Pipe Smoking & ‘Phood Pharisees’.

My husband lovingly reminded me this is quite a hefty topic to address. And he’s right. But none-the-less, here I am writing it.

Luckily, I use small words and simple language. So brains as small as mine have the ability to comprehend.

I had to chuckle the other day when a reader commented about the photo of Stuart smoking a pipe (located in the right hand column). After all, if we’re all about healthy living here on the homestead, how could my husband be doing such a thing?!


First off, it makes me laugh that we are so quick to put people into categories, perfectly labeled as we’d like them to be. I’ve faced this before – I remember being told that because I was ‘country’ I couldn’t listen to certain types of music. Or dress certain ways.

Really, people?

None of us fit perfectly into any category – we are individuals. And that’s a good thing. It doesn’t have to be either/or.

Secondly, and most importantly, the comment kept resonating a particular word in my head that many Americans can’t seem to grasp the importance of:



A poor example of this word would be the 132 ounce sodas from 7-11.
Or the 64 ounce steaks served up at your local restaurant.
Or basically any Man vs. Food episode.

And yes, we do eat healthy here on the homestead. But we also eat the most incredible burgers from a local restaurant every once in a while. Complete with french fries and an old-fashioned root beer (or two).

We enjoy a big ‘ol glass of red wine too, on occasion (like, when we can afford it).

And home brew.

And, dare I say, creme brulee made with white sugar.

When we’re at friends’ homes, we eat whatever they serve – white flour, white sugar, hydrogenated oils, you name it. And we do it joyfully and with genuinely glad hearts!

I will even use a coupon at Sonic for a free chocolate milkshake if I’ve got one.

And I’m not ashamed of it! Who cares!

“For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.” Romans 14:17 ESV


I love healthy, nutrient-dense food as much as the next girl and for the large majority of the time, this is what we eat – it’s just a part of how we live. We like to feel good and we enjoy being healthy – eating the way we do allows us to enjoy those things. But we’ve also been given the liberty to enjoy certain other things as well – and in moderation, those are wonderful things. If we were drinking eighteen beers a day, well, not so much. But the one or two we get to enjoy on occasion is a blessing.

As a ‘real foodie’, I know how tempting it can be to throw the stone of judgment at others. Easily judging them for what they are, or aren’t, eating ‘correctly’. Now, one can easily make arguments for the bigger picture (ie: government subsides, organic vs. conventional farming, the long-term-effect of GMOs, white sugar’s affect on the body, etc, etc) no doubt. And I believe there are valid arguments for such.

I’m not saying we can’t have opinions about what we believe to be best. What I’m saying is that unless God has bound our conscience by telling us what we must and must not do, then we have the liberty to make that decision for ourselves. And without guilt.

Dare I say, us foodies are quick to become the Phood Pharisees (like that play on the spelling of ‘food’ I just snuck in there?!). The Pharisees, you see, were legalistic. Quick to judge. So hell-bent on keeping the law perfectly that they even condemned Christ himself for breaking the their man-made laws of the Sabbath rest. I shutter to think of becoming so legalistic about food, or about ‘healthy living’, that idols of them are built in the place of enjoyment of good things for God’s glory.

As I said in this post, where God has not bound our conscience, others are not free to.

For example, let’s talk about coffee. There are lots of differing opinions about coffee – not even foodies can agree on it. God hasn’t bound our consciences with regards to drinking coffee and therefore, as a Christian, I am free to enjoy my morning brew as I wish.

Now, let’s say that someone thinks drinking coffee is a horrible thing. And they yell at me and scream at me and throw chicken poo in my face and tell me I’m headed straight for h-e-double-hockey-stick for sipping the java.

To which I say: Person who throws chicken poo, I appeal to God for standards. You are now trying to impose YOUR standards onto me. And where God has set me free, let no one lock me down! I shan’t allow it!

Now, if I’m drinking 6,384 cups of coffee per day, that may be a problem. Gluttony, as we all know, is a sin. Over-consumption is not a good thing, my friends. My excessive coffee drinking may be a result of a variety of imbalances or emotional problems I’m having. And for the most part, over-consumption of anything (be it food, drink, tobacco, etc.) is a reflection of those imbalances.

So we don’t over consume. Instead, we enjoy the blessing of a cup of hot coffee in the morning.

We enjoy in moderation.

Stuart doesn’t smoke his pipe all day. Oh no – it’s reserved for long walks and reading Tolkien. And I love that about him.

We can learn to savor these blessings. We don’t have to be overboard on anything. There is a balance.

And that’s where I’d like to be.

