Gluten intolerance...

There are many things we don't normally talk about here on Baylyblog, some of which we do talk about in person, in sermons and elders meetings, and at home. One of these is the diets and food fads regularly coursing through our congregations. Everything God created is good, and to be recevied from Him with thanksgiving. But try telling that to the daughters of Carrie Nation in our congregations whose purpose in life is to keep track of unclean foods.

Back in the late nineties it was Weigh Down. Evangelical women across the country jumped on board and began confessing their gluttony. They lost some weight for a few days, but the fad died when the heresy of Weigh Down's prophetess, Gwen Shamblin, was exposed. "People don't care about the Trinity," Shamblin said, and over the next couple months most of the pounds went back on.

Since then there have been a succession of foodie-spiritualie fads. Recently I've heard the quest for sanctification in some PCA churches has veered into the neo-vegan program, Forks over Knives ("ORDER NOW!"). Their name is an allusion to the spiritual superiority of food eaten with forks to food cut with knives. Think spinach and parsley over chicken and beef. Of course the souls caught up in these Quests for Higher Life deny their disciplines have anything to do with moral or spiritual purity, but the fervor of their evangelization of others and their testimonies of body purification belie their words. What awful church feasts their fellow congregants must endure!

The mother-of-all food fads today is, of course, gluten intolerance...

A couple days ago a PCA elder described his recent visit to the Acts 29 mother church, Mars Hill in Seattle. He said the sermon was a pre-recorded video by Mark Driscoll (he could tell the video had been edited), and the Lord's Supper was served by women who stood down in front holding two kinds of bread and two kinds of wine. The congregant could choose for himself either regular or gluten-free bread and either wine or grape juice.

A year or two ago, our session spent many hours dealing with this issue and we decided we were not going to offer a menu at the Lord's Table. It was our judgment that offering a menu could well turn the Lord's Supper from a meal of unity into a meal of individualism-bordering-on-division. We did our work diligently, assigning our elder-physician the task of researching gluten intolerance, gluten allergy, gluten withdrawal, gluten hyper-reactive syndrome, gluten alienation, glutenism, gluten reattachment degeneration disorder, and so on. He read and read. He consulted with our city's largest practice specializing in gastrointestinal diseases. The subject was on our session agenda for months, and in the end, we decided we would stick with one bread and one cup (which is to say one kind of bread and one kind of wine).

We lost a dear family as the result of this decision, and that was very sad. Yet it was our conviction there would be no end to the sort of food fads and sensitivities and intolerances we'd be asked to make allowances for in the future. And it was the combined wisdom of those we consulted that our practice presented no significant obstacle to someone with gluten intolerance or wheat allergies. Gluten intolerance could be addressed in ways other than offering options that divided the church at the Table of our Lord. We offered those options but they were declined. (It needs to be said that we were not dealing with celiac disease, although the options we proposed would have served well with those suffering from this malady, also.)

Now we learn that scientists are not able to confirm that gluten intolerance exists. I'm left wondering which foodie quest for Higher Life will take its place?

If your life is ordered around clean and unclean foods, may I prevail upon you to read this Scripture, please?

But the Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons, by means of the hypocrisy of liars seared in their own conscience as with a branding iron, men who forbid marriage and advocate abstaining from foods which God has created to be gratefully shared in by those who believe and know the truth.

For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with gratitude; for it is sanctified by means of the word of God and prayer.

In pointing out these things to the brethren, you will be a good servant of Christ Jesus, constantly nourished on the words of the faith and of the sound doctrine which you have been following. But have nothing to do with worldly fables fit only for old women. On the other hand, discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness; for bodily discipline is only of little profit, but godliness is profitable for all things, since it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come. (1Timothy 4:1-8)

Tim Bayly

Tim serves Clearnote Church, Bloomington, Indiana. He and Mary Lee have five children and fifteen grandchildren.


Someone showed me this clip from the Jimmy Kimmel show in which they ask people who are working out and say they maintain a gluten-free diet what gluten really is. Some sample responses: "it makes you fat." "It's the wheat in things like bread and pastries." "I have a friend in Russia who got me onto it. She's reading a book about it."

Over on FB, a brother asked, "What option did you provide (or offer, rather) for those with Celiac disease?"

To which I responded:

Writing anything about the elements of the sacraments and their distribution is dangerous today. Due to time constraints, I would rather not get into a long discussion of this at this time, but...

We would prefer using one cup, literally. We would prefer sharing that one cup together up front in such a way as to demonstrate the unity of the Body around our Lord's Table. (Gazing on the nape of the neck of the brother or sister sitting in the row ahead isn't exactly state of the art in organic unity, is it?)

