Peter Leithart on Fasting

Here is a copy of Peter Leithart’s blog post on fasting. He properly places the reason for fasting not on hating the body or material things, but rather on loving creation enough to fast so others can have more. It is a good and proper corrective to much of the gnostic philosophy pushed by Christians who promote fasting.

“For many throughout church history, fasting is bound up with hostility to matter and the body. We refrain from bodily pleasures of food and drink to train our souls in disembodied life.

That’s not biblical. The biblical fast, as Isaiah 58 puts it, is to share food with the hungry and clothing with the naked. The true fast gives good things away to those who don’t have them.

Biblical fasting, then, assumes the goodness of material things, and the propriety of pleasure. After all, if good and drink and clothing are evil, why would we want to share them? Isaiah’s fast assumes that creation is so good that we want everyone to have a piece of it.”

One thought on “Peter Leithart on Fasting

  1. A good film example of this would be the scene from ‘Little Women’ where the girls awaken Christmas morning to find Marmee gone to help out a destitute family, and they decide to give away their own (much coveted) breakfast treats and follow her to give them to the children in the family. It would not properly be called a fast in the Biblical sense, but in every other way it seems like a good example I think. Good point you have made here, and one not often seen or heard of. Mom


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