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  1. Rosalyn says

    Shaye, I love this post and I love your life. And I think that a guy smoking a pipe is super sexy. Maybe I should encourage my husband to start. :). It’s wonderful to do our best to treat our bodies as temples and to make a huge effort to keep them healthy and put the beautiful, natural things of this world in them. But God made other good things and gave us blissful freedom and joyful hearts and I think you were spot on in what you wrote.

  2. Torie says

    I hear you & agree! The only thing I would add is that sometimes our liberties must be balanced with love for the brethren in mind. Somewhere in the word it mentions something like this: if I’m with someone who doesn’t eat meat make them lamb…oh wait that is from some Greek movie. Ok, it’s if someone is offended by say meat eating, then obStain while you are in their presence in respect for their weakness. Hope that made sense lol

    • stuart elliott says

      “liberties must be balanced with a love of the brethren in mind.” I think this is certainly true and represents an aspect of mature Christianity. The passage you may be referring to is Romans 14 and continuing to chapter 15. Paul exhorts those he is writing to in Rome not to pass judgment on one another over matters of opinion. We do not live for ourselves but in everything live for Christ. There are things pertaining to how to live for Christ that Paul indicates are a matter of conscience. In these areas he allows for great freedom and exhorts both sides of a differing opinion not to pass judgment on one another where Christ has set you free.

      Rom 14:1 As for the one who is weak in faith, welcome him, but not to quarrel over opinions. One person believes he may eat anything, while the weak person eats only vegetables. Let not the one who eats despise the one who abstains, and let not the one who abstains pass judgment on the one who eats, for God has welcomed him.

      Though Paul allows for a freedom of conscience and from guilt from others on these matters he still explicates the truth of the matter. He doesn’t leave it suspended.

      Rom. 14:14 I know and am persuaded in the Lord Jesus that nothing is unclean in itself,
      and again in verse 20 …Everything is indeed clean…

      So while we should respond in love to those “weaker brethren” and not cause them to stumble but rather build them up in love, I think it is always with the perspective of discipling those who are still living on “spiritual milk” to mature to “solid spiritual food” (cf 1 Cor. 3:2)
      We should, with Paul, proclaim the truth about our freedom in Christ from imposing regulations on ourselves that Christ does not while at the same time acting in love towards those who have personal issues with exercising those freedoms. His advice is twofold addressing both the weak and the strong in Christ.
      Rom. 14:21 It is good not to eat meat or drink wine or do anything that causes your brother to stumble.
      1 Cor. 8:25-27 Eat whatever is sold in the meat market without raising any question on the ground of conscience. For β€œthe earth is the Lord’s, and the fullness thereof.” If one of the unbelievers invites you to dinner and you are disposed to go, eat whatever is set before you without raising any question on the ground of conscience.

  3. Rebekah says

    Amen sista’. You did a beautiful job saying what I have thought so many times. And it was also quite convicting. I have become a foodie in recent years, but someimtes I lean towards “phood Pharisie” which is definitly NOT the kind of person I want to be.

  4. Heather says

    Bravo, Shaye. I agree wholeheartedly. We’ve recently had to temper our food nazi attitudes quite alot in our household. When we first learned about real food stuff (all of it!) we (meaning I) jumped in with both feet and was too “strict” much to my family’s disappointment. Now, my oldest daughter has become the food nazi and I’ve realized what I’ve done (especially when she tells her classmates, grandparents, strangers, etc.) I’ve got my work cut out for me to teach moderation and apologize for going “full steam ahead”. About the pipe smoking: One of my fondest memories of my uncle is going to his house when I was very young, and after dinner he’d smoke a pipe that had cherry tobacco…while I never liked the smell of cigarette smoke (had to grow up with it) I thought the cherry pipe smoke smelled heavenly.

  5. Noel McNeil says

    Wow, Shaye. This was great! My hubby and I were just talking about this very thing. I am so glad we aren’t the only one’s who feel this way and see how ‘legalistic’ we can get when it comes to food. Thanks for posting this…I’m pretty sure I’ll be reading it again. :)

  6. melissa says

    wait wait wait. hold the phone! so, you’re saying that even though we have a farm and raise our own food and try to be health conscious that we can go out for pizza? and beer? and root beer? and wine? and doughnuts? and icecream? and my hubby can still smoke his pipe with actual tobacco in it? Whew. Glad to know we aren’t breaking any laws here. well written shaye!

  7. Sue Taylor says

    Loved this post Shaye. And your husband is as handsome as could be with his pipe. Just never let him wear a smoking jacket, that would kill it.

  8. Glenn says

    I like it. Meerschaum pipes, especially, indicate consideration and attention in a smoker. Consideration and attention being the forebears of moderation.

