Allergic to Other People

The church is capable of including any number of subcultural groups within her pale, and can do so without great difficulty. Ham radio operators, rodeo riders, surfers, and rock climbers are all welcome. And what they all do the Saturday before worship does not disrupt the reality of their worship together.

But food subcultures are a different matter. Food scruples are the deathly enemy of church unity. Every pastor is called by the Lord to hate food divisions, and every pastor who does not hate them is an enemy of his own peace. I don’t want church splits, even if they come in a reusable bag.

The central pastoral issue of the New Testament was a dietary one — whether Jews and Gentiles could eat together. And if the apostle Paul fought so long and hard on this one — to keep the body of Christ from being divided this way — when the issue really was created by the laws of the Old Testament, how much more would he be militant about food divisions that resulted from an article that somebody read on the Internet?

I am not talking about genuine allergies. Everybody should know what those are. You serve your guest ground up peanuts in that Thai dish you’ve been wanting to try out, and forty five minutes later he looks like the Michelin tire boy, and the dinner party concludes late that evening in the ER. That’s an allergy, and the apostle would not mind if we accommodated such food restrictions in charity. That is a beautiful opportunity to exercise charity — checking with those you invite about food restrictions.

But charity is called for on the other end also, and it has been abandoned by those who are afflicted with trendy allergies. Just as Paul tagged those unstable women who are always learning and never coming to a knowledge of the truth, so he would have identified the woman who became allergic to gluten because all her friends had recently become allergic to gluten, and she didn’t want to be left out. This preserves the unity of that little group, but it plays havoc with the unity of the larger body. She and her friends are no fun to have over any more because she is always allergic to something, and it is always something new, and the last two times she was invited over, she brought her own food anyway.

This brazen rudeness is not called out for what it is because the people perpetrating it have a cover story created for them by the guy who is allergic to the Thai peanut thingy. You don’t want him to die, do you?

Here is a rule of thumb. If you have ever showed up to a dinner party (not a potluck) unannounced with your own food, then you are an enemy of church unity. The Holy Spirit is working to unify the whole body in sweet table fellowship, and you are underfoot.

Here is another rule of thumb. If you are allergic to an ever-shifting list of the latest things to be allergic to, then you are actually allergic to charity. This is a bad condition to be in — if you are allergic to charity, then you are actually allergic to other people, church peace, and the Holy Spirit.

Last rule of thumb. If you think that every cook in the body has a bounden obligation to drop every other ingredient from her recipes if you are coming over, then perhaps you are waiting for the wrong person to make the sacrifice. Why don’t you make the sacrifice, and just eat it? You might reply that this means that later in the evening you will have to deal with the icky angsty feelings that always accompany your consumption of your allergenic de jour. Well, isn’t that a small price to pay because you love the brethren? Eat what is set before you — there’s a strategy you could try (Luke 10:8). Better to get an imaginary rash on your body than to be a real rash on the body.

Originally posted on December 6, 2010.



  • Katherine Lauer

    Thank you, thank you for speaking this. This has been irking me for years now.

  • Jo

    So true! Food intolerances can be very offensive and certainly unhelpful in church unity, but when you use “enemy” as a descriptive here, I wonder if you think that those with these intolerances ought to be disciplined publicly if need be by the church?

  • Josh

    This is just starting to become a problem in my neck of the woods. Could anyone suggest some good reading on this?

  • Bro. Steve

    I was pastoring a tiny church in rural Georgia and offered to cook the french fries at our first fish fry. I never did escape the could of suspicion that hung over me after that. I found out that true Georgia country folk eats grits with their fish, not potatoes. Seriously bad move on my part. And no, not joking.

  • Dick Barendregt

    Nailed it again. However one could point out that this principle could be applied to other things, like how to dress, how to sing, worship order, etc. And it seems to me that many church leaders are the ones with the “allergies” promoting them in their lawful positions as leaders. Every church is different because there are so many allergies. Until leaders are given to see that allergies will just spread and continue to fracture.

  • Stacy McDonald

    My response:

    At first I was a little stunned—hurt even. I thought about the many awkward moments when I had to get creative with a menu in an effort for our family to join someone for a fellowship meal. Were we burdening them—irritating them? Did they wish our family would “make the sacrifice and just eat it” even though it was harmful to our bodies? Were they secretly wondering if we were “faking it”?

    How could a pastor (one we really like!), seem to show such little regard for the physically weaker brethren? Where was the love, the charity, the long suffering that he so fully encouraged from those who claimed to have allergies (I say claimed, since the article seemed to put into question the validity of allergies in anyone other than those risking anaphylactic shock symptoms).

    Then I started to think about my own blog and the many times I allowed various real-life situations or struggles to color my articles and I tried to be more empathetic. I began to wonder if Pastor Wilson was dealing with a specific real-life situation when he wrote this article. I actually understand what he’s getting at. I just think that he did a really sloppy job of making his point. And, ironically, I believe he perpetuated the very disunity he was attempting to rebuke.

    I’m trying to assume that he didn’t actually think through the implications of what he wrote—that he didn’t mean it to come across as uncharitable as it did—that he didn’t mean to invite people to judge all their friends who are struggling with food allergies—or friends who are simply trying to experiment with different diets as they deal with possibly serious health issues that we know nothing about (and that, frankly, are none of our business).

    And if you don’t think judgment was the result, read the comments generated from his article. One person wrote asking Pastor Wilson if perhaps those with food intolerances should be publicly disciplined by the church!

    I am a woman who has struggled through some fairly significant health problems—problems that are directly related to a gluten allergy. I’ll spare you the details. And yes, it was confirmed by a doctor, so I’m not an “enemy of unity” whining about an “imaginary rash.” Though, after this article, I suspect that before it was medically confirmed, I could have easily been accused of just that.

    Years before I was diagnosed, my husband and I watched, somewhat helplessly, as one of our young children suffered for over a year before we figured out what was “wrong” with her. A good doctor and a few blood tests later, we discovered that her body was reacting to wheat in a very negative way. Staring spells (later diagnosed as seizures), leg cramps, chronic diarrhea, severe hair loss, itching, stomach cramps, and daily emotional melt downs (it was as if she was on drugs) left us feeling hopeless and perplexed.

    Once we removed wheat from her diet, her hair began to grow back. The cramping stopped. She began to smile again. She began to gain weight (she had become very frail from her inability to absorb nutrition).

    Even now, when she is “accidentally” exposed to wheat (this can happen from a contaminated spoon), we typically know within 24 hours. Her doctor told us that it takes approximately two weeks for the effects of the wheat to completely leave her system.

    When I was diagnosed with Celiac, my doctor told me that it is very likely that all my children will have issues with gluten. We’ve tried to be cautious. While we currently have several other children on a gluten-free diet for particular suspicious symptoms, we aren’t yet certain they have an “allergy.” However, because of their apparent sensitivities, we are being cautious.

    Other children in our family don’t seem to be affected, so with them, we leave well enough alone.

    Therefore, perhaps you can see why I found this particular article to be so offensive—divisive even! It is possible that there are those who are adhering to certain food restrictions out of some sort of motivation to follow a trendy diet; however, there are also those who are trying to save their lives…literally. In addition, there are those who are simply trying to do whatever they can to deal with perplexing health issues. Should we all take the liberty of doubting or judging our friends?

    “Here is a rule of thumb. If you have ever showed up to a dinner party (not a potluck) unannounced with your own food, then you are an enemy of church unity. The Holy Spirit is working to unify the whole body in sweet table fellowship, and you are underfoot.”

    Wow. Underfoot? What a way to make someone feel burdensome and left out.

    Should we really tell someone to “get over it” and eat whatever makes them sick simply to please our sense of fellowship? Should we tell them they should eat what is set before them because when they bring their own meal (in an effort not to inconvenience anyone) it irritates us? Where is the charity? Is Christian unity found in the food we put in our mouths or in gracious fellowship?

    And by putting into question the motives of basically anyone who doesn’t “swell up like a balloon” when eating offensive foods, Pastor Wilson is inviting the brethren to openly judge and condemn those who are weak in the flesh—those who may be doing their best to deal with their physical symptoms without burdening you!

    If someone “brings their own food” to your fellowship dinner, they may simply be trying to avoid burdening you with their dietary restriction. They are probably very tempted to eat what you’ve served; however, it may be they are simply so desperate for your fellowship that they join you with their “less-than” meal.

