An obesity epidemic plagues the world today. Some of my poorest friends are obese, and they often feel helpless to do anything about it. I have obese friends from Africa in countries where a typical salary, if one even has a job, is around $100 per month. No matter how little they eat, they have trouble losing weight. But in our minds today, even in the church, we associate gluttony with obesity and overeating. But in the Bible there are these stories in which a very wealthy person feasts but refuses to share with the needy. One of these stories is 1 Sam 25, the story of Nabal.
One of the most important gluttons in the Bible, in my opinion, is Nabal. Nabal was very rich, and he had a shrewd wife. He himself wasn’t as smart as his wife. While David led a group of rebels, he asked Nabal for aid. David figured he had something coming from Nabal, since he’d protected Nabal’s life and property. So he sent some of his men to request some food. But Nabal refused. Abigail heard and took some food to David and pleaded with David not to do something foolish by killing her stupid husband. David relented from his wrath. But when Abigail informed Nabal of what David intended and how she narrowly averted Nabal’s destruction, Nabal died, evidently of myocardial infarction.
So Nabal’s sin is not his overeating but his failure to acknowledge the service that David had done for him by sharing with him and his men. Even his own wife recognized his feasting in the presence of very dangerous men to be an extremely foolish thing to do.
Should we consider an obese person a glutton if that person is very willing to share and is generous towards the poor?
Is biblical gluttony overeating? Part 1
During difficult economic times, it is often the case that hoarding becomes illegal. It is punishable by severe fines. In Weimar Germany a law was even passed against gluttony. Today, the USA faces a serious threat of hyperinflation. During hyperinflation, paper money becomes worthless and unhelpful in exchange. Therefore, people resort to bartering goods and services. Bartering is a form of commerce that is frowned upon by government because it can’t be taxed. If I fix your plumbing and you fix my roof in exchange, each of us spending three hours to do it, we’ve exchange services but there is no money, no paper trail, and no receipt. Two normally taxable events are reduced to zero tax. So a doctor treats a lawyer’s son and the lawyer draws up the doctor’s will. Neither reports the activity to the government and no money passes hands. It is just a friendly transaction in an underground economy.
I believe that hyperinflation is an inevitability in the US, and unfortunately here in Canada, there is going to be high inflation. In such times, it is useful to build up a store of silver or gold. But personally, I’ve decided to store up something that I could potentially barter. I have been making wine from concentrated juice, grape juice and from grapes since 2004. My wines are pretty good; I’d say the equivalent of at least a $10 CDN per bottle at our local provincially control liquor stores (called the LCBO-the Liquor Control Board of Ontario). Wine is a controlled substance, and so I am not allowed to sell my product without a license. But when times are desperate, and money is worth nothing, I figure that I should be able to barter bottles of wine for food or other goods and services that I might need.
So I’ve decided to stock up on wine kits. These kits are $70 for two at Costco, or $45 for one at my local supplier. Each kit contains concentrated juice that will make 30 bottles. I know that the juice remains usable for at least two years maybe more. Once made into wine, the wine can be aged another two years. It is not certain how long the wine will last after that. So my minimum cost base will be $1.17 per bottle plus my labor (which isn’t worth anything). If I buy 10 kits at Costco at a price of $300, I’ll be able to hoard 300 bottles of wine in reserve. This would give me $3000 worth worth of goods with which to barter, and the product itself has an indefinite shelf life. I estimate that it would be about the same as buying two one-ounce coins of gold, at a cost of $300 CDN.
The great thing about alcoholic beverages is that they do not lose their “currency” in times of depression. Indeed, people feel the need to celebrate or to drown their sorrows even more during economic hardship than during the good times. If the economic crisis never comes to Canada, well I can consume my product or give it away as gifts. Or if the crisis comes and I am unable to barter the product, my wife and I could consume the wine for the calories and it will stave off starvation for a moment.