Sixteen Sausages in a Row

A few days ago, I republished a post from a few years back on food allergies. This was mostly because I am still sorting things out in my new WordPress surroundings, and wanted to see how to repost something. Tinker with this, click on that, you know. A new commenter had just referenced that old post, so I just reloaded that one, just for grins. But it has generated some fresh discussion, as these things always do, some in the comments, and others with me in real time.

I know that when I write on things like this, I routinely try to qualify what I am saying, so that nobody can say I am mocking the sick and the infirm, or being hard-hearted toward those who are truly hurting. But those qualifications can be taken (as some have taken them) as simply a pro forma sort of thing, giving myself plausible deniability, in case someone’s feelings get hurt and I wanted to have something to point to while maintaining that I didn’t say that. But no, I really believe my qualifications. So in this instance, let me frontload them, and then after that move on to the basic points I am seeking to make in these posts.

So here is a full paragraph of qualifications, and a longish paragraph it is too. First, I understand that these things operate on a sliding scale — it is not the case that you either go to the hospital all swoll up with your life on the line, or your problem is entirely imaginary. Some allergies are very serious immediately, while others should be filed under certain foods “not agreeing with” your constitution. There are food allergies, with varying degrees of seriousness, and there are food intolerances, with varying degrees of seriousness. The law of love should govern in all instances. Hosts should be thoughtful hosts, and guests should be thoughtful guests. Also, when it comes to particular cases and instances, with people I deal with directly, I am not trigger-happy in offering the suggestion that the problem might not be “real.” Actually, the problem is always real in some way, but it is sometimes not real in the way that everybody first thought. But if I am counseling someone, for example, and begin to suspect that some kind of self-delusion is going on, it will usually take me months to get to the point where I would suggest that directly. There would be a lot of other ground to cover first. And what this means is that I am not making snap-diagnoses at a distance of particular individuals in any of my posting on this subject.

I have been dealing with people in pastoral ministry for decades, and have pretty much seen it all. I have seen enough to know that there is a true category out there of hypochondria, and there is another category of people who are genuinely sick — and some of them with illnesses that are quite mysterious, and hard to pin down. Now the fact that I believe there is such a thing as the former category does not mean that I deny the existence of the second, or the seriousness of what people in the second category face, or the difficulties they confront when they are afflicted with something that might look to outsiders like they are making it all up. To all such — my heart goes out to them, and they don’t have worry about any snide comments from me. I have never been talking about them.

This being the case, why do I run the risk of being misunderstood by some with a genuine ailment? When I am attacking abuse in this area (as I frequently do), it is because I have seen the real damage, in real time, that play-acting can do to marriages, families, and friendships. I have also seen a situation where someone in genuine pain just soldiers on through because she will not be lumped in with those who have their boutique allergies. This is a situation created by the fakery, and not by recognition that there is such a thing as fakery and/or self-deception.

Here are the principles I am most concerned about:

1. The first point is that table fellowship is one of the most important ecclesiastical issues found in the New Testament. We need to remember that, and act accordingly. Some of the fiascoes I have seen were the result of ignoring that truth. We have gotten to the point where there is widespread disruption of such table fellowship, and I simply think that more of us should act like it is a big deal. Just to be clear on the point, genuine food allergies, etc. do not disrupt table fellowship because they provide an occasion for love. The disruption is caused by manipulation and selfishness, which is the opposite of koinonia fellowship.

2. The second issue concerns the nature of knowledge. I could care less what other people eat — provided they are having a good time with it. But I care very much about truth and verification. I care very much about irrationality being given a free pass simply because it is what Smith or Murphy “are into.” Once the principles of unreason are well-established in our midst, we will find that we cannot turn them off with a switch, simply because we are now dealing with something more serious. We are to love the Lord our God with all our minds, and I have to say that I have seen some striking instances of that not happening. The post hoc fallacy is not the queen of the sciences.

