My plate has been rather full of late which is why I have not had time to chat here. However, I saw a blog post today that warranted a response.
For those who do not know him, Perry Noble is a “Christian Pastor” in South Carolina. He is the pastor of New Spring Churches, which bills itself as more progressive than most churches. However, progressive in South Carolina is far from anyone else’s view of progressive.
Mr. Noble wrote a blog post today entitled “Homosexuality and Obesity“. The title alone should begin the blood boiling process, but in case it has not, let us look at what Mr. Noble has to say about both subjects.
In a previous blog post, Mr. Noble said, “8 – The world would change in an unbelievable way if the church would attack the issue of obesity as relentlessly as it attacks the issue of homosexuality! (It would also be way more relevant to the church!)” On the face of it, this seems rather innocuous, however, he had to take that statement and make another whole blog post expounding upon it. This is where he went wrong. Once you dig a hole, it is good advice to stop digging.
Mr. Noble continues, “Let me say right out of the gate I believe God designed marriage to be between one man and one woman—period. That is not a statement of hate or intolerance; it’s simply a statement of what I really do believe the Scriptures teach. I do not hate people who are gay. I actually have friends who are gay.” There is so much to say about this statement alone that I could spend days just on it!
I will not discuss the obvious issues with the whole Scripture says marriage is between one man and one woman. If you want to know what I believe about that, you can read more about it here.
And I think it goes without saying that when someone uses the line that they do not hate someone because, “I actually have friends who are gay” that pretty much screams out that they are haters and bigots. You need only look back throughout human history to see hundreds of examples of this.
He goes on to make the convoluted claim that only people who don’t know Christ will be excluded from heaven and to say otherwise is adding to the Gospels. However, he then says that in Corinthians Paul says that homosexuals will not go to heaven. So he is hedging his bets with this one. Guess it is Russian Roulette if you believe in Christ and are gay. (/sarcasm)
Mr. Noble continues, “Which brings me to the issue of obesity … Most of the people reading this article have most likely never heard a sermon on the issue of obesity. The very fact I would categorize it as a sin is quite offensive to some. However, I believe obesity is one of the most prevalent struggles in our nation today, and there are way more people in our churches wrestling with obesity than they are homosexuality … Our country is literally eating itself to death, yet the church chooses to remain silent about the issue because it seems to be too personal. Gluttony is specifically mentioned in the Bible.”
Do you see what Mr. Noble did there? He went from claiming that homosexuality is a sin, but not really to obesity is a big issue that is a sin because gluttony is a sin. In other words, Obese=Glutton. I would hope most of my readers would understand the logical fallacy in this or at very least, understand the scientific and medical reasons this is bull.
As if they is not bad enough, Mr. Noble keeps digging, “I was reminded of the seriousness of it the other day when I read Proverbs 23:1-2,
When you sit to dine with a ruler,
note well what is before you,
and put a knife to your throat
if you are given to gluttony.
HOLY CRAP!!! That is INTENSE! Put a knife to your throat if you are given to gluttony?”
I try to give people the benefit of the doubt most of the time, but I have read and reread this passage in the context that Mr. Noble uses and I can only come up with one thought as to what he is getting at. That is that obese people should kill themselves. Yes, I believe Mr. Noble is advocating for people who are obese to cut their throats. I will give you that he may not have meant it that way, but that is what it comes across as.
As someone who tried to kill himself as a youth, I can say that there are not words strong enough to describe my thoughts about Mr. Noble that this moment. And, no, I have no desire to call him a child of God.
He continues to dig, “There are people who have objected to me talking about this issue in the past and try to use the excuse that they are genetically predisposed to being a glutton, yet when people in the gay community try to say they are genetically predisposed to being gay, Christians push back and say “there is no way.” So why does the argument work for one side and not the other? … If you are so angry at me right now that you want to hit me I understand … and if you are overweight or obese and are feeling self-conscious let me be very clear about what is going to follow: My purpose in writing this has not been to hurt you, tear you down or push you away. I’m writing this to encourage you – and let you know that I know EXACTLY how you feel and the battle that you are going through. I was fat when I was a kid … really fat. I was fat in middle school. I was fat in high school. I can remember buying size 50 pants once! I can remember buying XXXL shirts. I can still remember the names I was called in elementary school … and until this day I still see myself as fat and am more self-conscious about my appearance than anyone would imagine. I still battle weight issues every single day. The first thing I do every single morning is step on the scale to weigh myself, and way too often I have let higher numbers than I expected drag me down for the day. Until this day I hate shopping and trying on clothes for fear they may be too small and it would make me look bad. But, I also know that Jesus in you allows you to overcome ANYTHING.”
