Adventists are well known for their emphasis on health. In fact, health is built into the Seventh-day Adventist Church’s Fundamental Beliefs. The Fundamental Belief number 22 states that:
We are called to be a godly people who think, feel, and act in harmony with biblical principles in all aspects of personal and social life. For the Spirit to recreate in us the character of our Lord we involve ourselves only in those things that will produce Christlike purity, health, and joy in our lives . . . It . . . means that because our bodies are the temples of the Holy Spirit, we are to care for them intelligently. Along with adequate exercise and rest, we are to adopt the most healthful diet possible and abstain from the unclean foods identified in the Scriptures. Since alcoholic beverages, tobacco, and the irresponsible use of drugs and narcotics are harmful to our bodies, we are to abstain from them as well. Instead, we are to engage in whatever brings our thoughts and bodies into the discipline of Christ, who desires our wholesomeness, joy, and goodness.1
Additionally, Ellen G. White wrote extensively on the topic of health, including an entire book entitled Counsels on Health. The importance of health is built into the very DNA of Adventism.
Because of this emphasis, the Global Church Member Survey (GCMS) has sought to understand if Adventist church members around the world truly accept these principles of healthful living. As part of the 2013 GCMS, survey participants were asked about their acceptance of Adventist standards of healthful living. Three fourths (75%) of respondents embraced these standards wholeheartedly. Another 13% shared that they accepted it because the Church teaches it. However, 8% admitted that they had major doubts, did not accept it, or considered the question as not important.
With these research findings in mind, the 2017-18 GCMS asked more specific questions about various aspects of healthful living. The first area reviewed was the belief that our bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit. Almost three out of every four (74%) respondents strongly agreed with this idea, and another 20% just agreed. Only a small percentage (3%) disagreed to some extent. Interestingly, these responses match up fairly closely to the general question on acceptance of health in the 2013 GCMS.
Members were also asked about the type of diet they eat, as many Adventists hold up vegetarianism as the “golden standard” for healthful living. However, global data showed that only 14% of respondents reported that they are vegetarian, and another 5% said they are vegan. About one in ten reported that they are pescatarian (the only meat they eat is fish). A third said that they eat meat about once a week or less, and about two in five (38%) eat meat a few times a week or most of the days. Much of this likely has to do with the cultural traditions, as well as the availability of different types of food worldwide. However, with a recent emphasis on a healthy diet in many countries, should we not revive our principles on a healthy lifestyle and re-evaluate our dietary habits?
When researchers asked global members if they believed that Adventist should eat a healthful diet and thereby abstain from unclean foods identified in Scripture, a large majority agreed with this statement wholeheartedly. Only a tiny percentage of respondents shared that they did not accept this belief. These survey results likely indicate that those who eat meat only eat clean meat, as defined by Scripture.
In 1 Corinthians 6:19-20, we read, “Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.” The Bible makes it clear that the Holy Spirit dwells within us. Because of this, even if for no other reason, it is important that we take care of our bodies. An important place to start doing that is with a healthy diet.
What about other aspects of healthful living? Be sure to return for our next blog to see how members worldwide feel about the use of alcohol, tobacco products, and drugs. The results may surprise you!
Created in collaboration with the Institute of Church Ministry
Published by ASTR
- Seventh-day Adventist Church. (2015). 28 fundamental beliefs. Retrieved from https://szu.adventist.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/28_Beliefs.pdf