Saturday, April 11, 2009

Why Hunger Strikes Don't Impress Me

Bolivia's presdent, Evo Morales, is on a hunger strike to gain more representation for his country's indigenous peoples, though some charge he only wants to increase his personal power.

Be that as it may, I've never been impressed or moved by hunger strikes. In 2006, I wrote a post occasioned by another person's hunger strike. Here's why:
From a Biblical perspective, it should be said, our bodies are precious gifts from God. Starving one's self is an act of contempt toward one's creator.

But the value of the gift of our bodies is compounded for Christians. Paul asks in First Corinthians 6:19: "Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, which you have from God, and that you are not your own?"

I confess that I don't take adequate care of my body. I should exercise more. I should eat less and eat more healthfully. But there is no cause so great as to incite me to deliberately abuse God's gift by starving myself to death. God will never call someone to commit suicide, irrespective of how noble their cause.

1 comment:

Chris Duckworth said...

But more . . . fasting is a denial of the body by withdrawing food, a denial that has biblical injunction. So simply starving oneself is itself not awful (even if it is time-limited, such as in most fasts).

What I don't like about hunger strikes or, in the church, the "30-Hour Famine" is the very public, look-at-me, nature of it. If we're going to fast in the church, let's put oil on our face and hide our practice of piety from others. As for Evo Morales, there's more than enough cynicism out there wondering if a famous and powerful public figure undergoing a hunger fast is not getting their Snickers on the side and just doing this for the publicity . . .

So for me it is less the issue of harming the body than it is the self-praise that is inherent in such a practice.