Guide to Goodness

Winning the Spiritual Battle of Gluttony with Temperance

Temperance from the Virtues, Philips Galle, The Met

I heard somewhere that we usually oscillate between two of the seven sins.  It took me many years to surrender my self-reliance (pride) and envy over to God.  Now it seems I struggle with worry (sloth) and the sin we will discuss today.  Over the past year, I have been contemplating the virtue of temperance, which is how I love my body, aligning it with God for His purpose.  When I keep my body clean and pure, moderate what I eat and drink, continent in my use of touch, chaste in all my senses, and cooperate with grace, I can bear the good fruit of modesty, self-control, and chastity.

As we progress though our series on how sin and vice divert us from living the good life, we are learning how to win the spiritual battle by understanding the insidious nature of sin and how growing in virtue will help us prevail.  A list of the seven deadly sins of pride, envy, anger, sloth, greed, gluttony and lust, and the corresponding cures are here.

Today we will look at the sixth deadly sin, gluttony and learn about the cure for this dis-ease which is temperance. Gluttony means over-indulgence and over-consumption or food, drink, or wealth, particularly as status symbols. As Christians, it is considered a sin if the excessive desire for food causes it to be withheld from the needy. Because sin separates us and turns us away from God, practicing virtue and choosing what is good reorients us to God and His goodness.

What is gluttony?

Consuming to an unhealthy excess is the definition of gluttony.  It is an excess of food, drink, or pleasure.  It means to over-indulge, especially by over-eating, and is an unregulated love of food or drink. Gluttony is an issue when we misuse the pleasure that God has attached to eating and drinking.  Gluttony dulls the mind and weakens the will, possibly fostering other vices within us.  Gluttony is a corporal sin which we can counter with the virtue of fortitude. Intoxication is the most dangerous form of this vice because it drowns our reason.  Complete drunkenness robs us of our ability to choose wisely and is a serious sin.  It risks our reputation.  It leads to unjustified anger, impurity, stealing, violence, and even endangers life for both us and others.

What are some of the characteristics and effects of gluttony?

  • Gluttony can have an economic impact on you and your family.
  • Any form of gluttony risks health.
  • Illegal use or misuse of drugs and narcotics are forms of gluttony.
  • Excessive care of the body is a form of gluttony.  Examples include compulsively and excessively exercising, unnecessary plastic surgery, as well as excessive attention to beauty.

How can I identify gluttony within me?

  • Unseemly Joy – Improper or inappropriate.
  • Vulgarity – lacking sophistication or good taste.
  • Uncleanness – impure or unfit.
  • Loquaciousness – taking way too much.
  • Dullness of mind as it regards understanding.
  • Food addiction and binge eating.

For drunkards and gluttons become poor, and drowsiness clothes them in rags.

Proverbs 23:21

Temperance overcomes the sin of gluttony.

Temperance is taking all things in moderation and to the point of goodness.  Asceticism – self- discipline, avoidance of all forms of indulgence.

  • Be moderate. Exercise regularly, and avoid excess in eating and drinking.
  • Temperance is the practice of moderation and sobriety. It takes training! The soul gains mastery over the body when we mortify our hunger and thirst. This is what God always intended! Kick the body out of the driver seat.
  • Temperance is beneficial to bodily health in many ways, such as weight regulation.
  • Temperance aides in the practice of other virtues.
  • “Eat to live, don’t live to Eat” | “Drink to live, don’t live to Drink” | “Exercise to live, don’t live to Exercise”
  • Excessive alcohol or drug use might be an indicator of an addiction. If addiction is a possibility, additional help from professionals is strongly encouraged.

Temperance is a much-needed virtue in our world today, especially in the west.  It seems like our society is never satisfied, always wanting more.  Because we aren’t looking toward the Source that will fill us up and satisfy, we continue to try and fill the hole inside us with external things. Did you know that according to the CDC 42.5% of adults over 20 are obese and 73.6% are overweight?  An estimated 45 million Americans go on a diet each year, and Americans spend $33 billion each year on weight loss products.  Yet, nearly two-thirds of Americans are overweight or obese.  Additionally, Americans are spending more than they earn.  Researchers say that new ways of advertising, paired with cultural shifts toward consumerism, seem to be driving the trend.  Any time the urge strikes, we now have the capability to act on it impulsively and that creates a much greater challenge than before.  The struggle with overindulgence is real and one way we can win the battle is growing in spiritual maturity.  God is just waiting for us to acknowledge our struggle and is waiting to lift us up when we surrender to Him and ask for help.

May we be Smitten with Temperance,


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