Aloha Friday Message – February 26, 2016 – 2016 Lenten Series, #3


1609AFC022616 – 2016 Lenten Series, #3

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2 Peter 1:3-7 His divine power has given us everything needed for life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Thus he has given us, through these things, his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may escape from the corruption that is in the world because of lust, and may become participants of the divine nature. For this very reason, you must make every effort to support your faith with goodness, and goodness with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with endurance, and endurance with godliness, and godliness with mutual affection, and mutual affection with love.

Deuteronomy 21:2020 They shall say to the elders of his town, “This son of ours is stubborn and rebellious. He will not obey us. He is a glutton and a drunkard.” 21 Then all the men of the town shall stone him to death. So you shall purge the evil from your midst; and all Israel will hear, and be afraid.

Matthew 11:19 19 ” … the Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Look, a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ Yet wisdom is vindicated by her deeds.”

Galatians 5:19-21 19 Now the works of the flesh are obvious: fornication, impurity, licentiousness,20 idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, anger, quarrels, dissensions, factions, 21 envy,  drunkenness, carousing, and things like these. I am warning you, as I warned you before: those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.

LentenSeries_MAloha, and welcome to the third episode of our Lenten Series. We have already covered Pride vs. Humility, and Envy vs. Kindness. Today we will be looking at the virtue called Temperance – as in the Spiritual Fruit called Self-Control – and its polar opposite, Gluttony. These are two words most of us do not use very often, and in fact, their meanings evade us because not many people consider Gluttony a sin or Temperance a Virtue. Let’s look into them a little more and see if we can come to a better understanding. Let’s begin with defining Gluttony.

The most common understanding of gluttony is that it is disproportionate appetite for food. It comes from the Latin gluttire, meaning to gulp down or swallow, gluttony (Latin, gula) is the over-indulgence and over-consumption of anything to the point of waste. A glutton eats more that s/he can hold and often ends up vomiting everything eaten – and then goes back for more. It is a form of hedonism – intemperance, self-gratification, decadence – and, as expected, it produces some unhealthy results. Let’s not confuse it with bulimia nervosa which is an emotional eating disorder. Gluttony is overindulgence for the sake of personal gratification – an inordinate desire for the pleasure associated with food. Food is good. The pleasures of eating food are also good. However, when we gorge on food just for the feelings of pleasure it give us, especially when it ends up depriving others of food, that is gluttony. Gluttony is a rebellious rejection of godly moderation, and as such, becomes a form of idolatry. “What!?!? Idolatry!?!?!” Yes indeed. Anything that leads us to reject God’s gifts of health and well-being belies a rebellion against God – a sin; it is condemned because it is offensive to God.

The sin of gluttony is not limited to food, either. We must also consider that when we consume more than what is healthful for us, we are being gluttonous. Binge eating and binge drinking are both gluttony. If you get “falling-down drunk” because you overindulged during the football game, you have committed gluttony. And in the same way the bulimia (or anorexia) and not sinful, neither is alcoholism. All of these are diseases, whereas gluttony is a deliberate, known, and chosen disobedience of God.

Scripture does not  offer a general prohibition of the consumption of alcohol, but it does warn of the serious consequences of over-using alcohol, and frequently ties it to overconsumption of food. Take a look at Proverbs 23:20-21 and Colossians 3:5. If your god is your belly, then you really need to repent, turn away from that god and return to the true God.

Bottom line is that if we eat and/or drink to excess just for the personal gratification of it, we are a glutton. We may try to disguise intemperance as epicurean merit, but – as the saying goes – that’s just lipstick on the pig. We’ve made bingeing a “noble goal” and accepted the fact that getting sick after overdoing it is no big thing. We are claiming that choosing to lose control of our senses – especially common sense – is good for us. It is not. What is good for us is self-control – Temperance.