3. The third point concerns frequent abdication on the part of fathers and husbands. Many times, emotional and spiritual issues show up in the lives of women as food issues, and the men involved are often too weak, or cowardly, or defensive about their own causal role, to address it in the way they ought to. Women are prone to be deceived (1 Tim. 2:14), and men are prone to let them be deceived. This is an area where I have seen radical unsubmissiveness on the part of some wives, and radical cowardice on the part of some husbands, conspiring together to destroy families. The food is just a symptom; the real problem is located somewhere else entirely. And wives, don’t read this and go off to demand that your husband tell you if this is true. It might not be, but if it is, you are unlikely to get a straight answer from him. Get on your knees and ask the Spirit if it is true. He’s not afraid of you.

4. And last, if any reacted to my earlier use of the phrase boutique allergies, and assume that anyone who uses phrases like that must be attacking you individually, then this illustrates the heart of the problem with “qualifications.” There is no good reason I can think of for someone with a real broken leg being defensive on behalf of someone who is faking a broken leg. To make the point bluntly, referring back to my second concern, if I write that Smith is faking his broken leg, it is not germane to the discussion to post a picture of your son, who is not a Smith at all, with the bone sticking out. My belief that there is such a thing as a boutique allergy industry does not mean that I believe that you are a customer. I mean, I don’t even know your name. But those shops are out there, and they do have customers.

But let me return to my earlier qualification. I really believe that there are many genuine food allergies and intolerances. I myself react quite poorly to sixteen sausages in a row. Um . . . joke . . . didn’t mean to make light of . . . no, no, not really . . . sorry.

  • Valerie Jacobsen

    I like your second point best! So true.

    But is hard to understand your contention that a person must have some degree of legitimate illness in order to scrupulously avoid a food, or food group. Romans 14 seems to indicate that we can have full fellowship even if one guest at the barbecue is eating his burger in a lettuce wrap and another is eating an empty bun. (And isn’t Romans 14 addressing folks who have specious moral reasons for their asceticism?)

    It’s been since the days of Paul that people talk about food, health, and ethics, so that some will conclude that some food choices are better, wiser, and healthier than others. What is the problem if the one who eats does not despise the one who abstains, and the one who abstains does not pass judgment on the one who eats?

    If God accepts the one who is scrupulously pursuing a healthy diet, why not let Mildred alone with her belief that sugar and carbs cause weight gain and aren’t healthy for her, provided that she is gracious to others, and her own husband is pleased with her?

    Unity, sound reasoning, and fellowship are all essentials, but I cannot read Romans 14 and then follow along with the contention that we need to act like voluntarily selected special diets are themselves a big deal.

  • Stacy McDonald

    Thank you for your clarifications, Pastor Wilson. And I appreciate that you recognize that there are varying degrees of seriousness with food allergies/ sensitivities etc. But since you said that you can’t think of any good reason for “someone with a real broken leg” to be defensive on behalf of someone who is “faking a broken leg” or, more specifically, someone with a real food allergy to be defensive on behalf of someone with a “boutique allergy,” let me try to explain.

    When I was growing up, if a child fell and got hurt, my family was very much a “show me the blood” kind of family. No blood? No sympathy. If you didn’t have fever you were doing your chores. No whining allowed. So, I grew up with very little patience for hypochondriacs. I was very much a “show me the blood” mom. So, more often than not, if symptoms weren’t obvious or provable, I tended to doubt the seriousness of those who claimed illness (you can pity my poor older children!). ;-)

    Now, being somewhat immersed in the natural health world due to some humbling family health issues, I’ve learned to have more mercy with symptoms that may seem a little puzzling to onlookers lacking all the facts. As a pastor’s wife, I’ve also been involved in the lives of other moms who are exploring different treatments (and yes, different diets) to try to help their children with various health problems (pain, skin conditions, bowel issues, etc.),

    But, there is also a lot of misinformation surrounding food allergies. Though this is beginning to change, the general public doesn’t know how serious food allergies can be. So my concern isn’t so much over what you meant (I believe I got what you meant, and agree to a point); my concern was more over how your post would be taken by the ignorant or the impatient in the church – especially since the stated goal was unity.

