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Tuesday, July 26, 2011

The Spiritual Warfare of Weight-Loss: A Christian Perspective

“The thief has come to steal, kill and destroy. But I have come that they might have life, and have it to the full.” (John 10:10)

Why is it so darn hard to lose weight? Once you lose it, why is it so hard to keep it off? While it is certainly true that many temporal factors such as self-control, chronic pain, medications, and genetics make weight-loss difficult, for those of us who are people of faith, we know that it can be a spiritual battle as well. Something we often forget is that we have an enemy. According to the Bible, this enemy seeks to “steal, kill and destroy.” If you think that the devil only seeks to utilize tools that are typically thought of to achieve his outcome, think again. He is going to attack wherever he thinks he can gain an advantage, as any impactful warrior would. With over 2/3 over-weight and 33% of American’s being obese, this has been a very effective weapon. (National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, 2003)

What does obesity steal?

ENERGY: What more could we do to impact the world for good if we had some? How many times do you avoid opportunities to serve because you are too tired or just can’t physically do the task?
BEAUTY: The devil loves nothing more than to steal this from us since he used to be the most beautiful of all God’s creations until he fell, according to the book of Ezekiel. To see that God has granted a bit of his image to mankind that we can carry on this legacy must really spur him to steal this from us.
HOPE: If we have given up control over our own body, what else will we give up on?  Many feel that being healthy is a lost cause.
INDEPENDENCE: Too often, as a PT, I have seen the end stages of obesity. Some have lost so much independence they become completely confined to a specialized hospital bed. Of course this is the worst case scenario. However, do you avoid flying on an airplane because you have to pay for two seats? Do you have to sacrifice the memory of roller coaster rides with your kids because you can't fit in the car? Do you avoid taking vacations or even trips to the mall because you can't walk reasonable distances? If you can't do things you want and should be able to do, this is a victory for the Enemy.

What does obesity kill?

Obesity related disease is one of the most common causes of death in the United States. Annually, obesity causes 112,000 excess deaths due to cardiovascular disease, 15,000 excess deaths due to cancer, and over 35,000 excess deaths due to other obesity related diseases in just the U.S. alone. (1)

What does obesity destroy?

MARRIAGES: While a study in the Journal of Biosocial Sciences did not find a significant link between divorce and factors related to health (other than high risk behaviors such as smoking and drinking); anecdotally, surveys reveal loss of physical attraction as significant. Divorce expert Gary Blanchard lists this as the number 3 cause of divorce behind “abusive relationship” and “lack of communication.”

FAMILIES: Sadly, without energy, hope, and independence, many eventually “check out” of their significant relationships. Speaking from experience, as a dad who was 50 pounds over-weight, it was much easier to collapse in the easy chair and give into the “tube” than to physically engage with my kids. This was one of the issues that turned me around. I finally refused to be “that” dad and husband.

Farther down the line, since obesity causes needless early death, how many children are left fatherless or motherless because of this preventable disease?

However, the good news is the conclusion to the Bible verse: “but I (Jesus) have come that they might have life, and have it to the full.” James 4:7 says, “If we submit to Christ and “resist” the devil, he will flee from you.”

The key is, submit and resist are verbs and require action on our part. When we realize that we have an enemy that wishes to steal, kill and destroy us, we will realize what a fight we are up against. Take up your swords and put down your forks! This is a battle we must win!


1. Flegal KM, Graubard BI, Williamson DF, et al. Cause-Specific Excess Deaths Associated With Underweight, Overweight, and Obesity. Journal of the American Medical Association. 2007; 298(17):2028–2037.
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1 comment:

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