This is a difficult subject to write on as it affects so many people we care about in the western world. We live in a time of abundance which has led to new challenges which few people in other points in history have faced. People in the past would struggle to have enough food, not the overconsumption of it.
If you go to an average Christian Church you will notice that we have many overweight people who are not taking care of their health. There is no getting around this! I realise there are extremes of people who idolise this life and their health to the point that this rules in their life (which is idolatry), but this does not mean the other extreme of an unhealthy lifestyle is not sinful stewardship of what God has given us. He has given us this life and we are to be godly stewards.
We should want to be healthy so that we can serve God for as long as possible, for as much as possible! It should never be for us, it should be all for the glory of God alone!
When talking on the sixth commandment Thomas Watson wrote:
“The second thing forbidden in this commandment is, injuring ourselves. ‘Thou shalt not kill:’ thou shalt do no hurt to thyself. Thou shalt not hurt thy own body. One may be guilty of self-murder, either 1. Indirectly or occasionally. Or, 2. Directly and absolutely… By intemperance or excess in diet. Surfeiting shortens life. Plures periere crapula, quam gladio [More perish by drink than by the sword]. Many dig their grave with their teeth. Too much oil chokes the lamp. The cup kills more than the cannon. Excessive drinking causes untimely death.”
There is a negative aspect of course to the commandment “Thou shalt not kill,” but there is also a positive aspect to preserve life where possible. This is not just the lives of others, but also our own. As it is sinful to harm another’s health, it is also sinful to harm our own.
This is not a call to impose rules or bans on things things that are deemed unhealthy as temperance movements have proven to be a failure. We need to teach the principles of the moral law, in all its aspects so that people apply them to their lives. People will do this imperfectly of course, but we still need to strive to do so.
Sometimes people have different opinions on what is healthy or unhealthy. For example I eat a high fat diet as I believe this is healthier than a high carbohydrate, low fat diet. However the point here is not to do everything ‘perfectly’, because we won’t, but just to take steps towards things that we all know will prolong our lives and allow us to serve the Lord. We will also be happier for it!
There are those who are sick through no fault of their own. We live in a sin-cursed world! Doing these things does not mean we will necessarily be healthy, but only that we are not sinning by directly harming our own health with excessive eating or no exercise.
This life is a gift from God! Let’s live like we believe that!