Thursday, July 31, 2014

Should a Christian have Weight Loss Surgery?

January 4, 2013 by  
Filed under Eat Well

A few months ago, a reader wrote to ask me about a controversial weight loss issue  (reader’s name has been changed):

weight-loss-surgeryHello…I was wondering if I could have your opinion. Do you think surgery as a weight loss option is “against God”? I have struggled a long time…and am beginning to consider this option. Can it not be a blessing from God, having this technology and knowledge to even be able to have this done? I know God can move mountains…including my weight. Does my interest in this mean a lack of faith? I know it is a gray area since the Bible doesn’t specifically discuss this topic…but I’d love to hear feedback from another Christian woman about this. I appreciate your wisdom, and please pray for me that I feel God’s guidance. Also please pray for Him to free me from my obesity, and to know His will. Thank you…I’ve found your site recently and look forward to looking at it much more.

Blessings,

Christine

 

I prayed before writing my response to Christine because I know how painful obesity can be. It is indeed a heavy burden, not only physically but emotionally.

 

Hi Christine,

Thank you for writing me! I saw your message just now and want to respond. You asked if I thought if weight loss surgery is “against God.” As you said, the bible doesn’t specifically say anything about that so each believer needs to seek the Lord for themselves. But I can tell you the evaluation I’ve personally made.

Surgeries are generally used as a tool to fix something that is broken. Do you believe that something is wrong with the way your stomach or digestive system functions? Or is the problem with your heart and mind and the obesity merely a side effect of your health habits? You see, I once counseled a woman years ago who had had weight loss surgery – but had gained all the weight she lost back. She told me, “The surgery fixed my stomach, but it didn’t fix my head.”

That is what I want you to think about: What habits or conditions led you to become overweight? Will weight loss surgery deal with that? In my case, I became obese because of years of overeating as a means to manage my emotions. So having a doctor perform surgery to adjust the size of my stomach would not have helped me manage my emotions. It would not have helped me heal my emotional hurts nor my abandonment issues. I had to take that stuff to the Great Physician: Jesus.

He healed me. It was a slow process and the weight didn’t come off overnight. But come off it did! Through the process, I strengthened my relationship with God, learned even more how much He loved and accepted me, and gained inner peace. I wouldn’t trade that experience for anything.

I pray for God’s wisdom to guide you in this decision.

God bless you!

Kim

 

Two things have also strengthened my thoughts on this issue. I just read an article in the Christian Post that caught my eye about the actress/singer Carnie Wilson entitled “Carnie Wilson Surgery for Weight Loss, Again.” It was the word “again” that stopped me in my tracks. I knew Ms. Wilson had had gastric bypass surgery before, but discovered from the article that she had gone back under the knife for lap band surgery after re-gaining the weight she lost from surgery the first time.

That’s the point; unless you deal with the issues and habits that caused you to gain weight in the first place, then a surgeon’s knife won’t fix it.

In addition, I saw a commercial for the Dr. Oz show in which he called gastric bypass surgery: “the Underperformed Surgery You Should Be Getting.” I was appalled because Dr. Oz has great influence in the media and especially among women. Unless the obesity is caused by a physical issue with the digestive system that surgery can fix, and not by emotional issues and poor health habits, then I respectfully disagree with Dr. Oz.

My concern is that weight loss surgery carries its own risks, among them infections, hernias, and adhesions. I don’t believe opening yourself up to these risks is optimal if there are natural alternatives available.

Again, it’s about dealing with the cause, not just erasing the symptom.

I know losing weight can be slow. I know changing habits can be hard and frustrating. I know it is painful to open up old wounds and face past hurts or abuse if your eating habits are tied to that. But I also know that there is nothing too hard for God.

It takes time, a lot of patience, and commitment to try new eating and exercise approaches until you find a healthy lifestyle that works for you. But if I had a choice between weight loss surgery and losing weight the slower way by practicing good health habits, I’d choose the second option all day long because I love the person that I’ve become through the process.

To the lady I used to be who made the decision to lose weight the old fashioned way, I say “Thank You.”