Given the fear of germs and people's squeamishness, as well as the real physical vulnerability of a tiny number of souls with specific maladies, though, our practice is the congregation coming up front and taking a pinch of the loaf and dipping that bread into the wine of the goblet held by one elder while the other elder takes the babies and children in his arms and prays God's blessing over them, hopefully by name. Note that elders serve the family at the family table—and therefore not women. This is an important point often remarked upon and appreciated by our sisters. They tell us they feel safe looking at all the elders up front serving them. Several of them have told us they cry with joy at this sight.

We usually have four pairs of two elders distributed on either side of the table across the front of the sanctuary. As needed, deacons and pastors also join in the serving. After the words of institution, exhortations, and prayers, the pastor leading the liturgy himself takes one loaf of bread and one cup and goes to the back of the sanctuary (and upstairs) to serve the servants who are at their stations publishing our words for the liturgy and running our sound board.

With that background, what we proposed was that the bread be taken and dipped into the wine, then the liquid touched to the tongue. So essentially, we beleived unity with communion in one kind was superior to the menu approach. We proposed other things, also.

This answer makes it clear that we do not agree with those who think that intinction is a violation of Scripture. Likely I should write more on this at some point, but our practice is driven by our desire to have both fellowship and unity as a part of our practice of communing at the Lord's Table.

Please remember we were not dealing with celiac disease, although likely we'd have made similar suggestions to someone with celiac disease as we made in this other case.

Hope this helps.

I grasp what you are teaching here. someone who 1) has a degree in biochemistry 2) has 40+ years in the so-called "alternative health care" field both working for and running companies that are in the dietary supplement and infant formula industries 3) a rather serious gluten intolerance (demonstrable symptoms that "miraculously" clear when gluten containing foods are avoided) I can say don't be too quick to throw the baby out with the bath water.

There's something to SOME of the problems people are experiencing. It has to do with a number of factors, including hybridization and genetic modification of wheat and other gluten containing grains. Gluten is present in modern wheat and other grain varieties in amounts many times higher than legacy or "ancient" grains.

There is also a lot of nonsense in the guise of "science" on this subject. I recently received a call from a potential customer that was concerned that some of our products might not be made from cattle that had been grass fed but grain fed because an "expert" told them that gluten got into the meat and organs. Biochemically speaking this is utter nonsense. Gluten is a grain protein NOT an animal protein. Animals eat the protein then convert it in form completely. So I agree that there is some real disinformation out there. Some of it attached to cult-like teaching and behavior.

As for "experts" who don't think that gluten intolerance exists outside full-blown celiac disease, they're no better that the "experts" previously mentioned. I know enough about scientific research to know how to test my own ability to tolerate wheat, corn and rice (my own personal sensitivities) products. I withdrew from consuming these more than a year ago. When I add them back in quantities higher than an incidental exposure, both as a test and because I wanted it again badly, the symptoms returned- with a vengeance. I now suppress the desire for, for instance, a bag of White Castles or non-gluten-free pizza (God bless the developer of gluten-free pizza crust dough).

I am also an OPC ruling elder. We worked this question out in session because we do have a lot of people with gluten intolerance in our congregation. Their complaints are real and the health effects are real, "expert" opinions regarding the non-existence of the problem notwithstanding. The session adopted it unanimously It was decided that we would serve gluten-free bread. I did not ask for this or bring it up but I did support the effort. I was willing to abide by the wishes of the session and congregation. We announced from the pulpit that we were switching over and no one in the congregation complained. Many thanked us. No "menu" offerings necessary.

We are not a session given to the whims and fads of modern society, I assure you. We are not scientific illiterates or "health fanatics." Our pastor has not preached gluten-free from the pulpit (nor would he). We responded to problems in our own congregation in a way that was loving, kind, and respectful of our congregation and the Word of God.

That there are hypochondriacs who find themselves a "victim" of every food fad or use it as as an excuse for this or that weakness is of little doubt. There is also little doubt that "scientific experts" are often wrong, frequently spectacularly so.

God bless your fine ministry.

While there appears to be a question as to whether or not gluten intolerance exists, there is no question of the reality of celiac disease. If you note the wording in the study you cite, it says "NON-CELIAC gluten intolerance."

I have three friends who are diagnosed celiacs, two with severe cases and one with a moderate case. This is a terrible disease that destroys the lining of the small intestine and it is very, very real, and more and more people are finding they have it. Those with the severe cases are so extremely sensitive to gluten that only a few MOLECULES will set them off and have them out of commission for days with bloating, pain, diarrhea, etc. They cannot even use a clean pan that once had a gluten-containing material in it!

Because of our sensitivity to this, our church has begun to use gluten-free wafers for our communion. We don't have one of each, so we aren't developing a "menu" as you describe in your article. It certainly doesn't hurt the rest of us and it does allow our celiac brothers and sisters to take communion without having to bring their own bread.

Celiac is real. Celiac is serious. And it is an act of love for us in the church to be sensitive to those who suffer from it.

Dear Brothers,

>>Their complaints are real and the health effects are real...

