Conscience is the voice of God speaking to a Christian. It is the “law written in their hearts” (Romans 2:15) by God; and each Christian has a duty to make sure that God’s message is not corrupted. In short, a Christian must form his or her conscience – it must be “well formed” – and this includes learning the truth, the facts, about any issue or situation with respect to which the Christian is to make a moral choice.
When one learns the facts about alcohol, one must then act accordingly and not abuse alcoholic beverages. When one learns the facts about other drugs, one must act in accord with this knowledge and not abuse drugs. What if one learns the facts about the nature of, and the effects of, refined sugar? What does conscience say about indulgence or overindulgence in the consumption of sugar?
In the food everyone eats, refined sugar is omnipresent. Ketchup is, on average, about 20 to 25 percent sugar by weight. Syrup, only one tablespoon, has about 14 to 20 grams of sugar. Ice cream? A typical serving of a half cup has about 14 grams of sugar. White bread can have between 1.5 to 3 grams of sugar in every slice. A typical single six-inch tortilla, corn or flour, has about a gram of sugar.
Sugar is available at almost every restaurant in the industrialized world, from the fastest of fast food chain outlets to Michelin Five Star eateries – and sugar is almost always freely available – however much is desired – for coffee and tea. Most alcoholic drinks turn into sugar; and carbohydrates – “carbs” – are sugar once they are processed by the human body.
In the Year of Our Lord 1700 A.D., the wealthy consumed sugar – about 4 pounds a year. Processes of refining sugar changed all that. By 1900 A.D. not only the wealthy had access to reasonably priced sugar, but the majority of the population on average consumed about 90 pounds a year. Today the average American has about half a pound of sugar each day –averaging 180 pounds per year.
Sugar is often disguised. It hides under, and is often intentionally hidden under, a variety of masking names, of which there are about 100; including: corn syrup, fructose corn syrup, high fructose corn syrup, anhydrous dextrose, brown sugar, cane crystals, cane sugar, corn sweetener, corn syrup solids, crystal dextrose, evaporated cane juice, fructose sweetener, juice concentrates, honey, liquid fructose, malt syrup, maple syrup, molasses, pancake syrup, raw sugar, sugar, syrup , white sugar, lactose maltose, carbitol, concentrated fruit liquids, corn sweetener, diglycerides, disaccharides, evaporated cane juice, erythritol, Florida crystals, fructooligosaccharides, galactose, glucitol, glucoamine, hexitol, inversol, isomalt, maltodextrin, malted barley, malts, mannitol, nectars, pentose, raisin syrup, ribose rice syrup, rice malt, rice syrup solids, sorbitol, sorghum, sucanat, sucanet, xylitol and zylose.
Some current wisdom informs that one should eat only what is around the perimeter walls of a grocery store- typically dairy, produce, seafood, poultry and meat – and avoid everything in the center, because most of what is in the center contains sugar, in some form, and often in deadly amounts. Also, most of what is in the center of the store is “processed” food, and the processing, more likely than not, involves the addition of sugar.
So – why so much sugar? Why disguise it? Just an accident? Nobody knew? Sugar refiners and food companies have only good intentions? And want what is best for us?
Unfortunately, the worldwide use of sugar in food is explained not by a moral concern for the well-being of all humanity, but by the “follow the money” principle. Sugar is a preservative; it prolongs shelf life. In the food industry, prolonged shelf life equals increased profits.
It is no accident that, as there is an entity called “Big Tobacco,” (which although it knew the addictive nature of nicotine and its injurious health effects continued to market cigarettes as healthy); and as there is a name given to an artificial conglomeration of all the large pharmaceutical companies,“Big Pharma;” so there is also a name for the group of global sugar cartels – “Big Sugar.” They produce and sell hundreds of millions of tons of sugar to everyone on earth. Some links to information about Big Sugar are at the end of this article.
Sugar is also a deadly drug. Sugar, the toxic drug, is: addictive (unbelievably sobering to web-search ‘sugar addictive’); an anti-nutrient; injurious to the human immune system; nurtures disease; and feeds cancerous tumors. Links to information about the nature of sugar are at the end of this article.
Studies show that sugar, the drug, is more addictive than heroin.
So, couple these two facts: fact (a.) sugar is a toxic, addictive drug and its consumption can lead to disease and death, with fact (b.) the human body is a temple wondrously made by a loving God.
St. Paul told us:
“Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ himself? . . . 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.” (1Cor 6:15, 19-20)
Once a Christian knows fact (a.) and fact (b.) above; knows the truth about sugar, and knows that willful self-destruction is wrong, can a Christian consume sugar? It should be clear that a Christian should not overindulge in sugar. (And, of course this leads to a further question for parents and anyone who cares for the health and well-being of another person: can you provide sugar – in any food, in any form – to children, others, or anyone in your care?)
One common moral principle, applicable to some situations, is: “all things in moderation.” Put another way, this means nothing in excess. This moral principle is based on the dignity of each human person and the fact that each person, made uniquely, has been created in the image and likeness of God. In terms of Christian virtue, this requires acting in accord with the virtue of temperance – avoid excess in all things; e.g. food and drink.
But does “all things” mean that a Christian can use crack cocaine so long as it is not used “to excess”? No. One cannot morally use a moderate amount of deadly poison.
A final question to consider – once one knows the facts about refined sugar, the reality of it as a destructive, deadly, and addictive drug – is this:
Can a Christian consume refined sugar at all in any amount, ever?
It is a very good thing to consider this question – no matter what the response to it is – because this will most certainly lead to a discussion of the facts about refined sugar, its harmful effects, and how its avoidance will, without doubt, lead to health.
Once the facts about sugar, the drug, are known, even if the question is answered in the affirmative – “yes, sure, no need to worry, you can have a little bit of sugar every day,” – that affirmation must be coupled with the same reservations and warnings about the consumption of alcohol, the smoking or other use of tobacco, and the abuse of any addictive or dangerous drug.
Copyright © Guy McClung 2017