The Gravy of Grace and Gratitude

If you like to eat what you like to eat, this means that you are a human being. If you are morally indignant about the food choices of others, this means you are well on the way to becoming a food leftist.

Leftism is that impulse that wants to establish coercion and call it community. Apply the coercive impulse to food and farming choices, and you have the food leftist.

And it begins with the indignation. Once the indignation is established, it becomes possible to draw on a hidden premise that too many Americans share — that sins should be crimes — and move from that position to the idea that made up sins should be made into real crimes.

When the food regulators change their minds, and start cracking down on this product instead of that product, this is simply part of the way authoritarian regimes operate. In a despotism, sometimes this is in favor and sometimes that — it can be an official, or a policy, or a method of manufacturing cheese — but regardless, the right of the despotism to continue being a despotism is always in favor. That doesn’t change.

This obviously does not mean that it is impossible to sin with food. Food leftists are sinning with other people’s food. And you can always go old school and sin with your own food. If your approach is all-four-feet-in-the-trough, then perhaps you are a piggy-piggy glutton. If you have a couple bottles of whiskey in your cubicle at work, then maybe you are not the suave 1950′s advertising executive you think you are. Maybe you are just an aspiring drunk. And if you are a fastidious eater, and cannot be troubled to be a charitable guest at the table of another, then you are an enemy of love.

In the meantime, every Christian who understands the gospel must fight — as part of our sanctification — the impulse to despise the food that God has given to somebody else. This applies even if the apple was not locally grown, if the coffee was not certified fair trade, if the bread came from a monoculture crop, if the asparagus was modified to taste horrible to asparagus predators, or if the food in question has “chemicals” in it.

We live in a sinful and fallen world, so food must indeed be sanctified. But the only thing that sanctifies it is the gravy of grace and gratitude (1 Tim. 4:4-5).

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25 comments on “The Gravy of Grace and Gratitude

  1. “a hidden premise that too many Americans share — that sins should be crimes ”
    Some sins should be crimes, though, right?
    But where do you draw the line between sins that should, and sins that should not be crimes? Murder, for instance, takes little convincing. Smoking is daily becoming all but a crime, but homosexuality is currently being un-criminalized nationally.

  2. I bet they hate the comparison, but the food leftists of today have some eerie similarities to the prohibitionists of the early 20th century.