Actually, many many complaints of physical illness are a function of the mind and heart rather than the body, including those who claim gluten sensitivity or intolerance. Read the study and you'll see that because the subjects didn't know if they were on a gluten intensive, gluten-free, or gluten normal diet, their own subjective reports of gastrointestinal problems was not positively correlated with their consumption of gluten. So it's not the scientists we're listening to, but the subjects themselves.

And any pastor will tell you as much. To say it's the mind and heart and not the body is not to say there's nothing wrong with a person, and that the person isn't suffering. It's to say his suffering is mental, emotional, and spiritual, and not physical. And this is very important to say and acknowledge if we are to see souls healed.

>>If you note the wording in the study you cite, it says "NON-CELIAC gluten intolerance."

Yes, I specified several times that I was not discussing celiac disease. We were not dealing with celiac disease. We knew the difference and what celiac disease is and how potent it is and so on.

There are a host of physical intolerances and diseases in any congregation that pastoral pastors and elders know an incredible amount about because they love their people.

I appreciate you men working as advocates for the exception to the rule. For myself, I'm trying to get people to see the rule itself. You remember my warning about the modern morbid habit of sacrificing the normal on the altar of the abnormal... 


"Actually, many many complaints of physical illness are a function of the mind and heart rather than the body, including those who claim gluten sensitivity or intolerance." And sometimes they're real physical manifestations of the effects of something the body would tolerate in small quantity and treat as toxic in large quantity.

I have read hundreds of these types of studies which look like they are the real thing. Then suddenly, years later, a new series of studies come out that completely refute what is considered to be "state-of-the-art" currently.

Scientists only 30 years ago were touting the line that cancer had nothing to do with diet and that anyone who stated that eating healthy foods could help prevent or delay its onset was a quack, going so far as to apply medical board pressure to physicians for recommending eating raw or lightly cooked foods. Whoops! A myriad of studies could be cited in defense of their position. Now, 30 years later orthodox science pretends that this was never the case and that the whole diet-cancer connection was their idea. Not so much. They had to be forced by independent thinkers in the scientific community to re-think their position. Just because some don't know what gluten is or where it comes from or how much they're ingesting (wheat protein is in vast quantities of foods that no one even thinks about- until they begin to react to them) doesn't equate to the subject being a hypochondriac. It equates to the subject being ignorant of basic biochemical facts regarding what they eat, a common condition.

I will concede that there is food fadism and hypochondria rampant in modern society. But I will also assert, based both on observation, studying "alternative" scientific sources (usually non-US based revealing a well-known prejudice among US based medical researchers, the FDA, etc. who look down their noses at foreign research) that non-celiac gluten intolerance is real.

If the kind of flour used to make your bread worries you, you'd be on pretty solid ground making your bread out of any of the 5 grains listed in the Torah; wheat, barley, spelt, rye, and/or oats. Of these, uncontaminated oats do not contain gluten and are completely safe for the vast majority of celiac patients, say 99+%, according to the University of Chicago Celiac disease Center.

Why not just switch to oat bread in deference for a brother's/sister's weakness and be done with it? Done deal. No menu required.

Oats give me the bloats. Can't we just mime the supper?

>>doesn't equate to the subject being a hypochondriac. 

No one has spoken of hypochondria.

>>uncontaminated oats do not contain gluten and are completely safe for the vast majority of celiac patients...

As I've said several times, the issue was not celiac disease. I'll leave it with that.



Funny that this topic should generate so much heat. I'm also not impressed with the folks pushing Ezekiel bread unless they're willing to bake it over human excrement and lie on their side for 13 months. Or cow dung. You can also use cow dung.

I have read hundreds of these types of studies which look like they are the real thing. Then suddenly, years later, a new series of studies come out that completely refute what is considered to be "state-of-the-art" currently.

Yep. This is common in science. However all your talk about "orthodox" vs "alternative" science and improvement and correction in later studies is actually counterproductive to your argument. That's exactly what has happened here. The study was done by Peter Gibson, author of one of the "most important" studies proving the existence of non-celiac gluten sensitivity in the first place, in a supposedly state of the art study. Now he's gone back and done a better job, and found he was wrong.

Science is actually useful, but only when we treat it not as the final authority, but still as an actual authority.

I personally avoid certain foods as well, and if I give in and have them, I pay the price in my stomach. However, none of that has anything to do with the question of whether there is such a thing as gluten sensitivity. Nor can your own personal experience prove anything, since you can't do a double-blind test on yourself, and the results might simply be a nocebo effect, anyway. This was explained in the article.

when the placebo diet was identical to the baseline diet, subjects reported a worsening of symptoms!

In other words, it was just a mental change, but it gave them a tummy-ache. Maybe it's just mental with you and me, too. Or who knows? Maybe it's FODMAPS.

But if anybody bothered to actually read the article, they would know all of this already. Here it is again, folks.

