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Steve Pable

I understand those who would disqualify Gov. Christie from the presidency based on his weight have been dubbed "Girthers".

I wish I could take credit for that one...

Lots of food for thought here (no pun intended). It is amazing the progress that we've made in including so many in ministry, the workplace, etc., though of course we have a long way to go. The Archdiocese of Milwaukee, for example, just ordained a deaf priest in a beautiful ceremony.

On the other hand, I shudder at the number of individuals with Down Syndrome or other conditions, who are never given the opportunity to live, learn and love.

Shawshank 4

This concept really does confuse me a little. In response to Kingsley’s opinion of Christie, why is it that someone’s eating habits or assumed eating habits based on physical appearance remotely determines their work ethic? I don’t comprehend the relationship between the two, mostly because I don’t understand why more relevancy isn’t given to health problems, genetics etc. when looking at a person’s weight. It may not be true for all people, but there are certain cases where something such as a thyroid problem makes it near impossible for someone to appear thin. To me, whether they determine their obesity or it’s their body’s natural form, it doesn’t mean they’re not a hard worker, or more capable than a thin person at doing a job such as being president of the United States. The vanity-and ignorance caused by said vanity-of today’s society never ceases to stagger me, especially when it comes to the subject of body weight and appearance. Also on the subject of weight, I find it interesting that not only is gluttony a sin, but so are eating disorders (although, in this day and age “overeating” is actually considered an eating disorder as well). Don’t eat too much, but you better not eat too little? And to top it off, you really can’t be a proper man or woman of God if your physical attributes aren’t up to standard. It just seems ridiculous to me! The fact that weight-whether it be weighing too much or too little-can be included when talking about “physical impairments” is intriguing to me because I never would have thought to group it in with, say, being in a wheelchair or having a mental disability. Regardless, I might not stretch to say that no matter the person-or any ailments they may have-we can all do everything just as well as each other, but I do believe every person deserves to be able to try, at the very least. Good for Christie for not being the epitome of thin or regal. Quite frankly, good for anyone that would be considered to have an impairment that still tries to do what they want to do. Progress is defiitely being made on this front, but to continue it people like Christie need to keep breaking "the norm".

Praying with Lior 3

As pointed out in class, people who were plump were seen as being affluent and from a good upbringing. Even women, who we would today see as obese, were seen as beautiful works of art and portrayed as desirable. The fact that Mr. Kingsley states that Gov. Christie’s weight should even be a factor in his ability to run this country is deplorable. We have seen time and again, “fit” Presidents whose moral character was less than acceptable nor were some of their decisions concerning governmental policy. We tend to be a society that puts far too much emphasis on someone’s appearance as to what their character must be. Once we use these types of discourse to verify someone’s character, we speak into existence what the norm should be. Ian Hacking, a Canadian philosopher, stated that people used to use words such as usual and unusual to describe characteristics of people and therefore people were not seen as broken or different, just not the same. Somewhere in time, he says, we changed our discourse to normal and abnormal, which depicts someone or something that needs to be fixed. There must be something ‘wrong’ with something that is abnormal and therefore seen as alien and not fitting in. What a boring world we would live in if we all fit the same mold. Shame on you Mr. Kingsley!

Pulp Fiction 3

I find this topic to be very discriminative, as I’m sure others feel the same way. The way a person is brought up, or how they eat should not determine the basis of getting a job. When applying for a job in present day, it is clearly stated at some point on the application that they do not discriminate when going through the hiring process. So as to fight the Christie problem, there should have been no problem with his weight as an argument to being our next president. Just because he is overweight, doesn’t entirely mean he doesn’t care for or about himself. God did not make us all to be perfect, but to be perfectly ourselves, and live to be who we create ourselves into.

The Mission 2

I agree with you Pulp Fiction 3, but I can’t help but to argue a few jobs that do require a person to be “fit.” Take a firefighter or a police officer for example; handicapped and obese persons would not be a good match for that type of job. However; Governor, President, or Senator don’t necessarily need to be “fit.” God created us exactly the way He wanted to. To some extent the way we look or our “fitness level” is based on health choices we made. God tells us that we should “Honor God with your body.” (1 Corinthians 6:20), that we should take care of our bodies to show God thanks for the life He gave us. Yes, some of us will be a bit larger than others, and some may have a few mental issues but that should not keep us from reaching a goal, position, or dream in life, like becoming President.

The Mission 21

I agree with Pulp Fiction 3 100%. When it comes to hiring someone for a position in any job, the bottom line is can that individual get the job done. The only problem I see in someone being overweight is if it begins to effect their job performance. I particularly like Pulp Fiction 3's quote of saying of "God did not make us all to be perfect, but to be perfectly ourselves, and live to be who we create ourselves into." I do however agree that as the head of an organization, you want to have a respectable image and a fit person will naturally be more "attractive" than an obese person. But if thats the only reason for not hiring someone then thats where I have a problem. The bible also says one should not discriminate. Isnt that what we are doing by turning overweight people away from their potential occupations?

