Monday, January 30, 2012

Weight Loss in The Church: Are The Thin More Holy?

Rick Warren's Diet Plan

Another Weight Loss pastor [picture of his book below]

Fat people can be shamed even in the churches. Life for the superfat person in church can get interesting. I loved my last town's small church because once they defended me. A visiting fat-hating preacher came to one of our revival services. I wasn't there, but one of my church friends told me later what happened, this man decided to make me an example during one of his sermons, and started talking about people with too much gluttony who would end up in "hell" and started insulting and mocking me from the pulpit. He had seen me the day before, during the week long revival services but that day I was not present. His squinty small eyes through their round glasses had given me the once over, with a look of  disgust, but there was no inkling of what would come next. The ironic thing, that was the immediate time, I had just lost down from near 700lbs with at least 160lbs gone down to the 500s.

To protect my feelings, the friend would not tell me EXACTLY what was said but it was long, vicious and attacked me for being very fat.  This friend told me over 10 church members got up and walked out. To me, it was one of those moments of feeling loved and defended by people. They were more of a true family to me in many ways.  For you see these church members knew me as a person, and I had told many in the church about my health problems and severe fast weight gain and they knew what my day to day life was like.

Rick Warren is selling weight loss at his church. I guess that is where the money lies. So sad, that one place fat people should feel safe, and I have no problem with a church advancing healthy eating, or facing one's choices, and my country church even taught me to make bread from scratch, but to go to church and have it be another diet-fest with weight-ins included sounds like a nightmare and just another place where "thin is in". How does it feel for the fat person who may fail to lose weight or enough weight in one of those circles?

Anyone remember the days of  Gwen Shamblin? I took one of those classes at a local church, and remember reading her books, this one as well as "Exodus: Out of Egypt".

Her books had the strange advice, that one could escape dieting and eat whatever they "wanted" [that one with endless caveats] and that one would end up thin. It seemed absurd to the max, as that advice was mixed and blended with advice to imagine maggots and mold growing on your food so you would not eat it. She was drummed out of some church circles more for odd theology. The books allowed nothing for differences in metabolism and seemed to focus on someone getting an eating disorder and aversion towards food to run that show.

One thing I faced being a super-fat person in religious circles, is often fat and spirituality are seen as going hand in hand. In a previous church, I was told if I had enough "faith" I would become thin. Consider the inverse of that.  Does that mean slim and healthy people are all necessarily holier? Doesn't our society ALREADY BELIEVE THAT? 

Hey maybe use these verses at your church's next diet meeting

Pro 13:4 The soul of the sluggard desireth, and [hath] nothing: but the soul of the diligent shall be made fat.

Pro 15:30 The light of the eyes rejoiceth the heart: [and] a good report maketh the bones fat.

Pro 28:25 He that is of a proud heart stirreth up strife: but he that putteth his trust in the LORD shall be made fat.

Also if you are fat and sick, and get close to someone, you have to be careful of those who will turn you into a "project" friend, someone they want to "fix" for whatever reason. Some of these people are well-meaning and loving people but it does not set up a healthy relationship whatsoever. There one must only give something like that to God, and not let someone have that superior position over you.

Let me put it this way, I have learned that lesson quite majorly. This was something I faced in churches, some ladies with something to prove, who would befriend the sick, disabled and severely overweight lady, to look good to others in one case, and maybe with good intentions in the other, but then guess what happens, if you do not lose weight, or not lose enough [only 70lbs over 5 years in my case], or get healthy, and too much time passes. The "friendship" implodes. You were not fixed, healed, etc. Now one thing here, even Paul had an infirmity that he had life long [Gal 4:13], it was not weight I am sure, but while God will heal many things and keep praying and hoping, living in the natural world, some do have life long health problems.

I had one lady tell me, that my weight was an attack on my "testimony" and that people would not trust a word coming from a dysfunctional fat person who couldn't even get things together to lose weight. I've read and gone to the OverEater's Anonymous meetings where fat and spirituality are in one huge ball, and where good spirituality supposedly means automatically a thinner body.

This can do a number on a person's mind. What does it do when your body itself, in some of these circles is seen as an implication against your faith or your relationship with God or level of spiritual maturity? Even in other religions besides Christianity, one can see weight treated the same way. In the New Age, there are so many New Age diet books, and even in other religions where diet and spirituality comingle and health seen as a marker of  "spiritual well-being".

These programs seem to be growing more popular. And one thing, while you get the pile of diet books and rest, I have never been able to AFFORD one of these diets, the recipes with endless vegetables and rest have been so beyond my financial means they are laughable. Even the other day, I gleefully found this dairy free health food recipe website, to realize I would need at least a few hundred for the groceries instead of the actual 80 bucks I had.

Here are more recent examples of the push to sell weight loss in the churches or in a spiritual context:

Considering all this dieting is failing....where are things going to lead to?

When THIN BODY is seen as HOLY above fat bodies. Some of these programs will even lambast the fat at an even deeper level, saying people are fat because of what they lack between the ears, and that it is a failure of their mind, will and having a close enough relationship with God. It's odd some even use things like "affirmations" that used to be only part of the New Age movement.

I doubt God is judging so much based on outward appearances, and God knows what you eat or do not eat. It seems the culture of Hollywood and the superficial has fully entered the churches. Remember this article:
"The Body Isn't Everything"?

With my own spiritual walk, I figure God knows what I face, do and eat and I decided long ago to do the best I could, pray, and let the chips fall where they may. Even the fact I am still alive, is gift from God. Those who hit the 700lb mark usually go over the cliff. The diet and exercise formulas are failing even those who add the spiritual elements to it all. I think God may have something to say to those who profit from greed ruining our food and about an entire modern life style that has become toxic on so many levels, spiritually and physically.


  1. There's nothing worse than a sanctimonious hypocrite, and if there is a hell there is a special place in it for so called "men of God" like that sham of a preacher. I am livid that he did such a horrible, lowlife thing with you as the scapegoat.
    These types are probably cut from the same cloth as this jerk who once told me (online) that "your kind of people would be cured of your mental illness if you would just start praying." I don't have any problem with people praying if that's what works for them, but I have a good friend who is a very strong believer--and she is still mentally ill. I think maybe the Powers that Be work on a different agenda. Maybe they don't see us "flawed folk" as anything but okay the way we are.

  2. I believe that particular guy is a false preacher and a wolf in sheep's clothing, he would return to the church acouple times though many in the audience did not like his preaching. I stayed away everytime, fortunately this was only once or twice a year. I think people do have problems, with mental illness and others, that are rooted in chemical, and physiological problems, prayer I believe helps, but there many seem to misunderstand even the Bible. Paul himself had an infirmity, even Jesus said regarding the blind man, when the apostles asked if his blindness was the result of sin, was not blind because of sins of himself or parents. Things happen in this fallen world. I think the powers that be definitely have another agenda.