Let me just add that reading these comments has done more than anything else to push me away from grape juice in communion. It's no better or worse to use wine without alcohol than bread without gluten.

But why bother? You're not going to be able to avoid problems until you're serving water and air, and even then they'll start complaining about the pollen in the air and the fluoride in the water!

I have not read much about these topics yet, have friends also suffering with the different aliments that come from different foods. I can not help, but side with Mr. Bayly in this discussion.

I believe that when you get to the root/HEART within each individual (the deep secrets of what folks are holding on too could be fear, bitterness, envy, jealousy etc that's why crazy diseases start.

I believe our bodies attack itself and then create this range of issues within itself. I have seen improvement in a friend who has celiac disease starting at age 26. Now 30 and has been overcoming it only when she repented from her bitterness and reconciled issues with her father and mother. The symptoms did not vanish in a moment but have been lessening as she continues to take hold of the promises that God IS good and wants the best for his beloved child. Knowing HE made food which is good and not holding on to the sin within herself, allowing her to understand God the Father's Love.

Thank you for allowing me to share my thoughts and understanding. Nothing new is under the sun yet sin and temptation is always lurking and we rather find a scapegoat of something rather than deal with it internally. So yes, take the BREAD and the CUP and together as ONE BODY rejoice and remember how "Great THOU Art!" (without fear)

Hugs and Blessings.
- LP

Though I totally agree with the message of this post (the Lord's supper should bring God's people together and not divide, food should not be divided into clean and unclean by God's people), I have to agree with Mr. Michaelis that gluten sensitivity (in my experience) is more than a mind issue.

When our first biological daughter was a baby, she had eczema for months. When I finally asked the pediatrician about it, her first suggestion was a gluten free/dairy free diet (for me, as our daughter was still exclusively breast fed at the time), as these might be passing into the breast milk and causing the issue. For the record, this ped was very much NOT "naturally minded" or whatever you want to call that kind of health philosophy. Three or four days after starting the diet, the eczema was completely gone. Now, I can see that some adults might legitimately experience a withdrawal of symptoms because of the placebo effect when maintaining a GF diet, but a baby?

Also for the record, while maintaining this gluten free diet, I did partake in the Lord's supper because there was no way I was giving that up. :)

"when the placebo diet was identical to the baseline diet, subjects reported a worsening of symptoms!" What was the control diet? Science is only as good as the experimental design.

Agreed, that my observations of myself and others aren't a double-blind study and are therefore anecdotal (read emperical). But one doesn't need to have a double-blind study to see the change in our bodies when we make a specific change in our diets and to see the effects of adding back the suspected cause of problems. This negates the notion that the symptoms (mostly gastric but also blood glucose, weight gain, hypothyroidism) are somehow sin-induced (at least directly) since they abate when gluten is avoided (I also do my best to avoid sin but I never lost 40 lbs and controlled my blood glucose or my thyroid by avoiding sin. I did it by avoiding gluten).

In reading the article one major design flaw in the experiment pops up- " Each subject shuffled through every single diet so that they could serve as their own controls, and none ever knew what specific diet he or she was eating." If I read this correctly everybody was on both the experimental and the control diet. Really? How long for the body to shift from one diet to the next was allowed? Was the experimenter aware that weeks and months are often required for the gastric and other issues attributed to these dietary issues to subside? Why wasn't that controlled for? I don't see these details in this article. This isn't the paper so we really don't know what the article writer's own bias is.

Speaking of not reading the article many seem to have missed these paragraphs ending the article-

"Biesiekierski recognizes that gluten may very well be the stomach irritant we've been looking for. "There is definitely something going on," she told RCS, "but true NCGS may only affect a very small number of people and may affect more extraintestinal symptoms than first thought. This will only be confirmed with an understanding of its mechanism."

Currently, Biesiekierski is focused on maintaining an open mind and refining her experimental methods to determine whether or not non-celiac gluten sensitivity truly exists.

"We need to make sure that this research is as well controlled as possible and is reproducible," Biesiekierski told RCS, subsequently adding the quintessential adage of proper science.

"Much, much more research is needed."

Indeed. Much, much more. And maybe some experimental design work, as well.

This reminds me of a quote from (I think) Life Together, about how the strong use their strength to oppress the weak; and the weak use their weakness to oppress the strong.

I was just diagnosed with Celiac Disease about two months ago by a gastro I've been to a number of times over the years. I had an intestinal biopsy done by upper endoscopy and blood work that showed I have antiboidies to Gluten and he said I definitely have actual Celiac Disease. I was shocked and not too happy about it since it's such a "fad" right now that most don't take actual Celiac Disease as a serious illness. I've been as carefully Gluten free as possible and am still suffering frequent symptoms and trying to figure out what I can safely eat. It's not easy or fun and yet I know what you mean about so many being on it as a current "fad" because "wheat" is poisoning us, blah blah blah. Ugh! I don't mention my problem to most people because I don't want to hear about their food fad opinions, supplements I should be on etc. etc. etc.

