January 23, 2017

Gluten-Free: Discerning between Craze and Cure

Jumping on a bandwagon is not something I typically do. Considering I’m a Christian minister and the book has sold a hundred bazillion copies, some find it hard to believe when I tell them I still do not own, nor have I read a copy of The Purpose Driven-Life by Rick Warren. My snarky side emerges at times when people inquire as to why I resist joining the crowd. One of my favorite retorts is that Jesus told us to follow him not the latest hip getting hyped.

For better than a year, the subject of health care reform has made headlines and we all watched our elected officials vote for something we found out later no one had actually read. One brazen legislator said Congress needs to make haste to pass the bill so we can all find out what’s in it. People jumped on the craze — not the cure.

Most would agree we need health care reform, but true to form I found myself bucking the crowd saying, “No. What we need more is for the government to promote health, not provide healthcare.” The shift I am talking about is from intervention to prevention. Forty years ago, the government made polluting unpopular through national Keep America Beautiful campaigns that promoted a clean environment (Remember the teary Indian in the canoe?).  It worked, and there was a cultural shift toward a clean environment. My sense is the same needs to happen with regard to Keeping Americans Healthy. If that ever becomes a fad, I’ll jump on board. The craze is toward treatments, whereas the cure is in preventions.

That’s why I am committed to natural health. It’s preventative and deals with root causes, many of which are spiritual in nature. Natural health can hardly be considered trendy or a fleeting fad, as these things have been known and working since ancient times.

Gluten-Free: Fact or Fad?

All that being said, natural health is not immune to fads. Perhaps it was only a matter of time; lots of money is to be made in the health care industry. Companies hire “experts” to tell them what the trends are for grocery shoppers and, for example, things like the gluten-free market become all the buzz. In 2003, 135 gluten-free products were on the market. Five years later in 2008, there are 832. As you can see, gluten-free became quite the craze.


Even without a Celiac disease diagnosis, a gluten-free diet has proven to help alleviate the symptoms of migraines and dermatitis.

What is interesting is how less than one percent of Americans have a condition known as Celiac Disease where the consumption of gluten damages the small intestine and impairs its ability to absorb nutrients. To put it more plainly, gluten-free products are a cure for some, but many others appear to be going gluten-free just for the fun of it. Yes, I have taken the time to read up on the gluten-free diet pros and cons and this appears to be a cure for some, but a craze to others.

One of the wonderful side benefits of this boom in gluten-free products is those who really need them now have options on top of options, which is something they did not have just a few years ago. My assistant’s middle age son has suffered from Celiac since college and he’s benefited greatly from the attention paid his condition in the last few years. His life is better.

Gluten is a protein mainly found in wheat, rye and barley and it seems significant to me to point out these are all deemed “good” in the Bible.

See, I have given you every herb that yields seed which is on the face of all the earth, and every tree whose fruit yields seed; to you it shall be for food.” (Genesis 1:29)

Is Gluten Free, Guilty Free?

The evidence in both the Bible and archaeology shows that wheat was one of the main staple foods of ancient times and some form of it was probably eaten at every meal. Numerous times throughout the Bible, a bountiful wheat harvest is portrayed as a blessing from God to His people.

God later warns us to not call bad what he calls good. (Isaiah 5:20) Granted, it is certain that verse applies to far more substantial “evils” than gluten but there is the principle to not dub good what God calls bad or dub bad what God calls good.

Therefore you shall keep the commandments of the LORD your God, to walk in His ways and to fear Him. For the LORD your God is bringing you into a good land, a land of brooks of water, of fountains and springs, that flow out of the valleys and hills; a land of wheat and barley, of vines and fig trees and pomegranates, a land of olive oil and honey.” (Deut. 8:6-8)

Each one of these seven foods is of high nutritional value and good for us.  Barley is mentioned forty times in the Bible. In fact, Jesus feeding five thousand people by multiplying the loaves and fish was not a gluten-free miracle because the loaves were barley loaves (John 6:1-14).

Crave the Cure

In discerning between a craze and a cure, my advice is three-fold.

First, don’t be quick to join the crowd.

Second, judge the fruit. Jesus said a good tree can’t bear bad fruit and a bad tree can’t bear good fruit (Matthew 7:18).

Finally, ask God to show you the truth. The human body is a very complex creation and each month these articles deal with the complex relationship between things spiritual and emotional, psychological and physical. Just as ailments can be psychosomatic, so can remedies.

Steve Hickey, is the founding pastor of a life-giving church with over 700 members, a church planter, a trainer of leaders with John Maxwell’s organization, a police chaplain, and is very active in politics as a national voice for the unborn. He’s written several books, including his latest, Momentum: God’s Ever Increasing Kingdom (www.MomentumHandbook.com).Steve and his wife would like to pray for your specific needs and have a prayer team at the church waiting to hear from you. For more information or to submit a prayer request, visit:www.ChurchAtTheGate.com/prayer.php


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