Monday, October 8, 2012

The True Meaning Of Gluttony

In debates on alcohol, some pro social drinkers invariably bring up gluttony. “Why do you who are for abstaining from alcohol ignore gluttony?” “Ever seen the fat preachers at the Southern Baptist Convention?” “Have you ever heard a sermon on gluttony?” “If you’re overweight how can you preach against alcohol?”
The above comments show a profound misunderstanding of the biblical meaning of gluttony. Gluttony is not being overweight. A glutton is not someone who has eaten a bigger, or less politically correct meal than you have.

Well, am I just explaining away Scripture and making it mean nothing? Not at all. Rather, I am paying much more attention to Scripture than those who so often point fingers and cry, “Glutton!” I’m actually giving the term much more meaning than those who repeatedly use it.

What does the Scripture say?

And they shall say to the elders of his city, ‘This son of ours is stubborn and rebellious; he will not obey our voice; he is a glutton and a drunkard.’ -Deuteronomy 21:20

For the drunkard and the glutton will come to poverty, and drowsiness will clothe a man with rags. -Proverbs 23:21

Whoever keeps the law is a discerning son, but a companion of gluttons shames his father. -Proverbs 28:7

The Illustrated Dictionary of the Bible explains:
Glutton - a person who is debased and excessive in his eating habits. Gluttony is more than overeating. In its association with drunkenness (Proverbs 23:21; Deuteronomy 21:20), it describes a life given to excess. When Jesus was called a ‘gluttonous man” (Matthew 11:19), His critics were accusing Him of being loose and excessive by associating with tax collectors and sinners.” -Herbert Lockyer, Sr., with F. F. Bruce and R. K. Harrison, Illustrated Dictionary of the Bible, Thomas Nelson Publishers, Nashville; 1986.

The Holman Bible Dictionary says:
Glutton - One habitually given to greedy and voracious eating; associated with stubbornness, rebellion, disobedience, drunkenness, and wastefulness (Deuteronomy 21:20). A more general meaning for the Hebrew term as a ‘good-for-nothing’ (Proverbs 28:7, TEV) is reflected in some translations: ‘wastrel’ (Deuteronomy 21:20 REB); ‘profligate’ (Deuteronomy 21:20 NIV; Proverbs 28:7 REB); ‘riotous’ (Proverbs 28:7, KJV.”

Glutton- “Essentially a voluptuary or a debauchee.” -Wycliffe Bible Encyclopedia.

Gluttony is much more than overeating. It describes a man who is greedy, stubborn, rebellious, disobedient, lazy, a drunk, and yes, a voracious eater. Gluttony describes a man who is good for nothing. Admittedly, we do have our share of gluttons today. But they are not simply those that weigh more than your requirements. Some of the most godly, useful folks may be overweight.

D. L. Moody and Charles H. Spurgeon were overweight, and also greatly used of God. According to biblical standards, they were certainly no gluttons.

So next time you see a fellow enjoying a cheeseburger or barbeque ribs, perhaps you should hold your tongue. Perchance you are the judgmental one.

Back to the issue of gluttony and alcohol. A person can abstain from alcohol and prosper. Abstain from food and you will die. Food is necessary, alcohol is not. 

One final consideration. Suppose your daughter was driving down a dark, narrow, two lane road late at night. She sees headlights up ahead. Would you rather the fellow driving toward her be driving fat, or driving drunk?

-David R. Brumbelow, Gulf Coast Pastor, October 8, AD 2012.

Alabama Baptist Review of "Ancient Wine and the Bible"
Charles H. Spurgeon on Alcohol
Other articles in lower right margin.


  1. How right you are, David! I have faced this objection myself, and wrote about it. Here's a link to it on my own blog spot:

  2. Bruce,
    Thanks, good to hear from you.

    Feel free to give a link as well to your article on the inspiration and infallibility of the Bible.
    As you know, I definitely believe God's Word is divinely inspired and inerrant.
    David R. Brumbelow

  3. Here it is, David:

  4. Proverbs 23:2 "And put a knife to thy throat, if thou be a man given to appetite."

  5. "Gluttony is not being overweight." While there may be legitimate reasons for being overweight (medication side effects, physical injury making one unable to exercise, etc.), in most cases being overweight is eating more than is needed to maintain the person at a healthy weight: gluttony. If one exercises a great deal, one can eat more without being gluttonous. The research on the impact of obesity on health is massive. The church is full is gluttonous individuals. Shouldn't a pastor help individuals to repent? It can be done with sensitivity and compassion. Life and death is literally at stake for many.


What do you think?