I have solved the problem of taking communion at church by discreetly bringing my own piece of cracker from gluten free crackers I keep at home. I wrap it and keep it in my purse to take to church. No one other than my husband needs to be the wiser to me doing this. It solves the problem of needing to avoid gluten in my case, and not asking everyone else to cater to my illness.

These food fads have got to go! I have a big problem with "alternative medicine" too. Knowing several families that are into naturopaths and homeopathy I've researched the roots of it and found it highly revealing. Basically they're anti-Christian at their roots and are based more on Eastern spirituality and false religion than anything else. The placebo effect really does figure highly into the results they get. Our local Christian station promotes a lot of this "hooey" by promoting a nurse practitioner on their program. She owns a local alternative medicine wellness clinic and sells all kinds of weight loss supplements, fad diet items, and hormonal balancing testing and products at her place of business. She has said some laughable things on the radio such as liver spots on the skin come from liver toxins (instead of sun damage) and she can sell you something that will "cleanse" your liver ("Cleanse" your wallet is more like it...). I find her and others in the alternative medicine business spiritually dangerous to a lot of naive Christians.


>>I don't mention my problem to most people because I don't want to hear about their food fad opinions, supplements I should be on etc. etc. etc.

Dear Nancy,

Love your spirit, dear sister. May I recommend you take your gluten-free wafer to your pastor and ask him to put it on a separate dish on the table and give it to you when you come forward? Discretely.

I say this because it really ought to be blessed with all the other elements, and he ought to minister it to you.


Thank you, Pastor Bayly. Our pastors would be very kind about it for sure. On Sunday mornings we receive communion passed out by deacons on communion trays to our rows and we each take our own as it passes by. However on Sunday evenings we do go forward and take it from trays in the front and I could have our pastor put mine up there in a separate place.

Love your discussion on this topic! It's much needed in the church as a lot is going on behind the scenes regarding this that is downright spiritually harmful yet most pastors seem unaware or are themselves part of the problem.

Just one other quick example. The Daniel Diet. Talk about beyond silly and yet it has turned into another fad making money for those selling the book etc. What a sad mishandling of God's Word to say that Daniel and his friends were healthier due to eating only fruits and vegetables vs. the Kings food when the whole point of the passage is our Mighty wonder-working God's miraculous preservation of Daniel and his friends (when they should have appeared to be starving) because they honored Him! In it's proper context the passage has nothing to do with the current food fad being attributed to it.


>>when the whole point of the passage is our Mighty wonder-working God's miraculous preservation of Daniel and his friends

Excellent point, dear sister.


We have a key family at my church which is gluten intolerant and when I asked them how they manage with communion, the answer was that our communion loaf is gluten free. So are some snacks during coffee time. We do have a choice of juice or wine, probably in deference to the alcoholics among us. I can't tell them apart, and I often forget their relative placement on the tray; I'm occasionally surprised when I end up with juice.

The media reporting of the gluten intolerance study was pretty poor. The lead author of the study herself has said, repeatedly, that there is clearly something happening (not just psychological) to a subset of people affected by ingestion of gluten-containing grains. What is not known is whether it is the gluten, or the gluten only when combined with a certain class of starches (FODMAPs) found in those grains, or perhaps the FODMAPs alone, or some other component. Another researcher at a different institution suggested in response that the condition should now be called "non-celiac wheat sensitivity" instead of "gluten sensitivity". The lead authors even noted that the effects can be neurological, hormonal, etc. instead of primarily gastrointestinal. There are additionally a number of technical issues with the study that mean it really can't be read as a "gluten intolerance is fake" story at all. It's too bad it was sold deceptively.

The scientists who ran the study are aware that it's a starting point, not an end of the story, since there are thousands of other gluten/biomedical study papers by now, and it is not uncommon for normal medical doctors to recommend gluten-free diet for some non-celiac conditions like Hashimoto's thyroiditis (hypothyroid) and skin issues, as others said above, especially if there seems to be an immunological component.

As a consolation prize, I see in the comments someone who thinks autoimmune disease is a curse or punishment caused by not repenting enough. I'd hate to know what Christians believe about cancer or Alzheimer's or heart disease.

While I feel for the confused pastors caught up in the gluten fad, I think the key is to remember that people often seek out remedies like this because they or their children are suffering in some way that their doctor can't otherwise fix. Sometimes they seek alternatives out *because* as evangelical Christians they belong to a group of people who are measurably less comfortable with mainstream science & medicine than others. And they are not some distant kooky "them" you're speaking about confidentially, they are evidently your readers, your flock. So you must be careful about dismissing "them" and something that seems to alleviate their suffering, not because you are a politician looking for popularity, but because you are their leader guiding them to one whom you believe will someday end all pain.

