The object of health reform is good health. "I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth," wrote faithful John. He believed in health reform and undoubtedly practiced it conscientiously. He saw the intimate relationship existing between physical wellbeing and spiritual prosperity. Therefore he urged all believers to endeavor to so live as to promote good health. It hardly seems that one who judges and condemns others who do not live exactly in harmony with his ideas can be on the right track. A critic never enjoys spiritual prosperity, nor does he know the real joy of living.
There are few subjects on which there is wider divergence of opinion and practice among us than in what we call health reform. Hence there is no other subject that demands greater forbearance and tolerance than this. And as leaders in God's cause and shepherds of the flock, we must seek to guide and inspire our members in regard to health principles and health education.
Probably more people have been labeled fanatics or overliberals in the matter of eating than in any other. This has come about, in part, by persons setting up for others their own standards of eating and drinking. Long ago the apostle Paul, referring to this same subject, asked, "Who art thou that judgest another man's servant?" And then he added, "To his own master he standeth or falleth" (Rom. 14: 4). It would seem that the Lord has left considerable latitude in the personal application of diet principles. Much instruction is given us that covers different circumstances as well as different digestive abilities. A man with a good, robust, and hearty digestion is hardly qualified to set up a standard for a person with a weak digestion. Unfortunately, this is done at times. Recently there came to our attention the case of one of our boys in the Army. He had starved himself to the very verge of the grave in conscientiously trying to follow a course of eating evidently outlined for him by some zealous, but doubtless misguided, food faddist. What irreparable harm was thus done to health reform! One man is reported to have declared, "I intend to be a health reformer even if I die in the attempt!"
On the other hand, some, in an effort to avoid extremism and to keep from being branded as fanatics, go to the other side and become overliberal. This, too, is to be deplored. But even more deplorable is the attitude of a small number—we are glad the number is small—who belittle and scoff at the idea of health reform. They even ridicule those who are endeavoring conscientiously to follow what they believe is the instruction given us. This attitude is doubly deplorable when the one who ridicules is a minister. Should we not respect conscientious people? We must not overlook the fact that through the messenger of the Lord an abundance of instruction on this subject has been given us, all of which must be taken into consideration in mapping out a course. If some happen to emphasize one side of the question more than the other, and impress us as being slightly off balance, let us, nevertheless, respect their sincerity.
How true it is that if the devil cannot keep us bound in the ice of indifference (carelessness and liberalism), he endeavors to push us into the fires of fanaticism. There is a middle and reasonable path marked out for us on this question of healthful living. Let us seek to walk in it.
This subject of healthful living includes so much more than merely eliminating a few items from the diet. We have, for instance, been given much instruction on the evils of an impoverished or an unbalanced diet, a matter of pre-eminent importance. Also certain harmful food combinations have been called to our attention. Then there is the question of sleep and proper rest as a safeguard to health. True health reform principles are exceedingly broad and include much more than we ordinarily think they do. They meet every case and circumstance. Were health reform practiced wisely and fully today, the health condition of Seventh-day Adventists generally would be far superior to that of the average individual. It would be a cause of scientific comment in the world. Unfortunately this is not the case. Too often it is the reverse. Could it be that our interpretation of it has been too narrow, and our comprehension of it too limited? It may be that we have stressed minors to the exclusion of majors. Let us as workers help our people to study how to eat for both physical and spiritual health.
What should be a minister's attitude toward this important question? Should he not first recognize the broad principles laid down in the Scriptures and by the messenger of the Lord? Why not do some careful and conscientious experimenting for ourselves, recognizing that everyone will not have exactly the same reaction? We are all so different, far too different for all to try to eat alike. But experimenting, we can ascertain what is best for ourselves and follow that. Above all, let us not leave the impression that the kingdom of God consists largely of eating and drinking. It is still righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Ghost.