Friday, August 9, 2013


There is something about character of Hyacinth on the British comedy Keeping Up Appearances that reminds me of Ellen White. Hyacinth invites her kind neighbor over for coffee but so over-emphasizes the importance of her china that the neighbor is made miserable for fear of dropping and breaking her cup.  

Ellen White has a way of taking a basically sound principle and theologically spotlighting it to the point that it gives you heartburn just to read her writings on the subject. You'll see what I mean as I count down the top ten most melodramatic and exaggerated theology-of-eating quotes from Ellen White's book Counsels on Diet and Food between pages 49 through 64. 

Please keep in mind as you are reading. Ellen, like many food gurus of her time, thought there was a direct link between eating and immorality. The idea was that if food digested slowly, it would overstimulate the bowels making one obsessed with sex. 

Intemperance in eating and in drinking, and the indulgence of base passions, have benumbed the fine sensibilities, so that sacred things have been placed upon a level with common things.
Those who permit themselves to become slaves to a gluttonous appetite, often go still farther, and debase themselves by indulging their corrupt passions, which have become excited by intemperance in eating and in drinking. They give loose rein to their debasing passions, until health and intellect greatly suffer. The reasoning faculties are, in a great measure, destroyed by evil habits.Spiritual Gifts 4a:124, 131, 1864 {CD 62.}

(SDAs: No offense intended. Just needed to lighten things up around here... and also italics are mine.)

Countdown Begins:

No. 10: The Great Sins of Old--Appetite!

The people who lived before the flood ate animal food, and gratified their lusts until their cup of iniquity was full, and God cleansed the earth of its moral pollution by a flood.... The same sins of gluttony and drunkenness benumbed the moral sensibilities of the inhabitants of Sodom, so that crimes seemed to be the delight of the men and women of that wicked city....[Christ] would lay before us the danger of making eating and drinking paramount. He reveals the result of giving up to indulgence of appetite. The moral powers are enfeebled, so that sin does not appear sinful. Crimes are winked at, and base passions control the mind, until general corruption roots out good principles and impulses, and God is blasphemed. All this is the result of eating and drinking to excess.... The transgression of God’s commandments has caused His prospering hand to be removed. {CD 60, 61}(Spiritual Gifts 4a:121, 1864) 

No. 9: Don't Indulge Your Pastor's Appetite!

Some persons bring upon the campground food that is entirely unsuitable to such occasions, rich cakes and pies, and a variety of dishes that would derange the digestion of a healthy laboring man.... The minister should decline this well-meant but unwise hospitality, even at the risk of seeming discourteous....They err when they tempt the minister with unhealthful food. Precious talent has thus been lost to the cause of God; and many, while they do live, are deprived of half the vigor and strength of their faculties. {CD 55.2}

No. 8: Sanctification is Controlling Appetite!

[Sanctification] requires that our habits of eating, drinking, and dressing be such as to secure the preservation of physical, mental, and moral health, that we may present to the Lord our bodies,—not an offering corrupted by wrong habits, but “a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God.” Our habits of eating and drinking show whether we are of the world or among the number whom the Lord by His mighty cleaver of truth has separated from the world. It is intemperance in eating that causes so much invalidism, and robs the Lord of the glory due Him. Because of a failure to deny self, many of God’s people are unable to reach the high standard of spirituality He has set for them, and though they repent and are converted, all eternity will testify to the loss they have sustained by yielding to selfishness.—Letter 135, 1902, The Review and Herald, January 25, 1881, Testimonies for the Church 6:372, 1900 {CD 57-58}

No. 7: You are Unworthy Because of Appetite!

If they will gratify a gross appetite, and by so doing blunt their sensibilities, and becloud their perceptive faculties so that they cannot appreciate the exalted character of God, or delight in the study of His word, they may be assured that God will not accept their unworthy offering any sooner than that of Cain. God requires them to cleanse themselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of the Lord.—Spiritual Gifts 4a:148, 149, 1864 {CD 49.4}

No. 6: The Spirit Cannot Come Because of Appetite!

No man can become a successful workman in spiritual things until he observes strict temperance in his dietetic habits. God cannot let His Holy Spirit rest upon those who, while they know how they should eat for health, persist in a course that will enfeeble mind and body.—Undated Manuscript 88 {CD 55.3}

The Spirit of God cannot come to our help, and assist us in perfecting Christian characters, while we are indulging our appetites to the injury of health, and while the pride of life controls... It is impossible for those who indulge the appetite to attain to Christian perfection.—Testimonies for the Church 2:400, 1870, The Health Reformer, September, 1871 {CD 57}

No. 5: Tea and Coffee Make You Lust!

Excessive eating of the best of food will produce a morbid condition of the moral feelings.... Abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul,” is the language of the apostle Peter. Many regard this warning as applicable only to the licentious; but it has a broader meaning. It guards against every injurious gratification of appetite or passion. It is a most forcible warning against the use of such stimulants and narcotics as tea, coffee, tobacco, alcohol, and morphine. These indulgences may well be classed among the lusts that exert a pernicious influence upon moral character. The earlier these hurtful habits are formed, the more firmly will they hold their victim in slavery to lust, and the more certainly will they lower the standard of spirituality.—The Review and Herald, January 25, 1881 {CD 62.5}

No. 4: Eden Lost Because of Appetite!

As our first parents lost Eden through the indulgence of appetite, our only hope of regaining Eden is through the firm denial of appetite and passion. {CD 59.1}

No. 3: Health Reform Brings Sanctification!

He who cherishes the light which God has given him upon health reform has an important aid in the work of becoming sanctified through the truth, and fitted for immortality.—[Christian Temperance and Bible Hygiene, 10] Counsels on Health, 22, 1890 {CD 59.4}

No. 2: Control Appetite, Control Sin!

The controlling power of appetite will prove the ruin of thousands, when, if they had conquered on this point, they would have had moral power to gain the victory over every other temptation of Satan. But those who are slaves to appetite will fail in perfecting Christian character. Testimonies for the Church 3:491, 492, 1875 {CD 59.3}

No. 1: God Ignores You Because of Appetite!

Those who bring disease upon themselves, by self-gratification, have not healthy bodies and minds. They cannot weigh the evidences of truth, and comprehend the requirements of God. Our Saviour will not reach His arm low enough to raise such from their degraded state, while they persist in pursuing a course to sink themselves still lower. {CD 49.3}