I often wonder if women centuries ago struggled with loving their bodies. I am not sure, but they probably did in their own way. However, I would venture to say that the pressure on women to look a certain way is worse today than it has ever been. Access to the internet has not done us a favor. Even in my lifetime, I have seen the pressure to conform grow exponentially. Sure, in my 20s, when I was in tip-top shape, I was insecure and I would find things wrong with myself. But today the pressure seems even more intense. So how do you love your body in the midst of a culture that tells us the exact opposite?
Our Bodies and the Current Culture
Twenty years ago, we were mostly competing with magazines. Now, we fall victim to the ever-expanding tentacles of social media. The message is everywhere. Buy this cream and reduce your wrinkles! Follow my eating plan and lose weight! Social media, ads, shows, movies tell us what beauty is and when we look in the mirror, we often feel like we have fallen short of expectations. Can we even keep up?
The definition of beauty has changed and it will keep changing. A quick review of art history shows us that what was beautiful then, is no longer beautiful now. Even Marilyn Monroe would not meet model requirements in today’s world.
But can we expect anything else from a secular culture?
How about within the church? What are the messages that we do receive? We do not hear much about the human body. While there is a lot of emphasis on the spiritual, there is almost no emphasis on the physical. We have all heard many sermons on how our spiritual life should be and others on how it is not good to be carnal, driven by our flesh. However, when was the last time you heard a sermon on any redeeming aspect of the human body?
Should You Even Love Your Body?
To have a healthy view of our bodies, we must have a biblical view. With that in mind, we should ask the question if we should even love our bodies? The hidden Pharisee in me wants to shout “no”! It would almost seem un-Christian. Isn’t loving our bodies plain old vanity? Doesn’t Proverbs 31:30 tell us “Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised”?
Well, loving our bodies could be vanity if we approach it from the wrong perspective. For example, do we admire our beauty in the mirror as if we are better than others? That is vanity. But there is a way to love our bodies that is not only good, but godly and biblical.
3 Biblical Truths to Help You Love Your Body
To truly love our bodies, we have to see what God has to say about it. It is only when we renew our mind with God’s word that we can build a healthy view of our ourselves.
1. Our Bodies Were Made in His Image
As Christians, the over-emphasis on the spiritual has caused us to overlook the importance of our physical form. No, I am not talking about good hygiene, make-up, trendy clothes–or anything that we may do to make ourselves “beautiful.” That can lead to vanity. I am talking about loving and appreciating our bodies for what they are, His creation. When God created man and woman, He said, “it was very good.” (Genesis 1:31)
But God went further than that. While all of creation was considered to be very good, only man and woman were created in the image of God. I know there are various theories of what that actually means, but I know one thing for sure, God’s image is certainly reflected in our bodily form.
Look at Genesis 9:6. “Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed, for God made man in his own image.” In these instructions that God gives Noah and his sons, if someone sheds blood, God would require their own blood to be shed. Why? Because men and women were created in the image of God. Destroying the body brought real consequences because of what the body represents: a beautiful, awesome God.
This should really make us reflect on how we view our physical bodies. How can we look in the mirror and criticize ourselves? Are we not criticizing God’s creation? Are we not chiding the image of God?
We need to change our perspective. We need to stop identifying our bodies as ours and start identifying them as created by God in His image.
The Imperfect Image of God Still Has Worth
When sin entered the world, everything good and beautiful that God made was corrupted. That includes our bodies which for the moment, are finite. We may have been born with a body that is not fully functional or with time, certain parts of our body may stop working correctly. Our bodies age, they get hurt. It is all a result of the fall. Does that mean that our bodies are worthless? Certainly not! The instructions given in Genesis 9:6 were after the fall and before Jesus redeemed us. Even an imperfect image of a perfect, omnipotent being has insurmountable worth and value.Even an imperfect image of a perfect, omnipotent being has insurmountable worth and value. Click To Tweet
2. Our Bodies Are Not Our Own
These bodies, broken as they may be, have insurmountable worth not only because they were created in the image of God, but because they were bought with a price. They are not our own and they are to be loved, cherished, and respected as such. That is why sexual immorality is forbidden. The Bible tells us that while all other sin is outside the body, sexual immorality is a sin against the body. We can sin against God. We can sin against others. But we can also sin against our own bodies!!!
18 Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body. 19 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, 20 for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.1 Corinthians 6:18-20 (ESV)
Jesus paid dearly for these bodies of ours, and we must treat them as such because our bodies are not our own. This places a responsibility on us to be a good stewards of our bodies. I Corinthians 6:18-20 above reminds us that we are the temple of the Holy Spirit and that we should glorify God in our bodies. That requires us to shift our thinking from: “What do I want to do with my body?” to “What would glorify God in my body?”
If God wants us to glorify Him in our bodies it is because He sees the beauty in them. He wouldn’t place His spirit in them if He didn’t and He wouldn’t want to redeem them either. The beginning of that redemption began when Jesus paid the ultimate price for them on the cross, but these bodies of ours will one day be fully redeemed. That brings us to our last point.
3. Our Bodies Have Eternal Purpose
Our bodies will forever be linked with our spiritual being. They have eternal purpose. We tend to forget that we are not going to be living as spiritual beings in heaven for eternity. Even though death may temporarily separate the soul and spirit from the body, it is not meant to remain that way. Heaven is not our final destination. On the contrary, when all the events in Revelation have come and gone, we will be living in our bodies (redeemed, glorified) here on a renewed earth. (For a more in depth look at this concept, I highly recommend N.T. Wright’s book, Surprised by Hope, Rethinking Heaven, the Resurrection, and the Mission of the Church).
It certainly puts a new perspective on things, doesn’t it?
Love your body (as imperfect as it may be because of illness, age, etc) because it is made in His image, God paid a huge price for it, and it will be fully redeemed by Christ. It was created to live on for eternity reflecting the image of God.
I hope that next time you look in the mirror, you will see yourself in a new light by grounding yourself in these truths from God’s word.
Other articles that might interest you:
Created in His Image: Defining Truth for Women
To The Girl Who Says, “I Hate My Body”