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8 Responses to “Busting a Gut”

  1. Troy Osten says:

    I am a bit of a fitness nut. I go to the gym and run multiple times a week. Honestly, I enjoy it, but I realize that I am in the minority. For me it is a simple equation goes-inta (into) = goes-outta (out of), calories I mean. If you don’t balance the scale or teeter-totter tips! How do we convince our brethren to balance? “Hey, you’re fat and eat too much” doesn’t go over well. What’s the elevator pitch/story that gets the doggie-headed tilt?

  2. Mike Metzger says:


    No doubt that that frontal approach is an affront to most if not many. Try the Socratic approach. “Have you ever wondered why God created us to sustain life and flourish via eating? He doesn’t have to eat and could have also made us this way. Could there be more going on than simply stuffing our faces?” Troy, I’ll try to tease this out more in a few weeks – but try the Socratic approach.

  3. Mark Jones says:


    I like this piece and follow Troy’s approach in my own eating. It is clear to anyone who has tried to lose weight and failed, or gained it all back, that simply changing ones behavior is not the answer. People must fundamentally change their view of food and health to make any real progress against the temptation to overeat. Too many people justify their habits based on the norm around them instead of considering what they “ought” to do. The relative comparisons to others simply help them justify eating more than they should and the wrong kinds of foods.

    My struggle in trying to influence people in the right direction on this topic is to come up with clear ways to frame up how they should view food and gluttony. Food is good and meant for nourishment and our enjoyment. However, those who eat what they shouldn’t often take the enjoyment part too far and don’t see the fault in it. In the past I saw their overeating as self-indulgent and a lack of discipline. I wonder if their bigger problem is that they have a warped definition of gluttony, or simply a failure to consider it such a bad thing. Do you think it’s more than that, or is it just that simple?

    I like your suggestion to Troy to take the Socratic approach with people, though I’m afraid that most people will not get past their own ingrained views without something that clearly illustrates the difference in their thinking from how they “ought” to think. I look forward to reading more of your thoughts on this topic in the future.

    This whole area illustrates a point that Jesus was making in the sermon on the mount. We must change the way we think in order to change our lives. We cannot just change our behavior to see a difference. We must view things the way we were intended to and not just add a little new information on top of our current thinking.

    One of the pastors in my church likes to say that we must change our thinking to change our feelings (independent of our circumstances), which is the way we can truly change our lives. Without changing how we think about things, we have little to no control over our feelings, and changing our lives is nearly impossible if we don’t “feel” like it. We must line up how we think to how we “ought” to think to experience the life we are intended to live.

    Thanks for this insightful piece on a very touchy subject to so many,


  4. David Greusel says:

    Mike and Troy,

    I think part of the answer to Troy’s question is found in how we Americans look at _eating_–as a “function”–as opposed to how most of the civilized world looks at dining–the act of sharing a meal. My theory, which was advanced here , is that our instrumental, non-social view of eating is a huge part of the problem.

  5. Byron Borger says:

    I am all about developing the Christian mind, and glad for this fabulous piece, and for the good responses. Mark says a pastor in his church says we have to think in a new way in order to feel differently. Books like Head, Hearts, Hands (Hollinger) and Reordered Loves, Reordered Lives (Naugle) remind us that it isn’t quite that simple. The social matrix study that Mike explains so well, our deepest desires and longings, the stuff we do, daily, and care about most, all effect our minds. A deeply Biblical view is more wholistic, I think, and knows the inter-connection and mutual influences of thinking, feeling, doing. I suspect Mark’s pastor might overstate the role of the mind.

  6. Mark Jones says:

    Byron, I agree with you completely. Thanks for the additional points. I did not mean to oversimplify the formation of the Christian mind. Ones thinking is impacted by most every part of ones life and not changed simply because one wants to do so. I believe that is why we require God’s help to make any significant change. The point my pastor was trying to make is that we are not entirely subject to our feelings. Instead, we have far greater control over them than most people recognize, by choosing what we think. For example, if I think someone is intentionally running me off the road, I might get angry at the injustice. However, if I think the person is someone who is having a problem and urgently needs to get off the road, I might be more understanding. We need not be controlled by our past thinking, feelings, or the circumstances. Thanks again.

  7. denny mitchell says:

    Great piece. Thank you for addressing this issue. This subject is an interest and burden that my wife (who works for a health and wellness foundation) and I have had for years. It has been frustrating at times; we have had very limited success in getting our brothers and sisters to see this as a stewardship issue, an issue of discipleship. We haven’t even been able to get our Christian organization with whom we serve to address this issue at a staff level. We have a Christian doctor here in the Lehigh Valley, a personal friend, who is willing to come and speak to our staff for his costs. Sigh. But there are encouraging signs. We have been able to teach on the subject at our church in Sunday School and some have heard.
    Several years ago my son and I were privileged to worship in an Iranian church with friends in northern California. I was struck at the time by the lack of prayer requests for ill people in the pastors prayer. In our church, much of the pastors prayer is on behalf of those who are ill. Keep beating this drum, Mike. We are with you 100 percent.

  8. MH says:

    I agree that obesity is a serious cultural problem in the US. I have often felt that the protestant church has contributed by its neglecting to warn against the sin of gluttony, and has generally encouraged that sin over the years with old-school pot luck dinners, etc.

    You are right on about the problems of portion sizes in restaurants, and the fattening of America, etc, but I feel that the more interesting questions around our obesity culture would ask why the problem is so much more prevalent among certain socio-demographic groups. It seems to me that one of the big taboos on discussing the true cost of obesity in healthcare is that it is seen as picking on poor southern whites, or blacks or hispanics who are particularly prone to the obesity culture. These are not the kind of people you want to be known for dissing out loud if you are a politician.

    I also wonder if there really is any link between Nietzsche and obesity. After all, his philosophical ideas are a big part of “post-Christian” Europe, yet obesity there is way behind that of the US.

    Some good ideas, though, I had never really thought about obesity as being part of the breakdown of the ought-is-can-will paradigm.

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