God wants us to know His will for our lives. His Word provides guidance on many areas of life: from relationship advice to financial management to how we handle our emotions. But what about diet? Does it really matter what Christians eat? Are we free to eat however we choose?
An Unexpected Biblical Perspective on Food
Years ago, I had an intriguing conversation about diet with a Christian friend. This woman was very well versed in the Bible and knowledgeable about scriptures. We had met in a women’s Bible study class and both shared a passion for God’s word.
She had been suffering from a long list of ailments, one of which was morbid obesity. Her plan was to undergo gastric bypass surgery to help get the weight off quickly and improve her overall health.
As a relatively new coach, I asked her what I thought was a reasonable question:
“Are you willing to consider dietary changes before going under the knife? “
Her response shocked me.
Based on her understanding of scripture, she didn’t feel that it was necessary to make any dietary changes at all. She believed that she could and should eat whatever she wanted…as long as she prayed over her food. So, that’s exactly what she did. Her interpretation was that all food is sanctified as long as we pray over it beforehand.
In other words, if we bless our food, it will not bring us any physical harm. She based her viewpoint on 1 Timothy 4: 1-5.
So, was she right?
Did it really not matter at all what Christians eat?
Ignorance is Not Bliss…It’s Deadly
Even though my friend didn’t state it exactly this way, she was basically saying that God was magically converting anything and everything that we consume into health food as it enters our bodies. If that were true, then no Christian anywhere in the world would be sick with a chronic disease. We would all be exempt from the diseases that the medical establishment says are primarily caused by diet and lifestyle.
Scientific research show that most of the major killers of Americans – heart disease, cancer, stroke, and diabetes, etc. are related to the foods we eat and the way we live.
If God was doing what my friend suggested, then Christians would be an outlier from those statistics.
But, we’re not.
Christians are suffering the same fate as everyone else that chooses to eat the Standard American Diet. We are just as sick as everyone else.
Hosea 4:6 says “my people are destroyed from a lack of knowledge”. Ignorance is not bliss…it’s actually deadly.
What Christians eat matters.
Violating God’s Laws Has Consequences
In 2005, George H. Malkmus, a minister and cancer survivor published the book Why Christians Get Sick. In it he explores the reasons why Christians, in spite of praying to an Almighty God, still suffer and die from the same chronic illnesses as non-believers. He asks why God is generally not answering the many prayers of his people for healing.
He concludes that God’s people are suffering because we are violating His laws.
God is a God of laws and order (Romans 1:20). He governs his creation through natural laws. God is the one that created the scientific principles that govern physiology, biology, chemistry, and physics. He is the one that designed the human body. Along with our bodies, he created food in nature to cause our bodies to function optimally.
If we feed our bodies suboptimal food, then we are going to experience suboptimal function.
A Simple Explanation
Violating God’s natural laws is dangerous. Whether we believe these laws exist, doesn’t actually matter. Whether we understand how these laws work doesn’t matter either. We’re still subject to God’s natural laws regardless of our personal beliefs and knowledge.
The Law of Gravity
Let’s use the law of gravity as an example.
Do we have to believe in the law of gravity to be subject to it? No. Whether we believe in it or not, it will impact us. Whether we understand it or not, it will affect us. Now it’s certainly in our best interest to understand the law of gravity. Because if we violate it, the chances are great that we are going to suffer immensely because of our ignorance.
Imagine a non-believer is standing at the top of a skyscraper without a parachute. What is going to happen if he jumps off of that building? The law of gravity is going to kick in, and he is not going to make it when he hits the ground.
That’s common sense.
Now, let’s say that this time it’s a Christian standing on the edge of the building. Before he jumps off, he prays and ask God to keep him from dying when he lands.
What is going to happen to that Christian? The law of gravity is going to kick in, and he is going to be in the presence of the Almighty on impact.
Why is the Christian going to have the exact same outcome as the non-believer?
Why wouldn’t God answer his child’s prayer?
The answer is simple. That kind of prayer violates the very laws that he created to govern this world.
God Can Do Anything. But Will He?
Can God suspend the laws of nature and miraculously intervene to cause things to turn out differently? Of course he could. He could do anything.
But what is likely to happen is God allows nature to take its course. Because that is the way He designed the world to work.
When we violate God’s principles and his laws (including the natural laws), there are severe consequences.
Again, what Christians eat matters.
Food is What God Says It Is
Let’s take a closer look at the text that my friend used to justify eating anything she wanted.
1 Timothy 4 – New International Version (NIV)
4 The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons. 2 Such teachings come through hypocritical liars, whose consciences have been seared as with a hot iron. 3 They forbid people to marry and order them to abstain from certain foods, which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and who know the truth. 4 For everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, 5 because it is consecrated by the word of God and prayer.
Look closely at verses 3 and 4. Which foods are to be received with thanksgiving?
The ones “which God created” (v3). Why? Because “everything God created is good” (v4).
Guess what? God did not make gummy worms (my personal junk food nemesis) or Skittles®, or SPAM®.
He didn’t make artificial flavors or colors. He didn’t create chemical additives…or any processed foods for that matter.
Those things are “foods” that man created. I put foods in quotation marks because these things are not really food.
One of my favorite doctors, Dr. Mark Hyman calls these things “frankenfood” or “food-like substances”. Sure, they are edible, but they do not nourish our bodies – they have no nutritional value at all.
In fact, they make us sick. Maybe not immediately. But they cause great harm to our bodies, especially when consumed over a lifetime.
In contrast, God made what we call whole foods: fruits, and vegetable, nuts, seeds, legumes, grains and animals. These are real foods that nourish our bodies.
Food is what God says it is. Not what the food industry says it is. Not whatever we want it to be or enjoy eating. Food consists ONLY of the things that He specifically created as food, and gave instructions about in his Word.
Obedience Brings Blessing
As Christians, we must align what we eat to what God defines as food. Otherwise, we are going to suffer unnecessarily with all kinds of diseases and chronic illnesses, many of which are completely avoidable.
Every single person that I know (and there are many) that has reversed a chronic disease, including myself…did so by switching to a whole foods diet. Science backs up our results.
2 Peter 1:3 says “His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness…”
God would not leave us ignorant about something so fundamental as how to care for our bodies. He has a purpose and plan for each of our lives, and many of us are cutting our missions short because we’re too sick and tired to fulfill them. We’re digging our graves with our forks… one bite at a time.
For this reason, it is paramount that Christians search the whole scripture to learn what God has to say on the subject of diet, and what that means for us today.
When we align the way we live to His principles and His wisdom, we heal, we thrive, and we experience abundance in our lives.
So, as a Christian, does it really matter what we eat?
The answer, emphatically, is yes.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: DALILA JONES STITZ
Founder and CEO, Health Insurrection LLC
Dalila is a native Houstonian and currently lives in Switzerand with her husband and two kids. She received her health coach training through the Institute of Integrative Nutrition and Hallelujah Acres and teaches in-home bible studies and online courses.