Simon Holloway

I think that another interesting parallel to this phenomenon is that of the deaf-mute, whom the rabbinic literature terms a cheresh (חרש). Until relatively recently, people who were dumb were presumbed to be stupid (hence the usage of "dumb" as "mentally incompetent") and, as such, were precluded from serving as witnesses, effecting a marriage or a divorce, being counted in a minyan, etc. These laws have since been overturned, now that it is widely recognised that there is no connection between an inability to hear and an inability to think: a paradigm shift that Oliver Sacks describes beautifully in Seeing Voices.

As for more physically superficial characteristics, like obesity, it goes without saying that trends change. As Lior 3 pointed out above, fat people in certain cultures are/were viewed as being affluent or healthy. Wasn't it Julius Caesar, in the Shakespearean play, who wanted to be surrounded only by corpulent men?

I always enjoyed the story of the amora, Rabbi Yochanan, whose physical beauty was such that, when Rabbi Elazar approached death, the thing for which he mourned was that Rabbi Yochanan would one day die too, and that his beauty would vanish from the world (Berakhot 5b). Apparantly, Rabbi Yochanan used to stand outside women's bathhouses so that the women could look upon him before going home to their husbands, for it was believed that if they saw his face prior to becoming impregnated, their children would be beautiful too (Bava Metzia 84a)!!

I mention this because he was also morbidly obese, as the same page in the gemara makes clear in its description of the size of his thighs. Evidently, in 3rd century Palestine, being fat was a thing of great beauty, and it's a feature to which a number of other Palestinian and Babylonian rabbis likewise laid claim. Our modern-day obsession with slimness is no less a fashion than their obsession with largeness, although that doesn't make me feel any less guilty for not going to the gym.


This topic seems to be interesting on a few levels. First off, politicians will criticize any thing they can on an opposing politician from what they believe to their lifestyle. With obesity rates on the rise it was only a matter of time before someone attacked a heavier individual for his “unhealthy” lifestyle. Obesity is a disease that can be prevented by healthy food choices and moderate exercise. These things should be taught in schools and people should be informed as to the conditions they a predetermined to if they choose an unhealthy lifestyle. As long the president is healthy enough to live out his term and perform the task expected of him there shouldn’t be a problem. Last time I checked the president doesn’t have to run a mile before signing a bill. I do feel it is important for a candidate to promote moderate activity and healthy eating, but sometimes both those don’t equal a perfect beach body. People look up to successful athletes with near perfect bodies more than the physical features of political figures, I mean as a kid I always pretended I was Michael Jordan in the driveway and not Bill Clinton on one of his runs.
I believe we are all given a disability and that is one way God tests us as human beings. Whether it’s a eating problem or a smoking problem; God wants us to take care of the bodies we were given and use them to praise him. Not taking care of our bodies wouldn’t be showing the thanks we have to God for the life we were given.

Gary Simmons

"First off, politicians will criticize any thing they can on an opposing politician from what they believe to their lifestyle."

Truer words have never been spoken.

Breaker Morant 2

Discrimination based solely on how their eating habits shape their body shape is not only extremely rude, but a horrible way to judge what someone’s character is. Back in ancient times, not only was it more beautiful to be thicker, but it meant that you had more money to spend on food. Granted this is not an issue in the USA anymore, but we really need to change how we view what people look like and how that correlates to how well they are for the job. The stereotypes for endomorphic people (people who have more fat on them then others) are often lazy, stupid, slow, and various unkind thoughts. This is not true, just the judgment of first glance and of first opinion. Unfortunately, this happens more times than most people think. In fact, most people are guilty of it themselves. We cannot base how someone can react in job based on their overall obesity or thinness. We can only base this on how they have performed in other jobs, and if the record in New Jersey says anything, I believe he is a much better candidate than most people give him credit for.
That been said, I believe that the same idea should apply to people who are not unblemished. If God created me to look the way that I did, He would not want me to be restricted from sacrificing to him. It is more the history of how long and how frequently we have been judging people and discriminating based on how they look. I suppose I could understand why they want to make sure that only the most perfect can sacrifice to the Lord, but it promotes the ideal that only perfect is beautiful or spiritual, and that is inherently false.

John Beller

FWIW, the author's name is Kinsley, not Kingsley.


Thank you, John. Fixed.


I must admit that I have never truly thought about this topic before. It is intriguing to me to consider if one who is over-weight is fit enough to become a religious leader. I agree that it is not fair to discriminate upon somebody for their physical appearance or disabilities, however I also believe that some people can be living a bad lifestyle which causes them to be heavier or not fit. In those circumstances the person has proved that they still have some growing to do in order to become a priest and meet all the demands of their daily routine. So in those instances they should be living a healthy life before pursuing the religious lifestyle to show they have control of their life, are ready to make the next step and that becoming a priest is more important than the way they have been living thus far. On the flip side if one is over-weight because of the way their body is, they should not be held back from being able to join a seminary as long as they can show that it won't get in the way or that they will work on it as they go in life. Besides, some people might not be fat, but they are in just as bad of shape if not worse than someone who is and yet they are still allowed to be a religious leader. So if that is the case, then we should not discriminate against others for the same thing.