Comments

5 Responses to “Should a Christian have Weight Loss Surgery?”
  1. Francine Kleinpaste says:

    As a Christian woman about 20 months out from surgery, the fact is my BP is now normal, my resting heart rate has come down greatly, my glucose level has been great, I no longer have plantar fasciitis, no more urinary incontinence, I run a mile as a warm up to weight lifting and can run 5 miles or more when motivated. It was the best medical decision of my life, I have absolutely no regrets, and I supported my 22 year old (at the time) daughter through the same process on Oct 12th, 2012.
    1 Corinthians 10:31
    So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.
    That is my answer to you. God does not claim to give us answers, He just lets us know the answers are there for us to find. The Bible has everything we need to understand. I’ve recently had a debate over Communion in the Catholic church (and I haven’t been part of the Catholic church for almost 2 decades). The short version of this is I have Celiac Disease and cannot take communion. I did this without thinking when I took my father to church over the holidays. I was in serious pain for two days after. I won’t go into the Catholic church’s stance on this, but my belief is that Jesus said, “Do this in remembrance of me.” He did not say, do this and suffer because it’s the right thing to do. He did not say, don’t do this (surgery) because it’ll make your life much more liveable therefore allowing you to serve me with a better body and a better attitude. Yes, it is a scary decision. It was scary for me to support my daughter through this as well. But it was the right decision. Pray for the doctor and staff. Pray for God to give you the strength to follow all of the rules, become more active, become healthier so you can serve Him to the best of your ability. I know there are mission trips in my future I would have never considered at my previous weight. I know there are things I’ve already done, that there is no way I would have done 20 months ago. “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind.” I’m sure God knows my strength is much better, but also my heart, soul, and mind are in much better places post-surgery.

  2. Christy says:

    I know very well the desperation one feels when they reach the point where they believe weight loss surgery is their only option. At 5’4″, 280 lbs I was there. My life and my weight had gotten out of control. I was miserable and desperate. I decided to pursue a surgical release from the hell I had allowed myself to get in to. It all happened very quickly. From the consultation to the day of surgery was under two weeks. Frankly, I did not research the risks, etc as well as I should have. That was nearly two and a half years ago. Have I lost weight? Yes. About 100 lbs. Am I grateful for the loss? Yes. Do I regret my decision? Yes! I’ve had complications. I’ve had corrective surgery. I have medical issues I didn’t have before the surgery. I have depleted all my sick leave. And, now, the reality sets in (or has for a while now, actually)… just like Kim said, “unless you deal with the issues and habits that caused you to gain weight in the first place, then a surgeon’s knife won’t fix it.” So true and well put, Kim! I am at the same place I was at 280 lbs. I’m struggling to lose weight and feeling quite miserable and desperate! I did not face my issues head-on and now am having to realize I’ve altered my body and sacrificed my immune system forever in exchange for short term weight loss. It is soooo easy to regain the weight. Trust me!! I have a long battle ahead of me: physically, emotionally, and spiritually. I’ve learned (the hard way) that there are no quick, easy fixes for life’s big problems. I have to admit that I made a mistake and have compounded my problems. And, now, must go back and try to fix it the right way… by seeking God’s help and direction. I have to figure out with His help how to rewire myself. I turn to food for many, many reasons other than true hunger. I’ve done this since the summer before 5th grade. I’m now 38. That’s a lot of rewiring!

  3. Christine says:

    Thank you Kim, for all of your kind guidance for my question a few months back. I am writing to tell you that while I did (& still do) appreciate your guidance, after much praying and researching I decided to accept my bariatric surgery opportunity as a gift from God. For me personally, it has been nothing short of a true blessing…I have lost almost 50 pounds with the gastric sleeve…have much more mobility in my knees…more energy for myself and my family…and am much more comfortable in general. I think personally, God threw me a lifejacket while I was drowning in my sea of obesity. I have been blessed with outstanding doctors, positive outcomes,and so much more. That being said…I am still so thankful for your advice, and am keeping it tucked in my heart for my ongoing journey. I do indeed still have to go to HIM. I thank Him for my progress…and continue to need Him every single step of my journey. I am still tempted. I am still vulnerable to all of my sinful ways. I am grateful to have such a loving God that promises never to leave me! :) Thank you so much for your advice…and to everyone else for their comments as well. We serve a loving God…a helpful God…isn’t that wonderful! xo Thanks again…Kathleen (“Christine”)

  4. Kim T says:

    Hi Christine – Thank you for the update! I pray God continue to lead you and guide you into making healthy choices, which is the way to overall health and healing. Stay blessed, sister!

  5. Elizabeth says:

    I spent two months getting tested and ready for surgery and doing the week long liquid diet which i found so difficult. Went in for surgery. Had complications with anesthesia and it was over. Happy to be here but find myself asking god why? What do you want from me?

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