RELATION OF DIET TO HEALTH AND MORALS
I am here reprinting pertinent excerpts from the book Counsels on Health, pp. 107- 131 that clearly show us the direct correlation of diet, not only to physical health but to the morals, thus, to character formation. These brief passages, aside from dozens of others provide a rich and abundant source of clear answers and solutions to the supposedly conundrums that doggedly confront the researchers on the problems of obesity and addictions and all their attendant complications and consequences. Their problem is attempting to look for answers outside of inspired Word and depending on human wisdom which is not only finite, but when ignoring or despising divine wisdom, is nothing but vanity and foolishness to God. To wit:
“Only one lease of life is granted us; and the inquiry of everyone should be,
‘How can I invest my powers so that they may yield the greatest profit?
How can I do most for the glory of God and the benefit of my fellow men?
For life is valuable only as it is used for the attainment of these ends.”
The Power of Appetite
Appetite does not refer to food alone. According to Webster, it is “an inherent or habitual desire or propensity for some personal gratification, either of body or mind; desire for, or relish of, food or drink.” It is synonymous with “longing, hunger, passion.” When Eve was tempted of Satan to partake of the forbidden fruit of the tree on knowledge of good and evil, as the first test of loyalty of the unfallen, sinless nature, she was not hungry. The underlying temptation was on self-exaltation– “to become like gods knowing both good and evil,” a gratification of the mind through the vehicle of physical food, a double-edged temptation that has proved the downfall and damnation of generations and countless souls since then.
“One of the strongest temptations that man has to meet is upon the point of appetite. Between the mind and the body there is a mysterious and wonderful relation. They react upon each other. To keep the body in a healthy condition to develop its strength, that every part of the living machinery may act harmoniously, should be the first study of our life [physiology]. To neglect the body is to neglect the mind. It cannot be for the glory of God for His children to have sickly bodies or dwarfed minds. To indulge the taste at the expense of health is a wicked abuse of the senses. Those who engage in any species of intemperance, either in eating or drinking, waste their physical energies and weaken moral power. They will feel the retribution which follows the transgression of physical law.
“The Redeemer of the world knew that the indulgence of appetite would bring physical debility and so deaden the perceptive organs that sacred and eternal things would not be discerned. Christ knew that the world was given up to gluttony, and that this indulgence would pervert the moral powers. If the indulgence of appetite was so strong upon the race that, in order to break its power, the divine Son of God, in behalf of man, was required to fast nearly six weeks [40 days and nights, Matt. 4: 1-11], what a work is before the Christian in order that he may overcome even as Christ overcame [Rev. 3: 21]! The strength of the temptation to indulge perverted appetite can be measured only by the inexpressible anguish of Christ in the long fast in the wilderness.
“Christ knew that in order to successfully carry forward the plan of salvation He must commence the work of redeeming man just where the ruin began. Adam fell by the indulgence of appetite. In order to impress upon man his obligation to obey the law of God, Christ began His work of redemption by reforming the physical habits of man. The declension in virtue and the degeneracy of the [human] race are chiefly attributable to the indulgence of perverted appetite.
Self-Development a Duty
“Our first duty toward God and our fellow beings is that of self-development. Every faculty with which the Creator has endowed us should be cultivated to the highest degree of perfection, that we may be able to do the greatest amount of good of which we are capable. Hence the time is spent to good account which is used in the establishment and preservation of physical and mental health. We cannot afford to dwarf or cripple any function of the body or mind. As surely as we do this we must suffer the consequences.
Every man has the opportunity, to a great extent, of making himself whatever he chooses to be. The blessings of this life, and also of his immortal state [at the coming of Christ], are within his reach. He may build up a character of solid worth, gaining new strength at every step. He may advance daily in knowledge and wisdom, conscious of new delights as he progresses, adding virtue to virtue, grace to grace [2 Pet. 1: 5-12]. His faculties will improve by use; the more wisdom he gains, the greater will be his capacity for acquiring. His intelligence, knowledge, and virtue will thus develop into greater strength and more perfect symmetry.
On the other hand, he may allow his powers to rust out for want of use, or to be perverted through evil habits, lack of self-control or moral and religious stamina [intemperance]. His course then tends downward; he is disobedient to the law of God and the laws of health. Appetite conquers him; inclination carries him away. It is easier for him to allow the powers of evil, which are always active, to drag him backward, than to struggle against them, and go forward. Dissipation, disease, and death follow. This is the history of many lives that might have been useful in the cause of God and humanity.”
Temptation through Appetite
“In the beginning the Lord made man upright. He was created with a perfectly balanced mind, the size and strength of all his organs being fully and harmoniously developed. But through the seductions of the wily foe the prohibition of God was disregarded, and the laws of nature wrought out their full penalty.