Shawshank Redemption 3

When first reading this article my reaction was, “How Rude!!” Like others before have state about Kinsley opinion, this is very discriminative. Just because Christie “appears” to having poor eating habits says nothing about how he would do running our country! Saying that because he can’t control his eating habits which is causing him to be obese so he can’t control our country is just an assumption. An assumption I feel is very wrong. Kinsley is in a way stating that obese (fat) people cannot control anything. I personally think that Kinsley is more worried about how the country would look image wise with a fat president not about whether or not he can run our country! Kinsley himself stated that “We don’t yet know much about Chris Christie.” And “…seems to have done well so far as governor of New Jersey.” Image seems to be everything in this country and Kinsley backs it up. If you put a Skinny president and First family in office do you really think that it will change the fact that our country has a growing problem with obesity? For a man to be criticized for being overweight and trying to run for president is terrible!

As far as other discriminatory things in this country, yes Firefighters, policemen and soldiers are required to do strenuous jobs that being obese may prevent. But I personally know Policemen and Firefights that are overweight and they manage to do their job and are passionate about it and they do it to the best they can! They are not limited. As far as people with other disabilities that confine them to a wheel chair or other things along that line who is to say that they still couldn’t work in a police or fire department working close to the officers and such?

Shawshank Redemption 3

As far as the reference in the bible I always heard stories of wealthy kings in the bible and in history and they didn’t show their wealth by showing off there riches and gold, rather by holding feasts that contained a ridiculous amount of food! In class we discussed Luke 14:15-24 where the man holds a great banquet to possibly show of his wealth? I know that more often than not you hear about “Great Feasts” and banquets in the bible! So why should Christie feel ashamed of his wealth and happiness. Yes I feel there is a limit but who are we to judge the limit for someone we barely know?

Truman Show 2

I do not think it is right to discriminate against who can present an offering based on physical appearances. One reason why someone may have a hard time to find in ancient text if an obese person was disbarred from presenting the offerings is because in the ancient world some saw that the bigger you were the better off you were. I can still see this today when I visit my grandma she is always trying to feed me, and she says that I am too skinny even though I am an average sized person. I do agree that there is an obesity pandemic here in the United States but to say that someone shouldn’t run for president because of their weight is taking it a little too far. I want someone who will lead our country, not just look good. If we shouldn’t elect someone our president because they are obese and are supposed to look like royalty, than we shouldn’t have a president that doesn’t smoke like our current president does. I do not think that it is right to say that someone should not be able to present offerings or even hold political positions just based on their physical appearances.

Pulp Fiction 5

Does a person’s outward appearance affect their ability to be a good leader? I would argue certainly not. As Praying with Lior 3 stated, “we tend to be a society that puts far too much emphasis on someone’s appearance.” I couldn’t agree more with this statement. Society as a whole is caught up in the way people look, rather than their character. I would agree with the argument that the President of the United States is a role model for everyone in the United States. However, just because someone looks good or does the right things, doesn’t necessarily mean he or she would be a good president. In my opinion I would rather have a president who is a great leader and makes good decisions to help our country rather than the perfect looking president who cannot make good decisions.

The Bible talks about this issue in Lev 21:16-24. God sets requirements on approaching the altar. He says priests with blemishes, or disabilities, are not allowed to approach the altar. Now it is clear that we know longer take this passage literal as many priests have disabilities of some sort and still can do their job perfectly. Like our professor said in class, if you disagreed with this and thought that disabled people should not be able to have jobs such as priests, you would be disliked majorly by society. It is clear to us now that being disabled does not hurt your ability to do most jobs. Obviously some jobs simply cannot be accomplished if you are in a wheelchair, such as a fireman or a police officer, but generally speaking we have advanced as a society.

Breaker Morant 1

Currently we live in a very hypocritical and judgmental era. When first reading this, I couldn't help but think that some of the comments within the text, were rude and inconsiderate of who a person really is. We shouldn't judge people by appearance, but we should be considerate of their personality and who they truly are. This quote from the text, "Perhaps Christie is the one to help us get our national appetites under control. But it would help if he got his own under control first," is not only rude but it is something that many of us assume by a first glance at someone. Just because someone is obese doesn't mean that they can't do some of the same things a "normal" person can do. If our president was obese, does that mean he can't run our country? Which leads me to agree with the comment Lior 1 made. "As long the president is healthy enough to live out his term and perform the task expected of him there shouldn’t be a problem. Last time I checked the president doesn’t have to run a mile before signing a bill." God wants us to be who we are and be respected for it, that is why he made us they way he did. And since he made each person specifically, then why are we so discriminatory towards others and their appearance?