    Yes, feasting is part of the joy of fellowshipping with the saints! It is a glorious part of hospitality and community! However, bearing with the weak, praying for the sick, and being merciful to those who suffer in ways we simply do not suffer or understand is also part of loving the brethren.

    Who is reacting in love? What sort of physical detriment do you suffer from eating the things you expect me or my children to eat? Who is expecting others to suffer for their own comfort, convenience, or pleasure? Your pizza smells amazing, by the way. Be glad you can eat it.

    How about showing mercy to those who may already be suffering in ways you don’t know. It may be a little inconvenient to you when you invite a family over for dinner and have to avoid your favorite ingredients in order not to make your guests sick. But, I’d like to respond to Pastor Wilson with his own question: “Isn’t that a small price to pay because you love the brethren?”

    Let not him who eats despise him who does not eat, and let not him who does not eat judge him who eats; for God has received him. Who are you to judge another’s servant? To his own master he stands or falls… (Romans 14:3–4)

    Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. (Galatians 6:2)

    With all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love… (Ephesians 4:2)

  • Lisa Hollinger

    Though I am grateful I can eat just about anything without
    illness, I must not impose my strengths upon my weaker brother or
    sister. We must follow scripture and not our own will on the
    matter. This is a spiritual directive, no matter how much it
    irritates us, we must yield to Christ above our appetites. This is
    a matter of serving another and not our stomachs. On the other
    hand, those who have food allergies, please be considerate enough
    to call the host ahead of time for permission to bring your own
    food. It is just common courtesy and to some hosts it is highly
    offensive otherwise. If you do, PLEASE DO NOT draw attention to
    yourself with lengthy explanations of your health issues to the
    other guests. Remember this is someone else’s party and are to
    consider others above yourself. Negative topics can ruin appetites
    and a bring the best host to repentance after a carefully planned
    dinner. We have been on both sides of this struggle with a sick
    child so we understand this dilemma. As a rule of etiquette (for
    both sides to remember) and a biblical principle to keep in mind
    when attending food gatherings, “It’s not about you” its about
    serving others. If we can take the focus off ourselves and on
    another’s needs, then peace will rein in any gathering. Just
    remember It works both ways. Perhaps that is why this dear Pastor
    has had just about enough of all the drama that comes from the more
    challenging side of food matters. “Now we who are strong ought to
    bear the weaknesses of those without strength and not just please
    ourselves. Each of us is to please his neighbor for his good, to
    his edification. For even Christ did not please Himself; but as it
    is written, “The reproaches of those who reproached You fell on
    Me.” Romans 15:1-3

  • Ellen of Tasmania

    If you are the poor soul who is divorced because your husband/wife left you for someone else, it doesn’t make it easier for you that unbiblical divorce is so common in our day.

    If you are the poor soul with a back injury that is truly debilatating, it doesn’t make it easier for you that ‘back injury’ is right up there for those seeking disability payments.

    If you are the poor soul who has to forfeit some truly delicious food because you have a genuine health issue, it doesn’t make it easier for you when everyone and his dog is on some kind of food sensitivity binge.

    If such is the case, Mr. Wilson’s words are hurtful, but if those who should heed the words really did heed them, you might find there is more sympathy and understanding for your genuine hardship. I think this is what it looks like when our culture turns its back on God, and all spheres of science begin to unravel.

  • Stacy McDonald

    I agree, Lisa! We always try to give plenty of notice about our restrictions when someone invites us to dinner. We also offer to help by bringing gluten free additions to make it easier on the hostess. We’ve never had to avoid fellowship.

    If we’re truly honoring the brethren and putting others first, this won’t even be an issue. We love to practice hospitality and we have a close church community, so I always ask if a family has any allergies when we invite others to dinner.

    I love to try to surprise them by getting creative with a recipe that they can eat without any worries! Unity happens when everyone is trying more to please others than they are to please themselves. But demanding that others risk their health so that we aren’t irritated is not loving – and it’s not unifying.

  • Mark

    In one paragraph you mention people with real allergies and in another you refer to people with trendy allergies. You need to clarify somethings in this post.

  • Kamilla


    I came over here to re-read the article. In the process, I re-read yours as well. I still have to say, I think you’re reading something into this. When Doug made the comment about bringing your own food to a dinner party, I think his meaning is perfectly clear when he adds the qualifier “unannounced”. I believe very few hostesses would be unwilling to accommodate special needs when those needs are graciously discussed beforehand.

    I think his meaning is also clear when he writes in terms of some of these allergies being “trendy” or “du jour”. I still remember the time I tried one of those diets myself, thinking it might help alleviate some chronic symptoms. At the end of the diet, I was worse off than before, having added not-so-borderline anemia to my problems. On the way home from the doctor that day, I stopped at the meat market and bought one of their half pound buffalo burgers. While it was frying in the pan, I got the stupid diet book and tossed it in the trash. Then I ate the whole burger. Meat never tasted so good as it did that time. I was probably a rotten dinner guest at the time as well.

    All that to say, yes, Pastor Wilson has a point and I don’t think it was put uncharitably.

  • Kamilla

    One last comment that I think may help illustrate the point:

    When I was a student, I vividly remember a study conducted at National Jewish Hospital. It was about the treatment of childhood asthma (something no one in their right mind would claim is NOT a serious condition. The study was undertaken as a result of concerns over the number of days some children were spending in the hospital. What they did was withdraw certain “perks” such as television.

    The study found that children not only spent fewer days in the hospital as a result, they also has better overall outcomes. We’re the symptoms that kept them in the hospital real? No question they were. So what changed? The patient’s incentive to get better.

    Proving what we’ve known all along – expectations are a key factor in patient response to treatment.

  • Stacy McDonald

    Frankly, I don’t think it’s anyone’s business to evaluate their friends on whether or not their allergies are legitimate or trendy (fake), since it requires judgment from those who don’t suffer the symptoms, and often don’t have all the facts. My health issues were confirmed by a doctor, so I’m not defending myself; however, I know plenty of people who are just trying to get a handle on real health dilemmas.

    Those who are antagonistic to natural health methods, often have a very close-minded attitude toward those who are trying to be involved in their own healing (particularly when doctors have given up and can’t find answers for them).

    Aside from that, a gracious host is going to be more concerned about pleasing her guests than about judging them.

    Like I told you on FB earlier, we’ve NEVER avoided fellowship because of our allergies. And if we bring our own food it is BECAUSE we are trying hard not to inconvenience anyone. I went to a pizza party the other day and had to bring along Pad Thai. I was DYING for a slice of pizza! LOL How sad if my friends would have thought I was being rude by not eating what they were eating, when they wouldn’t suffer the same short term AND long-term results. Thankfully, my friends love me – and thought nothing of it.

    But the way Wilson portrays those with food allergies (allergies that aren’t immediately life threatening) is that we are just being snooty. And he’s inviting brother to judge brother. Exactly whose allergies are legit and who is just being a snooty, trendy gluten hater? Who gets to decide this?

  • Stacy McDonald

    I believe it would have been more productive to Pastor Wilson’s stated desire for unity if he would have addressed how both parties (hostess and guest) could be gracious to one another while dealing with food allergies. Describe for each side ways they could express love, thankfulness, and compassion for one another.

    A gracious hostess could ask her guests if they have any food intolerances that she might accommodate, remembering that hospitality is about serving and blessing others.

    A gracious guest with food allergies could let her hostess know well in advance about her dietary restrictions. She should also offer to bring along part of the meal, or simply bring food for the child/family member who has the special need.

  • Kamilla


    Again, I believe you are missing Pastor Wilson’s point as well as mine.

  • Kamilla

    Yes, in advance as you say here: “A gracious guest with food allergies could let her hostess know well in advance about her dietary restrictions. She should also offer to bring along part of the meal, or simply bring food for the child/family member who has the special need.”

    So, it looks to me like you missed the bit where Doubg says, “unannounced” as he does here:

    “Here is a rule of thumb. If you have ever showed up to a dinner party (not a potluck) unannounced with your own food, then you are an enemy of church unity. The Holy Spirit is working to unify the whole body in sweet table fellowship, and you are underfoot.”

  • Valerie Jacobsen

    Romans 14 teaches that if someone is abstaining from some food or drink for mistaken moral or religious reasons, due to weakness of faith, we are obligated to receive him and forbidden to dispute with him over his scruples. He honors Christ in his weakness, as we do in ours, and God receives his honor because of Christ.

