Church called to preserve family mealtime

The US is one of the most obese nations on the planet but one ministry has a vision for the nation eating delicious, nutritious food - and it starts with the church.

The message Vision Forum Ministries has for Christians is that they should be wise stewards of the food they eat and set the example in eating in a way that is not only beneficial physically but spiritually too.

Vision Forum Ministries has just wrapped up its food conference in San Antonio. The Reformation of Food and the Family conference featured speciality cooking classes and brought together 1,300 people to learn more about the biblical perspective on everything from eating and dieting fads, to fastfood lifestyles and GMOs.

"We are suffering from the accumulated consequences of many generations forsaking biblical law and prudence on the issues of food and family," said Doug Phillips, President of Vision Forum Ministries.

"There's an unprecedented rise in diet-related disease. As a Christian, if you could change your lifestyle and your diet to prevent disease, isn't that a battle worth fighting for?"

In addition to the cooking classes and topical workshops, delegates took part in food-baking contests and a Ladies Tea at the Menger Hotel with Michelle Duggar.

Phillips warned against two dangerous extremes: the "apathetic 'anything goes' mentality" towards food on the one hand, and the "divisive, fad-oriented food movements that pit Christian against Christian" on the other.

However, he noted that society's prevailing food choices were having a destructive effect on the whole nation.

"We are not eating the same food our great grandparents ate," he said.

"Over the last fifty years, through government manipulation of the food economy, efficiency-driven corporate policies that do not take into consideration biblical principles of management and stewardship of animal and plant resources, and unwisdom in the genetic manipulation of the food supply, we have erected a dietary Tower of Babel that threatens not only the health of Americans, but the future of food in America.

"The domination of pre-processed, steroid-rich, genetically manipulated food in our diet is a reflection of the priorities of modernity - 'live, eat, and die fast, and don't think too much about what you are doing.'"

In contrast with modern food trends, the conference sought to present Christians with a biblical vision of food, highlighting the spiritual role of food in fellowship, food as a blessing and a vital resource for health, and the value of eating together at the table as a family.

"We are the first official generation that has grown up without the family table," commented Phillips.

"It's the centrepiece of the vibrancy of Christian households. Psalm 128 is the picture of a blessing of a man's wife and children gathered around the table. This is not something from the Victorian age, but transcendent truth. As a result, we have an embarrassing and ineffective witness in the church.

"In the Bible, we see the family table as a place for feeding the body and the soul, as a beacon of hospitality, and as a centerpiece of godly culture.

"It is time to put away family-segregating lifestyles and return to family mealtime. It is time to turn off the technologies that are preventing us from having meaningful conversations and to restore the beauty and power of the family table."