Dead man walking 4

This sessions verse and article challenge us to break down labels and assumptions we put upon others. Lev 19:14 states “Do not curse the deaf or put a stumbling block in front of the blind, but fear your God. I am the LORD.” Think of what we have done to promote these words. To connect individuals with these disabilities we have created languages such as brail and sign language to have communication. Also, stumbling blocks have been removed for the blind by the training of walking dogs and ramps to the access of buildings for the walking disabled. Everyone is talking so far about negative things we perceive in this society, but we have accomplished many positive ideas as well that we are forgetting.

True Grit 3

I think I am going to head in a different direction. I feel as if what Kinsley said is somewhat true. The president of the United States is one of the most powerful people in the world, if not THE most powerful person in the world! I personally want the president to be well-rounded and fully capable to handle every aspect of his own life before he is put into office and able affect other people’s lives, and I do believe that weight and fitness is something that can be controlled. Unlike in ancient civilizations we now know that it tends to be healthier to maintain a lower weight hence why it is so desirable in today’s society. Not being able to control impulse eating and the lack of motivation to workout can correlated to the work ethic to perform other tasks and be motivated to get things done in office. I’m obviously aware that there are a million different exceptions that people can come up with but when it comes down to it the majority of obese men and women become that way from ignorance to healthy eating habits, disregarding the knowledge they do have of healthy options, and lack of motivation to work out and stay fit. I don’t know about you but I don’t even want to see the slight possibility of some form of ignorance, defiance, or lack of motivation in someone I vote to run the country I reside in. I do believe that everyone should be given the chance to prove themselves, but if there is someone with the same intellectually capability who is thinner and more in shape, the majority of people will end up choosing the more in shape candidate. If obesity wasn’t such an issue in our country maybe the results would be different! Overall, we as a society have made the president much more than a political leader and more of a celebrity and hold them to the highest of standards.

Pulp Fiction 4

The blemishes listed in Lev 21:18-20 all seem to fall into two categories: something a person was born with (such as blindness or lameness) or something that happened by pure coincidence (such as a broken foot or an itching disease). However, there is nothing listed that would be the result of a lifetime of choices, which is where obesity would fit in. That leads me to believe that the Bible, or at the very least this passage, views the weight of a person as an inherent quality of that person, just like hair color or height.

True Grit 1

As to what I think of this blog is that I think people with disabilities are to be born like that. They may not have done anything wrong but are to be born like that. Like what the bible said in John 9. How Jesus was walking along and saw a man that was blind. People around Jesus thought that man must of did something wrong or maybe his parents did that is he is like that. But Jesus said no he did not do anything but was born like this. People that are born disable they have many dreams that they want to fulfill. I use to volunteer for one of my class for social work credits and I volunteer to helped the disable people with bowling skills. From working with then makes me learn that even though they look or seem like they are disable they still have a lot in mind about accomplishing what they want. For example one of the lady that I was working with she was telling me that a disable girl like her can never go to college and finished it with a degree. But I told her yes you can go to college but maybe just to a different college that people will always be there to help. Giving them encourage and support makes them feel a lot better and makes them feel more important that even though they did not choose to be disable they can still do the things that people who are not disable could do.

Chariots of Fire 5

I think it's ridiculous to think that the president has to meet a certain fitness standard. I mean yeah, obesity is a problem in this country and is not a healthy lifestyle, but could you call this "weightism"? It's basically like a white supremacist saying there shouldn't be a black president. I don't really think it matters who the president is anyway because in my opinion they are just a pawn for the public's eyes. Anyway, It isn't any man's place to judge another man. Only God has that privilege.

Shawshank 2

Presidents, priests, pastors, teachers, are all role models to public society and heavily influence those who follow them. Obesity is a growing danger to many adults and children across the world; being an obese role model can be very negative to society. With that being said, I don’t feel you need to have a rock solid beach body to be a positive role model either. If you’re a leader to many people in the community or nation, you should present yourself as though you respect and care about yourself. In 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 it states that “Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.” So not being obese is not only good for your health but also good for your soul. Being a healthy role model may inspire some of the younger generation to become healthier and this is a positive step in the right direction for our future as human beings.

The Mission 5

When it comes to choosing who I would want to lead this country, the last thing on my mind is the way the person looks. I want to know how they stand on important issues, not what they order off a menu. We are doomed as a nation if outer beauty is the most important quality in a leader. This is flat out discrimination.

Shawshank Redemption 1

There were certain decrees that God, who created all things, put forth. With that said, we, as a sick nation, who struggle constantly with many of things including body image because of a few individuals that are saying what is beautiful, need to wake up. I believe that part of the reason we are struggling with half of the issues we tussle with is because of our attitude of superiority. If we look to other countries that we say are not that advanced, and labeled third world, their problems are a lot less. If we took the same amount of time to get to know God as we did chasing the ever fleeting pipe dream of being acceptable in the American culture dream, we would find ourselves pleased with who we are and how we look in the eyes that matter, Gods'.

