Over the last few years, my wife and I have been trying to eat and live a bit more “organically.” Although we had been considering this decision for some time, it was the birth of our first daughter, and our desire to give her the healthiest environment possible, that provided the impetus to try out this “lifestyle.”
Sure, we still make mistakes (lots of them, in fact), and, no, we are not totally crazed hippies (whatever your definition of that might be…).
And yet, although we have embraced this “lifestyle” (at least, to a certain extent), I think there are two serious flaws with “organic” living.
“Organic” living can lead to idolatry and arrogance.
Now, be sure to hear what I am not saying: I am not saying that people should not eat healthy, or exercise regularly, or live consciously, or do what they think is best for their family.
Also, I am not saying that “organic” living always leads to idolatry and arrogance; I am saying that it can lead to idolatry and arrogance.
When we begin to trust in the food we eat, the exercise we endure, the supplements we take, the clothing we wear, the bicycle we ride to work, etc., we can place that in front of what ought to be our top priority, namely God in Christ.
If we look at the biblical definition of idolatry, we should understand it as placing anything above God. Most already understand that we can put many items into this category (wealth, sex, prestige, knowledge, etc.), and yet we should not be so naïve to think that “organic” living could not also fall into this category.
As early as Exodus 20, God instructed the Israelites with the Ten Commandments, wherein God specifically states: “You shall have no other gods before me.” So, what we ought to consider is this, “Are we placing our healthy, chic lifestyle on a higher pedestal of worship than we are God in Christ?” If we can answer in the affirmative (at any time!), then we are in fact in need of repentance for idolatry.
Additionally, “organic” living can lead to arrogance. Within the “organic” community there is a pervasive attitude that demonstrates an “I am (or know) better than you” mentality. Some might consider this to be a harsh judgment, but I have been able to detect this attitude for two main reasons:
First, because of my theological training I am often tempted to look down on others for either not caring for or understanding certain theological truths that I consider to be extremely important. Because I have (and do) struggle with this temptation, it has become easier to see this attitude demonstrated in other areas of life. Second, because my family is partially within this culture, I often observe those (both within my own family and those outside) who think less of others (sometimes subtly and sometimes overtly) because they do not either care for or understand the importance of “organic” living.
Perhaps what is best is to consider Paul’s argument from Rom. 14-15, and then to apply it to our present-day context, namely that those who are under conscience to eat a certain way (amongst sundry other “organic” lifestyle choices) ought not to judge those who do not yet have the knowledge or desire to render unto that lifestyle. Conversely, those not adhering to this lifestyle (whether in part or full) ought to not judge those living “organically” for the lifestyle choices they believe to be best.
In sum, my hope and prayer is that God would crush both idolatry and arrogance within the community of Christ in order that we might have charity on the non-essentials and move towards an ever-increasing love for God in Christ.