    Teetotalers and vegetarians can honor Christ, just like winebibbers and carnivores can. When He receives them with love, then we are obligated to do the same and make them welcome among us, scruples and all. They are not to be despised or shamed as if a tender conscience were _actually_ “the deathly enemy of church unity”. (Gotta live by the Word and not by a theory of what would really be best all around.)

    If one is free to abstain from meat or drink for moral reasons and not disdained for living by a principle that is not a biblical requirement, if that one cannot be shunned, mocked, or brought up for church discipline, then any of us should be free to abstain from meat or drink for reasons of health, or preference, or even taste. If we’re trying a diet or meal plan only because a friend tried it first and liked it, is Christ offended?.

    We could use anything to be rude to one another, so that’s a concern, but the above article does not limit itself to polite advice for working things out with one’s hostess. Rather, it suggests that it is good and right to view our friends with “trendy allergies” with disdain and expect that they should shut up and eat what’s served to them, like it or not, when “No, thank you” is accepted as a polite response among reasonable people.

    Phrases like “deathly enemy of church unity’ and “rash on the body” (and possibly the attitude that crafts them) are a great way to gather evidence for the hypothesis that people on gluten-free diets are generally defensive and a little bit touchy.

  • Valerie (Kyriosity)

    Stacy, Doug isn’t rebuking people with allergies; he’s rebuking people with “allergies.” He’s not rebuking people with real medical conditions; he’s rebuking hypochondriacs. He’s not saying we should judge whether our friends’ food issues are real enough or not; He’s saying we should judge whether our own food issues are real enough or not. He’s not rebuking you for having a medical condition; he’s rebuking the people who, for some demented reason, think it’d be ever so cool to have your medical condition.

  • Stacy McDonald

    Thanks, Valerie. I edited my opening paragraph earlier today to try to better clarify that I agree with what Doug was ATTEMPTING to communicate. I do get what he MEANT. The problem is that I think he did a sloppy job of communicating it. I don’t think it was purposeful. But I do think it was damaging – especially since his stated goal was unity.

    There is already a lot of misunderstanding regarding food allergies. And people that don’t know much about it already take the liberty of second-guessing their neighbors and speculating on whether or not their food allergies are “all that bad.” This just empowered them. My biggest concern was Doug’s concern: Unity.

  • Kim

    I do think the issue is the person on a fad diet vs. allergy. And who gets to determine it’s an allergy? My SIL spent 2 1/2 years paying medical doctors for tests, all the while throwing up every day. They found nothing. In 5 minutes, her chiropractor determined that she’s sensitive to gluten. When that was cut out, she started gaining weight, stopped throwing up, and now lives a healthy life! Trust me! She wants gluten! But she wants to feel better more than not. Is the fact that her allergy and modern medicine tests were normal make it trendy?

    And, besides all of that, what *if* a person truly is doing it as a fad. Are we supposed to tower over them and tell them that they’re being stupid? Or perhaps we should lovingly show them that jumping from diet to diet isn’t going to help them?

    I’m allergic to barley! I get headaches when I eat it! Which is better? Eating your food for the sake of unity, and then getting a headache and having to leave early, or telling you about my allergy in hopes that you’ll make an accommodation for me?

    Perhaps we can better spend our time not being concerned about someone else’s diet, but being more concerned about serving each other where we are.

  • Angie


    I generally love Doug Wilson and his writings, but this one is off the mark. I don’t think the point is being missed at all. Despite what I *think* Pastor Wilson is trying very ungraciously to say, it is not at all charitable.

    “Last rule of thumb. If you think that every cook in the body has a bounden obligation to drop every other ingredient from her recipes if you are coming over, then perhaps you are waiting for the wrong person to make the sacrifice. Why don’t you make the sacrifice, and just eat it? You might reply that this means that later in the evening you will have to deal with the icky angsty feelings that always accompany your consumption of your allergenic de jour. Well, isn’t that a small price to pay because you love the brethren?”

    How is it anyone’s place to decide if someone is imagining their allergy or not? And to tell someone with a real (or even imagined) allergy to ‘just eat it’ and ‘deal with the icky feelings’ later is the height of divisive and a complete lack of charity and compassion.

    I don’t believe Pastor Wilson meant this the way it came across. I am going to give him the benefit of the doubt and assume he chose his words poorly.

  • Kara

    I’m trying to get my head around this article. My son has never been diagnosed lactose intolerant. He’s never been tested. From the time he was 3 months old, until he was 18 months, he had nearly constant diaper rash, eczema, and was the grumpiest baby I have ever met. We thought he was just a grumpy kid. The doctor would prescribe different lotions for his eczema, and put him on antibiotics once for his diaper rash.

    When he was 17 months old, someone asked me if I had ever considered dairy or wheat being the problem. Since dairy was the easier of the two to eliminate, I started there. In 2 weeks, I discovered that my child was actually a happy kid when he wasn’t feeling bad. In a month his eczema and diaper rash went away. When he drinks milk, the eczema and grumpiness comes back, it takes several days to go away again. As I read this article, it seems to be saying that I’m derisive because I vigilantly avoid letting him consume dairy, either by asking or bringing him some alternative. It won’t land him in the ER, but will make our family miserable for several days.

  • Lindsay

    Just a helpful quote from Pastor Wilson.

    “First, you are in no position to make a right judgment. It is very easy to make judgments without all the facts (a practice that some seem to feel is their spiritual gift).”

    Guess he forgot about that one…or perhaps he just has a new gifting. :)

  • L Butler

    Valerie, Pastor Wilson is rebuking people who don’t fall under his narrow definition of allergy. Stacy is not overreacting. His words seem heartless to those of us who suffer from ongoing non-allergenic problems created by food. There are many people who have what are now known as sensitivities that over time make them sick (digestive ailments, lack of energy, eczema and others). Our current medical system does not recognize these sensitivities. Because of this, many people have had to go outside the sanctioned and insured doctors and find help from alternative medicine (which Pastor Wilson also snickers at frequently). This is not, as has been hinted at here, a weaker/stronger brethren issue, nor is anyone I know wagging fingers and telling others what food is evil and what food is good and tearing apart the fellowship of the table. Yet Pastor Wilson’s words are pointed pretty clearly towards anyone who does not suffer from a need for hospitalization soon after eating a target food.

    I have been reading and learning from and enjoying the Christ Church literature and conferences for 15 years now, and am no stranger to this continuing discussion. We have our babies at home, don’t vaccinate them, and we eat a non-standard diet (oh, and though we love paper and plastic, we often re-use them!). We do all this with thanks. Yet time and time and time again, the Wilson literature and blogs sneer and rebuke and tell those of us who do these things to watch our hearts, that we are problematic in the Body of Christ, that waterbirth hearkens back to paganism (Venus! Born out of the Water!) and alternative medicine ignores Christian history (snake oil!), and that we are the bossy ones. Oy. There is no discussion about why thinking, liturgical, reformed, intellectually sound Christians might be doing these things. It’s dismissive and I think Stacy is right. It further divides.

  • Carolyn

    Mr. Wilson, I don’t understand your statement: “If you have ever showed up to a dinner party (not a potluck) unannounced with your own food, then you are an enemy of church unity.” Which part is the problem? I can see showing up unannounced would be tacky, I can see showing up unannounced expecting people to meet dietary restrictions without notice being problematic, but showing up with your own food so that nobody has to be troubled, with the intention of participating in fellowship, is the least problematic option available. Are you sure you didn’t mean to say “If you have ever shown up unannounced without your own food…?” because that would actually make sense.

    I am gluten intolerant, determined by lab test and confirmed by experience, and several of our children are too. There are many folks at our church who are also gluten intolerant, and not because of peer pressure or some need to be hip. We have potluck every Sunday, and the gf folks bring gf food and we put little signs by those dishes. We all go through the potluck, selecting those foods we can eat, and we sit down and fellowship together. Our communion bread is gluten free, and the people who are not gf probably don’t even know that. We celebrate the Lord’s Table as well as many potlucks together without any distractions. We even have an annual banquet every Christmas season that is catered by members who happen to be gluten free, and we make sure there is something for our vegetarian and dairy free brethren as well.

    I suppose if those of us with dietary restrictions sat back and demanded everyone to meet our needs you would have a point. But we took a different approach; whenever there is food prep to be done, we try to jump in wherever we can and do it ourselves. We have found few things as satisfying as figuring out how to tinker a recipe so that someone can enjoy an old favorite they hadn’t had in a long time. You should see their eyes light up when they hear something is safe for them to eat.

