Again, this series is written for Christians only. Why?
Christianity teaches that morality isn’t socially constructed or culturally relative. Instead, moral law is etched into the foundations of reality, imprinted onto our conscience, and spoken to us in words by God, so there can be no mistake.
Christians acknowledge that transcendent, fixed, and immutable moral law and agree to live by it.
Viewed one way, that obedience to the law is the “price” we pay for salvation. Viewed another way, it’s our obligation in response to the blessing of eternal life. But correctly, the ability to see, know, and live this moral law is God’s supreme gift to His children.
Because morality IS liberation.
This series is about Christians coming into integrity with our agreements. If you aren’t Christian, you’ll ultimately be held accountable to God’s moral law, even if you haven’t agreed to it. Which is why I hope someday you will. (Email email@example.com for details.)
But non-believers coming into agreement in the first place, is a different topic than Christians coming into integrity with our agreements, at last.
For I do not do the good I want,
but the evil that I do not want is what I keep on doing.
In Part One, I made the moral case that Christians being overweight or obese represents the sin of abandonment.
Those of us who are overweight or obese (2/3rds of Americans, one billion people worldwide) are abandoning our godly duties as husbands, wives, and parents, whether now or in the future.
Therefore, we are abandoning each other.
The dialogue that followed was awe-inspiringly positive, which proves people are ready for this conversation. Some comments had the unmistakable flavor of bitterness, a subject which I’ll cover someday for men and women. But they were few, and had predictable objections.
The conversation also surfaced a distinction that’s vital to address, and which will help me approach the topic of this post: repentance.
Sin is not a matter of what we are. That’s called shame.
The only sin that’s part of our being is Original Sin, from which Christ’s sacrifice liberates us, freeing us of shame.
So, being obese or overweight itself is not a sin.
There are two kinds of sin, and both are equally harmful. This is a distinction I don’t often see made, but it matters.
Sins of Commission
Sins of Omission
A sin of commission is something we’re doing that we need to stop doing. A sin of omission is something we AREN’T doing that we need to be doing.
To illustrate this, I’ll use the famous parable of the Good Samaritan. (Luke 10:25-37)
A man is attacked by robbers on the road from Jerusalem to Jericho, and left for dead. A priest walking by sees the dying man, and continues on. A Levite does the same. Finally, a passing Samaritan bandages the man and takes him to an inn. He becomes the “Good Samaritan.”
The robbers embody sins of commission in their brutal attack.
What about the priest and the Levite? Their sins are not what they were doing: walking down the road. Their sins are what they weren’t doing: aiding the dying man.
These are sins of omission: failing to do the thing that was right.
Obesity is a sensitive subject because it embodies both sins of commission AND sins of omission. And we know it.
Excess weight is a visual reminder of sloth and gluttony: sins of commission that have grown so severe we can no longer hide them.
Instead, we hide it from ourselves with denial. In America, we also demand not to be reminded of it, which makes things worse. The Asian relatives in Part 1 pierce that denial because they don’t participate in our cultural structures.
Sadly, our denial enables a third sin: pride.
“Yes, I look and live this way. No, you’re not allowed to say anything to me about it.”
“Because life is hard,” says the husband, rebelling against his curse of toil. “Because it’s oppressive to me,” says the wife, rebelling against her curse of submission.
That Christians, both men and women, aggressively refuse rebuke of these obvious sins of commission is the surest indication of sinful pride.
The other danger of sins of commission is that we think we can just apologize for them and magically fix the problem. Christians are often criticized for this apparent loophole, and rightly so.
“Sorry that I ate that third slice of pie, Jesus. I’ll do better next time.”
In the moment, we might even be sincere. And because our sins have already been forgiven, nailed to the cross, we can rest assured thinking, “I’ll get it right next week.”
Then next week comes, and we’re elbow-deep in the donut box, downing the fourth beer after work, or devouring the soothing pint of chocolate ice cream.
Sins of commission occur at fixed points in time: in the break room, at the bar, by the open freezer door.
