Earley: Christian faith and the importance of body image

Becky tells of a time in her life when whether a day was good or bad was determined by her morning moment on the weight scale. If she lost weight, she would feel good, dress for a workout and be positive through the day. If she gained weight, she would feel horrible and maybe do a workout as punishment for gaining weight. On those days, she would dress in unflattering clothes and try not to communicate with others.

It was a dreadful routine too many people in our body-image-obsessed culture know all too well.

She was not able to have the victory over all these negative thoughts and attitudes about her body until she saw the problem as a spiritual problem. (To read more about her victories go to www.soveryblessed.com)

Our earthly bodies are a gift given to us by God.

I think most of the cultural preoccupation with our bodies is idolatry, and God hates idolatry.

An idol is anything we worship more than God. The second commandment makes this clear, “You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God…” (Exodus 20:4-5a). 

We read in I Corinthians 6:19-20, “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore, honor God with your body.”

The Bible makes it clear we are a holistic creation: mind, body and soul. Our bodies play a key role in the Spirit’s work in our faith.

Modern medicine has shown us that we must take a holistic approach to understanding our health. That means as we take care of ourselves physically, emotionally and spiritually, the stronger we will be in each of these areas. They all support each other.

Being beautiful by cultural standards is of little significance to God. Being healthy mind, body and soul makes us available to God to be used to glorify His name.

Also, we read in I Corinthians 6:15, “Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ himself? Shall I then take the members of Christ and unite them with a prostitute? Never!” This reinforces the importance of making good moral and ethical choices to stay strong as a whole person. We can’t eat, drink and be merry without it affecting the other parts of the person God wants us to be.

In Job 31:1 we read, “I made a covenant with my eyes not to look lustfully at a girl.” God has a spouse chosen for each of us if marriage is His plan for us, but it is important for us to take good care of ourselves so we remain attractive to our spouse.

Men especially struggle with wandering eyes. Couples must guard their marriages by only noticing each other in romantic ways.

When we are stronger physically we are better able to serve the Lord in certain areas. For example, some forms of mission work require much strength and stamina. If we are able to perform in these areas, then we open doors for God to use us in ways we are unable to if we allow ourselves to become physically weak.

Finally, what about those times when our exercise routines get lost in the struggles of life or we will become sick or our bodies will age to the point we can no longer exercise? In all of these times it is important to remember the most powerful work we do for the Lord is prayer. There are times God allows us to encounter physical problems so we will slow down, and focus more on Him.

As long as we have breath, and a mind to contemplate the Lord, we have important work to do through prayer to strengthen our church, protect our pastor and church leaders and discern the will of God.

To find out more about Al Earley or read previous columns, see www.lagrangepres.com.