“If a man has a stubborn and rebellious son who will not obey the voice of his father or the voice of his mother, and who, when they have chastened him, will not heed them, then his father and his mother shall take hold of him and bring him out to the elders of his city, to the gate of his city. And they shall say to the elders of his city, ‘This son of ours is stubborn and rebellious; he will not obey our voice; he is a glutton and a drunkard.’ Then all the men of his city shall stone him to death with stones; so you shall put away the evil person from among you, and all Israel shall hear and fear.” Deuteronomy 21:18-21
First of all, what is gluttony? The bible provides a clear definition which deals with excessive eating in Proverbs 23:20-21. Specifically, we are warned:
“Do not join those who drink too much wine or gorge themselves on meat, for drunkards and gluttons become poor, and drowsiness clothes them in rags. “
Another definition encompasses not only excessive eating, or” gorging themselves on meat,” but also loose morals and gratifying the flesh in many other ways. Titus 1:12-13 illustrates this point.
One of them, a prophet of their own said, ‘Cretans are always liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons.’ This testimony is true.”
Gluttony, then, can be summed up as an excessive appetite for whatever your flesh desires or craves whether it is giving in to your appetite or desire for unhealthy foods and beverages with little to no restraint or lacking self-control in other areas of your life.
Moreover, Titus 1:12 exemplifies how gluttony is often accompanied by other self-gratifying sins in terms of an entire society, whereas Deuteronomy 21:18-21 demonstrates how that scenario is also true in the life of an individual. In Titus 1:12-13 above, Paul was teaching that false teachers should be rebuked, but he stopped to point out that on one point a false prophet’s testimony was correct regarding the Cretan society, which was known for following the lusts of its flesh.
Specifically, the Cretans revered a man named, Epimenides, as one of the country’s prophets. According to myth, Epimendes was a Cretan who fell asleep in a cave for 57 years. When he awoke, he had the gift of prophecy and longevity. Indeed, Epimenides was believed to have lived for 300 years. In addition to being considered a philosopher and a poet, the people eventually elevated him to the status of a god. Nevertheless, he is credited with making the statement which Paul quoted in Titus: “Cretans are always liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons.”
This statement has sparked debate in the Christian and secular world, so much so that it has become known as the “Epimenides Paradox.” Basically, the paradox sheds light on the obvious. Specifically, if it is true that all Cretans are always liars, evil beasts, and lazy gluttons, then that means Epimenides himself was a liar, an evil beast, and a lazy glutton because he, too, was a Cretan. Consequently, it follows the statement that all Cretans are liars, etc. must be false because a lying Cretan made it.
However, upon reading the passage of scripture, you’ll find the speaker referred to the Cretan society in general and not each individual residing on the Isle of Crete. At least one commentator agrees with that assessment and surmised that Epimenides, writing as a poet, employed a writing technique called hyperbole to describe the condition of his country and its citizens.
Since the technique is used frequently by many poets, the author shared the viewpoint that Epimenides exaggerated when speaking about the Cretan society as a whole in order to emphasize his point that the Cretan society was immoral. Indeed, it’s not much different from citizens of this and other countries characterizing Americans, in general, as fat. While we know that not everyone one in America is overweight, none of us can deny that a very high percentage of Americans is overweight. Consequently, the generalization, while over-simplified, is not entirely false.
Likewise, it’s from that viewpoint that we must consider our own nation and its citizens’ condition in light of the epidemic of obesity and overall immoral and self-gratifying behaviors. For instance:
a) Would you say it’s a fair assessment that just as gluttony has gripped our nation, so have other self-gratifying sins such as fornication, homosexuality, monetary greed, and materialistic tendencies significantly increased?
b) Has our society become more interested in satisfying the lusts of its flesh than pleasing the God in Whom we say we trust?
c) Are we becoming more like the Cretan society with each passing day?
The truth is that gluttony is a symptom of a society’s moral and spiritual decay. As our society gets fatter each year, there is no doubt that it also grows more sinful with the passage of time. Consequently, we see direct, overwhelming evidence that there is a correlation between the lusts of the flesh running unchecked in one area of life leading to instances of self-gratifying behavior leaking into other areas of your life. Why? Because sin begets sin. This is especially true when sin is revealed and a person deliberately continues to sin.
The further you stray or refuse to return to the Father in repentance, whether due to shame and guilt or outright rebellion, the more likely you are to begin committing other sins as you increasingly put God and His word on the back burner, if not push Him out of your life altogether. One glaring and heartbreaking example of this is the current state of our nation’s school system. Since our country no longer desires to “train up a child in the way he should go” in the very place where we collectively send our children to receive training, the “anything goes” behavior of our society has bled into our schools, and our nation’s children are using drugs, having sex, and even committing murder at a place that used to be a safe haven, our schools.
As our society/generation increasingly turns away from the Lord, we, like Israel, are ushering in and raising a successive generation who neither knows the Lord personally nor experienced His miracles and blessings for themselves (Judges 2:8-15). In essence, the world is progressively forgetting about the One True God, and the negative effects of that unfaithfulness can be seen in the degenerate behavior of today’s children and the corruption invading the moral fabric of our society.