    According to your article (which you’ve already thankfully clarified), there are the “real” food allergies (that result in anaphylactic shock) and there are the trendy, fake fellowship-breaking allergies. There didn’t seem to be any in between. This may encourage the ignorant or impatient to react to their brother with my grandfather’s attitude of “show me the blood,” forgetting or simply not understanding, that just because someone isn’t facing sudden death, doesn’t mean a particular food isn’t slowly killing him inside.

    Again, because of the nature of your topic, I think clarifiers were very badly needed, as well as a tad more grace.

    Also, as an aside, though this may be something you’ve experienced in your own church, I have never seen people with food allergies break fellowship over it or rudely cause division. I’ve seen quite the opposite – people so desperate for fellowship that they’re willing to prepare their own food just to be with the body (and not inconvenience anyone).

  • Emily

    Pastor Wilson,
    Thank you for this follow-up, even though it is still somewhat lacking. From what I can sort of determine in this article, isn’t the real issue people who are insensitive to others? You stated, “The disruption is caused by manipulation and selfishness, which is the opposite of koinonia fellowship.” To me this represents people who don’t even have a medical condition, but are just plain selfish. This issue has nothing to do with food, but more with their heart. In my experience, the issue of food should be the least of our worries when it comes to a person with this attitude. Which leads me to saying, you could have approached this subject using a different example than food allergies such as, theology (non-important issues), clothes, music, speech, books, etc. These types of people don’t just demand everyone act the same as they do in regards to food, but in every way of life. So to be less offensive you could have easily chosen another example. It is obvious, someone has greatly offended you through the issue of food allergies at some point in your pastoral career, but by holding onto that grudge and writing these offensive articles are you not creating more division among the body then that one person caused with you? Just something to think about.

  • Whitney

    I think this issue has long been neglected in the body of Christ. I believe there’s a strong correlation to be made between “boutique allergies” and “boutique illnesses” as well, such as the mysterious upsurge in claims of fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome. In most cases I do not doubt the actual presence of physical pain, but your third point expresses my sentiments exactly. Could it be that the rampant chronic pain we see today is merely a physical manifestation of unrepented sin? Of old hurts and wounds that need to be addressed by the One who came that we might have life, and have it abundantly? There needs to be a higher prevalence of discernment among believers (particularly husbands and fathers), to know whether we are dealing with a physical condition or physical symptoms of spiritual sickness. This requires courage and God-given love, the sort that was modeled for us by the paralytic’s friends who boldly helped him approach the Healer, Who in turn saw fit to heal his heart first, and his body second.

  • Tim M.

    You wrote:
    “my concern was more over how your post would be taken by the ignorant or the impatient in the church”

    Have you considered that this is perhaps an unreasonable standard to hold ANY communicator to? Do you think it is fair when people criticize your husband, not for what he intended to communicate, but for all the possible bad ways the ignorant or impatient can apply his words? Don’t the ignorant and impatient also incorrectly apply the Scriptures? Does this mean that good communication necessarily takes into account all possible ways sinful people can distort our intentions?

  • Name on His Hand

    I agree that perhaps an example might have been better to make your point how fellowship is destroyed by ppl who are faking food allergies. I think what is truly happening is that ppl who have had ‘problems’ all their lives are finally beginning to see the light that perhaps it is the food they eat? I could be wrong but it seems to me that the state of our food supply is such that (along with vaccinations and other environmental toxins) we are in for far more issues with ppl that might be related to foods we ingest. I don’t think it is worth making those who are trying to figure out what is truly wrong with them feel bad, while trying to correct the few (?) who are only getting on the band wagon for attention? Even they are probably truly deceived and so a loving kind involvement with them deliberately might be the ticket? Perhaps you can post to pastors and others in leadership in the Christian community how to lovingly confront someone they believe to be faking? That might be very useful to/in the Body at large. God bless you.