  3. If only it were as easy as “you’re either a normal human being (whatever that is) or you’re a food leftist”. Then we could all get back to reality TV, munching obliviously on Cheetos and sipping Bud Light. Now I’m pretty sure I’m not far off-base in noting that Mr. Wilson has been known to lampoon the Bud Light group for their deigning to call such a puny libation “beer”, while they simultaneously ignore the virtues of a delicious Irish stout or German ale. To each his own, for sure, when defining the types of foods and drinks that we consume, and there should indeed be much charity shown when considering the palatal differences of those with whom we fellowship and commune.
    But charity does not equal discernment, and the sanctification of our current food supply and the animals and plants that comprise it goes far beyond grace and gratitude. We Christians have exhibited complacency and downright gullibility, not to mention poor stewardship of God’s creation, by adopting automaton-like responses to the God-given food urges that we routinely experience: get in vehicle, drive to nearest super-mega-store, load arms with brightly-coloured packages endorsed by popular goddess personalities, swipe piece of plastic through temperamental machine, whack kids for grabbing fistfuls of candy while you’re trying to remember your secret code, throw aforementioned “deals” into the SUV along with aforementioned kids, and commence fighting over who gets the ding dongs and who gets the burpy fizz.
    Missing in this routine is any trace of consideration about how that food got on that shelf in the first place. As Christians commanded to be good stewards of all that God has entrusted to us, we must take off the blinders and realize that we are definitely not in Kansas anymore. Food production is not as simple as dropping a seed in the ground, lovingly tending the growing plant, and harvesting the resultant fruit for the enjoyment of our friends, families and others with who we share God’s bounty. We live in a time where it is scientifically possible to alter the nutritional value of food commodities to the point that they are no longer fit to be eaten. Mr. Wilson, as evidenced elsewhere, tends to pooh-pooh the notion that many of the foods we now have available to us through the wonders of industrial agriculture are, in fact, slowly killing us. Do Christians not have an obligation to, not to mention an interest in, defending the practices that protect and preserve our precious food supply? I mean, yeah, we all enjoy a good meal with all the gravy and trimmings, but at some point, we must consider whether said meal is providing us with, minimally, the nutrients our bodies need in order to live, think, and feel well. Frankly, articles like this one, while not denying any of this, serve merely to encourage fat butts and fat minds.
    Should federal despots outlaw transfats, GMOs, soda, tobacco, alchohol, …. I say no. What about marijuana, cocaine or Liquid Plumber? You see, these are tough questions, and they require thinking Christians who are willing to address tough issues.
    Is it morally okay to raise sows (that’s a momma pig, for all you city slickers) in a concrete-pad cell that that isn’t even big enough for her to turn around, and certainly doesn’t allow her to use that wonderful earth-moving machine at the end of her face to dig for yummy grubs and such? Is it likewise fine to dump all the hog sh*t into lagoons prone to bursting and polluting streams and noses for miles and miles, killing all life in the path of the toxic piggy sludge? I say absolutely not! But we support that sort of crappy animal abuse when we routinely purchase the fare available in fast food places and grocery stores around the country.
    Going back to the question of enacting laws to stop all this nonsense, I would submit that it is NEVER the role of federal employees to tell us what we can and cannot eat. Their “help” is never any short of despotic control of matters that are not in their sphere of sovereignty. But those questions ARE within the sphere of responsibility of individual Christians like me and like Doug Wilson.
    Mr. Wilson has indicated that we should eat and drink with moderation. He is correct, but moderation alone isn’t sufficient. We must eat with compassion for God’s created order. We must eat with understanding of what exactly we are supporting when we buy and consume the foods we do. And we must eat with discernment, knowing that we aren’t called merely to sate our appetites and slake our thirsts. We must eat, as we do all things, to the glory of God, and with a goal towards exercising proper dominion and husbandry.

  4. And another thing: what does this website have against paragraph divisions?

  5. Travis, this theme doesn’t do them, for which our apologies. We are on the hunt for another theme.

  6. So…you’d never get indignant about the food choices of others?  A nice plate of stewed kittens would be fine with you?  How about a nice dish of stir-fried spiders? (Other cultures eat these things all the time.) What about the brains of your dead uncle? <– I submit to you that we all have cultural taboos / preferences,  You’re just drawing your line at liberal taboos.  For obvious reasons: because you hate liberals.  Maybe Jesus would prefer you not to hate your enemies?

  7. I would not object to stewed kittens (but would personally prefer them grilled) or stir-fried spiders, and would only object to the uncle brains due to health concerns – I believe you can get mad cow disease from cannibalism? Why assume that Mr. Wilson would object to such menu items? Your venemous and irrational conclusion-jumping, Mr. delurking, makes it clear that you are the hater here, not Wilson.

  8. I’m pretty sure it’s possible to hate liberalism without hating liberals.  Sure, it’s tempting to hate them too but that is forbidden.

  9. So the Federal gov’t has no interest or responsibility in promoting behaviors it sees as beneficial for society? For example isn’t this part of the reason there is a marriage tax credit? It’s a way of promoting a specific behavior. 

  10. So the Federal gov’t has no interest or responsibility in promoting behaviors it sees as beneficial for society?

    Regrettably “beneficial for society” seems to mean “whatever keeps the current politicians in power,”  when it should mean “that which gives the citizenry the greatest freedom in pursuing their work, while punishing the abuse of one citizen by another.”

