Being Fat in the Church, Part II . . .

8 Jan

Being Fat in the Church, Part II . . .

Some more comments on the above link (I began this post yesterday):

First of all, there is a bit of disingenuousness in several of the emphases of this Fox News editorial.  And, again, I will point out that it is an editorial in a secular publication, meant to gather readers and advertisers to their side, so there will needs be things that just don’t fit neatly with the Scriptures in it.

One of those is the way obesity is almost presented as though it were the only epidemic the church has ever faced.  There have been many much more serious epidemics in history that killed almost entire church congregations at one time.  Google the hymn history of “Now Thank We All Our God,” written by the last pastor standing in a walled German town during the Thirty Years’ War.  Almost the entire town, including all of his fellow clergy, had been wiped out by the plague.

That being said, medical care cost far less during earlier centuries because medicine had not advanced enough to save lives.  Back then, when you got the plague, you died.  If there even was a hospital, it was just a holding tank for sick people–there not only were no specialist treatments for most diseases, there were no treatments whatsoever.

So we are blessed (and, some may say, cursed) with living in times when we have a vast array of highly expensive options open to us medically.  They cost money.  That is just the way it is.

Further, pastors are presented in the article as men who are busy studying and discipling their people in the Scriptures and who are terribly inconvenienced by having their study interrupted to call on sick and hospitalized parishioners.  Really?  All of the pastors I have known have scheduled in daily time for visits to the sick.  They regard it as a pleasure.  It is what they do.

Several statements are made in the article about how much higher the percentage of obese people is in the church than outside of it.  I am thinking that it takes time to attend one to three services a week, plus volunteer at one’s church.  If a person were not a churchmember, he surely would have more time to hit the golf links, as the joke has always gone.

But further, most churches discourage drinking, drugging, and promiscuous sexual lifestyles.  Outside of the church, those are the three vices most often found.  Inside of the church, if someone is going to have an addiction, it will most likely be food.  There is no polite way to say that.

Realizing that we can collectively have an issue with this, our congregation is getting smarter about bringing Weight Watcher-friendly food to those famous Baptist church socials .  We let each other know which foods are light in points and how many points each of those dishes is worth.

I agree with the writer of the article that the cure for obesity within the church is the church, but I would much more emphasize the grace that we forgiven sinners can offer each other in every situation life presents.  I know that, although I just finished losing 100 pounds in the year of 2012, I was never treated as a second-rate citizen by my fellow churchmembers, even when I was 100 pounds overweight.  I have taught Sunday school, worked in the nursery, sung in the choir and sung soloes, and played in the orchestra all along.

The very support of my fellow churchmembers is what freed me in the end to grab hold of God and lose the weight.  If I had been in one of the congregations where people kvetch about the cost of the staff health care (as the article says), I doubt I would be saying that I lost weight with the support of my church.  In those churches, anyone who loses weight may possibly do it in spite of her fellow churchmembers!

I can’t emphasize enough that churchmembers extend grace and mercy to each other in difficulty because it is what we do.  We love the one who is obese just as we love the unwed mother and the recovering alcoholic.  Some of these folks may never break free of their life-dominating sins but we don’t stop loving them, even then.  If an unwed mother has her third out-of-wedlock child or if an obese staffmember has her third piece of cheesecake, we are there to be the Body of Christ for that person.

Then there may come a time when we are talking and the subject comes up.  The obese person may ask for our help in losing weight.  At that point, we offer it, not as someone who feels superior, but as a fellow forgiven sinner with faults of our own.

Shortcutting the process by having catty discussions about how a disproportionate number of our health care dollars go to provide care for just one or two people is a sure way to shame those people and to serve them notice that you wish them to leave their staff positions.  Therefore, unless you are the pastor and you really are trying to get them to leave, it is better to wait for the obese person to bring the subject of weight loss up.

After all, isn’t the point to become more Christlike in the end?  All of us have conditions of the heart that need to be treated surgically by the Great Physician.  Obesity is just one of the more noticeable ones!


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