I began writing this article as a “tongue-in-cheek” amusement. Some of that may show through, but my goal became serious. I am seeking a truthful balance.
My dad was leaving a promising banking career to pursue “full-time Christian work.” The bank manager sought to offer fatherly, respectful advice. “You realize what you’re doing is economically foolish.” His emphasis on “economically” was the respectful part. One result of my parents’ decision was a family lifestyle noticeably less affluent than it would have been if my dad had remained in the bank.
My dad never regretted his career decision. But I remember him expressing weariness with being financially “strapped.” Given their limitations, I’m impressed by some of the things to which my parents gave priority: a used piano, a new cornet, a vacation from the Midwest to visit relatives and the Seattle World’s Fair, a trip to Washington, D.C., and an expensive encyclopedia set. The point to this family history is that …
To choose a limited, below average income and low financial rank is morally acceptable.
Also true is that it is right to live within your income. The combination of (1) below average income and (2) living within that income means one will do without some good things. Thus it may be morally preferable to drink tap water, eat noodles containing preservatives, buy meat from cows shot with growth hormone, and sleep on something less than the finest mattress. My house security system may not be the ultimate, and my fire extinguisher may not be top of the line. My car may be more vulnerable in a crash than more expensive models.
Physicians constantly offer cost/risk analyses. The drug that heals me may cause unwelcome side-effects. Someone may properly decide that the risk exposure created by less expensive food is morally preferable to the risk of not fulfilling other cost laden responsibilities.
Should we ignore all quality assessments? No. May quality products once properly passed over become the better choice? Yes. May the well-balanced cost/risk decision best for one be different for others? Yes.
Now about cookies. This reasoning may encounter more cynicism, but I’ll proceed. I Corinthians 6:19 remains a bottom line. My body is the temple of the Holy Spirit; therefore I am responsible to treat it well.
Proverbs 17:22 affirms that “A merry heart does good, like medicine ….” For me, cookies promote merriment … health-enriching merriment. I estimate that when consumed in moderate doses, cookies do me more good than harm. Of course, I must estimate my body’s tolerance for sugar and accept responsibility for controlling my appetites.
Appetites are gifts from God; they require restraint. Feeding our bodies could have been a mundane mechanical process, but God made it a pleasurable process. Pleasure is good, but the appetite for pleasure must be restrained. People have a good appetite for achievement. Failure to restrain that appetite produces a workaholic. Lasciviousness is a failure to restrain an appetite.
God could have issued laws such as “Forty-five hours of work per week is good. More is bad.” “Twenty grams of honey per week is good. More is bad.” But He gave us greater freedom that brings more responsibility. “For everyone to whom much is given, from him much will be required….” (Luke 12: 48).
Some people may grant my reasoning in regards to honey, but reject it in regards to white sugar. They contend that white sugar is like heroin – destructive beyond the bounds of proper use. That may be. I’ve decided it’s more like meat from cows injected with antibiotics, which I deem proper in moderation.
Let it be emphasized: restraints are needed. And healthy restraints can co-exist with the spirit of I Timothy 4: 3-4, which describes a danger in “commanding to abstain from foods which God created to be received with thanksgiving ….” Is white flour among the foods “which God created?” Is expensive, poverty- inducing health food part of the food “which God created?” Perhaps both are inferior to the original and as acceptable as typically polluted air. The air in some cities is polluted to a level that tends to cause health problems. I don’t believe every Christian has a moral responsibility to leave such a city.
I hope those persuaded otherwise will accept me (Romans 14:3-5). I don’t require their permission, but I value their like-mindedness, even in defense of cookies and grocery store food. I am more inclined toward some do’s and don’ts than many with whom I worship. I’m probably more leery of “worldly influence” than some. On the subjects herein I’m more permissive than some.