The Mission 3

I agree with Pulp Fiction 3, as well. I truly do believe that God created us just the way he wanted us. Some people cannot help that they are obese due to a health problem or eating disorder, as stated above. It is very discriminatory to rule out someone for the position of a president or any job because they are blemished with obesity or something else. Look at Franklin D. Roosevelt for example. He was in a wheel chair and he did some great things for our country as President. A person’s physical state doesn’t normally say anything about how they can function cognitively. There are some jobs that require a person to be physically fit but President is not one of them.

Chariots of Fire 1

I think we should focus more on the standards, beliefs, personality, views, etc., of the person in a leadership role. For example, the governor in NJ: if he was the greatest politician in the history of America, why would we discriminate against him because of his weight? He could become the greatest president we ever had. Are we really going to let his weight get in the way? It’s the same way with priests and pastors; we should be more focused on their relationship with God, their knowledge of the Bible, their teaching skills, and how they live their life. Leaders do need to be a good example for us to follow, but that doesn’t mean that if they have a weight issue, we will start having a weight issue. We need to focus on who the person is rather than what they look like.


I can see why some people disagree with the Chris Christie debate, but even though I am against discrimination of any type and think people should be tolerant of others, this is an exception. Chris Christie was considering being a candidate for president and the main job of a president is to represent the people of his/her country. The Mission 3 talks about Roosevelt and how he was in a wheelchair his entire presidency but the difference between him and Christie is the fact that Roosevelt had a physical disability that was unchangeable, but Christie doesn't. I am not saying that Christie chooses to be obese, but he could change his appearance if he truly wanted to. The same goes for fashion models. To become one, there are certain “unspoken” rules in the industry that you have to be a certain weight because they need to represent the designer’s vision or look. So do we really want the world to view us in a negative way? I don’t, because even though not everyone that lives here is obese, having a president that is would not help out image. I agree with Kinsley when he states that obesity is a huge problem in America and we need a president who will set a good example for the rest of the country. He might be a great candidate politically, but whether or not everyone agrees, he just isn’t ready yet to take that step.

Nell 5

I agree with you Chariots of Fire 1, the people should focus more on the standards and views of the person rather than appearance. What a person stands for is truly what we should be concerned about. As they say, "do not judge a book by its cover", even the most appealing in appearance have flaws. You can look at most of the passages above and interpret that God demands perfection, however, look at First Samuel 16:7 which says "But the LORD said to Samuel 'Do not look on his apperance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him; for the LORD does not see as mortals see; they look on the outward apperance, but the LORD looks on the heart'". So maybe it has nothing to do with defects or physical apperance, but rather what it is a man/woman stands for that the Lord takes into account.

True Grit 2

I do not agree with Michael Kinsley when he stated, “that an obese person is not fit to be that member of the First Family who serves as President of the United States.” I believe this is wrong because we should not judge people by their looks. In the article it also mentions how an obese President would be a bad role model. I disagree with that also. Obesity is a serious disease. Not everyone that is overweight overeats and is lazy. Some people have genetic obesity, which means that being overweight is in their genetic material. Other people can become overweight due to medications they are on such as, some anti-depressants. These medications block the brains ability to sense when a person is full, thus causing overeating. The last way that a person can become overweight is by other diseases like hyperthyroidism, which causes increased appetite. As you can see from my examples how wrong Michael Kinsley was in saying a President should not be obese. Some people just cannot help it if they are obese.

breaker morant4

I would first just like to say that my priest is very obese and he can do his job just fine. I don't think it is right for other people to say how others should live there lives. I can see how in some jobs you need to have restrictions for the safety of the person or the people around them. I have never been the president but i don't think you need to do many chores or jobs where your size could be an issue as long as the person is healthy and cant harm them selfs or others i don't see any reason why you count be a fat president.

Nell 2

Michael Kinsley has no right to judge anyone, for he is not perfect. As Kinsley has criticized Christie’s weight problem, I feel as wrong as it is that he is not the only one that feels this way. The president of our country is also the face of the "free world" which carries a major responsibility. This reminded me of President Roosevelt, who at age 39 contracted polio, paralyzing his legs and making him the only crippled president. His presidency was a rough for him personally and he often struggled to give speeches. With the way the president is scrutinized in the media today, I am not at all surprised that this issue has come up. However, I was brought back to a passage; John 7:24 that states "Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgment.” Even as you take Kinsley's argument, the point should really come down to Christie's abilities and skills that should be considered. As this post states, people with disabilities are doing amazing things, and if you consider obesity to be a disability, someone who is obese still would also be able to do amazing things.

