The description for Made to Crave: Satisfying Your Deepest Desire with God, Not Food says that “Craving isn’t a bad thing. But we must realize God created us to crave more of him. Many of us have misplaced that craving by overindulging in physical pleasures instead of lasting spiritual satisfaction.” For the most part, this book shed some light on this problem, and I think most readers will come away with some important insights as to why it’s sometimes so hard to stop eating and lose weight.
This is a hard book to review, and even harder to quote. Lysa TerKeurst writes in a casual, almost diary-like style. She will bring something up in one chapter and then seem to clarify it in another chapter. The book has to be taken as a whole. I usually don’t refer to other reviews when I review a book, but this time I did. When I read other reviews I felt like many of the statements people objected to where further explained in other parts of the book.
People seem to object most commonly to three different things:
- The casual tone and use of humor
- Lysa’s description of overeating as sin.
- Lysa’s decision to fast from most carbs for a season.
The casual tone and use of humor. I personally felt this was an issue of style and voice. Lysa refers to herself often as a “Jesus girl,” and this type of light tone pervades the book. Whether you will find this refreshing or irreverent is, in my opinion, a matter of taste (although people who find it irreverent will probably disagree with me there). As someone whose attempts at levity have been misunderstood, I tend to assume the best in these cases. Since the term “Christian” in many contexts just means “someone who puts up a Christmas tree in December,” I understand why people search for a term that’s more descriptive.
Lysa’s description of overeating as sin. Lysa makes a good point that we don’t talk a lot about gluttony in the church these days. In some places, she does equate her struggle with food with the struggle to remain sexually pure and abstain from drunkenness. At the same time, she mentions in other sections that the fallout from fornication, adultery, and drunkenness is not the same as overeating.
A lot of people are confused about this, to the point that I’ve had people question whether we should publicly condemn murderers in light of verses like Matthew 5:21. To be clear, I didn’t feel that Lysa took it that far, and I think that people who say she did aren’t looking at the book as a whole. I think she wanted to remind us that gluttony is a sin that’s mentioned often in the Bible, and we need to take it more seriously than we do. (This article on degrees of sin from Ligonier Ministries provides helpful clarification on the tension between verses like James 2:10 and John 19:11.)
Lysa’s decision to fast from most carbs for a season. I completely understand Lysa’s observation that eating sweet and starchy foods seems to trigger overeating for her. I’ve experienced myself, and I know others who struggle with this as well. The fact that it seems to, in my experience, be a bigger problem for those of us with a family history of diabetes makes me believe there’s a genetic component at work, and I think science is starting to show that we’re not dreaming this.
Verses like Mark 9:43-48 make it clear that getting radical with things that trip us up is often the best thing to do. What I think most people objected to was that she also used language associated with fasting to describe what she is doing. In one place she even said that giving up these things would help her get closer to God.
In some ways, her putting it this way feels wrong. After equating overeating with other sins, to say she’s giving up sugary and starchy foods for a season to get closer to God almost sounds like someone saying they’re giving up lust for a season to get closer to God. I also think that most of us have been rightly taught that fasting as a spiritual discipline is different than dieting, and she seems to blend the two at times.
In the book Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life, Donald Whitney lists reasons for fasting like strengthening prayer, humbling yourself, and seeking God’s guidance. He also lists overcoming temptation. In the places where Lysa simply says she’s doing this to grow closer to God, she seems to be confusing the issue. But in light of the sections where she relies on 1 Corinthians 10:23: Everything is permissible”–but not everything is beneficial. Everything is permissible”–but not everything is constructive. (NIV), it makes more sense.
I think this book offers many valuable insights. I think if it had been structured differently, a lot of the things people object to could have been dealt with. Whether the restructuring would have eliminated Lysa’s voice is another question. Since I read this right before reading Love to Eat, Hate to Eat by Elyse Fitzpatrick, comparisons are inevitable. I preferred Love to Eat, Hate to Eat, but many people will find Made to Crave helpful as well.