What is the passion of Gluttony?(Passions- Part 3)

May 10, 2017

What is the passion of Gluttony?(Passions- Part 3)

Gluttony: another passion that pleases the body. Before we start explaining it, we should understand what gluttony is and why it is a passion. Gluttony is understood as the greed that surrounds eating and drinking or the self-indulgence of the mouth and the belly. It is therefore when a person reaches a point when the excess of eating and drinking becomes a norm (and not out of the need to satisfy hunger, quench thirst, rather because the person became a slave to his/her appetite). It is important to note that food and drink are not bad in themselves. On the contrary, they are gifts from God. However, as the common saying goes, “we eat to live, and not live to eat.” Thus, gluttony isn’t considered a passion because food, in and of itself, might be understood as impure, or that a certain nourishment might involve a particular sin. Not at all. For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving.

Reminder: the purpose of all passions is to disorient a person. In fact, rather than having our lives directed towards God, we find ourselves running after and preoccupied with worldly and sinful things. Hence, the same applies to gluttony: the person’s energy is directed towards food and drink, and not worshiping God, as intended by God. Rather, they are submitting to their own “god.” For instance, let’s see what Saint Paul says about this in the book of Philippians, chapter 3 (3:17-19). He is writing to the people of Philippi and warning of those who have put their trust in the flesh and other earthly things. What we have here is a great example of how a person can be led astray if they give into the indulgence of food, and how their “god” is their belly.

Let’s take for example two biblical narratives that will highlight both what to do and not to do when dealing with food. The first narrative is with Adam and Eve when they desired the fruit of the tree. In Genesis 3:6, Eve saw that the tree was good for food and that it was a delight to the eyes. The desire of the eyes and belly were stronger than the urge to follow the commandment that was given by God. This sinful gluttonous desire led to disobedience and the fall of mankind. The second and more perfect example is with our Lord in Matthew 4:4 when He was tempted by the devil and refused to eat.

What we must always remember is that the body was given to us as a temple that should be in order and be trained to be a vessel made in the image and likeness of God. Therefore, the body ought to be used to offer God worship and not to be the object of worship. Here is a quote from Saint John Chrysostom (Homily on Philippians 14.3.18-21) on this subject: “Your body is given to you so that you may nourish it, not so that it may burst. Your body is given you that you may rule it, not so that you may have it as a mistress. It is given that it may serve you for the nourishment of the other members, not so that you may serve it. Do not exceed these bounds. The sea in flood does not so much harm to the boundaries as our belly does to our bodies and our souls. The flood overwhelms only part of the land. The god of the belly overwhelms the whole body. Set self-constraint as a bound to it as God sets the sand to the sea.” It is thus no wonder that the Orthodox Church is a church that consistently utilizes the benefits of fasting and asceticism to help the believer gain self-control over the passions of the flesh. 

As we conclude, let us be reminded that all God has created for us was meant to be good and used for our sakes. Hence, let us not take God’s great gifts and turn them into idols that we run after and enslave ourselves to. May God grant us victory to turn our hearts and spirits towards Him.

Remember know your faith, live your faith and teach your faith


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