Temperance is an exercise of will; it is a choice in the same way that Gluttony is a choice. This implementation of personal will leads us to exercise restraint, to put into practice self-discipline, and to build up that flabby will-power which makes it so easy to slip into sin. Look up at that passage from Galatians again. That’s quite a list of sins! The passage in Proverbs 23 mentions “riotous eaters of flesh.” If we go back to Galatians 5:22-25 we read 22 By contrast, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against such things. 24 And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 If we live by the Spirit, let us also be guided by the Spirit. And – we might add – “if we live by the flesh, let us also be controlled by the flesh.” Is that what we want? And yet, how often we choose that! We have the Holy Spirit to advocate for us, to help us make the better choices, as Jesus promised – he is our companion and guide, our Paraclete (παράκλητος).

In 2 Corinthians 7:1, Paul says, Since we have these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from every defilement of body and of spirit, making holiness perfect in the fear of God.” Temperance seeks to avoid that defilement by the application of common sense rather than seeking approval for our sophistication and worldly elegance. Temperance does not resist being self-indulgent about only food and drink. It resists all the worldly temptations that lure us to instant gratification through illicit pleasures. Temperance happens when we decide not to stuff ourselves at Golden Coral, or not to polish off that fifth of Vodka just because we got it on sale. It also happens when we forego the temptation for a one-night stand, or decide against cruising the Internet for sexual titillation. It happens when we decide that seeing widgets marked down 75% is not a justification for buying every one we can get our hands on. Temperance is when we delay – or even deny – gratification because there is a higher good to be possessed by doing so. There can be important individual and societal gains when we promote and practice Temperance guided by common sense rather than self-righteousness.

You may remember the Temperance Movement from your World History class. From the late Eighteenth century to the mid Nineteenth century, there was a lot of activity to try to prevent the soaring incidence of alcohol abuse. That abuse was closely connected with chronic problems such as unemployment, familial and personal abuse, poverty, and neglect. Alcohol was viewed as the root of these ills, and advocates in the Temperance Movement sought to ban alcohol and everything associated with it. That eventually led to the era of Prohibition in the United States from around 1920 to 1933. Americans could not manufacture, sell, distribute, or transport alcoholic beverages; it did not however, outlaw the purchase or consumption of those products. This experiment in social engineering is often derided with the phrase “you can’t legislate morality.” Though that may be true, you can choose morality – or immorality – and that is the way Temperance is supposed to work. It must be a choice. Let me give you a small personal example using tobacco consumption as a model.

I started smoking in high school. I tried all kinds of tobacco products – cigarettes, cigars, pipe tobacco, snuff, chewing tobacco, you-name-it tobacco. Like many tobacco users I claimed I could quit any time. And I did. Lots of times (sound familiar?), but somehow I always ended up buying more tobacco – usually pipe tobacco after the early 1980’s. I smoked for probably fifty years – or more. Then one day, after I found out I have COPD and emphysema, I thought to myself, “I need to figure out a way to turn this loose.” I discovered a fail-safe method. STOP BUYING ANYTHING THAT HAS NICOTINE IN IT! If you don’t have it, you can’t use it. The best way not to have it is to choose not to have it by not buying it (or bumming it) in the first place. “Oh, but I’m OK because I’m vaping.” No, you’re just substituting one nicotine-delivery system for another, and if you’re doing it on the cheap, it’s probably more dangerous than smoking cigarettes. Temperance is what happens by making the choice to moderate or eliminate something that is harmful in your life. Gluttony is choosing to be intemperate. Period. Think about it.

Yes, that’s Biblical. Romans 12:1-2 I appeal to you therefore, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God—what is good and acceptable and perfect. And that’s because “wisdom is vindicated by her deeds.” Jesus said it, I believe it, I’m sticking to it! If we live by the Spirit, let us be guided by the Spirit, because His divine power has given us everything needed for life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. 

Whatever, whenever, wherever, whoever, however, if ever, forever — at your service, Belovéd!

Unless otherwise indicated, all scripture passages are from the New Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition (NRSVCE) New Revised Standard Version Bible: Catholic Edition, copyright © 1989, 1993 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Aloha Friday Messages by
Charles O. Todd, III is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License

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About Chick Todd

American Roman Catholic reared as a "Baptiterian" in Denver Colorado.

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