    As far as “icky angsty feelings” being a small price to pay for loving the body, I also love my family, and avoiding my “allergenic de jour” helps me to serve them and the church better because I have all the energy and brain cells I can have at my disposal. Besides, my kids hate it when I have icky angsty feelings. Trust me on this. It’s not pretty when they have them either, if that’s what we are going to call reactions that are not immediately life threatening. And it is a bit out of your scope of practice, I think, to determine whose angsty feelings are legitimate health problems and whose are not. Maybe a little grace would be nice here. If you have always had good health, be grateful. It’s easy to take for granted and assume everyone else is just like you.

    I am sorry if you find it frustrating to have centrally prepared meals when folks can’t all eat the same thing, but I think the “centrally prepared” part has become the idol here, rather than do what it takes to love the people in your flock, give them the benefit of the doubt, and do your own sacrificing. Sacrificing comes from self, not from ordering others to do things you know nothing about.

  • Kathryn

    I truly can see both sides of this issue appreciate both Doug and Stacy for stating their case. Allergies are terrifying and no one wants to make someone sick after eating at their home. On the other hand, I think what’s happened in the church, just like in our society, food has become an idol. The amount of time people spend thinking, planning, worrying, researching, eliminating, experimenting and consuming food is incredible. This the luxury of a very affluent society. Women are especially prone to this obsession because they so desperately want to care for their families are are typically the cooks of the house. I think Doug’s point is that fellowship should not be about the food. If something is served that you can’t eat then chose something else and fill up when you get home later. I’ve never been to a meal where there wasn’t something anyone could eat … a salad, rice, beans, meat. Choose something and get on with fellowshipping. Of course don’t eat something that makes you sick but the whole world shouldn’t have to change what/how they cook because of you. I’ve gotten lists of things I CAN’T bring to fellowship NOT because someone will have a severe reaction but because of “sensitivities”. This is ridiculous and the height of self-centeredness. There is so little thankfulness for actually having choices! In an interview with a man who created a super food to ship to starving nations the interviewer said, “I notice there are nuts in this. Aren’t you worried about allergies?” to which the man responded, “These people are dying from starvation they really aren’t concerned about allergies.” It’s just such a luxury to even have this argument. We need to teach our children to be self-less, thankful and accommodating and if that means they can’t usually eat at big potlucks then so be it. It’s just food and the point is the fellowship not the meal.

  • Emily

    Pastor Wilson,
    You can count me among the many others that were offended by your article. My family has dealt with food sensitivities for almost 20 years now! We are not faking it, nor do we desire for others to change their lives for our benefits. I do agree that there are too many people in America today who choose to avoid a certain food because of a health fad; but that is a small minority compared to the actual number of people with food sensitivities and allergies in America today.

    I have been medically diagnosed with Celiac Disease for over two years now, through those two years I have developed numerous other food allergies/sensitivities also. My youngest sister is Celiac too, and two others in my family are Gluten intolerant. My dad is the only one who can tolerate gluten at this time. Due to this, it is extremely difficult for us to eat at someone else’s home or even at a church potluck. We have a gluten free table designated for our gluten-free members at church, yet I still am only able to eat the food my family has prepared. Yes, I have offended people who think I should still eat their food because they used a special gluten-free recipe. But you have to understand that a true Celiac (which is 1 out of every 133 people in America today) cannot even have a crumb of gluten without experiencing symptoms, so I only eat food that another Celiac sufferer prepared. I also have several food allergies (including spices, fruit and white potatoes; not easy foods to avoid) that cause my throat to swell and I have trouble breathing. Nope…not true anaphylaxis (which you excuse as an acceptable form of an allergy) but the only way to treat it is to take a Benadryl which will cause me to sleep for six hours. Not a great ending to a fellowship meal with friends. Are you suggesting that I don’t offend someone and eat their food, so that I have to truly offend them by leaving early, falling asleep or worse….eventually ending up in the ER from their food!? (For some, allergies worsen with each exposure, so for someone who doesn’t feel right after eating something, the next time may be their anaphylaxis reaction, you can never predict them, so most people avoid any food they have concerns of.) To me, that sounds more offensive.

    As a member of a church who relishes food and fellowship, I have discovered that with my many food allergies (yes I can call them that) a good way to determine if the person really has your best interest in mind is by their reaction to your food allergies when they are wanting to serve you food. Many try very hard to accommodate our allergies, but we also always offer to bring our own food, and oftentimes we do. The hostess cooks the meat (easier not to contaminate) and we bring side dishes…everyone is happy! The best meal I ever had at a family’s house was when I discovered they bought a new cutting board to cut the carrots on so that they wouldn’t contaminate me with possible bread crumbs! Talk about loving one another! While you say that food allergies cause division in the church, I feel that they bring families closer together. A true friend, will love the other person so much that they will desire to serve them a meal that doesn’t make them sick. I have felt a special bond to that family ever since that meal. For two hours after the meal, the father kept asking me if I felt alright cause he did not want his family’s food to be the cause of my feeling poorly. Yes, its true that its rare that I eat food from another’s table, but that doesn’t mean I have made enemies over food or that I can’t also enjoy fellowship.

    One last statement: I feel this argument would be more effective if used on simpler issues such as music, dating, clothing or version of the Bible…not someone’s health. One of the commenters mentioned the type of people who constantly talk about their food issues and health issues and are very rude about it. Those do exist, but in my experience those are the ones still trying to convince themselves they need to eat that way…not the ones with true medical conditions. While my family does still fellowship with others at our church’s weekly potluck, it is very rare we are asked to another’s home. I feel that thinking such as this article is one reason. Yes we do offend people sometimes, but it is because they are uneducated on allergies and choose to believe that we are in the wrong because we refuse their food. I’m afraid this article (especially after reading the first two comments) will further increase that issue of people feeling I am in the wrong because I cannot (and will not) eat their food. Isn’t that causing division?

    Pastor Wilson, next time you choose to write an article that has the possibility to be this offensive over a medical issues…please reconsider and think about how many people in Christ you may very un-lovingly offend in the process.

  • Emily

    One more thing I forgot to mention. Not all food diversion by a person may even be an allergy. I also have to avoid foods that are in everyday dishes because they will cause excruciating pain afterwards, pain that at times has sent me to the ER. Nope its not an allergy, but a medical disorder that is irritated by certain types of foods. Not everyone who avoids a food is faking it Pastor Wilson, just because they don’t swell up like a balloon; they may be avoiding you the embarrassment of having to listen to a less then pleasant discussion of why a certain food bothers them. I feel so sorry for any of your family members that may ever develop a medical condition causing them to change the way they have to eat.

  • Cassie

    I think that both Mr. Wilson and Mrs. McDonald are overstating some points and understating other points.

    First, my family and I highly respect both the works and ministries of both Mr. Wilson and Mrs. McDonald. We have been encouraged, edified, challenged and grown in our Christian faith by both the writings and works of these two.

    I wanted to speak on this topic real quick myself because I feel like we have had a “foot in both camps.” First, I do want to state that perhaps the title of Mr. Wilson’s article is incorrectly titled “Allergic to People.” Perhaps it could have been something along the lines of the idolatry of food!

    When we use the word allergic, it should be used and respected as such! The word allergy should not be associated with food preferences, trends, etc.

    Let me explain…. We have a daughter with a very severe and deadly peanut and tree nut ALLERGY. This is NOT something to mess with as it is a matter of life or death. We should not be clumping in food preferences, trends and other eating situations with allergies. Both my husband and I get quite frustrated with the mis-use or misunderstanding of an allergy – many people will associate it with a preference or a stomach upset or a bit of swelling. If our daughter is exposed, we have 4 minutes to treat before she is dead and treating comes in the form of an epipen (one or more if necessary) and the epipen keeps her airway open for 15 minutes in which we have to get her to a hospital for the remaining treatment.

    Yes, hers is severe and very deadly. But people can have legitimate gluten allergies and other food allergies and they should be treated with care, caution and concern by all parties involved – even if they will not die in 4 minutes. Food allergies wreak havoc in many ways in people’s bodies and is a real health issue.

    We shouldn’t be using the word “allergy” like most people use the word “Christian.” Otherwise, 75% of the people in the country believe they have an allergy just like 75% of people believe in “God.”

    With that said, I do have to make it very clear about the food issue that plagues our family with whomever we would be supping and fellowshipping with. In the same vain, whenever we invite people over or take a meal to a family during times of need, I ask two questions: “Does anyone in your family have a food allergy?” The second question is: “Does anyone in your family have a food preference or rather foods that they really don’t like?”

