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What does the Bible say about anorexia, bulimia, and self-esteem?

q.gif (1639 bytes)    My wife has an eating disorder she is anorexic and bulimic and low self esteem. She is a wonderful Christian wife a loving an virtuous women spoken of in Proverbs, how can I further help her to overcome this inner battle?



a.gif (1659 bytes)   All three problems have the same answer.

    Anorexia is defined as "the loss of appetite, especially prolonged" (Merriam Webster’s Dictionary).

    Bulimia is defined as "the abnormal and constant craving for food" (Merriam Webster’s Dictionary). (I understand that that word is often used now for someone who eats and then loses it all shortly.)

    Self-esteem is to "esteem oneself," which means "to set a high value on" (Merriam Webster’s Dictionary).

    It seems that every physical problem today has become a "disease" or a "disorder." Such labeling actually makes matters worse. It is the end result of several generations of psychology. Psychology is defined as "the science of mind and behavior" (Merriam Webster’s Dictionary). The problem is that psychological studies are not based upon the Bible. Even Christian psychologists take what psychology says, and then try and fit the Bible to it. They have thus gone into great error.

    Stop and think. How many books are there in the book stores now (even Christian bookstores), that talk about anorexia, eating disorders, self esteem, etc.? The Bible says, "And further, by these, my son, be admonished: O FMAKING MANY BOOKS THERE IS NO END; and much study is a weariness of the flesh." (Ecclesiastes 12:12). With all of these books, we have more problems than ever — even in Christian homes.

    It is like the multitude of ministries and books that deal with marriage, families, child rearing etc. On top of that, multitudes of churches have "Youth Pastors" to minister to the youth. But despite all of these things, churches are filled with broken homes and marriages, and young people that cannot wait until they can leave home. These are all families that have access to multitudes of books that deal with those very issues. One thing is plain to see — the books are not helping the problems, because the problems are growing and spreading.

    What is the answer? The Bible. Forget what all of the books, psychologists, and counselors say. What does the Bible say about these problems?

    You said that your wife has three problems: anorexia, bulimia, and self esteem. The Bible gives the answer for your wife’s cure.

    Anorexia is defined as "the loss of appetite, especially prolonged." You did not say whether your wife is self-conscious about a weight problem, but most people who are anorexic think that they are too heavy. They look into the mirror, and see themselves as fat — even though they might not be too heavy at all. They may actually be on the thin side, but if they cannot see the bones, they see it as fat.

   The Bible cure for anorexia is "dying to self," and that does not mean killing yourself through the lack of eating properly. I Corinthians 15:31 says, "...I die daily." Romans 8:12,13 says, "Therefore, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh. For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live."

    People who are anorexic do not like what they see in the mirror. But what does the Bible say about the virtuous woman of Proverbs 31:10-31? "Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies. The heart of her husband doth safely trust in her, so that he shall have no need of spoil. She will do him good and not evil all the days of her life. She seeketh wool, and flax, and worketh willingly with her hands. She is like the merchants' ships; she bringeth her food from afar. She riseth also while it is yet night, and giveth meat to her household, and a portion to her maidens. She considereth a field, and buyeth it: with the fruit of her hands she planteth a vineyard. She girdeth her loins with strength, and strengtheneth her arms. She perceiveth that her merchandise is good: her candle goeth not out by night. She layeth her hands to the spindle, and her hands hold the distaff. She stretcheth out her hand to the poor; yea, she reacheth forth her hands to the needy. She is not afraid of the snow for her household: for all her household are clothed with scarlet. She maketh herself coverings of tapestry; her clothing is silk and purple. Her husband is known in the gates, when he sitteth among the elders of the land. She maketh fine linen, and selleth it; and delivereth girdles unto the merchant. Strength and honour are her clothing; and she shall rejoice in time to come. She openeth her mouth with wisdom; and in her tongue is the law of kindness. She looketh well to the ways of her household, and eateth not the bread of idleness. Her children arise up, and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praiseth her. Many daughters have done virtuously, but thou excellest them all. Favour is deceitful, and beauty is vain: but a woman that feareth the LORD, she shall be praised. Give her of the fruit of her hands; and let her own works praise her in the gates."

    The virtuous woman does not dwell on herself in the mirror, but on the needs of others. The end result is that she does not need the mirror to give approval or disapproval of herself — her family is already praising her for her unselfish life and care of them. "Favour is deceitful, and beauty is vain: but a woman that feareth the LORD, SHE SHALL BE PRAISED. Give her of the fruit of her hands; and LET HER OWN WORKS PRAISE HER in the gates."