True Grit 4

There's a couple things I find interesting about this argument. First of all, I agree with the posters who say that it's wrong to find someone unfit for a job just because they are overweight or obese. I'm overweight myself, and as a leader at a student org, I don't make conclusions about a person based on weight, disability, race, etc because that's not fair and equal. Now granted, the world isn't an entirely "equal" society, but being a person who is overweight and has tried and tried to manage that, I find these statements by Kinsey unfair. As for the discussion over whether an overweight or disabled person can be a pastor, I don't have a big deal with that either. If a person genuinely loves God and wants to serve God, then let him or her do so. It's not about the size of a person, it's about the size of a person's heart and what their morals and convictions are. If they truly love what they do and put great effort into it, then the matter of their physical size really is a moot point.

Chariots of Fire 2

I also agree with True Grit 4 saying that you should not count someone out of a job because of their physical size. God taught us to love one another no matter what as our brothers and sisters. If we judge someone by their weight, it is no different than judging someone by their color, gender, or religion. It is truly sick to hear that employers would rather hire a thinner candidate instead of someone who is larger who may even be as qualified or more. Some of the people that are obese or overweight have brought the weight issue upon themselves by improper diet and no exercise. There is another group of people that actually have a condition which won’t allow them to shed the weight but they might be healthy inside. I think God would be ashamed of us if he knew the things people were doing. Just because you may be thin, does not mean you are closer to God and would be a better pastor, priest, minister or any other speaker of the word of God.

 Praying with Loir 5

Confusion has set in. Here is a perfect example of what I didn’t know about the Bible. Discrimination at its worst. I don’t understand why appearance would have any bearing on the quality of an offering. If man was created in the image of God, how could an imperfection (even one that may be self-induced) disqualify someone from serving God? I understand that Gluttony is a sin, but Jesus died for all men’s sins. I really don’t understand.

Dead Man Walking 6

Like many people, I think this blog is ridiculous how society judge people by their weigh. It is such a discriminative thing. We should not judge people by their appearance or how they look, rather than we should consider their personalities. In my opinion, if someone is obesity or does not have an attractive looking, it does not mean that they are not a hard worker. They still can do things as the normal. We, the people, none of us are perfect in any particular side. We can be good at something and bad at the others. For obesity person, of course they do not have a good looking because may be they were born like this or they do not have a healthy eating guideline; but it is not true that they cannot work or doing a job such as president. I have a friend who weighs 250 pounds but he is very active and smart. I understand that back in ancient time, people view others by looking how thicker they are to determine their beauty and also know that the family had more money than anyone else. But it would not be an issue now in this era. Unfortunately, this happens more time than most people think. God did not make us perfect, to be perfectly ourselves, just live with how we are and show off our personality.


Hi Chariots of Fire 1,

In many places in the Old Testament, for example, Ezekiel 34, and often in the New Testament, for example, 1 Timothy 3, the spotlight is on the moral qualities and gifts of leadership of those in leadership.

Once again, to be clear, the personal and the political are understood to cohere. For example, if you are an incompetent father or a faithless husband, you cannot be a bishop, even if you are a gifted teacher and administrator.

With Max Weber, a distinction has to be made between gift-based and traditional office-based leadership. On the gift-based model of leadership, gifts and moral qualities are paramount. On the entitlement model, the fact that one is of the bloodline of Aaron and male meant that you were a priest, apart from your gifts and moral qualities.

On the other hand, physical imperfections - but not obesity - made you unfit to present physically perfect animal offerings.

Was that irrational? I don't see it. The logic is clear enough.

Truman Show 4

It seems backwards to me the argument of a president being a royal figure. Whoever it is that believes that is very hypocritical in my opinion. Disdain towards a royal figure was the very reason this great country even started in the first place. Another thing that seems backwards to me is that in the most basic days of our country we had presidents who smoked and drank like crazy (Andrew Jackson) and also we did have one obese president (Taft) who was actually so large he had to have his own custom bathtub built for him in the White House. So it seems that because we're in such an advanced stage in our country's history that our leaders our held to a higher standard in the public eye, even though the public most of the time do not even come close to touching that standard.

The Truman Show 3

In today's society it's clear that obesity is a problem... a big problem. Next time you're in Wal-Mart, look around. Many of the obese, too many in my opinion, are quick to dismiss their weight and blame medical issues or genetics. Right or wrong, I see obesity as a lack of self-control, over indulgence, and lack of commitment to a healthier lifestyle. These are certainly not attributes that I would want the president of the United States to have. There is a difference between a president who could stand to lose a few pounds and one whom is obese. Being the president of one of the most powerful countries in the world is an incredibly stressful job. Stress of such magnitude can take a hefty toll on the body and if our president isn't "fit" for the challenge, you better hope you elected a good VP. Don't get me wrong, obese people are not bad people, or the enemy here. There are a great number of loving, caring, and amazing obese people who do incredible things.

