To me this misses what the OP is actually trying to address. The fact that people disagree about what constitutes a healthy diet doesn’t mean a healthy diet doesn’t exist.
My last post was an aside, but not unrelated. The OP was talking about an “unaddressed problem of obesity among Christian brethren” which is “clearly evident”. To which I and others responded, “Really, there are fat American Christians who don’t feel shame and guilt about eating too much?”
It was a helpful turn in the discussion to focus on gluttony. There are many Christians (fat and thin equally) who are sensual with their eating and need to repent.
But I think many would do well to consider the parade of demons that have been unleashed in the church by a fixation on fad dieting and food scruples. Consider some Scriptures and please bear with a long post.
First, I wrote “demons” just now and by that meant the “teachings of [literal] demons”, who “require abstinence from foods that God created to be received with thanksgiving” (I Tim 4:1-3). Satan loves food laws, because they produce the division that he’s after. How so?
These teachings introduce factions in the church. When potluck day comes, one can find it getting more and more difficult to find something to bring that will satisfy everyone’s particular diet and won’t earn criticism about the ingredients (refined sugar!). Yet “the Kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit” (Rom 14:17 – consider the whole chapter). It’s not what’s on the plate, but who is around the table.
There are Judaizers who are “upsetting whole families by teaching what they ought not to teach” (Titus 1:11). I have encountered literal Judaizers, who teach that we should avoid foods prohibited by Leviticus (because God wanted Israel to be healthy, of course). I refer to metaphorical Judaizers too. Pork restrictions were God’s idea; how much more should we be careful with man’s commands! Discord is sown in the family when the cook’s tyranny oppresses everyone else, or families cannot eat together because of someone’s pickiness.
Individually - I’m convinced that 1 Tim 4:7 and following fit hand and glove with the beginning of the chapter. When I read Josephus writing about the Essenes, how their scrupulous Torah diet made them look 50 at the age of 90 and how they lived to be 125 I thought, “That’s who Paul was talking about!” And practical experience bears this out. We only have so much time and effort for self-improvement. How much more frequently we know about someone’s pursuit of physical perfection than their pursuit of holiness! Sadly, in time the misplaced emphasis often becomes evident.
Now I wrote all this because I’m convinced the unaddressed danger to the sheep is not too many big gulps, but man’s “little laws”. God subordinates healthiness much lower than “a close second to sexual immorality” (OP). I hope I’ve made it clear that the world is not an innocent and helpful teacher here. From where I sit, these are the things that Christians need to be extremely wary of, much more so than a second piece of pie, which God created to be “received with thanksgiving”.
Don’t get me wrong! There is sin in both ways. People eat too much too and doing so indulge the flesh. But they are not equally dangerous to us. Obesity has been condemned by everyone everywhere. Most of us need to justify ourselves before we enjoy any amount of what the world condemns as “decadent”. But obsessions over eating and healthiness have not been warned against except on page after page of the New Testament.
And as they say these days, “the [world’s] cure is worse than the disease”. Consider Col 2:20-23. “Do not taste” has the “appearance of wisdom”, but is of “no value in stopping the indulgence of the flesh”. I would wager that 99 out of a 100 overweight people could give a hearty personal testimony to the truth of these verses. All the dieting, scruples, and obsession with image have a hand in producing obesity and unhealthiness. Laws provoke our rebellious hearts into more rebellion. Only the gospel of Jesus can deliver us from gluttony, Pharisaism, pride, and vanity.
And Jesus can deliver us from destructive habits that destroy our bodies! But when He does so, it doesn’t result in a sudden interest in the ingredients in our food. It doesn’t result in a new energy for counting calories or a sudden taste for arugula. It might not even result in weight loss! When Jesus delivers us from our bondage to food, He puts our appetites in their lawful place. Food loses its ability to comfort and it loses its ability to justify. It takes a far back seat to righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit. We realize that our bellies are not our god to be served by indulgence or by asceticism. Jesus is to be served by laying down our lives and bearing the fruit of the Holy Spirit. May He pour those out on us!
Maybe I’m arguing with no one and we’re all on the same page. Praise God! It helped me to spend a day reading these Scriptures and typing them out, and hopefully by God’s grace it will be helpful to someone else too.