Season: 8 Episode: 120
Should we be concerned about body equality? What is the real issue? Shanda breaks down body-mind dualism and how this relates to body equality. She also talks about health and what we should really be concerned about with body image and body equality.
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Hey guys! Welcome back to another episode of Her Faith Inspires podcast where we take cultural issues and align them to biblical truth. I’ve got a great episode for you today that I hope will help you understand the responsibility we have over our bodies and what the culture is now saying with body equality and body positivity.
Gosh, I mean every time I think we’ve hit the bottom of the weirdo barrel, there’s some other whackado coming up with some crazy stuff that I just can’t wrap my brain around. I don’t know if you’ve been hearing more about body equality and body positivity, but I sure have and what I’ve noticed is this language surrounding body equality that’s just so absurd. For example, I saw a Tik Tok video, I don’t have Tik Tok but sometimes they come up on other social media platforms, and this one was of an over weight man talking about how he couldn’t fit into a chair and if you can fit into a chair, then you have privilege.
Let me first say that I agree we all have different body types and insecurities about our bodies.
I’m human, I sometimes struggle with these things too. The problem I have is with the overall message and how it gets really distorted when other people say absolutely crazy things about having privilege if your butt can fit into a chair.
So what is the bigger message here and why should it be addressed? For a few reasons:
- We are not just matter. We are a mind, body and soul being. There is a responsibility to steward our bodies well. But what does that mean? We’re going to talk about it.
2. Skinny or not, health matters!
3. The culture is sending conflicting messages about same and different. How should we view this when it comes to our bodies?
Ok. So we are not just physical beings
We are a mind, body and soul being and we see this in Scripture with the first command: Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul mind and strength. Of course this is not in line with a naturalistic worldview. But what I feel Christians need to do is emphasize loving God with our bodies. What’s funny (not in a haha way, but kind of odd), is that we don’t often talk about that. We often focus more on loving God with our hearts and confuse that with emotion. That’s another topic for another day.
I mean, I’m guilty of this. I talk often of loving God with all of your heart and mind, but I don’t often talk about loving God with all of your body. Well, today is the day, folks!
Nancy Pearcy talks bout body-mind dualism in her book, Love Thy Body, and in short, she talks about how people who struggle with how they view their bodies and what they think in their minds is because people often detach their bodies from their minds. They think they’re separable. They have a lower view of the body because their minds get to tell the body what it is.
Take abortion for example.
I’ve already talked about this and I have a video about it on YouTube, but those who abort babies do not deny they’re human, but being human is not enough to the pro-abortionist. They know the unborn have a body, but they don’t qualify the baby as being a person until a certain point …. And that’s a point at which not many can agree.
Nancy Pearcy says this in the Gospel Coalition which I’ll link in the show notes. She says this in regard to homosexuality: “Here, too, the secular ethic splits the human being into two parts—body versus mind. On the level of biology, physiology, anatomy, and biochemistry, no one really denies that males and females are counterparts to one another. That’s how the human sexual and reproductive system is designed.
The body has a built-in telos or purpose.
To engage in same-sex behavior, then, is implicitly to say: Why should my moral choices be directed by the body’s telos? Why should the structure of my body have any say in what I do sexually? Why should it inform my psychological identity? The implication is that what counts is solely my mind, feelings, and desires.”
So what does this have to do with loving God with all of your body as well as your mind and soul? First, we have to understand that we are created in the image of God. Every human being has intrinsic value. No matter what your body type is, you are valuable simply because you are human. That’s why abortion is wrong. That’s why no matter what color your skin is, every human is equal in value. No matter what gender you are, you are valuable.
Loving God with all of our bodies takes into account that God created our bodies to function and move the way He designed them to.
But that is the Christian worldview. The culture’s view places value on physical things. We know God doesn’t do this. He told Samuel the prophet in 1 Sam 16:7, “But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The LORD does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.”
You may say, “Shanda, God just said the physical is not important. It’s the heart that matters.” Let’s look again at the context. In this context, God was looking for a man to fill a position as king. He was not talking about value and worth here as a human being. He didn’t say kill David’s brother because I’ve rejected him. God rejected him as king, but his intrinsic value as an image bearer never faded.
The point God was making is that humanity places too much value on outward appearance to make judgments on worth and value, and this whole body positivity/body equality message focuses too much on the body which is exactly what I think the messengers are trying not to do.
In talking so much about the body, they are placing too much value on the physical.
But that’s the culture we live in. But we are more than just a physical being and if we only focus on playing value on all body-types and not because we are created in God’s image, then the scales tip to the other side … the unhealthy side of things … which is exactly what is happening in our culture. We are praising obesity and overweight body types and calling it body positivity and body equality.
And one side note about the body and the church ..
I grew up in church and I heard a lot about the flesh and the flesh warring against the spirit. But the flesh is not the physical body. That kind of language runs the risk of creating a negative view of the physical body unless you learn what it means when we say the flesh in regard to spiritual matters … it means human nature. The nature of man. It wars against the spirit and that is why we are battling our own desires through temptations.
So again, even in the church, we can view the physical body as less than because we use terminology like the flesh for spiritual matters.
Which I don’t think we should necessarily change that terminology. We just need to do a better job explaining it. Because many women especially have trouble with how they view their bodies. We can be very critical and hard on ourselves when it comes to body type and how we look. But I think we’re missing the point of the whole body-equality argument when we equate it to struggling with body image.
And that brings me to my next point: Skinny or not, health matters!
Body positivity is not a new term. It’s been around for a while and it gained traction because was is attractive was defined as thin. Thee ideal body was a woman who was a size 2, and with the creation of social media, it brought a lot of insecurity.
