Writing by Faith


Dan Whitmarsh

Dan Whitmarsh

It may be legal, but it could be unhealthy

Being a pastor is a hazardous job. It’s because of the cookies and the peanut brittle.

Parishioners sometimes desire to show appreciation to their pastor, especially around the Christmas season. What says “thanks”better than cookies, chocolate, peanut brittle or licorice?

I don’t mean to sound ungrateful; it warms my heart to know people were thoughtful enough to give a gift. It’s just that, once the holidays are over, I find my pants don’t fit as well.

To paraphrase an old song, “O Lord, it’s hard to be healthy when people love you this way.”

Almost everything about our world makes it hard to be healthy. I recently took my daughters grocery shopping. Like many of you, I try to make every dollar stretch as far as it can. In addition, ease-of-preparation ranks high on my list of shopping necessities.

As we wandered the aisles, I was struck by how the game is stacked against us. Eating healthy is difficult and expensive. Natural, healthy food costs more than processed, chemically-laden foods. Cooking healthy takes time, energy and creativity, and who has time for that in a rushed and harried lifestyle?

Some early Christians wrote to the Apostle Paul and said, “We live in freedom, so everything’s allowed, right?”Paul wrote back and said, “All things are allowed, but not everything is beneficial.”

This lesson applies as well today as it did 2,000 years ago. We boast of the freedoms we are afforded as American citizens. Nobody has the right to tell us what to do, so long as we obey the laws of the land.

We don’t often think of the other side of the equation. Just because something is legal, that doesn’t necessarily make it good. Cookies are legal. And delicious. I love cookies and peanut brittle. Unfortunately, those things are not good for me, especially in large quantities.

Alcohol, although regulated, is legal, but the devastation caused by excessive drinking is horrific. Fast food is cheap, handy and perfectly legal, yet the result of our burger addiction is an epidemic of obesity, diabetes and heart problems. Marijuana is now legal in Washington, but the day will come when lives and families are in shambles because of such easy access to this drug.

There is much that comes our way that is lawful and acceptable, but is also unhealthy and damaging. From food to entertainment to recreation to sexuality, many claim their freedom as their right to do whatever they want. And yes, they have that freedom.

Never forget, though, that choices have consequences. Eat enough cookies and your pants won’t fit. Smoke enough dope and your brain won’t work. Fill your head with violent entertainment, and don’t be surprised that you’re an angry and violent person.

I don’t mean to be judgmental or to rain on anybody’s parade, but consider this truth: A lot that is legal is actually quite harmful. Let us strive to make better choices, seeking the things that are not just legal, but also beneficial to ourselves, our families and our world.

As for me, maybe I’ll eat more carrots and less cookies.

Dan Whitmarsh is pastor at Lakebay Community Church. You can contact him at dan@lakebaycovenant.net