Adam and Eve were permitted to eat of all the trees of their Eden home save one. The Lord said to the holy pair, ‘In the day that you eat of the tree on knowledge of good and evil, you shall surely die.’ Eve was beguiled by the serpent and made to believe that God would not do as He had said. She ate, and, thinking she felt the sensation of a new and more exalted life, she bore the fruit to her husband. The serpent had said that she would not die, and she felt no ill effects from eating the fruit, nothing which could be interpreted to mean death, but, instead, a pleasurable sensation, which she imagined was as the angels felt. Her experience stood arrayed against the positive command of Jehovah, yet Adam permitted himself to be seduced by it. [See 1 Tim. 2: 14; 2 Cor. 11: 3; Gen. 3].
Thus we often find it, even in the religious world. God’s expressed commands are transgressed; and ‘because sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil.’ Eccl. 8:11. In the face of the positive commands of God, men and women will follow their own inclinations, and then dare to pray over the matter, to prevail upon God to allow them to go contrary to His expressed will. Satan comes to the side of such persons, as he did to Eve in Eden, and impresses them. They have an exercise of mind, and this they relate as a most wonderful experience which the Lord has given them. But true experience will be in harmony with natural and divine law; false experience arrays itself against the laws of life and precepts of Jehovah.”
The Effects of a Stimulating Diet
“Intemperance commences at our tables, in the use unhealthful food. After a time, through continued indulgence, the digestive organs become weakened and the food taken does not satisfy the appetite. Unhealthy conditions are established, and there is a craving for more stimulating food. Tea, coffee, and flesh meats produce an immediate effect. Under the influence of these poisons, the nervous system is excited, and in some cases, for the time being, the intellect seems to be invigorated and the imagination more vivid.
Because these stimulants produce for the time being such agreeable results, many conclude that they really need them, and continue their use. But there is always a reaction. The nervous system, having been unduly excited, borrowed power for present use from its future resources of strength. All this temporary invigoration of the system is followed by depression. In proportion as these stimulants temporarily invigorate the system, will be the letting down of the power of the excited organs after the stimulus has lost its force.
The appetite is educated to crave something stronger which will have a tendency to keep up and increase the agreeable excitement, until indulgence becomes a habit, and there is continual craving for stronger stimuli, as tobacco, wines, and liquors. The more the appetite is indulged, the more frequent will be its demands and the more difficult of control. The more debilitated the system becomes, and the less able to do without unnatural stimulus, the more the passion for these things increases, until the will is overborne and there seems to be no power to deny the unnatural craving for these indulgences.”
Appetite Ruled the Antediluvians
Gen. 6: 17, 13. – “Since the surrender to appetite [by Eve, then Adam], mankind have been growing more and more self-indulgent, until health has been sacrificed on the altar of appetite. The inhabitants of the antediluvian race were intemperate in eating and drinking [Matt. 24: 37, 38]. They would have flesh meats, although God at that time given man no permission to eat animal food [of those classified as clean later, Lev. 11: 1-47]. They ate and drank till the indulgence of their depraved appetite knew no bounds, and they became so corrupt that God could bear with them no longer. Their cup of iniquity was full, and He cleansed the earth of its moral pollution by a flood. [Gen. 6: 1-7, 13].”
Intemperance After the Flood
“As men multiplied upon the earth after the Flood, they again forgot God and corrupted their ways before Him. Intemperance in every form increased, until almost the whole world was given up to its sway. Entire cities have been swept from the face of the earth because of the debasing crimes and revolting iniquity that made them a blot upon the fair field of God’s created works. The gratification of unnatural appetite led to the sins that cause the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. God ascribes the fall of [ancient] Babylon to her gluttony and drunkenness. Indulgence of appetite and passion was the foundation of all their sins.”
Gen. 25: 28-34. – “Esau had a strong desire for a particular article of food [“red pottage,” boiled venison, flesh of various antelopes], and he had so long gratified himself that he did not feel the necessity of turning from the tempting, coveted dish. He allowed his imagination to dwell upon it until the power of appetite bore down every other consideration and controlled him. He thought he would suffer great inconvenience, and even death, if he could have that particular dish.
The more he reflected upon it, the more his desire strengthened, until his birthright lost its value and sacredness in his sight, and he bartered it away. He flattered himself that he could dispose of his birthright as till ad buy it back at pleasure; but when he sought to regain it, even at a great sacrifice, he was not able to do so. He then bitterly repented of his rashness, his folly, his madness, but it was all in vain. He despised the blessing, and the Lord had removed it from him forever.”
Israel Desired the Fleshpots of Egypt
Exo. 16; Num. 11. – “When the God of Israel brought His people out of Egypt, He withheld flesh meats from them in a great measure, but gave them bread from heaven and water from the flinty rock. With this they were not satisfied. They loathed the food given them and wished themselves back in Egypt, where they could sit by the fleshpots. They preferred to endure slavery, and even death, rather than to be deprived of flesh. God granted their desire, giving them flesh, and leaving them to eat till their gluttony produced a plague, from which many of them died.
Example after example might be cited to show the effects of yielding to appetite. It seemed a small matter to our first parents to transgress the command of God in that one act,–the eating from a tree that was so beautiful to the sight and so pleasant to the taste,— but it broke their allegiance to God and opened the gates to a flood of guilt and woe that has deluged the world.”
(to be continued)