"Love your spirit, dear sister. May I recommend you take your gluten-free wafer to your pastor and ask him to put it on a separate dish on the table and give it to you when you come forward? Discretely."

This is how it is handled at our church -- almost. Our church passes the elements on trays. We have one member with a genuine issue, and he brings a package of wrapped GF pieces of bread and sticks it in the freezer periodically. Whoever is setting out the elements that week slips a piece, still wrapped, onto the tray on the side where this member always sits with his family, and then he takes it as it is passed. The rest of the bread is in a single loaf that is broken and divided for the two sides of the church, and his "special" piece is tucked under.

Hi Sarah,

My wife is from Wisconsin, where "dairy" is synonymous with "food," and butter is sometimes (especially in Lutheran churches) melted to pourable form and served in water pitchers. When she stopped eating dairy (she might say "gave up happiness"), our nursing daughter stopped screaming all the time. As you can imagine, since my wife was wasting away without food, we tried this experiment multiple times. It was reproducible and unexplainable by current medical knowledge, since my daughter doesn't appear to actually have a milk allergy. For months everyone in our small group brought mostly dairy-free stuff to our Sunday evening meals, and we are still very grateful for their patience in eating yucky food for us. 

Sam, who exactly has been dismissed? If we thought this only affected "distant kooky them" we wouldn't bother addressing it here.   

Nobody is claiming that food-related problems don't exist, nor even that "gluten intolerance is fake." But as you pointed out, it might not have anything to do with gluten, but rather be entirely FODMAPS. I'm sure somebody will figure it out eventually. But when they do, look for another group of people to pop up who inexplicably experience problems with forced-air rather than radiant heating. God is not going to run out of ways to enforce the curse. Science of any sort, including food sciences, cannot take away our pain and suffering.

In the meantime, if pastors are confused and caught up in a fad, the people in the pews only more-so. And the point is that many people perennially look to changing their diet as the way to "end all pain" right now rather than trusting Jesus Christ to do so in the future.

Don't be too quick to reject the idea that health issues could be God's discipline on an individual or judgment on a nation. Surely we see this sort of thing regularly in the Bible, and often healing comes through repentance. I am convinced that we will only have more and more food-related health problems in our nation until we repent of our idolatry of food which is so obvious in the food fads.


This discussion SO reminds me of the line from the LOTR film, where Boromir holds the ring up and says something about "...all this trouble over such a small thing."

We also lost two dear families primarily primarily over the use of wine-only in the supper. I find it hard to believe that a small piece of wheat bread or a cup of good wine, both the size of a thimble, could do so much's frankly a ridiculous first-world problem.

Tim, I am not sure about it being a first-world problem. It could be that it's not something we in the first world merely have the luxury of worrying about, it might be something genuinely serious that we have the luxury of *doing* something about. It is not hard for me to imagine that there might be many people in situations where the option to forgo wheat doesn't really exist, who simply suffer severe health problems and perhaps even shortened lives. In a fallen world, just because some people have few options, it doesn't mean that the options they have will always be just as good as the ones they don't have.

That said, I'm as much a "gluten-free fad" skeptic as anyone. But the issues of celiac and other severe intolerance problems have been recognized long before the rest of it became a fad.

Or the opposite could happen, and we could cause more problems for others by being so obsessed with our own. I remember reading that all the foodies in the US buying quinoa was making it hard for people to afford food in Peru where it is a staple.

You mentioned that dairy affects one of your children - same here. Our middle daughter has acid reflux and dairy affects her terribly. We didn't catch on very quickly and she suffered from it while my wife nursed her (she drank a lot of milk at the time) and after she was weaned, we gave her cow milk...she'd reflux and ask for more milk because it soothed on the way down, but obviously only made things worse. 

When we realized that that milk was the issue, we stopped giving it to her and she is doing much better. However, she is prone to anger and sobbing, and both of these trigger her reflux. So there's more than just a diet issue: there's a heart issue.

At 4 (and now 5) years old she can tell you she absolutely refuses to drink "cow milk" or eat ice cream because it gives her "acid leflux". She will even double check that we are not giving her cow milk (she drinks almond milk). She is more than willing to make the connection to the food she eats, and she's vigilant about it. But though we admonished, corrected, disciplined, and instructed; she still broke down at the drop of a hat...or the hint of a drop of a hat.

Only recently has she been willing to learn to begin working against the sin that she gives in to thereby causing her to lose control of her emotions.

She's more than ok with saying "no" to certain foods to the point of vigilance...I pray she becomes more vigilant in saying "no" to sin. I think there's a lesson in there somewhere.

Tim, It actually takes a very small amount of gluten to cause a problem in people who have celiac disease. MUCH less than what could fit in a thimble. I just read (on the Internet, so it must be true) "a one-ounce slice of regular white bread has approximately 3,515 mg of gluten, or 351 times the maximum daily amount that’s safe for celiacs. So basically, a crumb is too much."

