Cheeseburger Sin?

cheeseburgerIt was a sincere question:  Am I sinning without knowing it?  I mean, are there meals a Christian should or should not eat?  I can’t figure out if there are some meals that are more appropriate to consume as a Christian than others.   I love cheeseburgers, but if it’s a sin, I’d have to consider myself a bad Christian – I’ve eaten a lot of cheeseburgers!

I know Christians, Christians are some of my best friends, so I knew what was coming – I just wanted to see who would throw it out there.  I didn’t have to wait long:

“The body is God’s temple, and too many cheeseburgers messes up the temple…” – a reference to 1 Corinthians 6

This section of scripture has become the catch all to prohibit almost everything a person does or consumes.  It’s supposed to be the slam-dunk proof that it’s wrong to smoke, drink, dance, and chew, or to go with girls that do…

But I think that’s a wrong interpretation and a gross misapplication.  At best, it’s simplistic and at worst it’s devious legalism.

1 Corinthians 6 isn’t about eating cheeseburgers, or smoking cigarettes, or drinking a beer.  1 Corinthians 6 is about sexual immorality.  That should be really clear in the passage when Paul writes:

Run from sexual sin! No other sin so clearly affects the body as this one does. For sexual immorality is a sin against your own body.  Don’t you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God?  You do not belong to yourself, for God bought you with a high price. So you must honor God with your body.   1 Corinthians 6:18-25

The way people misuse and abuse that passage totally drains it of its original intent and causes people to call things “sin” that God never did, leading to a neo-“do not handle, do not taste, do not touch” approach to faith that heaps up guilt for sins that don’t exist.

Trying to use 1 Corinthians 6 to prohibit every unhealthy behavior turns us all into hypocrites, with massive speck and beam issues – We’re the preacher who rails against smoking when he hasn’t seen his feet in 20 years.  We’re the Sunday School teacher who told us drinking a beer is the same as “pouring Satan down your throat” who sat for four hours every week day watching her soap operas and wouldn’t allow anything short of the Second Coming to stop her.

Yes, we need to live healthy, but 99% of the time it’s a quality of life issue, not a spiritual one.  Sure, some foods are clearly healthier to eat than other foods, and gluttony is certainly a serious problem, one with spiritual roots that have to be dealt with if we’re going to live free.  The Proverbs writer said if we have strong appetites, we might have to hold a knife to our throats to overcome them.

The Bible does speak to the issue of “what can we eat?”  in 1 Timothy 4:1-5

Now the Holy Spirit tells us clearly that in the last times some will turn away from the true faith; they will follow deceptive spirits and teachings that come from demons.  These people are hypocrites and liars, and their consciences are dead.  They will say it is wrong to be married and wrong to eat certain foods.  But God created those foods to be eaten with thanks by faithful people who know the truth.  Since everything God created is good, we should not reject any of it but receive it with thanks.  For we know it is made acceptable by the word of God and prayer.

If someone chooses to eat in the best possible, most healthy way, they have my full support – I’m trying to move that direction more myself.  What I will not support is those who treat others as “sinners” or sub-Christian because they choose to eat a big ol’ sloppy burger or a Krispy Kreme donut – or two.

Let’s give Jesus the final word:

“Don’t you understand… Can’t you see that the food you put into your body cannot defile you?  Food doesn’t go into your heart, but only passes through the stomach and then goes into the sewer.” (By saying this, he declared that every kind of food is acceptable in God’s eyes.)  And then he added, “It is what comes from inside that defiles you.  For from within, out of a person’s heart, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, wickedness, deceit, lustful desires, envy, slander, pride, and foolishness.  All these vile things come from within; they are what defile you.”   Mark 7:18-23

All scriptures from the New Living Translation.

Hat tip to James Glasscock for excellent thoughts and helpful scriptures.

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  1. Saung Lady
    April 24, 2009 at 3:09 pm

    I really love how you help keep us out of the ditch!

  2. centralityofthegospel
    June 23, 2009 at 7:27 pm

    Wait. I believe in the freedom of the Gospel. To categorize Cheeseburgers under Law, Principal, or Freedom they definitely belong in the freedom category.

    Now 100 Cheeseburgers in 20 days now thats a sin!

    I know, I need to really learn something on this one… :-).

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