Dead Man Walking 5

Physical imperfections or disabilities should not disqualify anyone from doing anything. I personally have seen that obesity does not hinder the abilities of a person to become a priest and even be what I would consider an excellent one. The Priest at my church has been overweight ever since I can remember and he has done an outstanding job as far as I have ever been concerned. I think that it was ridiculous that the priests that were doing the offerings were screened to make sure that they had no physical imperfections because it is not likely that they would be affected by the imperfection while performing their offering.

Breaker Morant 3

Growing up in a "medical" family, and being a health care major myself, I understand the growing issues of obesity and the diseases that can be related to it in our society. However, I do not think that having an over-sized President would be our nations "biggest" problem. I think that with media expectations of being thin and beautiful, it may be a nice change of pace to have someone with a less than perfect figure lead our country. It would be especially refreshing to see him/her make healthy life style choices and improve their health. As for the Bible and not allowing those with blemishes to make offerings, I don't understand why this would be the case. I really don't believe anyone does. As a believer, I feel that God certainly had a rhyme and reason for this "law." Also, this was the Old Testament, before Christ came to die for our sins, there were many laws that to us now seem completely ridiculous.

true grit 5

Standards of obesity start at the point where you are over the weight for what is considered normal for height and age. If a person would be 20 lbs. over their normal range they would be considered obese in society. As a society we are very concerned with self images of ourselves and others to the point we idolize those who are fit and slender. We understand that there are health issues at hand and we need to uphold to those standards so that we will live long lives and enjoy our time with family and not have to worry about dying before our children get old. It is a huge issue but I feel society has the right to choose healthier options. We get so tangled up in a fast pace society we tend to eat things on the go which are usually an unhealthy option because fried foods cook the fastest.
As for the topic of if a priest can be fat, why not? Some youth pastors and other pastors I’ve know have been a little on the heavier side but does it mean that can’t still be filled by the spirit of the Lord. I feel we are too quick to judge others when we don’t even have that ability. It says that man was created in God’s image, yes His image. Is his image for us to be slender and fit or obese? His image of us is pure and holy. Personally are we going to judge a priest if he is up at the altar preaching the word of God and thinking “we can’t take him seriously because he is fat.” We listen because that man was anointed by God to preach the good news to us and to uphold His will for us that we may gain more knowledge in order to live our lives fully for God.


This comment thread, like many others, is a mirror of our contradictions as much as it is an index of a blessed rage for order. Here are two considerations.

(1) It is not sufficient to dismiss the value system of someone else because it is ridiculous in your eyes. A dismissive attitude of this kind is an index of an underdeveloped capacity for self-scrutiny and of a lack of moral imagination.

Everyone makes sense of their lives and what they do on the basis of a narrative, a story. It is inappropriate to assume that your story is coherent whereas someone else's is not because you find it impossible to accept the presuppositions and truth-claims someone else espouses.

It made sense, and continues to make sense to adherents of many religions, that offerings to a deity - animal offerings in particular - be free of physical imperfections and that those who offer them to the deity on behalf of third parties be free of analogous imperfections.

Is that a form of discrimination? Yes, it is. In the same way, we discriminate against someone who refuses to wear the team jersey in a contact sport, or those who believe they have a right to watch a sporting event in the stadium buck naked. We are all against discrimination. Except when we are in favor of it. But it takes a minimum of self-scrutiny to notice.

(2) Dead Man Walking 5 succinctly states what might be considered a half-truth peculiar to our age: Physical imperfections or disabilities should not disqualify anyone from doing anything.

I call this a half-truth because the principle does not work in practice unless it is carefully qualified. No one is going to put a blind quarterback on to the field or hire an ugly waitress. At the same time, we love to challenge old rules and therefore we make room for girls to wrestle boys in high school; perhaps the day will come when we allow a very talented wheelchair bound person to play high school basketball along with non-wheelchair bound players.

Another example: the "better safe than sorry" principle often trumps the "treat everyone the same." For example, even though I am confident that many of my gay friends would never put someone else at risk by giving blood that might be infected, I understand why the Red Cross forbids gays from donating blood. Does the rule single out gays unfairly, as if some of them, more than others, are capable of irresponsible choices? Yes, it does. Gays are not the only demographic a portion of which is known to have intercourse with multiple partners. In practice - not in theory - might a less discriminatory policy work just as well, from the point of view of safety? Apparently not.

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Our modern-day obsession with slimness is no less a fashion than their obsession with largeness, although that doesn't make me feel any less guilty for not going to the gym.

Pulp Fiction 1

Yes, you could still be fat and still be a priest. I would have to say most priests I see these days are overweight. It is not as if being overweight is a sin, but it’s just not the ideal person. God didn’t make Adam an overweight-obese- individual and he also did not make Eve fat either; that we know of. There are ways to get around being large by eating healthy. If you have a problem with eating meats, then your protein will be lost and you will have a lack of energy. People could say that they take protein shakes, pills, or other substances, which are fillers for these things, but it’s not a way of life for most. I would say that people in today’s world, eat when they are hungry and stop eating when they are full. It’s that simple.