Dear Stan,

Yes—our session knew these details of celiac disease a year or two ago. But again: we were not dealing with celiac disease.

>>we gave her cow milk...

Dear Craig,

Likely she can also drink goat milk. Its fat is easy to digest.


We did give her goat's milk for about a year - and it really made a difference.

Unfortunately, it's that time I think it was around $4 per quart which lasted maybe 4 days. When I realized there's really no good reason for children to drink milk (except maybe for a time after weening), we stopped treating it like a staple. 

I'm steering my family toward abandoning milk altogether, but they can only handle so much cruelty from my iron fist. 


Tim (Bayly), My apologies. My comment was meant for Tim (Bushong).

Get a goat and milk her. For a time I helped milk fifty a day.

Milk's the bomb diggity!


>>My comment was meant for Tim (Bushong).

Dear Stan,

Sorry, I missed that.



>>Don't be too quick to reject the idea that health issues could be God's discipline on an individual or judgment on a nation. Surely we see this sort of thing regularly in the Bible, and often healing comes through repentance. I am convinced that we will only have more and more food-related health problems in our nation until we repent of our idolatry of food which is so obvious in the food fads.>>

Joseph, there is a lot of wisdom here in what you say. I can only judge myself here, but there is a lot going on behind the scenes regarding this issue that goes beyond my actual Celiac Disease, and this may be true of many other people as well. The label of Celiac becomes something to "hide behind" so that we don't have to be honest about years of sinful misuse or rejection of food that God has declared to be good if we thank Him for it. And for this reason many of us are weak and sick and unable to serve the Lord with our bodies in the ways we should.

And certainly as a nation this food fad business is infiltrating the church in ways that are disgraceful and a stumbling block to many.


Here's a helpful correction of my use of the term "foodies" sent by a young mother in our congregation:

Maybe you realize this, but I think you've got your terms mixed up. Foodies are people who enjoy food as a hobby--gardening, cooking, going to restaurants. Foodies are people who take pictures of food, talk about food, and blog about food. They Instagram food. They love trying new foods, or trying old foods made in new ways. Think someone making a Krispy Kreme donut hamburger, or Southern/Indian fusion cooking. I realize there's a lot of cross-pollination between the two groups (both food-obsessed), but there must be another term for health-nut/allergy-seekers....if there's not, we could coin one. 


A helpful video to help educate others of the hazards of allergies and food sensitivities.

A very helpful discussion.

A few points:

Chuck Michaelis- The genetically modified foods point - it is a good question whether we are wise in messing with nature in this way, especially as our understanding of the interrelatedness of a genome is tiny (e.g. the bizarre double-coding discovery from not so long ago - who would have guessed that?). It would seem odd if God thinks it's a good idea? On the other hand, it may be a necessary decision we have to make living in a world where the ground is cursed. Maybe its ok, maybe not, someone should do some tests with bread made from non-GM wheat. Can't be to hard can it? Grow&Bake our own. Have you tried this Chuck?

This is probably the most important point when we consider out maladies:

Don't be too quick to reject the idea that health issues could be God's discipline on an individual or judgment on a nation. Surely we see this sort of thing regularly in the Bible, and often healing comes through repentance.

A 3rd point about the babies:

Several have shared testimonies about their babies experiences proving wrong the psychogenic explanation of gluten-free diet.

I don't think this necessarily follows though as mothers are intimately connected with their babies on spiritual and emotional levels, even though the baby is not consciously aware.

I think bringing all these food maladies to the Lord is the way to go, to seek out why it should be. Sometimes God takes many years to reveal a sin to us, especially if we have ignored His admonishments in the past on the issue.

A humorous look at this issue:

"Don't be too quick to reject the idea that health issues could be God's discipline on an individual."

I'll be as quick to reject that idea as someone who is having a heart attack is to reject the idea that should repent rather than calling 911. I don't expect people suffering degenerative discs to spend much time pondering their sins because of the back problems. I would instead think that we are fallen creatures, and that fallenness includes physical ailements. Should we be introspective and consider how we have sinned against God? Of course. Always.

I'm not going to bring this food malady to the Lord as it is VERY easy to manage and it doesn't inconvenience anyone. I have celiac disease. I am a fallen creature of Irish descent. It happens. No big deal. I can still eat Reese's Cups.

I'm not going to bring this food malady to the Lord as it is VERY easy to manage and it doesn't inconvenience anyone. I have celiac disease. I am a fallen creature of Irish descent. It happens. No big deal. I can still eat Reese's Cups.

You are right about the fall. But God has a purpose in all our suffering, sometimes it is sin, sometimes it is not but is something else.

The Apostle Paul had an ailment of some kind and he sought God to be free and God said 'no' but revealed to him the purpose of the thorn in the side. 'My strength is made perfect in weakness'. I don't understand why would you not want to bring everything to the Lord.