  11. Jim,
    I would say, “Not to go off-topic”, but that would be a lie. To answer your question, no, that’s not why there is a marriage tax credit. The marriage tax credit is there, along with all the other goofy “credits” to help ensure that you don’t go postal on the IRS for taxing your income in the first place. And NO, with a capital ‘N’ and ‘O’, the federal government (as you call it–I tend to prefer federal despotic usurpers, but to each his own) isn’t charged with “promoting behaviors it sees as beneficial for society”. The role of the three branches of government is to uphold the Constitution of the United States. Period. Full stop.

  12. Travis, your AOK with legalization of gay marriage right? 

  13. Jim,
    Um, nope. God defines marriage, not the so-called federal government (or any other group of men that would play God). All the federal authorities should do is make sure the Biblical right/obligation to punish homosexuals, even unto death, is never impugned nor dismissed.
    This time I’m truly sorry to have kept us off topic. No more. I promise.

  14. And so often we find coercion in the church.  People would have everyone else see life as they do and approach it as they do.  Everything else, according to them, is sin.  Actually, they’re captivated by an outlook that has grown idolotrous.

  15. If I am permitted to eat meat sacrificed to idols it follows that I may eat pork sold by incompetent farmers

  16. Bethyada: Agreed!

  17. If you copy your text into Windows notepad (or any other text editor), you can do paragraph divisions to your hearts content, then copy it back, all formatted. 
    No I’m not kidding.  

  18. Whoops, didn’t work.  Sorrrrrrry.

  19. Pastor Wilson, I’ve followed your blog posts on food issues for some months and am convinced that your view is Biblical.  But, if treated as a separate topic, is there room for Christians to address, in the name of Proverbs 12.10, the ethical treatment of animals in “concentration camps?”  Can we pay taxes that go to support Planned Parenthood and speak against Planned Parenthood?  Could an ancient Corinthian serve meat sacrificed to an idol at a convention speaking out against the worship of that idol?  Can we listen to rock n’ roll while speaking against the drug abuse of the musical artist?  In these issues and many others, is it a simple matter of keeping the issues in separate compartments, or is something more dynamic called for?

  20. bethyada — bingo.

  21. Mr. Doane   get’s in his vehicle, drives to nearest super-mega-store, loads arms with brightly-coloured packages endorsed by popular goddess personalities, swipes piece of plastic through temperamental machine, give his kids fistfuls of candy while trying to remember his secret code(which always 1111), throws aforementioned “deals” into the SUV along with aforementioned kids, and commence fighting over who gets the ding dongs and who gets the burpy fizz. But everyone knows that his wife always gets the ding dongs.  
    Mr. Doane turns to the fussy eye squinting haters of Gods Kingdom expansion glory and places his fingers in a position that may or may not resemble a Johnny Cash photo, followed by a WWE move requiring 2 hands and his hips.

  22. Have you ever wondered why a person would reply to a blog post with a comment  considerably longer than the original post?  Doesn’t it make you wonder why they don’t just start their own blog so that crowds would gather there to hear their words of wisdom?  I think I just figured it out.  For some strange reason when I read the comments section on my favorite blogs I find myself slogging through such comments despite finding them to be left leaning drivel that I have no interest in, whereas if I stumbled upon such writing on a blog of its own I would, after reading a few lines, simply click away in search of something edifying.

  23. Bethayda. Permitted? Yes. Wise? No.

  24. DCHammer, well it depends actually. I live in a Western country where all the meat is nominally halal. Can I source non-halal meat? Yes. Do I bother? No. I do not think this is unwise. the meat is sanctified to God because we eat it to his glory.  //  Now if I were to go shopping on Mutton Rd and one butcher publically sacrifices his animals to Molech thruout the day and the neighbouring butcher does not prudence may dictate that I buy from the latter.  //  The issue from Romans is that we do not need to tract down every sin that affects what we eat. The fishmonger may have yelled at his children that morning, the greengrocer may be having an affair, the bottlestore may cheat on their taxes. I do not need to spend my life investigating the path of every ingredient in every bottle of sauce I buy to make sure it is untainted by evil. It is not what goes in the stomach that defiles it, it is what comes out the heart.

  25. AMEN! Bethyada :)

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