The initial post that started this tread is very misleading. The issue of weight is not mentioned in Lev 21. Most physical traits do not qualify as blemishes according to H. Just as many skin diseases do not qualify as blemishes (Lev 13-15), weight is not considered in H's idea of blemishes. To connect weight issues with blemishes via Lev 21 is not responsible scholarship. There is a growing amount of biblical scholarship on disability that should be consulted in order to avoid such misleading generalizations.


Hi Jill,

Thank you for your comment. On the other hand, you come out swinging against an imaginary enemy. I encourage you to read the initial post with greater care.

One of my points goes like this: obesity was not considered a physical imperfection - as it is today by some - and did not disqualify a priest from offering an unblemished animal in ancient Israel.

I refrained from making the kind of generalizations you accuse me of.

For the rest, I encourage you to cite the bibliography you have in mind.

Here is a statement by Judith Z. Abrams, an author I trust you are familiar with, a statement which backs up the post that begins this thread:

To create a safe interface between earth and heaven, i.e., to process sacrifices, the priest must have a perfect body as well as a perfect priestly lineage (Lev 21:16-24 ). Likewise, the animal to be sacrificed must also be perfect (Lev 22:21-24 ). It is very important to note that these requirements apply only to priests offering sacrifices. Priests who have become physically or mentally disabled can still receive the benefit of the priest’s due (Deut 18:3-5 ) although they cannot consume it in a state of ritual impurity. Lay Israelites (and non-Israelites) bringing sacrifices may be disabled in any way except one: they must be in a state of ritual purity. The priest must also be in a state of ritual purity to offer sacrifices.


Thanks for that clarification John. First off, I apologize if I charcterized you as a "imaginary enemy." I certainly don't want to do that.
I think I need to clarify my use of "misleading." I read the post as misleading in the sense that a great number of the comments seemed to focus on weight and Leviticus. So while the post was technically correct, it seemed misleading to a lot of the commenters in that it started a conversation about weight and Lev 21. I was just wondering why the post brought up weight and intellectual disabilities and Lev 21 in the first place as this choice seemed to direct the conversation towards subjects not discussed in Lev 21. It may have been helpful to either focus on the blemishes in Lev 21 OR on biblical texts that deal with weight or intellectual disabilties instead of creating a context which resulted, unintentionally or not, in comments that discussed blemishes and weight. So to clarify my earlier comment, while the post was technically correct, I still read it as misleading.

Regarding bibliography, I agree that Abrams is a good start, although we should be clear that she doesn't identity herself as a biblical scholar. Plus, as you know, H and D have different views on the qualifications for holiness, the priesthood, and access to priestly dues, compare Num 18 to Deut 14 on Levites and tithes as an example. So we shouldn't use Deut 18 to explain Lev 21 because D grants certain privillages that H might not agree with. Lev 22:1-9 may be more helpful to Abrams point about purity requirements. We should also clarify Abrams quote by noting that H does not consider blemishes as ritually impure in the first place. So if we are viewing the blemishes in Lev 21 as disabilities, then these "disabilities" are seperate from discussions of purity or impurity. blemishes in Lev 21 are matters of holiness or commonness not impurity or purity.

Again, I think Abrams is a good start but I think there are biblical scholars that would be helpful in clarifying some of these discussions. You are correct that I should include the bibliography that I have in mind. I found the bibliography included in the article on disability in the "Teaching the Bible" newsletter on the SBL website to be helpful. If its okay with you, here is a link:

Despite our differences, John, I do very much appreciate the time that you took to draw attention to this issue. Until recently, disability was often neglected by lots of academics, so its good that as an academic and a pastor you took the time to highlight this issue.




Thank you for your many helpful remarks.

This post is designed to be a conversation starter in a course for undergraduates at a state university, a course entitled "The Bible and Current Events." Hence the attention paid to current attempts at disqualifying someone from serving as President on the basis of weight.

When I teach this topic, after the above icebreaker I concentrate on the positive history of reception of passages like Lev 19:14; Luke 14:15-24; John 9; and 2 Cor 12:5-10. We reflect on clips which feature Praying with Lior; Joni Eareckson Tada; and L’Arche – Jean Vanier.

Praying with Lior 2

Obesity is a serious problem in the United States. Over half of the population is considered to be overweight. I have to agree with Michael Kingsley’s statements where he talks about public officials and their weight. People in positions of power have to lead a healthy life to set an example for others and by doing his they have to be at an acceptable weight level.

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  • Ancient Hebrew Poetry is a weblog of John F. Hobbins. Opinions expressed herein do not reflect those of his professional affiliations. Unless otherwise indicated, the contents of Ancient Hebrew Poetry, including all text, images, and other media, are original and licensed under a Creative Commons License.

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    Copyright © 2005 by John F Hobbins.