It’s time we fess up. Get it out in the open. Confess. When was the last time you lusted after someone else’s body?
I’m not talking about a Valentine’s day, secret crush kind of lust. I’m asking this – when was the last time you yearned for your body to look like someone else’s?
Do you want it to look more like models from magazines, celebrities, or a friend or acquaintance you often compare yourself too? Do you long for more slender arms, a flatter tummy, less cellulite, a thigh gap? Do you wish you were more muscular or curvier? Do you wish you saw a different number when you stepped on the scale or could buy a smaller size? Do you wish you were taller or shorter, had larger or smaller breasts, or had less blemishes, stretch marks, wrinkles or age spots?
Call it what you want, but I’m calling this lust. We do this. We’re human. Worldly. And when it comes right down to it, we aren’t lusting after someone else’s body, we’re lusting after the world’s body.
In John 2:16-17, Jesus said
16 For everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—comes not from the Father but from the world. 17 The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever.
I have searched throughout the Bible and can’t find anywhere a description of what our bodies should look like. I can find many places where God reminds us how temporal they are. I can find scripture where He tells us that we shouldn’t worry about them. But nowhere can I find where God encourages us to make our bodies as small and as blemish free as possible. This is the world’s body, not God’s.
But you might say, “The body is a temple, I must care for my body!” Care for our bodies? Yes. Manipulate them to fit the world’s standards of health and beauty? No. Beloved, your body size and shape is not an indicator of your health.
If your body is larger, don’t assume you are unhealthy, and if your body is smaller, don’t assume you are healthy. Just like a box of Valentine’s chocolates, you can’t tell what’s on the inside of each morsel from peering down into the box. It is important that we don’t read this scripture through the world’s lens of what a healthy body looks like.
The world has given us an unattainable standard of beauty in the name of health that has caused us to be dissatisfied with the vessel that God has given each of us for his Holy Spirit. The world’s ways distract us with calorie or carb counting, a number on the scale, body checking, and figuring out how to fit in a workout instead of focusing on the things that really matter to Him. Truly caring for our bodies is honoring our bodies even if they don’t fit the world’s standards.
If we were to honor our bodies, what would that look like?
We would feed it when it is hungry, we would listen to what it wants to eat.
We would clothe it in clothes that fit, not clothes that we want to make it fit.
We would move it in ways that make it feel good, not move it to make it look a certain way or to punish ourselves or make up for what we ate last night.
We wouldn’t cram our schedules with meaningless tasks, we would give it rest and sleep.
We wouldn’t berate ourselves for our curves, we would speak kindly to it.
This is loving your body.
Loving in the biblical sense doesn’t mean that you like everything about someone first before you love them. Loving is serving and caring for someone regardless of whether you like them. The same goes for our bodies. Letting our faith be bigger than our feelings (loving versus liking) reminds us that God made us on purpose. And he made us for a purpose…just the way we are.
With more kindness and patience for this vessel that God has given us, we will grow to love and appreciate our bodies, seeing them as His creation. Viewing our bodies in this light frees us up to see and do the great works that He has planned for us.
We just can’t love our bodies well when we are busy lusting after someone else’s.
Father, thank you for giving us bodies that make it possible for us to serve You. Please help us turn away from what the world says our bodies should look like and help us see our bodies the way that you see them – beautiful works of art. Amen.
Megan is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist who lives in Greensboro, North Carolina. Megan specializes in non-diet, heath at every size nutrition therapy for women and nutrition therapy for the treatment of eating disorders. She believes that difficult relationships with food and body image are barriers to women living life fully the way that Christ wants for us and she loves helping women find freedom in eating and acceptance of their bodies so that they can turn more attention towards living.