Purpose in suffering. Do we get too wrapped around that phrase? Try to dig down and really figure it out? As if there were some kind of message inside it like a fortune cookie? The passage quoted by Henry would seem to indicate there's broader purpose (to learn of God's strength) to why I suffer rather than a very specific why am I suffering (what sin in my life do I need to repent).

I would not bring it to God because, for me, it's no big deal. For me, it's like having a very slight headache. From time to time, I suffer from cluster headaches. They are HORRENDOUS. I pray for relief when I have them. I also take my medicine. And then several months later they go away. I also get migraine headaches (the neurologist who diagnosed me said: "Clusters AND migraines. Aren't you the lucky one!") Sometimes I will take a pill for a migraine. Usually they are so minor I don't even bother with a pill. My experience with a regular, non-migraine, non-cluster headache is that they're not even worth a pill. Grabbing the pill bottle and opening it would be more trouble than the headache is worth. I'm not going to pray about such a thing because, for me, it's really no big deal. Not even a little deal. An infinitesimally (I think that's the word) small deal. Celiac disease, for me, is like a regular headache.

Now, if it developed to the point where I needed to be on steroids and be fed through a tube (something than can, rarely, happen with celiac disease), that would move up the ladder to be a rather significant issue. I would certainly, in such a situation, pray for relief.

As it is, I can't eat most bread; I have to check labels when shopping (not much of a problem now as I just buy what I did the previous time I shopped for such an item); when eating out I ask for a gluten-free menu or speak with the chef about my options. My wife has been cooking gluten-free for me for just over seven years, and the change was very easy. I purchased a book and used google to find the dos and don'ts. No problem. It's such a non-issue that when travelling in Italy last summer, every restaurant and hotel we visited (except one; we couldn't bridge the language gap with the waiter) had gluten-free options. Most of them even had either pizza or pasta. Those that didn't were always able to prepare me a steak with potatoes or something. I ate like a king over there! I compared it to being on a cruiseship. I could eat anywhere at anytime. And the gelato? Two servings a day!

The short version would have been something along the lines of: I just don't care. It doesn't bother me at all.

Does that answer your question?

I hope I don't have to add this, but I will: I'm absolutely serious about everything I stated above.

Dear Mr. McCullars,

It might be that you are intending to argue against something that nobody here, including in the comments, has espoused—that we should repent of our sins rather than seeking medical help. However, that is not what you are actually arguing against. You have specifically rejected the thought that God could discipline somebody by sending health problems.

But this is not just an "idea" you have rejected. You are rejecting the truth of God's word in 1 Corinthians 11:29-30. "For he who eats and drinks, eats and drinks judgment to himself if he does not judge the body rightly. For this reason many among you are weak and sick, and a number sleep." You are also rejecting God's command to Christians in James 5:16, "Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed."

Christians and non-Christians throughout the centuries have understood the truth that health issues are an opportunity to examine our lives for sin. Sometimes those sins are so directly related to the health issue as to be inescapable. For example, today it is common for men to be impotent because of their use of pornography. And sometimes gluttony leads to a heart attack. Other times God allows us to suffer a slipped disc because we have been dependent on our own strength. All of these are examples of sin and God's loving discipline calling us to repent.

Also, for the sake of others who might be confused, I feel compelled to add that your insinuation that a man can't seek medical help and examine himself for sin is not just contrary to God's word, it is also contrary to common sense.


It was not my intention, but reading it I see what you mean, to insinuate that it was an either/or. I did state above: "Should we be introspective and consider how we have sinned against God? Of course. Always." Still, it looked like an intentional either/or. That was my poor writing and thinking.

I would ask, in all seriousness, how am I not judging the body rightly? I honestly don't see how rejecting James 5:16. It's really not an issue. I suspect it would be more likely for someone to get injured praying over me than it would be that I would be inconvenienced by celiac disease. Why bother? Seriously. In my headache example, should I call the elders to pray over a headache that is so insignificant? I don't think so. Perhaps I'm wrong.

I agree completely that we should examine our lives for sin and that health issues are an excellent opportunity to search ourselves. I used to get horrible cold sores on my upper lip. HORRIBLE, ugly things! I prayed about them regularly. It occurred to me that God may be giving me an opportunity to consider my words more carefully. Obviously I failed above.

And just to reiterate, I absolutely agree that man SHOULD seek medical help AND examine himself for sin in such situations.

Sorry for the confusion that I, in my hasty typing, caused. And thank you for pointing out my error.

Dear Stan,

Just to be clear, I accidentally missed your comment that starts "I would not bring it to..." when I wrote my last comment. 

So my point wasn't that you were rejecting those verses in your own personal situation with Celiacs Disease or headaches.

I'm happy to see you take seriously the exhortation for us to examine ourselves for sin when we face illness or other difficulties.

Warmly, and sorry for the confusion on my part,


No problem at all. I'm thankful for the interaction...and your ministry via the blog.

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