Homosexuality and Obesity – Perry Noble’s Missed Dichotomy

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.

What I learned from being destitute

This blog post comes after having read this article: This is what happened when I drove my Mercedes to pick up food stamps.

Although I did not have a Mercedes, shortly before Thomas was born, I lost my job. Little did we know that our son would be born early, a whole month early. That put my wife on leave from her job one day shy of a year at that job. When she could not return to work in 4 weeks (she had a c-section and was ordered to remain at home for a minimum of 6 weeks), they fired her.

We applied for unemployment, I could not draw because the church I worked for did not pay into unemployment. She could not draw because she, “Voluntarily refused to report for duty”. Even though the doctor said she could not return, they took that to mean she did not want a job that bad.

We appealed the decision on my wife’s unemployment. A woman we went to church with worked for the unemployment office and she fought us tooth and nail to stop us from getting unemployment. Then she smiled, tried to chat with us and act so Christian at church on Sunday morning. It made us sick at our stomach.

We ended up for almost a year living off of what the church would give us, what family would help us with and what I could make working like a slave at the Roman Catholic Church. To give you an example, I would work 8 hours picking up cigarette butts all over the 10 acre complex, shovel mulch around plants, take out the trash, Pledge the pews in a 200 seat church, vacuum the rectory, church and offices and the priest would give me $20 for the day. If I was a good boy and worked like that all week, he would give me $100! This was not in the 1960’s, this was in 2000!

Everyone saw us walking around in decent clothes driving a 1995 Chevy Cavalier (that was in great condition) and treated us like we were liars and fakes. I had many church people tell me that they were sick that I was scamming the church. Poor people don’t have good cars or nice cloths. What they did not know was that all my clothes either came from the discount racks at Wal-mart or were my dad’s old clothes that he did not want for one reason or another. My wife’s wardrobe consisted of clothes that she had been wearing for almost 10 years! We were not hard on our clothes and took very good care of them. We could not afford to replace them.

We did what most people do in hard times, we lived off of credit cards until they would not let us anymore. Once we had jobs again, we worked very hard to pay off all the credit cards and collections agencies, but when my health took a nose dive a few months after my wife found a good job, the medical bills finished us off. So we ended up filing for bankruptcy.

I cannot tell you how bad I felt about that, but I am going to try to find words. I was a failure. You know, the man is supposed to care for his family. He is the protector, the breadwinner, the rock of the family. I was none of the above. My health left me unable to take care of my family. I had a heart attack and then found out I had arthritis in my spine. I was barely able to walk without stabbing pain in my back. I walked with a cane and slept very little. It was killing me. And then the depression set in. The pain, lack of good sleep, the constant calls from collection agencies and credit card companies, the stare from people who either pitied us (most of them pitied my wife and thought I was a horrible person) or they thought we were scum, did not help that situation at all. I got to where I could not even leave my house. (This would reoccur later as well when the local priest tried to have me arrested for becoming an Independent Catholic. But that is another story.)

Now my wife was having to work to support the family. I was being the stay at home dad and the failure as a man and husband. Then our families turned on us. Bankruptcy was not the answer, they claimed. My wife’s family tried to convince her to leave me and find a real man. You know, a man that was not lazy. To this day I battle that image of myself.

And the process for bankruptcy was humiliating. The stark reality of how badly in the hole we were coupled with the questions about why we did not get on food stamps (the lady at the food stamp office told me I did not qualify) or unemployment (umm…see above). Then came the review of all our possessions to see if there was anything we could sell to cover the debts. And with that came the realization that everything we owned was crap. The car, although it was in good shape, was not worth enough to bother with trying to sale it. The car I had owned, an 1982 Ford Granada was dead. So it was not even worth anything for scrap!

The one thing that made us feel a little better was the judge at the hearing. She looked quickly over the file, asked if there were any creditors present (there were not) and looked at us and said she was sorry that we had to go through all this and ordered the bankruptcy to be completed. We felt so much better walking out of the Federal Court in Kentucky. That is until we got home and all the crap hit us again.

Like the lady in the above article, we were probably harder on ourselves than anyone else was. However, our families did work very hard to break us up. To this day, they still think I am lazy. They believe being a minister is not a real job. They constantly tell my wife that I should get a real job and support my family. There is nothing in this world I would like to do more.

A fat suit and the reality of obesity

I just watched a video in which Dr. Oz spent some time in a 400 lbs fat suit. He spoke about the shame and depression he felt because of the way people around him treated him. As if that was not bad enough, one only needs to look to the comments on the video to see something to be depressed about.

Before I go any further and for the cause of full disclosure, I am 410 lbs. I have been heavy all my life and come from a long line of heavy people. If there was ever a case for obesity being genetic, one would only need to look at my family tree to find proof.

