Last week, I posted a rather hard-hitting entry about the proliferation of eating disorders in Eastern Europe (Serbia in particular) and speculated on what the reason for that may be. Quite honestly, I was writing off the cuff after stumbling across a Serbian Facebook fan page glorifying the behavior (which now has well over 300 members) and based on my own cultural observations living in the Balkans. Somehow, my post wound up on Twitter, which is really strange as I don't "Tweet". In any event, I was really quite shocked given that eating disorders were completely unknown in Eastern Europe just over a decade ago.
However, yesterday I have begun a very edifying correspondence with a young woman from Serbia, and I have decided to remove the original post. She and I have been discussing the sociological factors (such as commercialism) which lead to idolatry. While my original article certainly wasn't inflammatory, it could have offended any Slavs who were reading by making them think I was unfairly singling them out. The more I reflect, the more obvious it seems that the mind-set that glorifies addictions is the same inner working that causes all sin.
Which, last I checked, is a scourge common to all of humanity.
Whenever we seek to fill an inner void, whatever means we pursue to stoke our own pride, however we attempt to satisfy a legitimate pleasure by illegitimate means, we are sinning. An idol is anything we want badly enough that we are willing to sin in order to obtain it. For the anorexic or bulimic, food has become an idol. (Often, this addiction goes hand in hand with the misuse of alcohol). These snares that so easily entangle us can all be broken by faith and surrender to the One Who made us: Jesus Christ. It goes without saying that He is as active in the lives of His children in Eastern Europe as He is in North America, South Africa, or anywhere else on the globe. A time is coming when every nation will bow at His throne and every tongue will indeed confess Him as Lord, but until then, it is up to us to spread the message of His love and redemption. He is infinitely patient and indescribably gentle with those who seek Him, and will heal you in the deepest places as you daily grow in Him.
There is certainly no shortage of online "pro ana" and "pro mia" sites here in the United States, although broadly speaking EDs have received more negative publicity for a longer period of time than they have abroad. Perhaps in response to the relative "novelty" of this particular addictive sin, it is currently more "trendy" in some corners of the globe. In many ways, rebellion of certain types is more subtle or understated in varying areas, but that does not mean that the underlying problem (the sinfulness of our hearts) is any less.
For example, last summer I was back in Bulgaria and struck by the extreme, over-sexualized media culture. All along the roads, even in the most rural areas, billboards of nearly naked women in provocative poses were used to sell everything from pizza to latex paint. Newspapers feature full-frontal nudity. AS soon as we drove across the border into Greece, the soft-porn ads stopped - on the surface, the cultuural mindset seemed much more conservative and similar to here in the United States. However, it would be naiive (and inaccurate) to assume that the Greeks are "holier" or less of sinners than the Bulgarians. The Bible says that "All have sinned and come short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23; emphasis mine) and "All have turned aside, they have together become corrupt; there is no one who does good, not even one." (Psalm 14:3). The entire course of Scripture upholds the fact that we, as fallen humanity, are all in the same boat - and the solution is one and the same. God offers His repentance freely to all.
Whether our sin is adultery, stealing, fornication, bulimia, cutting, lying, or whatever, God wants us to know that He is holding His hands open all day long to us even in our stubbornness and rebellion (Isaiah 65:2).
Which way will you go?