    The first question is legitimate and EVERYONE should accommodate, as it is a burden the body of Christ bears together.

    When it comes to our daughter’s allergy, we have learned to ask to not have anything that contains, made around, etc. those deadly allergens. Even with the other party assuring us about the safety of the food, I do ask to read ingredients. I feel bad, but this is my daughter’s life and allergies are so misunderstood that the statement on an ingredient that says “made in the same facilities as tree nuts or peanuts” can be very easily overlooked, but send our daughter to the hospital. In addition, our daughter abstains from desserts (unless they are store-bought with all of the ingredients listed) as well as breads. The ingredients used to make up these two food groups are the most dangerous and has those overlooked statements in the flours, chocolate chips, etc. But we don’t make a big deal about it, we don’t draw attention to her abstaining. She will eat the main courses and dishes once we have receiving that assurance from the host.

    But to make it easier, once I tell our potential hosts about her issue, I will offer to bring her her own food if it will be easier. Sometimes they want us to and sometimes they want to make the sacrifice of checking these things out with due diligence and prepare foods with due diligence.

    So now…I do ask about the preferences too! They may not be allergies, but many people have preferences and if I can be a better host by accommodating those, then I will and feel like I have a duty to do so!

    However, I would caution, just as I believe Mr. Wilson was attempting to do, but confused the topic with the word “allergy,” to burdening with your food preferences and trends.

    Let me explain further, in our personal lives, we try to avoid nitrates, pork, red dye, gluten, enriched grains, transfat, high fructose corn syrup, msg, sugar and prefer to eat organic when and where our budget allows.

    If someone were to ask us (which they rarely do) if we had food preferences, the only thing I would say would be no crustacean seafood (and it’s not on the list above) and the reason why is because I seriously cannot stand the taste or smell of this food and have been unable to eat it for 20 years. It is a total preference. Fortunately, most people probably don’t plan to serve shrimp, crab or lobster anyway, but it is a real food preference.

    I would not say: “no pork, no nitrates (which would be lunchmeats, hotdogs and processed cheeses for the short list),…. Etc. from the list above. That would be ridiculous! We can and should “suck it up and eat it” for that meal! Some of those things don’t make us feel great, but it is still a “preference and trend – Not an ALLERGY.”

    Now on the flip-side, I have been on the other side where I was feeling many aspects of disunity in the body over food preferences. There is a family that we love and adore, but have very strong opinions about foods and even longer list of their food preferences than the one I posted above. It was burdensome, and inwardly hurtful although we tried to not to let it affect our fellowship, it did!

    This family did not claim to have any food allergies, but probably a very strange eating style for most.

    When they would stay with us, they would not join us in our breakfast, but eat their raw steel cut oats that were soaking in water overnight and eat them plain. I felt like a heathen feeding my family cooked steel oats and letting my kids dress their oatmeal with a topping bar.

    This family, to name one of many other food preferences, only drank raw milk and would not eat any foods, casseroles or dishes that were made with cheeses, cream based or other dairy ingredients unless it was made with raw milk. I took the time to make a homemade buttermilk ranch dressing when they invited us over. I told them I would bring salad with this dressing and they said that was fine. When we arrived for dinner with my salad and homemade dressing, their family abstained from our dressing and our family was the only ones that ate it. It was awkward and it did feel like there was a rift in fellowship at that time. I would have gladly made a homemade oil/vinegar Italian dressing instead. And maybe they thought that it was much more kind to let me bring what I wanted then express their distastes for non-raw buttermilk as maybe they thought it would be a burden for me to do differently. I don’t know as it wasn’t discussed or brought up while our family enjoyed the dressing. But I do remember thinking that it if was merely a food preference, it wouldn’t have killed them to eat it like it had killed the fellowship at that awkward time. In fact, we’ve tried to abstain from gluten at times and this family made their own breads and we ate them in that same awkward meal because it wasn’t going to kill us and it was more important to use to have the unity at that time!

    Do you catch what I am trying to get at? Let’s not confuse real allergies (if the above buttermilk dressing situation was a milk ALLERGY, that would be different!) with food preferences.

    I personally was convicted by Mr. Wilson’s post as it reminds me that I need to be more careful to not confuse my food preferences/trends with the fellowship of the body, especially remembering those broken times of fellowship with others over food preferences/trends. But it also convicted me to do and sacrifice all I can for those that have real food allergies to make them welcome and comfortable as Mrs. McDonald stated, even in the case of gluten ALLERGIES.

    Soli Deo Gloria,

  • Cassie

    Oh – and one follow-up comment that I remembered. This same family was organizing a church potluck meal and one family said that they would bring some ketchup for something too and the comment was made to them to please bring ketchup with no High Fructose Corn Syrup. I thought it was a bit out of line and unnecessary for one meal. We don’t like it much either, but I wouldn’t have said that as fellowship was far more important than that!

  • Kimberly

    My family members have celiac disease, and I was NOT offended by this article. Just fyi. Thanks!

  • Lora and your po

    I certainly hope that you don’t ever get a disease, such as lyme disease, that restricts your diet, restricts your volunteering, and restricts your pocketbook. However, if you did, it may allow your socks to be knocked off and maybe you could walk a mile in someone elses shoes. What a very insensitive, very judgemental rant. Too bad you put it out there on parade for everyone, every neighsayer to use against the Christians.

  • helvetica

    Heh, I have celiac and I was not offended by the article either.

    Actually, the worst thing about having celiac is having to rub elbows with all of the “food crazies” who stay away from 38 different things just because the zeitgeist at the moment says they should. One lady in my support group literally comes in wearing a mask due to the “chemicals” in the air.

    Now that I think of it, Doug has another series of posts about just that – the direction of the zeitgeist. I think he says that it blows in whichever direction it blows, but are you the one being mindlessly blown along right with it?

  • Mark

    Everybody needs to stop thinking and saying what Doug meant. DOUG NEEDS TO CLARIFY WHAT HE SAID. How hard is it to do Doug?

  • Stacy McDonald

    Mark – Pastor Wilson has posted his clarifications here:

  • Mark

    Stacey – He should do it here. “Thinking Straight, 16 Sausages In A Row” is not a title that yells “This is What I meant” and did not attract my attention. Now if it was “16 strips of Bacon” I would have read it.

  • Stacy McDonald


    I kind of thought it should have been called “16 Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Call Your Friends ‘Enemies of Church Unity’ Unless You Really Mean It.”

  • Stacy McDonald

    Pastor Wilson, I believe my last comment was somewhat flippant and disrespectful. I apologize – please forgive me.

  • Rob Thomas

    I do not have any allergies, but this makes me want to. It would be so fun to go to Pizza Hut and whatch my family eat pizza, while I eat salad in the name of being trendy. Is it just me or dose Mr.Wilson not know anything about allergies?

  • Jane Dunsworth

    Goodness, Mark, you may not have titled things that way on your blog, but is it really necessary now to complain that he didn’t title the post exactly the way you think he should have, or put his response exactly where you think he should have? Why not just move on?

  • Rodney Allan

    Hey Doug, I was just wondering what primary references you were thinking of when you said, “The central pastoral issue of the New Testament was a dietary one.” I can think of Galatians 2, 1 Cor. 5, and Romans 14.

  • Frank Golubski

    Wow. Things sure have changed around here since I last visited! (E.g., WordPress … HALLELUJIA!)

    Read Doug’s article, and Stacy’s reply, and perused many of the replies here.

    My only comment for now:

    Mark is correct. In a post which generates as much heat as this one did, I think Doug could have at least linked to the “16 Sausages” piece in this thread.

    This IS the internet, after all!


