Gluttony, derived from the Latin gluttire meaning to gulp down or swallow, means over-indulgence and over-consumption of food, drink, or wealth items to the point of extravagance or waste. In some Christian denominations, it is considered one of the seven deadly sins—a misplaced desire of food or its withholding from the needy.
Gluttony in Judaism
According to the list of 613 commandments that Jews must keep according to the Rambam, gluttony or excessive eating or drinking is prohibited. It is listed as #169. Not to eat or drink like a glutton or a drunkard (not to rebel against father or mother) (Lev. 19:26; Deut. 21:20) (CCN106).
Gluttony in Christianity
Church leaders from the deeply ascetic Middle Ages (e.g. Pope Gregory I, Thomas Aquinas) took a more expansive view of gluttony, arguing that it also consists of an anticipation of meals, the eating of delicacies, and costly foods, seeking after sauces and seasonings, and eating too eagerly.
1. Eating before the time of meals in order to satisfy the palate.
- Biblical example: Jonathan eating a little honey, when his father Saul commanded no food to be taken before the evening.[1Sa 14:29]
2. Seeking delicacies and better quality of food to gratify the "vile sense of taste."
- Biblical example: When Israelites escaping from Egypt complained, "Who shall give us flesh to eat? We remember the fish which we did eat in Egypt freely; the cucumbers and the melons, and the leeks and the onions and the garlic," God rained fowls for them to eat but punished them 500 years later.[Num 11:4]
3. Seeking to stimulate the palate with sauces and seasonings.
- Biblical example: Two sons of Eli the high priest made the sacrificial meat to be cooked in one manner rather than another. They were met with death.[1Sa 4:11]
4. Exceeding the necessary quantity of food.
- Biblical example: One of the sins of Sodom was "fullness of bread."[Eze 16:49]
5. Taking food with too much eagerness, even when eating the proper amount, and even if the food is not luxurious.
- Biblical example: Esau selling his birthright for ordinary food of bread and pottage of lentils. His punishment was that the "profane person . . . who, for a morsel of meat sold his birthright," we learn that "he found no place for repentance, though he sought it carefully, with tears." [Gen 25:30]
- The fifth way is worse than all others, said St. Gregory, because it shows attachment to pleasure most clearly. To recapitulate, St Gregory the Great said that one may succumb to the sin of gluttony by: 1. Time (when); 2. Quality; 3. Stimulants; 4. Quantity; 5. Eagerness
- Laute - eating food that is too luxurious, exotic, or costly
- Nimis - eating food that is excessive in quantity
- Studiose - eating food that is too daintily or elaborately prepared
- Praepropere - eating too soon, or at an inappropriate time
- Ardenter - eating too eagerly.
Aquinas notes that the first three ways are related to the nature of the food itself, while the last two have to do with the time or manner in which it is consumed
St. Alphonsus Liguori wrote the following when explaining gluttony:
"Pope Innocent XI has condemned the proposition which asserts that it is not a sin to eat or to drink from the sole motive of satisfying the palate. However, it is not a fault to feel pleasure in eating: for it is, generally speaking, impossible to eat without experiencing the delight which food naturally produces. But it is a defect to eat, like beasts, through the sole motive of sensual gratification, and without any reasonable object. Hence, the most delicious meats may be eaten without sin, if the motive be good and worthy of a rational creature; and, in taking the coarsest food through attachment to pleasure, there may be a fault."
in the Bible (King James Version):
- Proverbs 23:20-21 "Be not among winebibbers; among riotous eaters of flesh: For the drunkard and the glutton shall come to poverty: and drowsiness shall clothe a man with rags."
- Proverbs 23:2 "When thou sittest to eat with a ruler, consider diligently what is before thee. And put a knife to thy throat, if thou be a man given to appetite."
- Luke 7:33-35 "For John the Baptist came neither eating bread nor drinking wine; and ye say, He hath a devil. The Son of man is come eating and drinking; and ye say, Behold a gluttonous man, and a winebibber, a friend of publicans and sinners! But wisdom is justified of all her children."
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- "List of 613 Commandments". List of 613 Commandments. Retrieved 10 May 2012.
- "Gluttony". Catholic Encyclopedia.
- Shipley, Orby. A Theory About Sin, London (1875) pg. 268-278
- St. Alphonsus Liguori. The True Spouse of Jesus Christ; trans. from Italian. Dublin (1835), p. 282