The Vice of Gluttony

Teaching of Virtue

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The Vice of Gluttony

The evil lure of deceitful cravings is cast by the deadly sin of gluttony.

The vice of gluttony is a disposition of immoderate or immoral consumption.

Gluttony is not limited to an unjust attachment to the appetites of the body—but extends to the appetites of the mind.

There is no fault in a tasty meal, cocktail, or screen time; things like these are to be enjoyed, but not overly-enjoyed; for it’s that little divergence in the path that leads to gluttony.

The glutton is enslaved to addictions of many kinds, unable to say no to their desires, even when their conscience pleads otherwise. Instead of turning to Christ, “the bread of life” (John 6:35), for fulfillment, they attempt to fill themselves with countless delights—stealing from their love of God, service of neighbor, and respect of self.

Gain freedom from gluttony with the virtues of temperance, abstinence, and accountability.

Grow in temperance. Ask the Holy Spirit to open your eyes to overindulgence and strengthen your will to moderate consumption to a mean in harmony with the will of God.

Practice abstinence. Control your appetites by fasting from what you enjoy until the right time and amount—offering any hunger in between as a sacrifice to God.

Take accountability. You alone are responsible for the pitfalls of gluttony in your life. If you fail—recognize it, ask forgiveness, put your gaze back on Christ, and continue your pursuit of a virtuous life.

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Related Scripture

Jesus answered them, “Very truly, I tell you, you are looking for me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves. Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures for eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. For it is on him that God the Father has set his seal.” Then they said to him, “What must we do to perform the works of God?” Jesus answered them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.” So they said to him, “What sign are you going to give us then, so that we may see it and believe you? What work are you performing? Our ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written, ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat.’” Then Jesus said to them, “Very truly, I tell you, it was not Moses who gave you the bread from heaven, but it is my Father who gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is that which comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” They said to him, “Sir, give us this bread always. Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.” — John 6:26-35 (NRSV-CE)

" not eat without restraint; for overeating brings sickness, and gluttony leads to nausea. Many have died of gluttony, but the one who guards against it prolongs his life.” — Sirach 37:29-30 (NRSV-CE)

“Do not follow your base desires, but restrain your appetites.” — Sirach 18:30 (NRSV-CE)

"...remove evil desire from me. Let neither gluttony nor lust overcome me, and do not give me over to shameless passion.” — Sirach 23:5-6 (NRSV-CE)

"I said to myself, ‘Come now, I will make a test of pleasure; enjoy yourself.’ But again, this also was vanity.” — Ecclesiastes 2:1 (NRSV-CE)

"Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and of the plate, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence.” — Matthew 23:25 (NRSV-CE)

"For you were called to freedom, brothers and sisters; only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for self-indulgence...” — Galatians 5:13 (NRSV-CE)

"Don't associate with people who drink too much wine or stuff themselves with food. Drunkards and gluttons will be reduced to poverty. If all you do is eat and sleep, you will soon be wearing rags.” — Proverbs 23:20-21 (GNT)

“Do not be idolaters as some of them had; as it is written, ‘The people sat down to eat and drink and rose up to play.’” — 1 Corinthians 10:7 (NRSV-CE)

"But those who have doubts are condemned if they eat, because they do not act from faith; for whatever does not proceed from faith is sin.” — Romans 14:23 (NRSV-CE)

"For many live as enemies of the cross of Christ; I have often told you of them, and now I tell you even with tears. Their end is destruction; their god is the belly; and their glory is in their shame; their minds are set on earthly things.” — Philippians 3:18-19 (NRSV-CE)

“They tested God in their heart by demanding the food they craved.” — Psalm 78:18 (NRSV-CE)

“Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you? If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy that person. For God’s temple is holy, and you are that temple.” — 1 Corinthians 3:16-17 (NRSV-CE)

"Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, which you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you were bought with a price; therefore glorify God in your body.” — 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 (NRSV-CE)

“I appeal to you therefore, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.” — Romans 12:1 (NRSV-CE)

"If you have a big appetite, restrain yourself.” — Proverbs 23:2 (GNT)

“If you have found honey, eat only enough for you, or else...” — Proverbs 25:16 (NRSV-CE)

“Like a city breached, without walls, is one who lacks self-control.” — Proverbs 25:28 (NRSV-CE)

“Instead, put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.” — Romans 13:14 (NRSV-CE)