  • Ells

    Oh bother. What have you started now?
    So, I have food allergies or intolerance to certain foods, whatever you want to call it. Gratefully, nothing will throw me in the hospital gasping for air, but I do feel awfully sick soon after I eat it. I have had more than one food allergy test done and not one, I repeat not one came out the same. Not my fault, although most were very similar. But I don’t always go by the test, I go by how I feel after I eat. Or I stay off of the food I think may be bothering me and then introduce it and shazam, the results can be very clear. What irks me is people looking at me like I am just a picky eater. Like they don’t believe me when I say I will get physically sick eating whatever it is I shouldn’t be eating. I have graciously ate things I shouldn’t eat to be polite. No more though. My body can’t handle it. All I have to say is, it is not fun when you have food restrictions. And if you are inviting me over and possibly on the spur of the moment, don’t get offended when I hardly partake. It isn’t cause I don’t love you, it’s cause I am trying to keep from getting sick. I will give you warning upon any invitation that involves food and offer to bring my own if possible and to share. So don’t invite me over to be nice to me and then treat me like a leper when I say I am allergic. Show a little christian love and deference. If you do get offended, well then, I don’t really care anymore because you aren’t someone I want to be around anyway. And quit looking at me like I am a freak, instead be grateful you can eat whatever you want.
    I actually haven’t meet anybody that has gotten imaginary rashes. If they do well, they aren’t just sick with ‘trendy’ changing food allergies, but they have a mental issue as well.
    But if you think I am keeping away from oven warm bread, parmesan tomato basil rolls, waffles, pancakes, cakes, pies, tarts, scones, pastries, donuts, pizza crust, pasta, dumplings, crepes, cookies, cream of wheat, hot dog buns all because of some trendy food allergy (gluten), man – I am human! I do not have the self control unless I really do get sick! Hear me people, just cause we aren’t in the hospital the next day or throwing up at the dinner table doesn’t mean we are faking the allergy, or food intolerance, you name it. Lastly, if you would rather have me eat it even though I say I am going to be sick you are really not a kind person. Thanks♫

  • katecho

    Doug was quite clear from the start that he wasn’t addressing those with actual allergies. The first sentence in the fourth paragraph states: “I am not talking about genuine allergies.” Perhaps he needed to start every paragraph with that sentence to quiet the eager.

    Doug is talking about attention-seeking food insecurities. He says, “Food scruples are the deathly enemy of church unity.” Doug came down harder than average in this post, but he was quite clear and focused, and he explained why the issue is important.

    scruple – a doubt or hesitation that troubles the conscience or that comes from the difficulty of determining whether something is right

    scrupulosity – obsessive concern with one’s own sins and compulsive performance of religious devotion.

    I’m not sure why someone with actual allergies would feel the need to become defensive over this. Although, I suppose it is possible to have actual allergies and be insecure.

    God has not called us to a spirit of insecurity.

  • Michaela

    I have no idea where Doug gets his information from, but he is quite uninformed. I think that anyone showing up at a dinner party unannounced is rude, no matter if you have food allergies or not. According to the article, Doug thinks that if a person isn’t blowing up like a balloon or going into anaphylactic shock, they do not have an allergy. That is not usually how food allergies work. Food allergies usually affect the skin and digestive system. It is only in extreme cases that it causes anaphylactic reactions. What is most sad to me about this article is the complete lack of love and understanding. Having food allergies is anything but trendy. I haven’t met a single person who feigns a food allergy because they think it is cool. It is awful to not be able to eat at parties and get togethers. I have food allergies, along with one of my children. When I eat gluten or dairy, I am doubled over in pain. My stomach bloats so bad that I look pregnant. No amount of Mylanta or Tums can stop it, and I feel like that for several days. My daughter gets rashes and terrible stomach aches from gluten and dairy. Unless you have experienced a painful reaction, please don’t judge.

    Doug doesn’t seem to realize how our food has changed. Our grandparents and great grandparents ate wheat, dairy, etc. Food allergies were non existent. Why are food allergies so prevalent now? Is it because it is a fad or a trend? No. It is because our food is not how God originally created it to be. When God created food, He didn’t mean for it to be sprayed with toxic chemicals. When our ancestors before us farmed, they didn’t use pesticides. Farmers were supposed to rest their crops every 7 years (which they do not do), which allows for the nutrients to stay in the soil. Our ancestors did that, and their food was loaded with nutrients and vitamins. God meant for our animals to be free range, not crammed in cages and fed antibiotics and growth hormones, and fed pesticide laden feed. You didn’t have factory farmed animals in our grandparents and great grandparents day. They lived on farms, and had their own animals, who were free range. God created the seeds, not man, and yet man now recreates seeds in a laboratory (that is what GMO is –Genetically Modified). Our ancestors before us grew their crops and saved the seeds from those crops for the next year. Did you know that growing food from saved GMO seeds (like wheat and corn) is impossible? If the plants do grow, they look like mutant plants, and they do not produce food. This is the reason most countries like have banned GMO food. Yet we allow them here in the U.S, and it is a staple of the standard diet. Basically our food is not really food anymore. Is it any wonder that our bodies have no idea what to do with this “food” that isn’t really food?

  • katecho

    “God meant for our animals to be free range, not crammed in cages and fed antibiotics and growth hormones, and fed pesticide laden feed.”

    While Doug was very clear that he wasn’t talking about genuine allergies, it doesn’t prevent someone with a real allergy from also being full of food scrupulosity. This kind of galloping food scrupulosity is what destroys fellowship, even if the allergy happens to be real.

    “Basically our food is not really food anymore.”

    So will you be coming over for dinner this evening? This general attitude may also explain why our fellowship is not really fellowship anymore either. As our attitude about food becomes constricted, so does our fellowship. There really is a connection, and the solution has to do with a heart of peace and gratitude rather than with physiology.

    As we attend to our bodily needs, let us attend to our obsessive consciences and to generous fellowship, lest the congregation develop an allergic reaction to us.

  • Michaela

    Katecho, I was explaining WHY food allergies are so prevalent. I was not saying that I will not sit at a table to eat with people because of how bad food is. If you listen at all to Doug Phillips from Vision Forum, he had a food conference that talks a lot about how our food has changed. He is educating the body of Christ so that we can try and take care of our bodies in the best way we can. There is nothing wrong with saying that our food has been changed. It is not legalism, it is truth. It is true that man is not doing at all what the Bible says when it comes to food, just as it is true that man is turning farther and farther from God and His ways. I don’t sit around and talk about the food industry with people. What point would that be (although many more are aware of our food nowdays). I do try and feed my family healthy, and we have to be careful with food allergies. Does that mean I will avoid fellowship because of it? No. I do what I can, including asking the host if there is anything I can bring to help. I see nothing wrong with that. I bring tasty gluten free dairy free dishes to potlucks, and people tell me that they cannot tell the difference.

    The subject of healthy eating in the church is something that people want to bury their heads in the sand about. It is a taboo subject in most churches. Christians think someone is legalistic or putting food before God if they try hard to eat healthy. Christians are sadly in the majority for obesity in our country. I sit in church, and am surrounded by overweight or morbidly obese people who are horribly struggling with their health. My husband and I have lived many places, and this is common with each church we have been to. In church, talking about eating healthy is really offensive. Healthy eating is basically considered idolatry–healthy food is the idol. I guess to the body of Christ, gluttony really isn’t a sin, and they don’t really need to believe the verse about our bodies being a temple of God. I honestly do not understand why the topic of healthy eating is so sensitive to people in the church.

  • katecho

    “I guess to the body of Christ, gluttony really isn’t a sin”

    Gluttony, like food scrupulosity, seems to be another manifestation of insecurity related to food. Some may argue that the problem is with the food, just as others argue that the problem of drunkenness is with the alcohol. But I believe the issue has to do with the insecurity rather than with the food. The gluttony is the sin, not the dietary content, and not the obesity. For example, a glutton does not have to be overweight. While certain things may be inferior to consume, it is not what goes into the mouth that can defile us.

    So if we say “God meant for our animals to be free range, not crammed in cages”, we are not saying anything that helps the glutton address their error, because actual gluttony is a sin problem and a heart problem, not a free range chicken problem. Fixing the glutton’s diet does not fix the glutton’s heart.

  • Tom Vierra

    Food-based divisions are an unfortunate reality in the Church still dealing with the stain of sin. But they are a reality that we cannot simply dismiss by saying “grow up and get over it,” and by offering a few rules of thumb. This is all the more true if we keep in mind that we (as the broader American culture) are as food-ignorant as we have ever been, if not much more so. The great majority of folks do not know where their food comes from, how it is grown and processed, and what it is doing to their bodies. Simply put, this is an issue of stewardship and dominion. It is deeply biblical, and deeply personal.

    Some in the Church are wrestling with that very issue, trying to do right by their families, and learning many troubling things about their habitual diet and wanting change as a result. Are we to say, “get over it,” to those folks who are perhaps connecting, say, grain consumption to certain physical ailments that have burdened them for years and thus would prefer to avoid grains? Those I know who would fit in that type of camp do not go around demanding every other family to design potluck meals to fit unique dietary restrictions. But they ought to be respected for their convictions, and it might just be a genuine act of loving fellowship for a family, who knows of the food convictions of another family, to make a meal that has them in mind. A better rule of thumb, I should think.