  9. Rebecca says

    I agree with you in many ways….buught πŸ˜‰ the pharisees, like you mentioned, were following their own law and not God’s. God’s law is about putting Him and others first, and if something we are doing looks offensive or may cause another to stumble then we need to be careful and check our motives.
    1Th 5:22 Abstain from all appearance of evil.
    I believe God’s food laws are still in effect, (He is the same today, yesterday, and forever) and the Bible has a lot to say about food. I sometimes splurge on “unhealthy” foods as well, but we try to eat clean/kosher foods only, and I believe that is God’s Biblical standard for all Believers. There are natural consequences when we forsake laws that He put in place.
    I used to accept whatever was offered to me by those around me out of what appears to be respect, but I am now more concerned with pleasing my heavenly Father than pleasing man. I must say “no” if someone offers me something that he forbids. Here is an excellent teaching called “Does God care about what we Eat?” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AcHukVMPC88
    May Yah’s blessing be upon you :)

    • stuart elliott says

      You raise some interesting points. I think it is important to point out that if what you are doing does not break God’s standard of right and wrong, good and evil, then it can’t have an appearance of evil to someone else unless they are operating on a standard outside of God’s law. In other words I don’t have to abstain from what other people might think is a form of evil if it is not something God says is a form of evil. There are lots of things I do that might appear evil to other people but that is because they are using a different standard of good and evil, one I don’t have to worry about holding myself accountable to. In some fundamentalists circles they might look at my card playing or cutting a rug as forms of evil, but those are extrabiblical standards that have nothing to do with what God sees as evil and the 1 Thess. verse wouldn’t apply.

      Regarding food laws I would agree that God is unchangeable and his law is still applicable today. What has changed is how the law is observed. The reason that has changed is because of the historical and redemptive reality of the person and work of Christ. What I have personally found helpful and the most biblically faithful on this topic is the approach taken in covenant theology. I have interacted with Mr. Staley’s teaching before at the request of someone else and and depart from him significantly on this issue.

      I can agree that Old Testament food laws are God’s standard for all believers. I would say that all OT laws still apply today; what has changed is how we observe them in light of the redemptive and historical reality of Christ. All Old Testament laws point to Christ. While the abiding principles of God’s character reflected in the law has not changed (God is the same yesterday, today and forever), the way in which we act in accordance with the law has changed which is consistent with our verbal profession that Christ has come. I think Paul is quite clear on this. The New Testament church was dealing with the issue of Gentile converts not coming from a Jewish background. Did they need to become Jewish in order to be Christians? Did they need to adopt circumcision, dietary restrictions, a sacrificial system of the OT? The answer comes with a resounding no. Paul says more than once that there is no Jew or Greek, all are one in Christ (Gal. 3:28, Col. 3:11, 1 Co 12:13). The identifying markers of New Covenant Christians no longer include what they eat so that those coming from all food cultures can be Christians without having to change their diet. God recognizes and blesses those from all food cultures who belong to the kingdom of God by faith because Rom 14:17 For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.

      Likewise those coming from a Jewish food culture do not have to fear dishonor to God when they fellowship with others and eat with them. Peter came to this freeing truth by way of God’s vision to him in Acts 10. This shift in how we observe the law in light of Christ’s fulfillment freed Peter to fellowship with Cornelius, a Gentile God fearer who did not observe OT dietary laws, in a way that he admits would not have been possible if the OT system was observed in the same way under the New Covenant. As you probably know, there are a plethora of verses that exhort New Covenant believers about the continuing validity of the OT law while not requiring observance to it in the same way as in OT Judaism. Those who do not follow OT dietary laws do not experience any less of God’s favor and blessing as those who do. This response has been long winded but it is a big topic which much more could be said on. I hope I have treated it honestly and well and if you want to converse more on it I’d be happy to

      • Marie Parker says

        Well said. This very issue has come up recently time again and with others I talk to (specifically about my love of pastured pork, ahem), and I have found all the answer I need in Galatians. I am a Gentile saved by grace. Amen.

  10. says

    I feel like you are describing my life! This was so freeing to read. It makes my heart happy that we have freedom in Christ to enjoy food, not stress about it, and trust him with our health. Ultimately, it’s in HIS hands, not ours. Great post, super encouraging!

  11. says

    THANK YOU! I love that you addressed this. I have faced this too and it’s sooooo frustrating. I feel as long as walk the walk 90% of the time…I got an “A” LOL. Preach on! LOL

  12. E, Spear says

    Great to see a young man of faith and virtue enjoy a pipe once in a while in a natural family setting. Keep up the good work on all fronts :)

  13. Scentsalveandspice says

    You have such a clear way of writing about important topics. I’ve had stuff in my head about this topic before, but it never comes out right! Thanks so much for sharing! I know I have been quick to judge others over things that are essentially *not* that importan, but it’s definitely something I truly try to work on. This was a great reminder!