We can look them in the eye, acknowledge the wrong, apologize, receive forgiveness… and give into weakness again. It’s a very human cycle.
But that cycle only continues because we forcibly deny ourselves the recognition of the sins of omission that we are also doing. These follow us around, haunting us, while we try desperately to ignore them.
The sins of omission are why Christians actually refuse rebuke. It’s a heavy conviction to bear.
Once again, a sin of omission is a thing that we need to be doing, but aren’t.
There are plenty of things we all aren’t doing. We fall short of the mark in many ways. But the family is the atomic unit of society. Its health determines the health of everything around it. And a healthy family looks like this:
Husbands need to embody a man who can be respected by his wife. Wives need to embody a woman who her husband can feel burning desire for, without having to negotiate with himself. Parents need to embody adults who demonstrate, through disciplined action, how to live rightly in a fallen world.
If we are not doing these things, we are sinning against each other via sins of omission, failing to do the obvious things that are right.
Now here’s the kicker…
If we are overweight or obese, we are committing these sins all the time. The sinfulness is not in being obese, but what we are not doing and not ABLE to do as a result of being that way.
This is why being obese looks like sin, but isn’t. The problem is not in our being but in our ongoing not-doing, which is almost identical.
“But Will, are you saying I’m sinning by just sitting here, doing nothing?”
In a way, yes.
Repentance from a sin of commission means to stop doing the thing you’re doing: eating the donut, drinking the beer, downing the ice cream.
But repentance from a sin of omission means to START doing the thing you’re not.
For husbands, that means being unquestionably physically worthy of your wife’s respect, which makes her feel safe and therefore loved, feminine, and free.
For wives, that means being unquestionably physically worthy of your husband’s vital sex drive, or libido, which pushes him forward into the world to strive, achieve, and win. That’s how he provides safety in the first place.
For parents, that means being unquestionably worthy of your children’s impressionable minds and hearts, before they march forward to live in a fallen world.
If your body prevents you from providing these things for each other, due to reasons within your control, the response is simple:
You must change your body.
To repent is to turn from sin and dedicate oneself to the correction of one’s life. If you embody gluttony, sloth, and pride as sins of commission, to repent is to stop doing that.
If you embody sins of omission by failing to serve your husband, wife, or children, now or in the future, to repent is to BEGIN doing that. In other words…
Husbands, repent to your wives.
Wives, repent to your husbands.
Parents, repent to your kids.
And may all of us, including me, repent to God.
But let’s not just say the words. May we dedicate ourselves to the correction of our lives. Because the wages of sin is death. And with 220 million people overweight or obese in the U.S. alone, we are dying. Our sins of commission AND omission are literally killing us.
Obesity is an agonizing topic because beneath our visible sins of commission, lie hidden sins of omission that plague us. The pain of excess weight is not just about the weight, but the barely-suppressed knowledge that we are doing something other than what we must do for ourselves, what we are commanded to do for others, and what God created us to do for His purpose.
That is the pain that weeps behind the veil of denial. That is why we can’t talk about this. But we must.
And in the next post, I’ll show you why. For we are fearfully and wonderfully made… for each other.
QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION:
If I were to get just 50% of the way towards my ideal level of fitness, what could be the impact on my life?
What could be the impact on those around me?
Do I expect that those who love me should “accept me as I am”? What might be the cost to them for doing so? Do I always accept others “as they are”? Is that good for them?
Is it possible that I’m causing myself and others pain by my inaction towards the things that I know that I must do?
If I believe that God truly wants the best for me, would He consider my current fitness “what’s best for me”?
What am I modeling for my kids with my actions? What am I modeling for my kids with my inaction?
Am I hoping to attract a husband/wife who is more fit than I am? Am I what he/she would desire, without having to negotiate?
If I knew God’s strength was truly with me in pursuing my goals, what could I accomplish?
Who do I have in my life that I trust to help me pierce the veil of my own denial, with love?