  • Debi

    Thati is good blame the victim. That usually works in christian circles. It is all the fault of the one who is afflicted. Thanks.

  • Jonathan

    I’m surprised that people with Coeliac disease were not offended. That was one of the groups that I had assumed Pastor Wilson was targeting with this post. I am curious as to whether some of the people that Pastor Wilson complains about actually have Coeliac’s themselves, and whether (or how) Pastor Wilson verifies this before he determines that they are being disruptive to Christian unity.

  • Suzanne at NLQ

    Thank you for being so judgmental and hateful about food allergies /sarcasm.

    As someone who has life threatening asthma and food allergies to the point that before I started getting experimental treatments of a DNA recombinant drug I’d end up in the ER with an epipen hanging out of my leg. This has happened after eating foods others have claimed aren’t laden with things I am allergic to, after waking in to the church into a cloud of noxious cologne, or by some well meaning person using aerosols around me plus a million other situations.

    I have learned over the last ten years to put myself first every time. It’s not a matter of ‘rudeness’ or, at you imply, ‘some sort of fad’ but an illness I was born with that ventured into life threatening territory seven years ago. I always bring my food to someone’s house if they invite me because many of these well meaning folks just don’t have a clue. Once at a dinner I was offered coffee at the end of the meal, I said sure that would be nice. They offered alcohol in the coffee. I said no alcohol, just cream. Went to the restroom only to come back, take a nice big mouthful of coffee only to find it had a liqueur in it I am allergic to. I ended up with the epipen hanging out of my leg again and in ICU. JUst like the time I went to Disneyworld, faxed Disney my AMA accommodations request for my stay at their hotels, walked right into the room to find it had been repainted mere days before as it said it could not be in my accommodations. No time even for my epipen that time, I ran out of the room, fell down having a seizure and twitching on the pavement before going into respiratory arrest. Woke up intubated in ICU.

    I thought real Christians were supposed to love others, pray for their well being and NOT JUDGE! Whatever happened to judge not lest ye be judged?

    If it takes me carrying around my epipen, my drug arsenal, bringing my own food places and avoiding places recently painted, cleaned, crowded with people wearing horrible cheap cologne or smokers then that’s exactly what I will do. I could not care less about some judgmental persons ignorant opinion that I’m being rude, because I will do what is best to maintain some small semblance of health.

    I’ve seen at the clinics of NIH, Mayo and Johns Hopkins I’m not the only one. These types of illnesses are on the upswing, no doubt from the fact that more and more unnatural chemicals are in our atmosphere now.

  • katecho

    Except that Doug clearly stated (several times) that he was talking about “trendy allergies”. Doug also clearly stated, “I am not talking about genuine allergies.” Since celiac is a genuine allergy, Jonathan’s assumption about who Doug is “targeting” is wrong.

    Why would Jonathan be surprised that people with celiac were not offended? Is it because Jonathan never lets an opportunity to take offense go to waste? Scripture lays out principles and examples for giving offense. It also lays out principles and examples for righteous anger on behalf of others. But not being easily offended is a Christian virtue.

    I’ve noticed that Jonathan has cast himself as champion of anyone he perceives as having any plausible grounds for offense from Doug. Whether it is the descendent of black slaves, the homosexual, NT Wright, or now the one afflicted with celiac, they are each encouraged and prompted by Jonathan to quickly take up their rights as the offended. Perhaps Jonathan believes his cause is helped by casting himself in that role, but it’s a very different culture that values the taking of offense as a virtue.

  • Michelle

    Seems like folks are getting their back up over something he didn’t say. Good grief fellow Christians, let’s try to read it for what it is worth. And, as an aside, I can see a totally different meaning than food here too.

    I always get leary when see quick corrections to the writer. Step back and take a deep breath, understanding you may have missed his point all together.

  • Travis M Childers

    Reading comments here by “katecho”–a pseudonym, I presume–and a few others does not leave a sweet savor in my mouth. Stacy McDonald–real name–was not unclear when she quite charitably and tactfully outlined the shortcomings of Mr. Wilson’s post. Rather than waste everyone’s time here by rehashing (and probably stating not at all as concisely) Mrs. McDonald’s points, let me summarize:

    1) Doug Wilson does not give evidence in this post that he fully understands the nature of food allergies and the havoc they increasingly wreak on the lives of millions.

    2) Doug Wilson, not untrue to type, wrote this post in the spirit of a pompous ass, thereby giving offense where, as a shepherd of God’s people, he should have sought to encourage and uplift.

    If there is a non-unifying, Holy Spirit-thwarting culprit here it is igonrance masked by arrogance, neither of which conditions is pleasing to God. Peter told us plainly how we should deal with these and other issues which arise in the Church–with humility and understanding.

    Sorry if I have contributed to the disunity so evident here, but I can’t help it. I’m arrogance intolerant.

  • Christie Minich

    I had heard about this post, and decided to read it for myself to see if it was really true.
    Sadly, it was.
    I am going to thank Stacy McDonald for graciously replying to an article that was not just sloppily written, but full of judgement and assumption, that those who don’t die from eating peanuts are fake or worse, grieving the holy spirit and enemies of the church.

    I had been sick for YEARS. And yes, a doctor has worked with me, both medical and alternative. (yes, those quacks some call them)
    But today, I am healthy and feeling really good, because of my diet.
    Not a diet, but a live it.
    If somebody gets offended because I don’t eat their pie, I wonder where the problem really lies.
    Fellowship is not just about food. It is about loving your brother, taking time, and feasting on the WORD.

    If there is “food” involved, who cares what another person eats or doesn’t eat.
    I bring gluten free foods to potlucks, as do some others, and share with all.

    I would love nothing more than to have some nice greasy garlic bread and spaghetti, but the end result would be awful pain.
    There are more restrictions, and they are not “trendy”.
    I suggest Mr. WIlson educate himself on food allergies, and gain a little Christian love and understanding in the process.

  • Katherine Coble

    I guess I have yet another thing I can reference when I see yet another post wondering why people are leaving “church” (ie. congregational gatherings) in droves.

  • Emily

    Here is where you are mistaken. In his post, Pastor Wilson discusses the outward symptoms you may see from someone with a “true allergy” such as peanuts. He speaks of your friend swelling like “the Michelin man.” With Celiac there are at times no outward symptoms. Because of that, some people still choose to believe the Celiac-ridden person is faking it. Trust me, I have Celiac Disease and I still have people all the time think I should still try their food. Celiac isn’t an allergy at all, but a digestive issue that can wreak havoc inside and out of a person’s body. For some it may be completely silent (no symptoms at all) but inwardly it is destroying their intestines, increasing their risk of cancer, causing severe anemia or other damage. Please, educate yourself on Celiac Disease before you post on a public site again.