  14. John says

    I don’t think you are a hypocrite. You’re a normal person and you eat healthier than many other people. I totally understand what you mean. I feel like saying something sometimes and sometimes I say it. But it’s because I think it’s outrageous when there’s a photo of a rainbow bread made with 5 artificial colors and people say wow, this would be great for kids’ lunches. Sorry I am OT, but it makes me sad to see that people feed their kids such things. And again, OT, I left you another message and will write it again to make sure you read it. DO some more research about that toothpaste. I read that it hurts your gums and that would be really sad :( I’ve used baking soda for years but only like once a month or less because it is abrasive and I figured it ruins your enamel.

  15. Melanie says

    So well said, Shaye! I can only imagine how “he” feels after a long days work to sit and look at all you guys are accomplishing….each having your own part and yet working together toward the end goal! You guys are doing a great job! Keep up the tidbits of reality!

  16. Tina says

    I completely agree! The only thing I would say about moderation is that there should be no moderation or management of sin. We have to shut those things done completely and for good. If Im addicted to sugar then I cannot have that in moderation. And this would apply sadly to much of what we Americans eat nowadays. So many would do well to cut certain things out of their own diets for the sake of killing that sin, without telling other to do the same of course.

  17. Becky says

    This is my sentiments exactly. I too have a pipe smoking husband and we still get a lot of surprised people, “Thats not healthy!” :)

  18. says

    Hi Shaye and Stuart,

    I wound up here after browsing through the blog for the past 30 minutes. I’m always on the lookout for new blogs to actually follow, and thanks to this post (and all the others the I read before it) I’ll be sticking around and coming back in the future. It’s not always easy to articulate the nuances of balancing all the various things in this world but as someone who enjoys tobacco every once in a while I’ve always felt the need to mostly hide that fact from others. Thanks for this post, and keep up all the awesomeness here!

  19. Jesse & Katie Hoffmann says

    Amazing post! Stuart reminds me of my grandpa: he grows his own tobacco and smokes his pipe after finishing up his work around the farm and the garden. I wouldn’t trade that site of my grandma or that smell of tobacco that has so many memories with it!

    It’s interesting that I read this post today, as this past week God has been teaching me just how much I and people in general judge each other. And i didn’t even notice how judgmental we all can be on such little, insignificant things until God showed me. I was horrified! But I also learned that by loving people by freeing them to be who they are and not judging what they do, I am able to love them and see them as God does and all the good in them. We miss so much of what that person has to offer because we focus instead on what they do that we don’t agree with, simply because we all are different. Just BE, people! :) Anyway, again, great post! I think I’ll share the link on my FB page… :)

  20. Chantal says

    What a better way to celebrate Tolkien than smoking a pipe while reading his masterpieces! Besides, depending of what’s in the pipe, ‘smoking’ in itself may not be THAT harmful… Cheers to you guys!

  21. mark says

    Smoking and drinking has been one of the most basic of life’s simple pleasures for ages. Most folks would not agree with this statement but like you so wonderfully phrased it, Moderation, moderation, moderation. Just about anything on God’s green earth can and I believe was intended to be enjoyed in moderation. Jesus turned water into wine, and I’m sure he enjoyed some of it, but in moderation to be sure. This great nation of ours got it’s legs growing and selling tobacco and later spirits. I don’t smoke or drink but do enjoy them from time to time as I reminisce about how our forefather’s spent their leisure moments in a world much different than ours.

  22. Lauren says

    Well I am a bit late to the party but I say amen! Pretty much have to smoke a pipe with Tolkien! πŸ˜‰

  23. says

    I do not even know how I ended up here, but I thought this post was good.

    I don’t know who you are but definitely you’re going to a famous
    blogger if you aren’t already πŸ˜‰ Cheers!

  24. Madelyn says

    I’m just gonna skip past complimenting you on the awesomeness of this posting because, well I would just be repeating what others have already said, and I’m going to say that I am thoroughly psyched by your Lord of the Rings morsels that are scattered throughout your blog. I am so IN TO what you are saying that they catch me by surprise every time and, being an avid Tolkien fan myself, my heart leaps when reading such small tidbits squeezed inbetween sentences. It’s like, surprise! You are actually unexpectedly reading two passions in one! Oh wait! Three! Because you give our Lord credit all throughout and that is even better than Tolkien and farming put together. πŸ˜€

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