I read the comments to the video and like most comments now days about most anything, you would expect to find good and bad comments. However, the greatest majority of the comments were bad comments. Take for example this comment:

What do you expect??? Having obesity in my family I do not believe it is a disease nor a disorder of the glands as they used to put it. It is laziness and indulgence just as if you decided not to wash every day.
Feel sorry for them ??? nope! In traveling globally I soon realized there are very few obese people in other parts of the world.
Get off your backside and sweat. Use some restraint.
It was published recently that some “doctor” had a “study” that found even pedophiles had a disease!!! If they want to go that far in the justification of indulgences we are doomed as civilized people.

It is bad enough that this person justifies their rant against fat people by saying it is ok because they have fat relatives, but then to equate those who are fat and believe genetics play a factor to pedophiles, that is cruel. As someone who has battled obesity all my life, I can tell you that some people cannot lose weight. Oh yeah, I can get down to about 350 lbs, but much past that has never been possible. I could have surgery and lose weight, but who wants to go through all that pain and trauma to be skinny?

Or what about this comment:

If you walk around with a feedbag strapped to your fat face and can’t stay away from the All You Can Eat Buffet, then you might be a fat assed pig!

This is the catch-all answer to obesity: You must be fat because all you ever do is eat. Have you seen me eat? No. Then shut up. You can ask anyone who knows me, I eat the same amount as my skinny friends and sometimes less! I eat 3 or less meals a day and eat very little sweets (mostly because of my diabetes, although I have indulged in more sweets lately because I gave up). So what is your “professional” opinion on why I am fat? That question leads us to the next comment:

I never dealt with heavy people till about 6 months ago; it is hard to understand how they can let themselves get that way.

Yes, of course. I get it now. I let myself become a gross, fat, disabled, sickly blob because I had nothing better to do with my life. You caught me! Now I rest easy now that my secret is out!

Do you really think I would have “let” myself get to this point if I could have stopped it? Do you think I like getting out of breath walking in the store? Do you think I like being in pain everyday? Do you think I want to have diabetes or heart disease? Do you think I like watching my son grow up from the sidelines? And yet, no matter what I try, no matter how much I diet or exercise, I still stay fat.

The most disgusting obese thing I ever saw was in a Publix in Jax. Fl. . A family of 4, with 2 10-12 yr. old kids, that I refer to as the Goodyear family.

Mom and Dad each easily topped 400 lbs. , and each kid was near the 200 range. They were pushing 3 carts down the frozen food aisle, loaded with nothing but pastries and frozen foods.

That store had at least 10 foot wide aisles in that section, and they completely blocked it.

To let your children get that obese should warrant charges of child abuse.

That was around 15 years ago, and I’m sure they’re all dead by now.

Now we should arrest fat people who have fat children. Brilliant! Maybe we could save everyone the trial and just send them to the gas chamber or firing squad and be done with it. As one of those heavy children, I can tell you that they knew this person was judging them when they looked at them. I am sure that it helped motivate them to lose weight. Again, as a child who was fat, I can tell you that those stares and judgmental looks only made me depressed and self-conscience. It did nothing to help me lose weight. It did nothing to solve the “problem”. If anything, it made my life worse, not better.

I won’t bore you with anymore comments. You get the idea. Being fat is one of the last human conditions that society is ok being prejudice against. We charge overweight people more to fly. We charge them more at some theaters. We limit the trips they can make to the buffet (even though I do good to make 2 trips to the buffet, I have had a buffet owner tell me I could not go to the buffet more than 3 times or he would charge me a second buffet price). We make their clothing cost 3 sometimes 4 times that of other people’s clothing. We make them feel bad on TV, in public, on the radio, and even online. Ads constantly are thrust on us demanding that we lose weight or die.

Oh, and one more thing, the jokes! Oh the wonderful jokes whispered to friends about my weight. Or even the jokes to my face (mostly by strangers as I know my friends do it because I am cool with it) about my weight. They make me feel so wonderful! They make me want to run out and lose weight instantly! Except that they don’t. They make me want to crawl under a rock or step in front of an east bound bus.

And lastly, the friends who offer their advice and health tips on how to lose weight when they are a 150 lbs soaking wet. They really make me feel wonderful. If I want your advice on how to lose weight (something you have never had to do), I will ask you. Otherwise, leave me alone.

And they wonder why most obese people are depressed…

(And to the 2 friends I will have after everyone reads this, I appreciate you standing with me.)

Thanksgiving Admonishment

Thanksgiving is upon us again. It is a time to reflect on the past year and to celebrate the things we are thankful for with friends and family.

Many people will sit down today to eat Turkey with all the trimmings. Others will meet with friends and family at local restaurants to toast all the things they are thankful for.

And then there will be those who will have no dinner. They will have no friends or family to celebrate with. Their own thing to be thankful for it that they are alive.