    A person that is anorexic, has a sin problem — thinking of self, instead of obeying God and getting involved in meeting the needs of her family and of others. Remember what the "root sin" of Sodom was? Ezekiel 16:49 says, "Behold, this was the iniquity of thy sister Sodom, pride, fulness of bread, and ABUNDANCE OF IDLENESS was in her and in her daughters, NEITHER DID SHE STRENGTHEN THE HAND OF THE POOR AND NEEDY." What was one of the problems around Sodom? There were no virtuous women. No women or daughters who thought about helping the poor and needy. Why? They all seemed to think of "self" around Sodom — both men and women. If a woman is virtuous, she does not need the approval of the mirror, because she will be praised by all of those whom she is helping.

    Sin does not take therapy, drugs, or counseling to cure. Sin takes confession and repentance, and there can be an immediate cure. I John 1:9 says, "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness."

    Bulimia is defined as "the abnormal and constant craving for food". That problem is the same problem as the drunkard has — and alcoholism is not a disease. If it is a disease, then it is the only disease that the United States government allows to be bottled and sold to the public. Alcoholism is sin. It is a person who puts "self" above the Word of God. Proverbs 20:1 says, "Wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging: and whosoever is deceived thereby is not wise." Proverbs 23:20,21 says, "Be not among winebibbers; among riotous eaters of flesh: For the drunkard and the glutton shall come to poverty:"

    Even if a person only constantly "craves" for the food, and does not actually eat it, that is still sin. Numbers 11:4-6 says, "And the mixed multitude that was among them fell a lusting: and the children of Israel also wept again, and said, Who shall give us flesh to eat? We remember the fish, which we did eat in Egypt freely; the cucumbers, and the melons, and the leeks, and the onions, and the garlic: But now our soul is dried away: there is nothing at all, beside this manna, before our eyes." God ended up severely judging those people who lusted after that food.

    Eating too much is a sin compared to drinking liquor. The point is that the Christian should always be living a life that is submitted to the Holy Spirit’s control. Ephesians 5:15-18 says, "See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, Redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is. And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit."

    Self-esteem is not Biblical. Biblical thinking is not thinking highly of self. It is not thinking of self, and thinking highly of God. Consider Exodus 3:1-12. "Now Moses kept the flock of Jethro his father in law, the priest of Midian: and he led the flock to the backside of the desert, and came to the mountain of God, even to Horeb. And the angel of the LORD appeared unto him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush: and he looked, and, behold, the bush burned with fire, and the bush was not consumed. And Moses said, I will now turn aside, and see this great sight, why the bush is not burnt. And when the LORD saw that he turned aside to see, God called unto him out of the midst of the bush, and said, Moses, Moses. And he said, Here am I. And he said, Draw not nigh hither: put off thy shoes from off thy feet, for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground. Moreover he said, I am the God of thy father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. And Moses hid his face; for he was afraid to look upon God. And the LORD said, I have surely seen the affliction of my people which are in Egypt, and have heard their cry by reason of their taskmasters; for I know their sorrows; And I am come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians, and to bring them up out of that land unto a good land and a large, unto a land flowing with milk and honey; unto the place of the Canaanites, and the Hittites, and the Amorites, and the Perizzites, and the Hivites, and the Jebusites. Now therefore, behold, the cry of the children of Israel is come unto me: and I have also seen the oppression wherewith the Egyptians oppress them. Come now therefore, and I will send thee unto Pharaoh, that thou mayest bring forth my people the children of Israel out of Egypt. AND MOSES SAID UNTO GOD, WHO AM I, THAT I SHOULD GO UNTO PHARAOH, and that I should bring forth the children of Israel out of Egypt? AND HE SAID, CERTAINLY I WILL BE WITH THEE; and this shall be a token unto thee, that I have sent thee: When thou hast brought forth the people out of Egypt, ye shall serve God upon this mountain."

    God did not tell Moses, "Now come on Moses, I know that you can do it!" God simply said, "CERTAINLY I WILL BE WITH THEE." That is not teaching high "self esteem," that is teaching high "God esteem." We do not have to think highly of ourselves to function a normal life. The more that we think of self, the less we will live a godly life. What we need today is to think more of God, and what He has told us to do. Proverbs 16:3 says, "Commit thy works unto the LORD, and thy thoughts shall be established." Self esteem is self-glory, and that is pride. Proverbs 25:27 says, "...so for men to search their own glory is not glory." Proverbs 27:2 says, "Let another man praise thee, and not thine own mouth; a stranger, and not thine own lips." Now we are right back to Proverbs 31. The virtuous woman does not need a high "self" esteem, because others esteem her very highly, and they praise her.

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