So the Bible Says — So Our Lifestyle Says Not
God always forgives; men sometimes forgive; but nature never forgives.
“Do not worry about tomorrow; tomorrow will take care of itself. Sufficient for a day is its own evil (Matthew 6:34)”
A substantial body of evidence indicates that what we eat is directly related to our level of anxiety, irritability and tension.
“You have heard that it was said, you shall not commit adultery. But I say to you, everyone who looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” (Matthew 27-28)”
The average first exposure to online pornography is at age 11. 85-90 percent of middle schoolers have mobile devices (most with access to the internet). One in 5 internet searches on mobile devices are for pornography.
“God blessed them and God said to them: Be fertile and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it.” (Genesis 1:28)
Obesity in men and women is a key contributor to infertility. It is estimated that being 20 pounds overweight may increase a man’s chance of being infertile by 10 percent.
“Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28)
Evidence indicates that we are sleeping 20 percent less than we did a hundred years ago. Estimates are that 90 percent of high schoolers fall short of the recommended amount of sleep. Estimates are that sleep difficulties are associated with over $400 billion of lost productivity every year in the U.S.
“Why so downcast, why all these sighs? Hope in God, I will praise Him still, my Saviour, my God”
Inactivity is a key risk factor for depression. Regular exercise is as effective in reducing depressive symptoms as therapy and medication.
We are taught from a young age that if we just pray in supplication, God will answer our prayers no matter our circumstances. But if we step back and consider what is going on around us and in our own lives, it is clear that, very often, God allows His natural law to take its course. And, very often, when our lifestyles contradict the ways in which our bodies and minds were designed, the consequences are dire — both for ourselves and our communities.
When God ordained that all human beings would be granted free will, He in essence created each of us as co-partners in the story of our lives. Although all of us are faced with circumstances beyond our control, what we are able to influence can dramatically alter just where we, the protagonists, find ourselves going. Few things are more accessible than what we eat, how we move, when we sleep, and just what our minds consume. Few things are the source of more struggle than these, largely due to habits that may have gone amiss.
The time has come as a Church to embrace this reality just as much as we embrace our spoken prayers and sacraments. It is time to recognize the ways that we as the Body of Christ not only fail to heed God’s design, but even engage in practices (e.g., frequent fundraising through sale of unhealthy foods) that are contradicting it. Prayer without attention to lifestyle is like dreaming of becoming a professional baseball player without regular batting and fielding practice. If we step back and look what is happening around us, God is making it clear that His design of human beings and the world is predicated upon upholding our end of the co-partnership. Obesity isn’t the leading cause of preventable death in the U.S. because we aren’t praying. The dramatic rise in Alzheimer's disease (and its connection to insulin resistance) isn’t occurring because people aren’t engaging in the sacraments enough. It is because very often, we as a people and a Church often fail to regard discipline and temperance along with our Rosaries and our Scripture. Yet again, God’s design suggests that when we fail to make this connection, suffering is likely to come.
As children grow older and become more aware of their free will, they enter into a covenant with God. No matter what the circumstances, they are pressed to consider that how they allocate their time, attention, and care will have much to do with how they think, feel and live. There are no guarantees that faithful efforts of a "wholistic" lifestyle will lead to health, harmony, happiness and heaven. But there are countless guarantees that ignoring these tenets will stack the odds against us.
For all of the Church’s strident efforts to address the falsehoods of a secular world, we may find ourselves like the fable of the frog in boiling water. Unaware that our lifestyle may be threatening our worldly and spiritual livelihood, we remain complacent until gradually, we find we (literally) can no longer move. Suddenly, a people founded on relationships, movement, and dynamism waits for the manna to come down from heaven, and finds that God is waiting for them to provide from what is already their own. We as a people often plead for miracles. Perhaps God replies that miracles happen every second in our bodies and our minds, and wonders when we are going to treat them as such.
The Bible speaks of a merciful and just God. But it does not speak of a permissive One. We might want to do whatever we want, eating and drinking and sleeping and moving and fixating on whatever our heart desires. But the more we move away from His design, and compartmentalize what is faith and what is not, the less of His “image and likeness” it appears our we will become.