Posts tagged ‘Gluttony’

Casting Stones

Credit: Ciro Miguel via Flickr

Credit: Ciro Miguel via Flickr

From the department of the inane but entertaining, the real estate site Movoto.com recently published its list of America’s most sinful cities.  Surprisingly, the city famed for its profligate sinfulness, Las Vegas, didn’t make the list.  An article in The Street explains how the list was compiled:

The study analyzed 95 of the nation’s 100 most-populous communities…to see how often locals commit the Catholic Church’s seven major sins:  Envy, Gluttony, Greed, Lust, Pride, Sloth and Wrath…

[They then matched] each behavior on the church’s 1,400-year-old list of sins with a modern-day measure of immorality.

For instance, [they] gauged Wrath by looking at the FBI’s annual report on each U.S. city’s violent-crime rate – the number of murders, robberies, aggravated assaults, rapes and non-negligent manslaughter cases reported each year per 1,000 residents.[1]

Here’s what the study found.

Coming in at number five is Milwaukee.  According to CDC obesity rates, Milwaukee falls prey to the sin of gluttony.  Spot number four belongs to Pittsburgh, which struggles with pride.  In this city, there is one cosmetic surgeon for every 3,170 residents.  Minneapolis garnered spot number three.  Over 30% of Minneapolis’s residents are inactive, making this city super slothful.  Place number two belongs to Orlando, which, like Minneapolis, struggles with sloth.  And spot number one belongs to – drumroll, please – St. Louis!  Movoto found “the Gateway to the West places number two for Wrath and Envy, with 20 violent crimes and 65 property incidents per year for every 1,000 St. Louis residents.”  If it’s banal carnality you want, St. Louis is the place to go.

Of course, it’s hard to take a study like this too seriously.  But I have to admit, I breathed a sigh of relief when my town of San Antonio didn’t make the list.  Then again, I used to live in St. Louis.  I went to seminary there.  So I guess that means, according to this article, I once lived in a den of iniquities.

What makes a study like this one so comical for Christians is that we know that sin defies such simplistic statistical quantification and comparison.  This is the apostle Paul’s point when he writes, “There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:22-23).  There is no difference, Paul says, between one sin and another in God’s eyes.  Every sin leads to death.  Every sin leads to damnation.  Before God and apart from Christ, sin is sin.  Period.

This is why, when an angry mob of religious leaders seek to have a woman caught in adultery stoned for her sin, Jesus disarms this mob’s self-righteous pretenses by saying, “If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her” (John 8:7).  Underlying this statement is an assumption that we have no right to use our own self-styled righteousness as a benchmark against which we can measure and condemn other people’s sinfulness.   The only benchmark that may be used to distinguish righteousness from sinfulness is God’s.  Everything else is just casting stones.

So, although I won’t cast stones at my old seminary town, I will eat concrete if I ever return for a visit.  And if that previous line doesn’t make any sense to you, just click here.


[1] Jerry Kronenberg, “5 Most Sinful Cities in America,” The Street (7.17.13).

August 19, 2013 at 5:15 am 2 comments

ABC Extra – You’re So Vain, I Bet You Think This Blog Is About You

“Mirror, mirror on the wall, who in the land is fairest of all?” asks the wicked queen to her magic mirror in the fairy tale, Snow White and the Seven Dwarves.  For years, the answer always came back the same:  “You, my queen, are fairest of all.”  But when a young maiden named Snow White comes of age, the mirror’s rejoinder changes:  “Queen, you are fair, tis true, but Snow White is fairer than you.”   After hearing the mirror’s reply to what was supposed to be a foregone answer to a rhetorical question, the wicked queen spends the balance of the story trying to kill Snow White so that, once again, she can be the fairest in the land.  First, she tries to suffocate Snow White with stay laces.  Next, she tries to kill her with a poison comb.  Finally, the queen offers her the dreaded and infamous poison apple, which lulls her into a deep sleep until, of course, she is wakened by her charming prince.

Being a fairy tale, this story is splashed with an unambiguous principled paint that could perhaps be better nuanced.  Nevertheless, its fundamental moral should still be well taken, for its basic point is this:  The queen’s vanity destroys the queen’s life.  And real life vanity can do to the same to us.  It can sneak and creep into our lives, take root in our hearts, and suffocate our souls.

This past weekend in worship and ABC, we kicked off a new series titled “Fit for Life II,” meant to be a second round of messages and Bible studies on health and wellness to follow up the series of the same name that we did last spring.  As an introduction to this series, I offered what I call “A Theology of the Body.”  People, when talking about and thinking about their bodies, tend to make one of two errors.  They assume either that the body is bad and only a cumbersome drag on a pure soul, or they make the body their “god” and spend exorbitant amounts of money, time, and energy either by feeding its sometimes sinful desires in gluttony or pruning and primping it in vanity.

In truth, the body is neither “bad,” nor is it “god.”  Rather, it is “good.”  It is a good gift of the true God, meant to be faithfully stewarded by us.  This is why we take care of our bodies through diet and exercise – not so that we can drop three dress sizes, or boast six-pack abs, or look ten years younger.  Instead, we take care of our bodies to the glory of God because they are the temples of God, as Paul says:  “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20).

Do you ever treat your body as if it’s bad?  Do you spend endless hours complaining about your aches and pains, your wrinkles and your warts, rather than giving thanks to God for the body with which He has blessed you?  Do you ever treat your body as if it’s god?  Do you linger in front of your mirror, even if it’s not a magic one, just a little too long, obsessed with how others will see you rather than being satisfied with how the true God has made you?  This time of year, many people are still trying to follow through on their resolutions to “lose some weight” or “get in shape.”  Rather than just losing a few inches off your waste line or enlarging a couple of biceps, may you resolve to steward your body to God’s glory in what you eat, in how you exercise, and in everything you say and do.  For this is where true fitness lies.

Want to learn more on this passage? Go to
www.ConcordiaLutheranChurch.com
and check out audio and video from Pastor Tucker’s
message or Pastor Zach’s ABC!

January 17, 2011 at 5:15 am Leave a comment


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