In Deuteronomy 21:18-21, a child, initially described as stubborn and rebellious, is depicted. However, the scriptures teach that despite his parents’ loving discipline, the child continues in his disobedient conduct towards them in order to satisfy his own desires. Consequently, his sin of disobedience eventually causes him to become entangled with the sins of gluttony and drunkenness.
Since the “wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23), the stubborn and rebellious child eventually pays the ultimate price for his sin. He is “put away,” i.e. stoned to death, for being an “evil person” as an example to others. God would not have commanded Israel to stone or kill the stubborn and rebellious son if disobedience to his parents (Exodus 20:12 & Ephesians 6:1), gluttony, and drunkenness were not sins. Just as sin begets sin in terms of society in general, Deuteronomy 21:18-21 proves the same is true in the life of an individual.
Proverbs 23:20-21 reinforces the teaching of Deuteronomy 21:18-21 by outright commanding, “Do not join those who drink too much wine or gorge themselves on meat.” Since the Lord specifically prohibits both gluttony and drunkenness in Proverbs 23, both actions are undoubtedly sinful. Accordingly, human beings today are subject to the same consequences as the stubborn and rebellious son for committing those sins, physical and spiritual death. Indeed, both Believers and Unbelievers alike stand in the shoes of the “stubborn and rebellious son,” actively disobeying God’s word, particularly as it relates to the sins of gluttony and idolatry. And like the “stubborn and rebellious son,” both Believers and Unbelievers are paying the ultimate price for their disobedience by dying untimely and unnecessary deaths due to their gluttonous lifestyles. However, although a Believer may physically die due to a heart attack or stroke, for instance, as a result of his gluttonous lifestyle, his soul won’t experience the spiritual death of going to hell due to the Lord’s sacrifice on the cross. Nevertheless, as Paul teaches in Romans 6:1-2, that does not give Believers a license to continue to sin.
Perhaps the most compelling evidence that gluttony is a real sin is the fact that Jesus, Himself, said He was accused of committing the sin.
“The Son of Man came eating and drinking and they say, ‘Here is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners.’” Matthew 11:19
When He made the comment, Jesus was reflecting on accusations of the Scribes and Pharisees. The vast majority of those individuals were definitely not a part of Jesus’ fan club, so reason dictates they were not paying Him a compliment when they referred to him as “a glutton and a drunkard” and a friend of tax collectors and sinners.
While it’s true that being a tax collector, in and of itself, is not a sin, the profession of tax collecting was associated with sinful individuals due to the prevalence of greedy individuals over-taxing in order to skim money for themselves. An already economically depressed household or region would be further strained by such oppressive tactics. Consequently, the profession as a whole was given a negative connotation which persists to this day.
On the other hand, the glutton and the drunkard are not being labeled as sinners based on their professions. As stated previously, the Lord says in His word that gluttony and drunkenness are sins. Therefore, the Scribes and Pharisees directly attacked Jesus’ character when they accused Him of committing those sins and being an overall friend of “sinners.”
“He who keeps the law is a discerning son, but a companion of gluttons disgraces his father.” Proverbs 28:7
This proverb should strike a chord within many people who struggle with their weight. Parents and many other relatives always seem to have negative comments about a loved one's weight as if it bothers them more than it bothers the overweight individual. Well, the sad truth is that members of your family, especially your parents, can feel a sense of disappointment or even shame, about a loved one's overweight condition although they may never specifically say so. Their words and actions, however, often betray their thoughts.
And because they love you so, they take steps to correct the problem such as sharing their thoughts and feelings on the subject in an effort to motivate you and help you lose weight. Family members are always the ones who seem to hurt you the most when it comes to your weight. This is because they often have little to no regard for your feelings, no tact, and no sense that they are contributing to the cycle that drives most comfort eaters to eat. They don’t understand that right after your feelings get hurt, a big plate or bowl or something is just what many overweight people run to in order to bite back (No pun intended) the words they know better than to say to their elders who only meant well.
In sum, scripture is replete with instruction from the Lord in both the Old and New Testament regarding gluttony and its devastating effects on both individuals and society if left unchecked. Thankfully, the solution for our generation is not stoning to death all who are ensnared by the sin. On the contrary, God has graciously provided the blood of His Son, Jesus, to set us free from the bondage of gluttony and every other sin. If we truly want to be free from the ravages of gluttony both individually and collectively, then repentance is the answer. If we do this, God promises:
If My people, who are called by My Name, will humble themselves and pray, and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” 2 Chronicles 7:13-14
 “Epimenides: Biography from Answers.com” http://www.answers.com/topic/epimenides March 17, 2013.
 Id. and Apologietics Press - “Epimenides’ Paradox: A Logical Discrepancy in Titus 1:12?” http://www.apologeticspress.org/apcontent.aspx?category =6&article=809 March 17, 2013.
 Apologetics Press supra.
Ann Wooten Taylor
Ann is an attorney who has been licensed to practice law in the State of Arkansas since 2004, practicing in the areas of child abuse and neglect, special education, and unemployment insurance law. Mrs. Taylor is also the C.E.O. of Eating as an Act of Worship Ministries and a Christian author. Her first non-fiction, Christian book entitled, "Eating as an Act of Worship Workbook" was published and released by Life to Legacy Publishing in 2015. Her second book, the "Eating as an Act of Worship Teacher's Edition" was published and released in December 2016.