  • Stacy McDonald


    If you’ve been following the whole conversation, you’ll see that I was referring to the fact that I thought his point was communicated poorly, in a sloppy way, inadvertently lumping together people he didn’t intend to include. If he’s talking about rude hypochondriacs who behave as though the world revolves around them, then he should have said so. Instead, he broad-brushed people with food allergies, putting into question their integrity (or perhaps their sanity) by inviting everyone to judge whether or not they are “enemies of unity.”

    For the sake of unity, I think he should have been more careful and responsible with his words.

  • Tim M.

    Have you considered that you have misrepresented him and he did no such thing? I have read the whole conversation and have concluded that I do not believe you are understanding his actual words. Is it possible that your experience in this issue is clouding your ability to understand the author’s intention? Wouldn’t you think it is a bit patronizing to tell someone that if they have read the whole conversation they would automatically agree with you. Is it possible that you might be the one who is mistaken?

  • Tim M.

    *have you considered the possibility that you might have misrepresented

  • kelly

    SO AGREE with ^stacy^.

  • Stacy McDonald

    Hi Tim,

    You said: “Is it possible that your experience in this issue is clouding your ability to understand the author’s intention?”

    I chose to believe him when he said his “intention” was to encourage unity; I simply believe he did a very poor job of accomplishing it, and actually encouraged the very opposite result.

    You also said: “Wouldn’t you think it is a bit patronizing to tell someone that if they have read the whole conversation they would automatically agree with you.”

    That isn’t what I said. I said that “If you’ve been following the whole conversation, you’ll see that I was referring to the fact that I thought his point was communicated poorly, in a sloppy way, inadvertently lumping together people he didn’t intend to include.”

    I was referring to my own words; I was not referring to the final conclusion you or anyone else would come to once they were read.

    You also said: “I have read the whole conversation and have concluded that I do not believe you are understanding his actual words… Is it possible that you might be the one who is mistaken?”

    That is always possible. I have been wrong many times. But, in this case, I believe I evaluated his words (not necessarily his intentions) properly.

  • Tim M.

    It might be helpful for you to reread both of his posts and look for evidence that he is not lumping together hypochondriacs and those with legitimate allergies. I believe there is ample evidence to show that Doug hasalready done what you seem to think he hasn’t done. Perhaps your remarks betray poor reading comprehension? Or maybe your emotion is clouding your ability to see what is obviously there? He is obviously not talking to people in situation. Even a cursory reading of both articles would demonstrate this. Is it possible that you simply are not comfortable with people ever confronting food idolatry and dad diagnoses? Maybe the problem isn’t sloppy writing, but sloppy reading.

  • Tim M.

    *confronting people in your situation
    *fad diagnoses

  • Stacy McDonald

    LOL! Oh the irony! ;-)

    In my very first comment here, I thanked Doug for his clarifications. However, I also expounded on why they were necessary, since he didn’t seem to understand why people were upset.

    “Thank you for your clarifications, Pastor Wilson. And I appreciate that you recognize that there are varying degrees of seriousness with food allergies/ sensitivities etc…”

  • Tim M.

    The clarifications weren’t clarifications… He said nothing new in the second post. He was simply more explicit about what was already there in the first. Perhaps you should reread :)

  • Tim M.

    He then explains that his more explicit post will not satisfy the dissenting.

  • Tim M.

    Your reactions are proving his point, the irony is that you do not see this…

  • Stacy McDonald

    Ah, Tim, you’re having way too much fun. I think I should walk away before I’m tempted to spoil it all for you.

  • Tim M.

    I would hate to have my fun spoiled :)

  • Valerie Jacobsen

    Pastor Wilson, you seem to be saying that when it comes to church fellowship, there are three kinds of people–
    Group One–those who are ethically and appropriately on special diets, who should be supported in their weakness;
    Group Two–those who are unethically and inappropriately on special diets, whose food scruples are the deathly enemy of church unity; and
    Group Three–those who practice no dietary restrictions and eat whatever they are offered.

    You say that the second group are among the greatest sinners in the church. You enumerate their characteristics and define the frequency and severity of your encounters with them.