I read a book written by a former Victoria Secret model called I’m No Angel, where she wrote about the modeling industry calling models fat when they looked toned or muscular. Many models had eating disorders because they were trying to fit the criteria for being in the industry.
So you have that criteria and obviously that’s not healthy.
That’s not an image anyone can keep up with when they have to take on an eating disorder to maintain that image. But on the other end of that, we have the message that all bodies are acceptable … even overweight bodies that are not healthy. So where do we balance this?
verywellmind.com wrote this in one of their articles: “Body positivity is a social, worldwide movement focusing on equality and acceptance for all body types and sizes. One of the goals is to challenge how our society, particularly all forms of media, presents and views the physical human body.
Plastic surgery, injections, dangerous diet culture, and extreme workout regimens became the norm for decades as skinny jeans and size two waists seemed to be the perfect body type for mainstream society. This “skinny” culture quickly led to low self-esteem, depression, alcoholism, and extreme eating disorders. In the early 2000s, the Internet was the primary place where body shaming and body love were spread.
People were commonly shamed and bullied for being “overweight,” but many individuals started speaking out on normalizing all body types, regardless of size and weight.
So, let’s review: We have one extreme where women are turning to eating disorders because they are trying to fit into an image they cannot maintain. And then we have another extreme where women are being told all body types are normal. Is there balance in either of those messages? I don’t think so.
I agree with some of the body positivity message: I agree that wrinkles and cellulite are a normal part of life. I have both. I agree that too skinny is just as unhealthy as over weight.
But I also believe there is too much focus on appearance in the message of the body positivity people, the people obsessed with working out and athletic performance, and the ones who want to be size 2 and tiny. All of them have the same thing in common: their bodies have become a temple of their own making … not a temple of the Holy Spirit.
We’ll get to that more in a minute.
The overall point to body positivity, working out, and body image should be health and stewarding it well. We only get one body and we don’t get to choose it. People do some crazy things to their bodies and some of that is irreversible.
Why is the body the thing that gets mistreated? I’ve said this before but the physical parallels the spiritual. Our bodies follow the mind and the heart. Jesus said, “Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.” That means we see the effects of what’s in the heart.
Also, gluttony is a sin. We don’t often hear that preached in sermons, but it is. It is in line with one of the fruits of the spirit which is self-control. When we overeat, we are showing that we lack self-control. You can search Proverbs for several verses on gluttony.
Yes, we have different body types.
I have a much more difficult time building muscle than some other women I know. I am long and lean. I am built more like a runner than a lifter. It’s frustrating, but that’s the way it goes. There are some who wish they were leaner, but they’re bigger boned. That doesn’t mean they’re not healthy. It’s just the way they are made. These are the differences we need to embrace.
But to embrace an unhealthy lifestyle and slap “body positivity” on it is foolish. Because we can try and make ourselves feel better by saying we love our bodies, but health-wise, we are doing some damage.
Health matters! We saw this over the last couple of years. Yet, I didn’t see many medical professionals telling people to get healthy as much as they were yelling at them to wear a mask.
42% of Americans are obese.
It’s the fist time in history where we’ve pushed past the 40% mark. This contributes to heart disease, high blood pressure, lesser quality of life, diabetes. I mean, who are we kidding?
And for the body positivity movement to say workout and diet culture makes people have low-self esteem? Why? Why would that be? That’s just another way to say, “I don’t want to be held accountable for my choices.” Yeah, that’s fine. But there are still consequences and no one is going to suffer them but the one who made the choices to get themselves there.
What’s the cultures mixed messages about same and different?
This is the part that gets me. The culture tells us there’s no difference between men and women. Gender is fluid.Yet, the culture wants us to embrace difference in body types. Doesn’t make sense. It’s a contradiction.
I said at the beginning of this episode that we are all created in the image of God. That is our similarity. But God created each and everyone of us unique in that He made some male and some female. There’s a difference. He made some of us tall, short, darker, lighter, different eye color, gifts. We know all of this, right?
We should celebrate our differences. My problem is when the culture wants to tell you the differences to celebrate and the ones they say don’t matter … well, just ignore them.
Our responsibility to steward well:
I want to leave this episode today by reiterating some of the things I said:
- The emphasis should be on health. Not body-equality. To say every body is different so it must be equal is missing the point. We are already equal because we’re created in the image of God. The real issue should be our health … both mental and physical. Because like Nancy Pearcy says, we can view ourselves in the mirror with our minds and come up with something completely irrational.
- We have a responsibly to steward our bodies. That means a whole lot of things. Like what we do with it and to it. 1Cor 16:9 says, “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.” This is in the context of sexual immorality, but we can become so autonomous that we think we own this body. But it is meant to be the temple of the Holy Spirit. What does that mean? It means in the OT times, God dwelt in a temple and people who wanted to meet with God had to go to the temple.
But Jesus has made it possible for the Holy Spirit to come and dwell among us by taking up residence within the body of the believers.
We are now the temple of the Holy Spirit and that means we have an intimate relationship with the God who created us. If we think we are not responsible for what we do with and to our bodies, we don’t understand what it means to be the temple of the Holy Spirit.
3. And finally, I want to say again that I agree with some of the things the body positivity movement shares. Not a lot. But some. When I hear people say you’re privileged if you can sit in an airplane seat, I’m like, no I just work by butt off in the gym and I choose to be careful about what I eat. You can choose to work that hard too, if you are an able bodied person.
I want to remind you again that you are a mind, body and soul being. Our souls are eternal yet one day we will die. However, do you know your body will be transformed and renewed? Paul tells us this in Thessalonians. So treat it well.
If you have any questions about this or anything else I share, you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll catch you on the next one.