article about the book, The Fattening Of America. Among other things, the book relates the findings of a study which claims that, "many individuals are making a conscious decision to engage in a lifestyle that is obesity-promoting." What follows is Stamper's commentary on the issues raised by the article.]
When the article was posted on the [Angilcan news-] website TitusOneNine, it lead to a thread of responses, which largely fell into two categories. One group claimed that obesity was fine or it didn’t have anything to do with overeating; and the other side pointed out how people only got fat as a result of their “choice” and therefore should be condemned for it. The two groups were also mirrored inside the article itself.
As always, what is missing in many of these kinds of discussions, certainly those in the secular press but also elsewhere, is the Pauline appreciation of the bound will (e.g. in Romans 7). The two classic postures in every such debate are repeated: one side denies the existence of sin (the weight tables are wrong, the extra pounds have no relation to me overeating) and the other (in this case thinner) side Pharasaically condemns the sinners for failing to “just say no” to gluttony—why can’t they exercise their glorious Pelagian free will—why are they CHOOSING this?
The most poignant passage in the whole article to my mind was: “For many, this is a problem they have struggled with for many years… it gets discouraging after a while,” [Dr. Linda Gotthelf (ed. - great name!!)] said. “I would not doubt that if you asked obese people if they could push a button and not be obese, close to 100 percent would say they would push the button.”
It’s the closest the article gets to a touching compassionate appreciation of the human problem of sin, which never gets “fixed” in this life, even for Christians. (See Article IX of the Thirty Nine Articles!)
Thank God that Christ Jesus is the Friend of Sinners, and his love is showered especially upon the unrighteous, those unable to keep the law. And thank God for the comfortable words repeated in the old Anglican liturgies.