    From above, the distinguishing characteristics of Group Two–
    -not sick or infirm
    -not truly hurting
    -problems are entirely or mostly imaginary
    -self-deluded hypochondriacs
    -play-acting, engaging in fakery
    -manipulative and selfish
    -irrational, unreasonable, deceived
    -not loving God with all their minds
    -usually women not cared for by their radically cowardly husbands
    -usually women experiencing the abdication of authority by fathers and husbands
    -possibly radically unsubmissive
    -husbands can’t even be open and honest with this kind of mental case
    -typically experiencing severe marital breakdown
    -destructive to their own families
    -can be compared to someone faking a ‘broken leg’
    -customers of the ’boutique allergy industry’

    Again from above, the frequency and severity with which the Church encounters such people–
    -their disruption of table fellowship is widespread
    -they are so common that their thinking should attacked frequently
    -more Christians need to act like their wickedness is a big deal

    Two things puzzle me though. One is that you’ve left no category for relatively healthy people who want to stay that way and are limiting their diets in some way. The lack of a well-defined category for so many of us (probably the majority of people, at some time or other) leaves us with the niggling suspicion that Group Two might be our landing place, in your view. Are “health nuts” an evil pox on the Church?

    The other is that when I read your description of a radically unhinged metal patient, I think I know who you’re talking about. But when you say that these people are everywhere, causing widespread disruption, I’m confused. Are there really so many people who are welcome at the Lord’s table but underfoot at yours? If Jesus has received us, and we are not living like unbelievers in unrepentant sin, how can you not receive us more charitably than this?

    You give some examples of who you’re not talking about, but who *are* you talking about? What about Mabel, who had a baby eight months ago and still wants to lose 15 pounds? If she doesn’t have a piece of Bob’s birthday cake, is she a rash on the Body? What about Susan, who read in a women’s magazine (what was recently reported in a peer-reviewed journal) that 6% of the population has non-celiac gluten sensitivity? The list of symptoms matches things she’s been struggling with for years, and she wonders if it could be that cheap and easy for her to feel better, at last. Or Al, who has just been diagnosed with prediabetes and high blood pressure, whose brother had his blood pressure normalized after losing fifty pounds on a low-carb diet? What about Joe, who is having such severe joint pain that it’s affecting his job performance and he wonders if avoiding nightshade plants could help? What about Sally who is twelve weeks pregnant and feels queasy if she tastes beef but is sure that she will faint or vomit if she doesn’t pull a few crackers out of her purse?

    Who is no fun to have over any more?

  • Valerie Jacobsen

    If your main point is about divisiveness, why is the content of these posts focused on who’s eating what and why and whether or not their reasons are sufficiently compelling?

  • Valerie Jacobsen

    I see my typo! Is a ‘metal patient’ a malfunctioning robot?

  • Ellen of Tasmania

    “I believe there’s a strong correlation to be made between “boutique allergies” and “boutique illnesses” as well, such as the mysterious upsurge in claims of fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome. ”

    Whitney, also consider that we might be giving new names to old conditions. We used to talk about people with ‘delicate’ health, or ‘broken’ health, a ‘delicate constitution’ or ‘delicate digestion’ etc. You’ll think of others if you are a reader of old books. There may be no ‘upsurge’ as you suggest.

    As I said on the previous food post, we have lost the plot scientifically, and it’s showing in the way we treat illnesses. Whatever conclusions we may come to regarding food, it’s important that we don’t contradict God’s own Word on the matter, and call evil that which He calls good.

  • Bob L.

    Issues pertaining to food have indeed taken a prominent place in the church and I believe that Pastor W. does well to urge Christians to carefully consider how their views and preferences might impact the body as a whole. It is good and well to consider such issues, for even in eating and drinking we are to give glory to God, but we also should recall the proverb that Paul quotes “Foods for the stomach and the stomach for foods, but God will destroy both it and them.” Barnes, in his commentary on 1 Cor. 6:13, urges Christians to direct their attentions to higher things, pointing out that such concerns are “…folly. The body will soon be in the grave; the soul in eternity. How low and grovelling is the passion which leads the immortal mind always to anxiety about what the body shall eat and drink!”