I have so many things I would love to say to Mr. Noble, but none of them are very Christ-like. He claims that he was once fat and that Jesus took it away from him. He acts like it was some sort of divine liposuction. He goes on to explain that all we need to do is to pray and get your butt to the gym. He did it, so can you! Except for those that can’t and the inference is that if you can’t you have a problem with faith. Maybe you are not a good enough Christian. Maybe you should try harder. Or if that fails, there is the knife to the throat option.
You see, Mr. Noble is daft. He is one of those people who think that everything in life is black and white. You know what I mean: Marriage is between one man and one women, except that it was historically and scripturally between a man and 300 wives and/or concubines. Obese people are just gluttons who need to learn to push away from the table, or die, either one is fine with him. These issues are not black and white.
One more thing for Mr. Noble: I am obese. I weigh in at 423 LBS. I have a 66 inch waist line and wear 4XL shirts. I am morbidly obese. I have tried every diet, every medication, every exercise program I could. I stuck with all of them for more than a year and saw little to no change in my weight. In fact, I was eating less than 1200 calories a day at one point as well as less than 15 grams of fat! Yet I never dropped below 350 lbs. I was on that diet for a year and a half. I exercised daily. It was so rough a diet that it did damage to my heart. But I refused to stop until I almost had a second heart attack. So I guess I was not a strong enough Christian, or I was not motivated enough. Had I read your words at that moment in my life, I would have likely ended my life. And that would not have bothered you one little bit.
He claims, “Food is “the drug of choice” used by most people today. For years I would joke about my weight and try to excuse myself from being that way by telling everyone that “it just ran in the family.” However, there was a day, a snapping point for me, where I realized that as long as I saw myself as a victim I would NEVER walk in victory.” Do I believe I am a victim? Hell no!
This is more BS psychology. I have true medical and physical reasons I am obese. Not one of them is because I over-eat. In fact, there are times I do not eat enough! Ask anyone who knows me and you will find that I eat very little. In fact, my wife who is 1/4 my size eats more than I do!
Yet, according to Mr. Noble, I am a glutton who should cut my throat. How very loving and Christ-like. If that is your idea of helping, please, Mr. Noble, shut up and sit down.
One last point. As I was writing this I was in the mindset that homosexuality and obesity where very different. They are, but in one way they are not. You see, it was once acceptable to discriminate against homosexuals. In many states, it still is, but that is changing slowly. As it does, obese people are starting to find the light on them. We are faced with growing prejudice and discrimination. The voices who call out that we are obese because of our lack of effort, our lack of motivation or our lack of faith continues to grow. We find ourselves as the last acceptable form of ridicule and prejudice.
If I want to fly, I have to pay more because of my weight. Some buffets charge me more because of my size. It is harder and harder to find clothing for someone my size and if I do find clothing, it cost twice what you would pay as a normal sized person. (Side note: You would think they would want to make clothing for people my size. I know for a fact no one wants to see me nude!)
Just a couple of years ago a politician in California put forth a bill that would require obese people to be sterilized so that they could not pass on their “fat genes”. This while still arguing that it was not genetic but rather laziness that caused obesity. There was a push a few years ago to fine people who were overweight because they cost the “system” more money. Now churches are getting in on the fun by attacking obese people as well. I have actually been called “Bishop Slovenly” by a fellow “Christian” in a religious order. Why? Because being obese equals being sloppy, unclean and disgusting.
All of this is done in the name of motivating obese people to loose weight. It is done so we can be “healthy”. Yet it ignores the medical data that proves that some people can be obese and still be healthy. It ignores the data that proves that some people are genetically built obese. It ignores the psychological effects of such treatment of those who struggle to live each and every day.
I call on all leaders of faith to decry such insensitive and misguided comments. I call on all of you to treat those of us who are obese with love and respect. Remember the Golden Rule applies to all of us, not just those whose waist lines measure up to your standards.