“for God did not give us a spirit of cowardice, but rather a spirit of power and of love and of self-discipline.” — 2 Timothy 1:7 (NRSV-CE)

“...I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.” — 1 Corinthians 9:27 (ESV)

“Discipline yourselves, keep alert. Like a roaring lion your adversary the devil prowls around, looking for someone to devour.” — 1 Peter 5:8 (NRSV-CE)

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.” — Matthew 5:6 (NRSV-CE)

"Jesus said to them, 'My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to complete his work.'” — John 4:34 (NRSV-CE)

"For the kingdom of God is not food and drink but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.” — Romans 14:17 (NRSV-CE)

"So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do everything for the glory of God.” — 1 Corinthians 10:31 (NRSV-CE)

Related Quotes

“It is a curious fact that no man likes to call himself a glutton, and yet each of us has in him a trace of gluttony, potential or actual. I cannot believe that there exists a single coherent human being who will not confess, at least to himself, that once or twice he has stuffed himself to bursting point on anything...” — M.F.K. Fisher

“There is a difference between eating and drinking for strength and from mere gluttony.” — Henry David Thoreau

"Drunkenness is the ruiner of reason, the waster of our body's strength, it is premature old age and in a little while, it is death." — St. Basil the Great

“A mind does not receive truth as a chest receives jewels that are put into it, but as the stomach takes up food into the system. It is no longer food, but flesh, and is assimilated. The appetite and the power of digestion measure our right to knowledge. He has it who can use it. As soon as our accumulation overruns our invention or power to use, the evils of intellectual gluttony begin—congestion of the brain, apoplexy and strangulation.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Remember, that when I speak of pleasures I always mean the elegant pleasures of a rational being, and not the brutal ones of a swine. I mean la bonne chère, short of gluttony; wine, infinitely short of drunkenness; play, without the least gaming; and gallantry, without debauchery.” — Lord Chesterfield

“Gluttony is an emotional escape, a sign something is eating us.” — Peter de Vries

"A gluttonous person is excessive in what, when, how, and how much he eats and drinks.” — St. Isidore

"Gluttony kills more than the sword.” — George Herbert

"O gluttony, it is to thee we owe our griefs!” — Geoffrey Chaucer

"Gluttony is a great fault; but we do not necessarily dislike a glutton. We only dislike the glutton when he becomes a gourmet—that is, we only dislike him when he not only wants the best for himself, but knows what is best for other people.” — G.K. Chesterton

“Ever a glutton, at another's cost, but in whose kitchen dwells perpetual frost.” — John Dryden

“The glutton is much more than an animal and much less than a man.” — Honore de Balzac

“The pleasures of the palate deal with us like Egyptian thieves who strangle those whom they embrace.” — Seneca

“Food is not evil, but gluttony is. Childbearing is not evil, but fornication is. Money is not evil, but avarice is. Glory is not evil, but vainglory is. Indeed, there is no evil in existing things, but only in their misuse.” — St. Maximus

“For it is not the food, but the desire that is in fault.” — St. Gregory

“For man, when perfected, is the best of animals, but, when separated from law and justice, he is the worst of all; since armed injustice is the more dangerous, and he is equipped at birth with the arms of intelligence and with moral qualities which he may use for the worst ends. Wherefore, if he have not virtue, he is the most unholy and the most savage of animals, and the most full of lust and gluttony.” — Aristotle

“It is the just doom of laziness and gluttony to be inactive without ease and drowsy without tranquility.” — Samuel Johnson

"Every sense will crave its proper object, but that object in excess destroys the sense. The eye craves light, but not the direct rays of the sun; the ear craves sound, but not the shock of an explosion; and an overindulged taste forfeits its power of enjoyment...A certain fish discovered by Aristotle has its heart in its stomach, and is called the sea-donkey. The drunkard shares the characteristics of that lowly animal; his heart is where his treasure is: he is lazy, stupid, lustful, and open only to one argument a club. He lacks the higher qualities of the brute - a healthy appetite for water and the power of judging when he has enough. ... Our adversary, the devil, knows no rest and it behooves us, lest we be surprised, to be sober and to watch." — St. Robert Bellarmine

“As long as the vice of gluttony has a hold on a man, all that he has done valiantly is forfeited by him: and as long as the belly is unrestrained, all virtue comes to naught.” — St. Gregory