    One needs only to google “God’s plan for eating” to see the host of opinions that are offered in the context of of “holy eating.” Even for Christians who see the folly in these excesses, it still remains true that it is trendy in the church today to push our expert advice and infallible opinions on dietary concerns upon others. We blog about MSG, GMO foods, corn syrup, homogenized milk, free range eggs, home produced food, wheat etc. Some of our passion is directed by our legitimate health issues, some of it based upon our legitimate opinions and preferences. What ever the case may be, charity must dominate our views and opinions.

    I believe that Pastor W. is correct in his observations that these sorts of issues have done damage in the church. Rather than assuming he is attacking our known dietary maladies or even our strongly held preferences and opinions, perhaps we should just assess our own heart and conversations and purpose to do nothing that causes offense. Do we respond to the lady who went out of her way to bake cookies for the family with , “Oh, we don’t eat flour! Have you never read Wheat Belly?”? When the newly married lady who came from humble origins excitedly hosts our family for dinner, do we respond to her offering of Hamburger Helper and biscuits that came from a cardboard tube by informing her, “You do know that this is not real food? It is loaded with preservatives. I just read…..”

    The ability to enjoy eating is a great gift from God and we should seek to glorify Him in eating and drinking. But the kingdom of heaven does not consist of meat and drink and we should be sensitive to how our own actions affects the Body. There should be no foul called on Pastor W. for urging the church to be diligent in allowing love to govern our actions and words in such things.

  • Anika Cornforth

    If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I surrender my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing.

    Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

    Love never fails; but if there are gifts of prophecy, they will be done away; if there are tongues, they will cease; if there is knowledge, it will be done away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part; but when the perfect comes, the partial will be done away. When I was a child, I used to speak like a child, think like a child, reason like a child; when I became a man, I did away with childish things. For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully just as I also have been fully known. But now faith, hope, love, abide these three; but the greatest of these is love.

  • Whitney

    Ellen, I concede that historically these illnesses could have been present all along, but it stands to reason that a historical record of such things doesn’t refute the idea that there are many who fail to systemically treat their pain……. it just shows that this is nothing new. Again, I don’t deny that for many the pain is very real and debilitating, but my point was that regardless of the pain, whether real or perceived, I think we as believers often miss the bigger reality of the spiritual component to all the chronic pain, namely that the pain source is deeper than the body. I’m a strong believer in the goodness of medical advances and medicines that have been made to help the body, but no prescription or gluten-free lifestyle will help what only the blood of Christ was meant to do.

    Not sure I follow you on “call evil that which He calls good”? Hope my response clarifies.

  • Rod Story

    Often, the most powerful thing you can do is speak the truth in love. As a physician, I often meet people who are in bondage to their perception of illness and disability. We live in a system that has made individual determination the reigning principle, even to the point of allowing persons to be controlled by their unchallenged weaknesses. Yet, 1 Thes 5 exhorts believers to “admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all.” To leave our weaker brother alone is to despise them.

  • Jill

    I read excerpts of this post at another blog and, while I’ve been enlightened further by reading the full article, your ultimate conclusion or lack thereof still begs the question: so what? So what is a pastor, husband, or the body of Christ to do when he/they suspect a woman of being a hypochondriac? Should the woman be disciplined? Should she be sent to a doctor or multiple doctors to determine the veracity of her allergies or illness? Is the pastor/husband/body of Christ to fulfill the role of diagnostician? Should lots to be cast? What? And when a diagnosis is finally brought to the table, if it ever is, then will the church be forced to accept it in the name of love? Force and love don’t always go hand in hand, however, and most people can attest to that. I found it a little mystifying when I and my children had labwork to show we were celiac and STILL many or our Christian friends didn’t believe us–even though we were willing to bring our own food to gatherings or to go without food altogether.

