Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Gluttony: The Celebrated Sin

Olive Garden's never-ending pasta bowl is back for the next month or so. All-you-can eat salad, soup, bread sticks, and a variety of pasta and sauce combinations. The price is good and I like their food, so that's where we went to celebrate our fourth wedding anniversary.

We had planned to each have a bowl of soup, a bowl of pasta, then order one more bowl and take it home for lunch leftovers. My husband succeeded; I only ate half of my first pasta bowl, so brought the rest of that home. He teased me about "failing", but both of us knew he didn't mean it.

Sadly, many Americans (including good friends of ours) would have considered it a failure. After all, I had paid for as much as I could force into my body. I should have tried harder. This was a challenge and if that was my best effort, it was lousy.

Peter's biggest food challenge is keeping
it off his face! (chocolate ice cream goatee)

This is the same mentality that supports hot dog eating contests and "food challenges" sponsored by a variety of restaurants. I've found this mentality more prevalent in males, but it's not exclusively a "guy-thing." There is an attitude that being able to stuff yourself to the point of being uncomfortable for the rest of the evening is somehow an admirable thing.

Some engage in the same behavior, with a slightly different mindset. It's not that you should eat as much as humanly possible, but that you want to. The food tastes so good! You want to get your money's worth! Well, yes, I do appreciate a good value, but not at the expense of being sick.

Why are we OK with this? Even people who wouldn't engage in gluttonous eating often don't object to it. Do people recognize their behavior as gluttonous? If not, how would they define that term?

I've also been thinking about how this compares to the other deadly sins. Do we aspire to be greedy, prideful, or angry? Is envy considered sinful or a good motivator? Is sloth tolerated, even jokingly lauded, as long as you're not seen to be receiving public assistance? (PSA: if you had a subsidized student loan or mortgage, you received government money.) Is lust promoted in our culture as a good thing or just accepted as inevitable?

Finally, to which of my own sins am I turning a blind eye?


  1. We were talking in a college health course that any preoccupation with food can be gluttony, so even dieting, disordered eating, refusing to eat in a social manner (stuffing or starving yourself in private, etc.), could fall under that heading. It was an important reminder to me to be faithful even in how I eat.

    But, no, I don't think we judge gluttony as harshly as (some) other sins. That said, being fat definitely gets judged as being immoral, maybe because gluttony is assumed as the root cause.

    1. I wouldn't have thought to include other disordered eating habits, but categorizing anything that puts food ahead of God as sinful certainly makes sense.

      Yeah, being fat does get judged harshly. Sort of seems like we're OK with sin in moderation, then, as long as it doesn't get "out of hand." Which is ridiculous. (As is assuming all weight problems are caused by gluttony, of course.)