A Closer Look At The Deadly Seven — Gluttony

Yes!  We’ve made it to the last one.  Amen!  Honestly, I feel sorry for my family who had to deal with me all these weeks and my conversations.  

If you’re new here, and want to see what else was written in the series, please click here.


Just one last slice of cake, I promise, and I won’t eat it again.  

Do you want those fries?

All you can eat chocolate?  I’m in!

(not kidding, all things I know I’ve said before, and I suspect that I’m not alone)



What is Gluttony?


Gluttony can be defined as:

disordered appetite — to gulp down or swallow, means over-indulgence and over-consumption of food, drink, or wealth items to the point of extravagance or waste. (source)

Okay, who can’t get that scene out of their minds from Seven when the man was tied and forced to eat more than he could.  Ultimately, his stomach couldn’t handle all the food and burst?  I’ll give you a moment to for it to just try to remember the details of that movie.

We usually define gluttony as the definition stated above and what we usually see in the movie.  After all, the movie was able to portray the extreme of the vice,  but, there is more to gluttony than just over eating.

Gluttony can also be described as being too picky.  Yes too picky!  Being too attached to a certain kind of food, and in that attachment, we end up making everyone else miserable (or go out of their way) by refusing to eat anything other than exactly what we wanted.


Looking At Gluttony At a Modern Perspective


I cannot help but think of the letter from CFLewis, The Screwtape Letters.  Here we can see how glutton is expressed from men and women, and even how we could think we are doing someone a favor, we are become attached to our ideas.



The contemptuous way in which you spoke of gluttony as a means of catching souls, in your last letter, only shows your ignorance. One of the great achievements of the last hundred years has been to deaden the human conscience on that subject, so that by now you will hardly find a sermon preached or a conscience troubled about it in the whole length and breadth of Europe. This has largely been effected by concentrating all our efforts on gluttony of Delicacy, not gluttony of Excess. Your patient’s mother, as I learn from the dossier and you might have learned from Glubose, is a good example. She would be astonished – one day, I hope, will be – to learn that her whole life is enslaved to this kind of sensuality, which is quite concealed from her by the fact that the quantities involved are small.

But what do quantities matter, provided we can use a human belly and palate to produce querulousness, impatience, uncharitableness, and self-concern?Glubose has this old woman well in hand. … She is always turning from what has been offered her to say with a demure little sigh and a smile “Oh, please, please … all I want is a cup of tea, weak but not too weak, and the teeniest weeniest bit of really crisp toast.”

You see? Because what she wants is smaller and less costly than what has been set before he, she never recognizes as gluttony her determination to get what she wants, however troublesome it may be to others. At the very moment of indulging her appetite she believes that she is practising temperance …; in reality … the particular shade of delicacy to which we have enslaved her is offended by the sight of more food than she happens to want.

The real value of the quiet, unobtrusive work which Glubose has been doing for years on this old woman can be guaged by the way in which her belly now dominates her whole life. … Meanwhile, the daily disappointment produces daily ill temper: cooks give notice and friendships are cooled. …

Now your patient is his mother’s son. … Being a male, he is not so likely to be caught by the “All I want” camouflage. Men are best turned into gluttons with the help of their vanity. They ought to be made to think themselves very knowing about food, to pique themselves on having found the only restaurant in the town where steaks are really “properly” cooked. What begins as vanity can then be gradually turned into habit. But, however you approach it, the great thing is to bring him into the state in which the denial of any one indulgence – it matters not which, champagne or tea, sole colbert or cigarettes – “puts him out,” for them his charity, justice, and obedience are all at your mercy.

Mere excess in food is much less valuable than delicacy. Its chief use is as a kind of artillery preparation for attacks on chastity [and I would add other areas of godliness, but that’s a topic for another day] …

Your affectionate uncle


Sins of Gluttony


To explain in plain terms what all that means, is the following:  thoughtlessness waste, consumption of more than is necessary, misplaced sensuality, uncleanness, maliciously depriving others, drunkenness, substance abuse, and vandalism.

Since now, since we all eat to live, we want to enjoy what we eat.  It’s natural, but the problem comes when we’re obsessed by it, or we end up eating for the wrong reasons–and that’s no longer to live.  We eat when we worry, eat when we’re sad.  Overall, we know that food is for the body, but we forget that the body is not the center of the universe.

To look at this vice without the thought of food, we would have to take a look at our  consumption and buying habits.  Do we buy more than we need?  If so, then we immediately go to wastefulness.   

Wait Vandalism?  How is This so?


I’ll be honest, this part is something that I’m still trying to understand myself.  But gluttony is this obsession of consumption, so much so that a person willfully hurt their bodies.  Especially if they know what they are doing is wrong for their bodies.  

 It abuses the body by eating too much food, food that’s too rich, or ersatz, food that does not actually nourish. We eat hastily and thoughtlessly, at the wrong times, or at any time, or all the time. We are picky gourmand or, less frequently, we refuse to eat much at all, starving our bodies and threatening our very lives. (source)

So this part I’m still grappling with, and I guess when my mind fully wraps itself around this, I know I will come back to this for sure.


The Opposite Virtue


Temperance is the opposite virtue of gluttony.  Temperance is:

moderation or self-restraint, especially in eating and drinking.

So what are we to do when see those cookies that we know we’re going to pig out on?  St. Augustine had the right idea when he said,

“To many, total abstinence is easier than perfect moderation.”

Other ways we show temperance in our lives is when we say grace before and after meals.  It is a reminder where the food came from, and who provided it.  It is also to help us remember that we’re not eating for eating sake.


Do you find that its easier to just stay away from the things that causes you to over eat? or have you practiced and do really good at moderation?


Leave a Reply

Notify of