Physical Habits and Spirituality
THROUGHOUT Ellen G. White's writings fascinating gems of truth appear. Interesting relationships develop between the physical, the emotional, and the spiritual nature of the human being. Very few persons saw so clearly the human being as a unit, and the relationship between our physical, mental, and emotional habits, particularly our habits of eating, drinking, and thinking. Note one aspect of this question intemperance in eating and drinking. Concerning overnutrition she had much to say that is of great value to us. This was one of her most important emphases.
Mrs. White saw in the voracious appetite a resulting chemistry of the physical man that stimulated inordinate sexual desire and behavior. (Counsels on Diet and Foods, pp. 62, 159: Temperance, p. 17.)
Results of Overeating
Overeating injures physical, mental, and moral health according to the light she had received. (Welfare Ministry, p. 291.) But worst of all, excessive eating be fogs the brain. (Testimonies, vol. 6, p. 357.) In another place she said the brain was confused (ibid., vol. 4, pp. 501, 502) and dulled (ibid., vol. 7, p. 257). Forgetfulness and loss of memory resulted from overeating. (Counsels on Diet and Foods, p. 138.) Also the free flow of thoughts and words was prevented. (Testimonies, vol. 3, p. 310.) The intellect was depressed (ibid., vol. 2, p. 412), and the judgment was perverted. (Child Guidance, p. 398.) Indeed, mental breakdowns were associated by this inspired writer with eating excessively. (Education, p. 205.) One could not think and act quickly because of a sort of mental paralysis resulting from overindulgence. (Testimonies, vol. 7, p. 257.) The mind was rendered dull and stupid. (Counsels on Health, p. 577.) Rational, calm, healthy thinking was prevented. (Child Guidance, p. 398.)
The foregoing illustrations point up the spiritual relationships suggested by Mrs. White's diet counsels. But perhaps not so much so as the following: Gluttony is self-murder. (Selected Messages, book 2, p. 416.) It produces a harvest of pain and death. (Counsels on Health, pp. 575, 576.) The godlike manhood of many people is debased by gluttony. (The Great Controversy, p. 474.) This sin is health destroying (Selected Messages, book 2, p. 413) and incompatible with sanctification. (The Sanctified Life, p. 25.) In a world given to gluttony (Testimonies, vol. 3, p. 20), we see this evil represented as the special sin of this age. (Counsels on Diet and Foods, p. 409.) Those who are glut tons will never enter the pearly gates of the city of God. (Testimonies, vol. 2, p. 70.)
The victim of this habit of excessive eating has an evil influence upon other persons, contaminating them with his influence. (Testimonies, vol. 4, p. 455.) Children are trained by the bad example of their parents to become gluttonous. (Selected Messages, book 2, p. 433; The Adventist Home, p. 261; Child Guidance, p. 406; The Ministry of Healing, pp. 384, 385; Testimonies, vol. 3, pp. 564, 489; Fundamentals of Christian Education, p. 140.) So the evil is perpetuated through the children.
Note how Mrs. White's counsels in this area relate conduct and behavior to physical habits. Indeed, this emphasis is most important. But consider now Mrs. White's counsels in the field of faulty diet and juvenile delinquency.
Faulty Diet and Delinquency
In the year 1884 Ellen White wrote that "nine tenths of the wickedness among the children of today is caused by intemperance in eating and drinking" (Review and Herald, Oct 21, 1884; Temperance, p. 150). A comparison of this statement with others by Mrs. White would link intemperance in eating with habits of smoking, drinking, et cetera.
In 1905 she declared that "the diet materially affects the mind and disposition" (The Adventist Home, p. 252). In the year 1900 she wrote:
Many of the youth of this generation, in the midst of churches, religious institutions, and professediy Christian homes, are choosing the path to destruction. Through intemperate habits they bring upon themselves disease, and through greed to obtain money for sinful indulgences they fall into dishonest practices. Health and character are ruined. Testimonies, vol. 6, p. 254.
There are some scientific evidences that support the correlation of certain diet practices in youth to their moral delinquency and behavior patterns. In the Evening Star of Sept. 16, 1960, appeared the following:
A youth guidance specialist contends there is medical evidence that faulty diet is responsible for much of juvenile delinquency.
Curtis G. Shears, of Washington, D.C., chairman of the Religious Life Committee of the District Commissioners Youth Council, made this point . . . at the annual convention  of the Federal Bar Association.
He said research has shown that conscience the power to discriminate between right and wrong is a specialized function of reason. And reason, he said, is affected by the quality of brain tissues that obtain their nourishment from the food that is eaten.. . .
He quoted a researcher in malnutrition as saying: "Will is the desire and power to carry out decisions of reason and conscience. Atrophy of the will has been observed in many ages and places to be a concomitant of prolonged malnutrition." Mr. Shears said the researchers who link delinquency with diet blamed processed foods that have been devitalized in the refining process, rather than inadequate quantity of food.
A six-year research project conducted by Captain Shears with two youth groups in a high-delinquency area of the nation's capital revealed that there was slightly less delinquency among the "treated group" than in the "untreated group." By "treated" he referred to the advantages of psychotherapy, social case workers' assistance, et cetera. The cause of the crime and immorality among these groups was traceable to real causes such as poor nutrition. What had been done by social workers had only treated the symptoms of true crime causes, one of which, he con tended, was faulty diet. He recognized the value of the work done by social workers.
The Birth Control Issue
Another aspect of Ellen White's work that deserves special attention, particularly in the light of the current population explosion, is her handling of the birth control issue. Contrast Mrs. White's counsels in the book The Adventist Home, the chapter titled "Marital Duties and Privileges," with the Pope's recent encyclical condemning the pill and artificial birth control methods. While Mrs. White was silent on the morals of birth control devices, she presented principles, and here the physical and spiritual powers were discussed together:
Those professing to be Christians . . . should duly consider the result of every privilege of the marriage relation, and sanctified principle should be the basis of every action.
In very many cases the parents . . . have abused their marriage privileges, and by indulgence have strengthened their animal passions.
It is carrying that which is lawful to excess that makes it a grievous sin. The Adventist Home, p. 122.
There were certain privacies and privileges of the family relation, she declared. (Testimonies, vol. 2, p. 90.) But Mrs. White does not promote the idea of physical love in marriage as related exclusively to reproduction. Here is revealed the wisdom of God. Her silence on certain aspects of this question is eloquence. These are matters that individual families must decide. From her pen come no strong pronouncements with extreme overtones and mandatory impositions.
It would not be difficult to expand upon this theme. But enough has been said to make a point. Mrs. White's science counsels are scientific, but they are more deeply spiritual than anything else. While she sought the optimum health of human beings, the individual's understanding of himself and the world in which he lived, she sought their redemption more, and the glory of God. Her science counsels must be related to this commanding and over-all emphasis if we are rightly to understand Mrs. Ellen G. White in this regard. She was truly a spokesman for the Lord, treating the total life of the human being as important, and seeking the redemption of the whole man.