Scriptural Bulimia

I’ve never been very good at memorizing Bible verses. I used to feel bad about it. Even after three years in seminary I sometimes feel like I should be able to quote more of the Bible as proof of…something.

Thinking about consumption, Christmas and Christianity recently reminded me of Ezekiel.

Ez 3:1-3 Then He said to me, “Son of man, eat what you find; eat this scroll, and go, speak to the house of Israel.” So I opened my mouth, and He fed me this scroll. He said to me, “Son of man, feed your stomach and fill your body with this scroll which I am giving you ” Then I ate it, and it was sweet as honey in my mouth.

We should consume the word like Ezekiel. This means we should chew on it, savor it, swallow it, digest it (maybe turn the inedible parts into compost) and allow it to nourish us. When we consume something it becomes part of us. Ezekiel eats the scroll and speaks to the people, because the word has become part of him.

When we treat scripture as if it is something to memorize and regurgitate, we become scriptural bulimics. If you don’t swallow it and digest it, it is of no benefit.

bulimia |boŏˈlimēə; ˈlē-|nouninsatiable overeating as a medical condition, in particular (also bulimia nervosa |nərˈvōsə|) an emotional disorder involving distortion of body image and an obsessive desire to lose weight, in which bouts of extreme overeating are followed by depression and self-induced vomiting, purging, or fasting. Also called binge-purge syndrome . an eating disorder in which a large quantity of food is consumed in a short period of time, often followed by feelings of guilt or shame.

Does this accurately describe the way we sometimes relate to scripture? I have met so many people who feel this pressure to be spiritual super men or women. They have some church activity every night of the week. They overeat on the church and eventually they will purge somehow, only to binge again later. Why do people go through this in the church? Probably for the same reason as bulimics… guilt and shame perpetuates the cycle.

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8 thoughts on “Scriptural Bulimia

  1. Lory Hunt

    Good word, brother. Hard word, but good. While I am inclined to say I’ll chew on this for a bit, I think I’ll go read some scripture and chew on it instead. Thanks.

    Reply
  2. Kim

    A bulimic creates control through the cycle of binging/purging. I think that answers the question of why people binge/purge with church or church activities… it creates control. It can be intimidating not to have control… along with frustrating and at times humiliating. Hence the guilt and shame.
    My roommates purged memorized scripture constantly and made me feel bad about not doing the same. It was an attempt at control. They just didn’t realize I owned the same book and read it too. Now i am surrounded by a pretty cool family whom demonstrate love and compassion… which is much more powerful than memorized verse (and nourishing).

    Reply
  3. lucas Post author

    nice kim. the element of control adds a whole other dimension to the metaphor.

    who is this cool family, btw? i would love to meet them.

    Reply
  4. lucas Post author

    Lisa,

    welcome! glad you stumbled onto this post. what would you add to our understanding of bulimia and eating disorders? i’m very interested including this information into a theology of food.

    thanks again for stopping by.

    Reply
  5. Marie

    Hey there,

    I stumbled upon this blog through the SiteMeter on mine. I am a biblical online counselor for women struggling with eating disorders, and have recently written a book about repentance and restoration from bulimia. A number of spiritual factors are involved in developing bulimia, as in any addiction.

    I haven’t really read any but the first couple of posts here; are you trying to draw an analogy between literal eating disorders and “consumer-driven Christianity”, or are you after something deeper?

    At any rate, nice to “meet” you !

    ~Marie

    Reply
  6. lucas Post author

    hey marie,

    i am making an analogy i guess between eating disorders and the way we treat scripture. i’m not in any way intending to make light of eating disorders. in fact i use the analogy because of the seriousness of the way we mistreat scripture. i hope that makes sense.

    i admire the work you’re doing and pray that God blesses your ministry.

    Reply

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