    Just as an afterthought, using 1 Tim 2:14 in this context seems a bit of a stretch. Eve was deceived and, as a consequence, women are to remain silent, aren’t to teach and, furthermore, women can’t be trusted to determine when their own bodies are ill. But Paul didn’t see fit to add that last part. You can use whatever verses you’d like to make your case, but a few more verses indicating a female procilivity for hypochondria and/or deception would be more effective. Or, since you’re a counselor, multiple case studies indicating a correlation between women and hypochondria would also be helpful. It would also be helpful if you revealed your methods for determining hypochondria over, say, an undiagnosed illness such as celiac or MS. The problem, as I see it, is the potential for blindness when faced with a disgruntled female’s emotional state. A woman may be emotional; she may be disgruntled; she may even be manipulative, but none of these psychological states negate actual physical illness. Rather, the illness may exacerbate pyshcological conditions (or vice versa). p.s. I called them psychological conditions because, while manipulation and a constant state of disgruntlement may be sins, being emotional isn’t necessarily sin at all. An emotional state may, in fact, be warranted.

  • Jane Dunsworth

    “So what is a pastor, husband, or the body of Christ to do when he/they suspect a woman of being a hypochondriac? Should the woman be disciplined?”

    Isn’t the first question to ask, what should the man (or woman) do who recognizes himself or herself in this description as a hypochondriac, or otherwise someone who is abusing charity in a misguided pursuit of some food-related perfection?

    Pastoral advice is usually intended, in the first instance, to counsel individuals, and only secondarily to tell third parties what to do with individuals who do not accept counsel.

  • Anonymous

    Ugh. I have seen this eating thing go so crazy, that even the Communion bread had to be made “healthy” for the few who “truly” needed it. You are forced to eat it, if you want Communion. What I have seen of this, is that others believe they are “cleaner” or “healthier” or “holier” than the ones who choose to just be free in Christ and eat and drink to His glory, no matter what they eat or drink. That is the command, and I believe it is very wrong to coerce and/or guilt others to eat a certain way, just because you do. We must stop equating “clean and healthy eating” or “natural healthcare” and all the other “things” we do, with being holier and more spiritual. This is just false teaching, period. If you have proven test results that indicate that eating a certain way would cause serious harm to you, then fine. Eat away. But, in my opinion, it seems that there is a true control issue at work here. I believe that more often than not, you either have decided for yourself that you have an illness that you most likely don’t really have, or you just feel better when you eat grapes and hummus, so in your mind, you equate it with being healthier. That is not necessarily bad, but when you try to force others to convert and comply or start to feel you are closer to God and holier than the junk food junkie, we have a serious problem. The attitude can be quite manipulative. For instance, at a fellowship table, all the food that is made is the “clean or healthy” food, according to one set of people. If you want to eat, you have to eat their way. Everyone complies to keep peace, so Mr. Wilson is right here, when he says that it can lead to a disunity. Keeping the peace, is not true unity. Also, I have noticed that when these clean eaters are confronted with the issues, they tend to not be so compassionate and loving. The real thing happening here, from what I can see, is that our freedom in Christ, is being taken from us and controlled by those who want us to comply and conform and convert. We are not trying to take their freedom to choose, why do they try to take ours? That is an interesting question. With a little deeper reading of God’s Word, we will get the answer to that, and it is not very pretty.

  • Ben

    I haven’t taken the time to read everyone’s conversation up to this point, but I would voice my concern in the area of what pastors should approve as acceptable eating within the Church. Pastor Wilson, what would your course of action be if someone’s convictions were restrictive to what someone ate? It’s not a matter of people faking trendy food allergies (or folks who don’t fake it and just try to live alternatively) but rather one of great spiritual concern. Sure, search Google like the one fella suggested and you’ll run the gamut of blogs on appropriate Christian eating but if you actually did the research on where your food came from you might feel reserved about eating those 16 sausages. There is more to eating than just personal health concerns–what you eat impacts the health of other people and creation–and you shouldn’t ignore it.