We have grown so accustom in America to living lives of plenty that we tend to forget, or willfully ignore, those who have nothing. We pass them on the streets and we look the other way. We have even grown so callus that we teach our children not to make eye contact with these poor souls.

And yet many of these people yearn to be noticed. They yearn to have someone who is willing to spend a few minutes and few dollars to help them find something to eat. They should be treated like human beings again, instead of burdens and outcasts.

This week Pope Francis released an Apostolic Letter decrying the fact that many ignore the poor and helpless. He said that he wanted to see a church willing to get into the trenches and help the poor rather than remaining the clean, whitewashed churches (tombs) they have become. I say to Pope Francis, “Put your money where your mouth is!”

Pope Francis has the power and authority to order the vast stores of the Vatican opened to help those helpless and poor. That would mean more than all the Apostolic Letters in the world. And it is time for him to act, rather than talk. Give those people who need it most something to be thankful for this season.

To all my brothers and sisters in the ISM, take a few moments to reach out to those who need it most. Help that person on the street to get a hot meal. Take a moment to give them an understanding ear. Be Christ to them.

Together, we can make the world a much better and more joyful place if only we make the effort.

God Bless.

Don’t just talk the talk, walk the walk

It was a simple statement, “Our shortage of Bishops in the Independent Movement is over! Praise God!” It seems innocuous doesn’t it?

But it made me angry. And it hurt me. Why? Was it referring to me? No. It was referring to the news that one of our priests has been elected to the Office of Bishop. So why does it matter to me?

It matters because our church works very hard to make sure that we select good candidate to do the work of the church. We have a process that requires education, criminal background checks every 3 years, Stewards of Children training every 3 years, Psychological screening and interviews with members of our church. Then the candidates are sent to the Commission on Ordained Ministry. This is body fo 5 clerics who review their files, all their supporting paperwork, and then vote on whether or not they feel they would be a good fit in out church.

For Bishops or a cleric put forth for consecration, they must go through the above process (a second time if they are already a member of our church) and then have their information reviewed by the College of Bishops and Vicars who also vote on their suitability. Only if a 2/3 majority of both bodies find them acceptable, do they move forward.

On top of that, they will be waiting until next June before they are consecrated. Which means that there is more time for growth and spiritual development.

Yet, clergy in the ISM feel it is their duty and obligation to snipe at us. People who claim to be Franciscans acting in a way that would make St. Francis cry. And for what? A cheap laugh? A feeling of superiority? That is, of course, one of the most important qualities a cleric must have! Right?

Wrong!

Today in our world people are dying from lack of food, medication and care. Our own Congress is working to take away food assistance and healthcare for not only poor adults, but also for children and military veterans. People are dying in our cities due to increased gun violence. And what are we doing as Christians and Clergy to help them?

We are sniping at each other. Putting each other down. Holding our heads high as we declare, “I am more valid than you,” or that, “I have more lines of Succession than you.” We work for weeks to destroy each others ministry. We walk around acting as though it is a contest to see who can be the best at destroying someones ministry or chasing them away from their calling.

We have become a sad lot. It is time to start working together, rather than tearing each other down. It is time to be true Christians, or to stop lying to ourselves and others. It is time to help the homeless, the poor, the orphan and the widow so that Sodom and Gomorra do not rise up at our judgement to condemn us for our inhospitality.

It is time to walk the walk and not just talk the talk. It is time we all put our money where our mouths are and live what we say we believe.

I, for my part, am willing to work with any of those in the ISM who truly want to work to advance the Kingdom of God. However, if all you want to do is play games and continue the pattern of ISM abuse, then please, turn and walk away.

Blessings!

Boston: A lesson in restraint

It has been a very long week and many of us in the religious world are exhausted. I, for one, have slept very little since the week started. Many prayers have been offered and many statements made about the events of this week.

And tonight, this saga is finally over. One suspect in the bombing of the Boston Marathon is dead and the other is in custody. Many people have already drawn their conclusions concerning these individuals. In the court of public opinion has already tried, convicted and sentenced them to death.

But that cannot be our response. We are a nation of laws. Many of us are people of faith. Regardless of which faith you are, almost all faiths teach its followers to show compassion on those who do us wrong. We must wait for all the facts. We must wait for the laws of the land to do their jobs. And in all of this, we must be very careful not to assume facts that are not in evidence.

One such case of this is the case of Muslims in New York and Boston who have been physically assaulted because of the assumption that they must be terrorist simply because they are Muslim. This is not right. It is not the way Christ would have us act. How would you like to be held accountable for Westboro Baptist Church’s hate speech? Or how would you like to be assaulted because of  Eric Robert Rudolph’s bombing of abortion clinics? These people claim to be Christians and since they have done these acts doesn’t that mean all Christians are just like them?

Of course not! And the same is true of these radicals. They do not represent all of Islam nor do they represent all immigrants. As such, people should refrain from such generalizations and such radical vigilantism that has led to innocent people being attacked.