Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Book Write-Up: God's Weigh to Your Ideal Body Weight

Michael Scott Lowery. God’s Weigh to Your Ideal Body Weight: Your Body Should Glorify God. Bloomington: Westbow Press (a division of Thomas Nelson), 2013. See here to buy the book.

In God’s Weigh to Your Ideal Body Weight, Michael Scott Lowery talks about how Christians can arrive at their ideal body weight. While Lowery does not believe that this is essential to salvation, he does view it as an important part of Christian discipleship. I Corinthians 6:19-20 says that the body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, that Christians are not their own but were bought with a price, and that Christians should therefore glorify God with their bodies. According to Lowery, Christians in good health can be happier, more energetic disciples than Christians in poor health. Lowery also thinks that Christians in good health can attract non-believers to Christianity.

What, according to Lowery, is God’s “weigh” to arriving at one’s ideal body weight? Lowery does not recommend getting up at 5 a.m. to go to the gym, for he regards the time when he was obsessed with exercise and physical fitness to be a waste of time, which proved to be deleterious to his health. Lowery also is not for people starving themselves, for Lowery maintains that people should eat when they are hungry.

What Lowery does support, however, are spiritual, personal, and dietary changes. Pray and read the Bible every day, for that can give you peace of mind (so that you don’t eat to cope) and spiritual direction, as well as ensure that you are dieting for the right reasons (i.e., to glorify God, not out of vanity or trying to look good for purposes of seduction). Instead of working at a job that you hate, find God’s calling on your life. Avoid processed sugars, processed flours, and hydrogenated oils. Take cod-liver oil (a source of Omega 3) each day and eat fruits and vegetables. Obey the dietary instructions of Leviticus 11 and Deuteronomy 14, eating the meats that God allows (i.e., beef, cod), while avoiding the meats that God prohibits (i.e., pork). Eat Ezekiel 4:9 bread.  Do not drink water with dinner, but be hydrated throughout the day. Lowery believes that his method not only can make people healthier but also can reduce their craving for food that drives them to overeat. Lowery usually offers a scientific explanation for his method, as he explains why his approach works better for the human body.

Lowery is practically absolutist about his approach. He not only regards eating processed sugar as unhealthy; he believes that processed sugars are poison and that eating them is a sin. Lowery also seems to regard being overweight as a sin. Lowery does not believe that he has been perfect, however, for he is open about his flaws, where he has struggled, and what he has learned.

I am rather ambivalent about some of Lowery’s biblical interpretations. Lowery clearly regards Leviticus 11 and Deuteronomy 14 as laws relating to physical health, and that has been disputed by a number of biblical scholars, who believe that the laws relate to purity or setting Israel apart from other nations; ancient Jewish interpreters tended to look for spiritual or moral reasons that God allowed Israelites to eat some animals but not others (i.e., unclean animals are carnivorous, and God does not want us to be trying to oppress our fellow human beings). Deuteronomy 14:3 does call the unclean animals abominable, as Lowery repeatedly notes, so that tells me that Deuteronomy 14 is not arbitrary in saying which animals are unclean. Yet, Deuteronomy 14:21 allows Israelites to give animals that die of themselves to resident aliens or foreigners, even though the Israelites are not allowed to eat them themselves. If this law were about physical health, why would God allow the Israelites to give an animal dying of itself to a foreigner? Is God less concerned about the physical health of the foreigner? I doubt that even Lowery would say that, for Lowery treats the dietary laws as universal!

Lowery also seems to resort to conspiratorial thinking in talking about Mark 7:19. The KJV for Mark 7:19 talks about the bodily purgation of meats, whereas the NIV says that Jesus was declaring all foods to be clean. For Lowery, the NIV is adding to Scripture. Actually, the NIV is following manuscripts that treat the verb as nominative.

On Ezekiel 4:9 bread, yes, it is probably healthy and can address people’s desire for carbohydrates.  But God was not giving Ezekiel that recipe to give him tips on how to have a healthy diet: God’s point was that Israel would have to eat bread like that in the time of her affliction.

Overall, this is a good book to read. I doubt that I will be as absolutist as Lowery in my dietary habits, but I should try to make better dietary choices more often than I do.

I received a complimentary review copy of this book through BookLook Bloggers, in exchange for an honest review.

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