“Those then who know not wisdom and virtue, and are always busy with gluttony and sensuality, go down and up again as far as the mean; and in this region they move at random throughout life, but they never pass into the true upper world; thither they neither look, nor do they ever find their way, neither are they truly filled with true being, nor do they ever taste of pure and abiding pleasure.” — Socrates

"We may say of gluttony what we have said of impurity, that its pleasures are equally restricted and fleeting. Yet earth, sea, and air seem unable to gratify this passion, for many crimes are perpetrated, the poor are defrauded and oppressed, and little ones compelled to suffer hunger, to satisfy the sensuality of the great. It is deplorable to think that for the gratification of one sense man condemns himself body and soul to eternal suffering. What incomprehensible folly to flatter with such delicate care a body which is destined to be the food of worms! For this miserable body you neglect your soul, which will appear before the tribunal of God as poor in virtues as its earthly companion is rich in sensual pleasures. Nor will the body escape the punishment to which the soul will be condemned. Having been created for the soul, it will share its sufferings. Thus by neglecting the nobler part of your being to devote yourself to the inferior, you lose both and become your own executioner." — Ven. Louis of Granada

"The remedy for gluttony is to be vigilant in temperance and abstinence, as well as put the benefit of the soul in a higher regard than that of the body. In particular, one must carefully consider that the delight of gluttony is very brief and very often the pain of the stomach and the head-which follow-are longer." — St. Robert Bellarmine

“There is always a limit to self-indulgence, but none to self-restraint.” — Mahatma Gandhi

“Modern Christians, especially those in the Western world, have generally been found wanting in the area of holiness of body. Gluttony and laziness, for example, were regarded by earlier Christians as sin. Today we may look on these as weaknesses of the will but certainly not sin. We even joke about our overeating and other indulgences instead of crying out to God in confession and repentance.” — Jerry Bridges

"That you may not be deceived by the snares of this vice disguised as necessities, govern your appetite by reason, not by inclination. Remember that your soul can never rule the flesh, if it be not itself submissive to God. This submission will be the rule and foundation of its empire. Let God command our reason; let reason direct the soul, and the soul will be able to govern the body. By observing this wise order decreed by the Creator, the whole man will be reformed." — Ven. Louis of Granada

"He who distinguishes the true savor of his food can never be a glutton; he who does not cannot be otherwise.” — Henry David Thoreau

“Never rise from the [tables of life] without having given due thanks to the Lord. If we act in this way, we need have no fear of the wretched sin of gluttony.” — St. Padre Pio

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Lesson Plan

For your family, small group, or personal reflection.

STEP 1: Introduction

Example: "I'm going to play a short video on the topic of the vice of gluttony. After the video, I have some questions to gather your thoughts and get the discussion started. We’ll then wrap up with a closing prayer."

STEP 2: Watch Video (or listen)

Watch (or listen to) the video of the teaching (cast to your TV via YouTube). If time allows, also read the teaching, related Scriptures, and related quotes.

STEP 3: Discussion / Reflection

  • The vice of gluttony is a disposition of immoderate or immoral consumption. Gluttony is not limited to an unjust attachment to the appetites of the body—but extends to the appetites of the mind. Thus, gluttony can apply to eating, drinking, drugs, content and entertainment (such as spending too much time watching TV, on social media, etc.), or anything else one may overindulge in. Reflecting on your life, in what ways do you (or have you) struggled with overindulgence? (please explain)
  • In your own words, how does a form of addiction to anything of this world steal from your love of God, service of neighbor, and respect of self (for the real sin of gluttony is not so much what you consume, but what consumes your heart)?
  • What can you do in your life to grow in the virtue of temperance (moderate consumption to a virtuous mean and remain in control despite desires and temptations)?
  • What can you do in your life to practice the virtue of abstinence (establish and remain disciplined to periods of fasting—such as not eating between certain hours, or limiting social media to a set amount of time per day)?
  • What can you do in your life to develop the virtue of accountability (recognize pitfalls, ask forgiveness, and take action to correct them…falling less and less over time)?
  • What is an example from your life (if any) where gluttony got the best of you, but you eventually overcame it? What lessons did you learn?
  • Did any of the related Scriptures or quotes stand out to you (please elaborate)?
  • Any other thoughts you’d like to share?

STEP 4: Wrap Up & Closing Prayer

Summarize and wrap up the discussion. Then, conclude with a sincere and humble prayer from the heart.

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