  • Brandie Ivers

    Pastor Wilson,
    I know this is a bit long, but I would be honored if you would here me out.  I loved living in Moscow for the ten years I was there.  It was a great blessing to my family.  I totally understand what you are fighting against with the food allergy thing; food has become an idol in our  culture, one that can break communion.  Some people even find their identity in what they eat rather than in Christ.  I get it.  I also understand that you are picking on “fake” allergies and not real ones.   I agree with all this, but  I think there are ditches on both sides of the road and you are only speaking to one.  This is causing those in the other ditch, the non-allergic divisive people, to become smug and judgmental.  It is encouraging *those* people to falsely accuse their brothers in Christ, and ironically, to break communion with them. 
    I would like to share my experiences with my own food allergy while living in Moscow, in the hope that some blind spots can be uncovered.  First, according to Moscow terminology, I do not have a “real” allergy.  I do not asphyxiate on the way to the ER.  When I would admit my food allergy, (which in Moscow is like coming out of the closet) people would always ask, “Do you asphyxiate?”  I would reply in the negative, and my allergy in everyone’s mind was declared “fake”.  The fact that I have stomach flue symptoms, and am unable to stand up without fainting for about two days straight is irrelevant. It is a fake allergy and therefore falls under the Wilson Clause of “Eat the food and put up with the symptoms or you are a selfish person”.
    So, I would be invited to dinner.  I would have a choice.  Do I tell them I have an allergy?  Then they will huff and puff about how they must go out of their way for my “fake” allergy.  They would usually put dairy in anyway and claim that they didn’t, and then be upset that I wouldn’t eat the food they went out of their way to make. I really didn’t want to cause them extra trouble, so I would bring my own food.   If I did that they would be upset that  I didn’t appreciate their work.  I remember being offered a cheese cake.  I said, “That looks wonderful, I wish I could eat it, but I would be sick.  The rest of my family will really enjoy it, though.”  This was taken as a selfish, rude statement.  Obviously, I just wanted to be the center of attention.  I marveled.  How could this lady be so selfish.  I mean, she wanted my to be sick as a dog for three days just so I could say what a wonderful cook she was?  Then I realized- she didn’t believe me.  She thought I was lying about my allergy.  Why?  Did I have a track record of lying?  No. But Wilson says most people with allergies are lying, therefore statistically, I was lying too. 
    I had people sneak dairy into my food and deny it.  After all, my allergy was all in my head and therefore I wouldn’t notice.  I did notice as I was hanging over the toilet heaving all night.  I never said anything, though.  Despite all the accusations to the contrary, I did not want to cause trouble or be the center of attention.  Of course, if I did say something, they would just say they understood I *thought* I had allergies.
    So who is being selfish?  Who wants to be the center of attention?  The one who brings their own food so the other person doesn’t have to be bothered?  Or the lady who huffs and puffs because I’m not able to give up the next three days of my life to tell her what a wonderful cook she is?  Do you see how there can be selfishness on both sides?  Whenever there is a fad, there are also reactors to that fad.    I think it is wonderful that you are taking this fad, the idolatry of food seriously.  But I wish, and I say this with all humility, knowing you have much more wisdom than I do, I do wish that you would shepherd those who are reacting to the fad to follow the golden rule.  If they don’t want to be called a liar, they should not accuse others.  If they want to be treated respectfully as a guest, the should treat their guests with respect.  I always loved when you would say “On the one hand people are going to say…”  and “On the other hand people will think…”  I wish you would do that with this topic.  I say all this because I know there are people in Moscow right now, with very real allergies, who are dealing with what I dealt with.

  • Brandie

    Kamilla and Valerie,
    True, Pastor Wilson is only rebuking fake allergies.  Sadly, many people in Moscow have concluded that it is up to them to decide whether someone’s allergies are fake or not. They usually decide this based on their personal convenience.  For example, “I worked really hard on this cake, therefore your allergies are fake because I want you to say that I am a good cook.”   In doing this, they often falsely accuse their sisters and brothers in Christ. People with real allergies are put on guilt trips, are accused of lying  or are condescended to.   Some people with allergies react in a defensive way.  We are then  told the people with “fake” allergies are causing problems again.  I know this does not describe every situation.  There are “allergies”  out there.  There are also snooty people without allergies.  Every time Pastor Wilson talks about the people with fake allergies, those of use with real allergies know there are prideful people in the congregation who are thinking of us.

  • Scott

    Just a few years ago I was the model of health, but began to suddenly decline quite rapidly, and after a couple of years I ended up being declared legally disabled.My first symptom was pretty severe lower back pain and then my cognitive abilities began to diminish, and then the horrible fatigue and then my vision went screwy, and then my balance and then the brain fog set in…at times the brain fog was very much like dementia…I felt at times like I could slip off into never-never land….my memory had been greatly reduced. I also became very sensitive to computers and TVs…they would make me very dizzy and foggy…pretty common evidently…EMF sensitivity….my blood pressure was messed up, pretty low….my heart would take off racing from time to time…many other weird symptoms that I have forgotten…I became “allergic” /sensitive/intolerant to everything outside and most things inside as well. I was also reduced to eating just 3 or 4 foods for well over 1 year, as I was highly reactive to everything else.  My body would react negatively for up to 3 days, making me to have something similar to the flu but worse.In addition to outdoor pollens and foods, I became highly reactive to laundry detergents, fabric softners, perfumes, gasoline and on and on.After 18 doctors…neurologists, ENTS, brain surgeons, audiologists, neuroopthalmologists, immunologists, and others I can’t remember (none of whom provided any help at all ), in addition to every allergy test under the sun (all of which came up completely negative) I finally made my way to the Environmental Health Center of Dallas.Within 15 minutes, Dr. Rea asked “have you had your house tested for toxic mold?” I said “no, why would I, my house is brand new”…he said “because you have it, your symptoms are classic”He told me to have my house tested and if he was correct, then I needed to move out right away.I did have it tested and Dr. Rea was correct and it turned out that I had toxic black mold behind some sheetrock in my brand new house.  We did move out for about 8 months.  I firmly believe Dr. Rea saved my life with that advice.In my case, these neurotoxins triggered an auto-immune epidemic in my body along with debilitating neurological symptoms. I should mention that the mold toxins are not really any different that any other toxin…all toxins are simply put, poison.  At the Environmental Health Center of Dallas, I met a great many people that had been poisoned by mold toxins, heavy metal poisoning from manufacturing processes, chemical poisoning from lab work, poisoning from surgical implants, some had just accumulated poisons over the course of their lives.Here is a list of symptoms that others have experienced as a result of mold exposure: out did me a world of good…but it didn’t make me well.I didn’t start really getting well until I found LDA Immunotherapy (called EPD in England) and LDN (low dose naltrexone).LDA Immunotherapy (called EPD in England) has an incredible success rate, 80% of patients are cured within one year, with no more treatment needed, ever.  The remaining 20% typically require just a little longer before a cure is realized.  The failure rate is less than 5%. “typical” doctors will stick people on steroids, and people will often find relief, but  LDA and LDN work completely opposite of the steroid.  The steroid, as I understand it, suppresses your immune system so that you don’t react and thus inflammation in the body is decreased and thus your symptoms decrease.  However, long term use of steroid therapy can lead to some fairly serious complications.LDA and LDN on the other hand stimulate and retrain your immune system so that in rather short amount of time you literally have a new immune system that doesn’t react to normal stuff.  LDA and LDN do not work at the Ig level, but instead at the T Cell level. way LDA works is to stimulate the production of new helper T cells.  Our old T cells have bad memories, they think we are sensitive or intolerant or allergic to certain things in the environment, sometimes hundreds of things.  Imagine if your body is reacting even slightly to 300 different foods, inhalants, pets, and common chemicals like perfume or scented laundry detergent.  This extreme immune system reaction leads to a whole host of bodily dysfunctions including pervasive micro inflammation and neuro-muscular responses that cause incredible pain and much more.  Well this very type of scenario is the commonality between all auto-immune disorders.So LDA injects you with about 5,000 different low dose antigens, (foods, chemicals, pets, inhalants, bacteria) so low that your current immune system won’t react, and then the LDA mix has an enzyme that stimulates the production of new helper T cells.  The new T cells learn that you are not allergic/intolerant/sensitive to all those antigens.  So the idea is to let all your old bad memory T cells die, and load your body up with new T cells that have good memories.  It can literally permanently turn off all allergies/reactions/sensitivities/intolerance’s. Many times people don’t even know their body is reacting to things in their environment, they simply know they do not feel good, and they don’t know why.One year ago, I barely had the strength to walk into Dr. Brian Lamkin’s office in Edmond OK, due to this auto-immune epidemic in my body.  I was basically confined to my bed for 2 years.  Thanks to LDA Immunotherapy and LDN (low dose naltrexone), today I am doing a pull up routine and I am on day 120 or so, of P90X…My point?  Well, for one I just want people to know that allergy tests can only do what an allergy test is designed to do, which is to test for Ig mediated allergies.  In my case and in many other people, we are not dealing with Ig mediated allergies but instead T Cell mediated immune system responses.  So when Dougy Wilson and  his uninformed lot blather on, they are blathering from complete ignorance….ignorance from a medical perspective and ignorance from an anecdotal or experiential perspective (they have fortunately for themselves, never lived through something so terrible).Those of us who have lived through these things and understand their reality, must bear with folks  like Wilson, by not being offended by his ignorance as well as by doing what we can to help those who are experiencing poor health to regain it.  It’s a fact that often times one simply cannot regain their health without radically changing ones diet. …and many times that will mean that we must decline dinner invitations and/or politely refrain from eating foods that are offered by hospitable people. good and/or bad bacteria and fungi in our guts feed on certain foods….even very small amounts. Those bugs in our gut comprise nearly 80% of our immune system and what bugs dominate can dramatically affect our cognitive abilities, our personality, our moods, our ability to feel, our ability to function as a human should.