We enjoyed an incredible lunch of home-made onion soup with gruyère croutons a couple of days ago. It had been made by our favorite chef friends and it was such a delight to eat it with them. Wonderful fellowship with old friends and incredible food – it doesn’t get much better then that! We started talking about the best shops to buy cheese that has been aged “the right way” and eventually got around to the subject of food snobbery.
My husband and I are avid food enthusiasts. We own a bookcase filled with books on obtaining, preparing and consuming different foods. We even own a digital and hard copy of a book that cross references complementary flavors. My food Pinterest board is overflowing with delicious looking recipes. One of our favorite home dates is to cook (and eat) a fancy meal together after our kids are asleep. We enjoy making our own salad dressings, creating new dishes, learning what wine to drink with which dish and poaching pears in it! We could live off stinky cheeses, indeed, even our puppy sneaks wedges of brie if we don’t watch him closely. If money, time and climate were no problem, we’d buy all our food locally and prepare it in our home kitchen.
About 5 years ago, we had transitioned into primarily a slow food diet — which meant we made everything from scratch at home 95% of the time. We felt good, it wasn’t expensive, we only had 2 kids (so I had plenty of time to be in the kitchen) and we were better able to control the quality of our meals. Eventually, it got to the point, that we were eating so much “slow food” that my body started having a negative reaction to anything else. I couldn’t eat a slice of take out pizza without my throat swelling up. I couldn’t go out on a dinner date or grab some french fries and smoothies with my kids as a reward for good behavior in the grocery store. I had to bring Benadryl with me whenever we ate at other people’s houses and try to take it sneakily, if needed, without our host noticing. Thankfully, my problem was easily solved; I simply re-introduced processed foods gradually and my body adjusted back to being able to handle them with minimal to zero negative effects.
There are many passages in Scripture about food, often in reference on how to bless others with it. Food is never simply about fuel in the Bible. It is something much bigger and more spiritual than that. In Psalm 34:8 we are even called to “taste and see that the Lord is good.” Jesus literally broke bread and fed those around Him repeatedly throughout His lifetime. Leviticus 2:1-2 depicts the grain offering being baked into bread because God loves the smell of it. In 1 Corinthians 10, right after being warned against provoking the Lord’s jealousy (vs 22) by making a bigger deal out of food origins then we ought, we are told it is permissible to eat everything in the market for the Earth and everything it in belongs to the Lord (vs 25 & 26). It goes on to tell us to partake or refrain out of kindness to others (vs 28-29). The Bible is clear that God and those made in His image are always more important than what we put in our mouths. As Christians, we need to use our food to thank God and bless mankind.
This is not intended to chastise those with severe reactions (celiac disease, for instance) – this side of Glory, our bodies aren’t what they were designed to be, but for the rest of us,we must tread lightly when we decide what we won’t put in our mouths. Are we partaking or refraining for our own benefit or for someone elses’? Are we more concerned with the sins of mega-corporations then we are with loving our neighbor? Is fellowship being severed by our foodie-ness? Are we having to refrain from breaking bread with brothers and sister’s in Christ over dietary restraints? Is our family diet a kill-joy for the kids or are they delighted with what we present them (most of the time ;-))? We need to ask ourselves these questions, especially as home-makers — the kitchen table is a foundational place in our mission field.
We must be mindful to love God, our family and our neighbors more than our ideology. We will stand accountable before God for our actions, for what we say, for who we judge, for what we don’t allow our kids to eat. Of course, this principle also applies to those who freely partake of their Diet Colas and Hot Pockets – remember just because those foods are covered under the Christian liberty clause, it does not mean they are beneficial. As we shop, let us remember to first love God and love our neighbors with our food, all that glorifies God is in accordance with that principle.
“Everything is permissible,”but not everything is helpful. “Everything is permissible,”but not everything builds up. No one should seek his own good, but the good of the other person.”
-1 Corinthians 10:23-24 (HCSB)