Today I ran across an article about how science has now supposedly proven what the most attractive body type is. I clicked over, hoping that we have finally started moving back toward pale and chunky, like the objects of beauty in the paintings from the Renaissance. Imagine my disappointment when I realized that the article was comparing women who are thin vs. women who are thin who also have muscles. By the way, thin, muscular women are supposedly the ideal body type. Apparently now just being thin isn’t enough.
Those types of articles are poison to our hearts and minds.
I’ve heard it said that an idol is anything that you love more than you love God. But, have you ever considered that an idol can also be something that you think about more than you think about God? Even if it’s something that you hate? I wonder how many women out there, if we really admit it, spend a large portion of every day obsessing about the way we look? How many times a day do you have a hateful thought about some body part you despise? How often do you long for a body or face like someone else? Have you ever, like me, left the house for church on Sunday morning completely crushed by the feeling that you are not attractive enough?
Or maybe you are on the other side of things. Maybe you love your body so much that you show it off at every opportunity. Maybe it is what defines who you are in your mind. Maybe you love your face so much that you spend large chunks of your day taking selfies so that you can get the approval of the world on social media.
How can we not see that we are idolizing our bodies?
It must be one of hell’s favorite ways to make us spiritually blind. Because here is the truth about an obsession with appearance: it doesn’t just shift our focus from our spiritual condition to our physical. It also changes the way we see other people. Suddenly we aren’t looking at the people around us with spiritual eyes. We are thinking about their size or their skin or their hair. We’re playing a constant game of comparison, and we can begin despising those that we feel have been physically blessed. Instead of seeing them for who they are, we see them for what they wear and how long their eyelashes are and how they never struggle with acne and how they seem to be able to eat whatever they want. And there is no spiritual goodness in that. There is no love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, faithfulness, or self-control in that. There is only pettiness and a brand of judgment that de-values humanity.
What more could Satan want in the women of Christ?
Let’s be brutally honest. At the heart of an obsession with our bodies is the desire to make women jealous and men lustful. I know we don’t want to hear it, but that is the basic truth of the situation. We want to be admired and adored and honored and we want the head seat at the banquet table, and isn’t that what all sin really comes down to? A desire to steal as much glory as we can? It began with the very first sin in the garden, when Eve realized that what she really wanted was to be God’s equal.
In 1 Corinthians 6, Paul warns against sexual immorality, and then he drops this truth that should bring us to our knees: Do you not know that your bodies are temples 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 bodies. (v.20-21)
Why in the world do we pine for the fleeting power that comes with physical beauty when we have the eternal and perfect power of the Holy Spirit inside these shells? When we obsess about our appearance, when we waste heart space longing to look like someone else, when we starve ourselves and punish ourselves and hate ourselves because we don’t meet some arbitrary standard, and even when we desperately try to maintain a beauty that the Bible clearly tells us is temporary, we are not honoring God with our bodies. We are like the Pharisees, honoring God with our lips when our hearts are far from Him. (Matt. 15:8)
We should strive to look and feel our best. But, the endless soundtrack that we keep playing to ourselves? The one that says if we aren’t beautiful we don’t matter? The one that says that God bestows beauty on some and not on others because He is cruel? The one that wishes God had done a little bit better job of forming us? The one that causes us to resent women who have more of what we want? It is killing our spiritual growth. It is blocking our spiritual vision. And, it is making us fear the world more than we fear God.
Jesus came to this earth a humble servant. He could have chosen any body, any face. He could have been born as a beautiful little baby who grew into a movie star of a man. He could have given Himself those piercing blue eyes that we see in paintings. He could have had gorgeous hair and a chiseled face, and He could have caused people to swoon every place He went. But, the Bible tells us that He had no beauty or majesty that would draw people to Him. (Isaiah 53:2) He was an ordinary looking guy. Or maybe He was even considered physically unattractive. It wasn’t His face that He wanted people to remember. It was the glory of God. His only concern was bringing glory to the Father.
We have the same glorifying power living inside these imperfect bodies today. Instead of spending all day thinking about how we wish we were seen by physical eyes, we should begin praying that no one will remember a thing about our physical appearance once we’re gone–that they will only remember the God-glorifying light that pours out of us everywhere we go, unfettered by our former obsession with ourselves.
Thank you so much for this beautiful article spoken with truth from the Spirit. It’s so hard raising kids in this world and terrifying, especially for us right now with an almost 17y/o daughter who’s dating an atheist who she claims she “loves”. I hope she listens as I read this to her and plants a seed. I talk about her purity and body as a gift from God until I’m blue in the face but to hear it written so eloquently from another mom is very refreshing and much appreciated. May God continue to bless you in your writing! Thanks again!
Said a prayer for your daughter, Liz! Thank you for reading and for your comment!
What a wonderful encouragement to women to get their eyes off themselves and onto Jesus! Thank you!
I am 73 and I SO appreciated this … and I forwarded it on the dear ladies in my life who love Christ and desire to pursue Him. Thank you!!!
Thank you, Millicent!
This is full of such timely truth!! Convicted today by that statement – I’ve often made my body into an idol rather than a temple. Thank you for writing this! I’m saving it on my home screen and passing it on to friends.
Me, too, Dina! Thank you for your encouragement!
Thank you for this call to reason. You have blessed every woman and girl who reads this with hope to get to long to see the face of the LORD in all the richness of what it means to see His face as opposed to the vanity of viewing our own.
Karen, I love how you have phrased this. Thanks so much!
This article was beautifully written and so truthful. Thank you for helping us to remember what is really important. We can have the abundant life when we seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness. God bless you!
Thank you, Sherlene!
I found this post through the Christian Daily Reporter. Really appreciated it!
Meredith B Beatty
Ouch, this was powerful and painful. What’s ironic is that last night I was asking myself why my first thought about a person is almost always a judgment on their appearance. And then God brought to my mind how much I evaluate myself in the mirror. Of course that’s why I look at others like that. And then I read your blog.
Yeah! You go girl!
This is such an incredible article. I have been struggling with this very thing lately; not feeling attractive and “posh” enough. Thank you so much for reminding me that my body is the temple of God and not to make other girls envious. 🙂
I, and many women I know, need so much to hear this clear, beautifully and honestly written reminder of who we really are in Christ. Some days, the negative body self talk, obsessing and longing for that which I do not have has crowded out the presence of Jesus in my life almost entirely. This seems to be intensifying as I get older.
You are absolutely right- distraction over our bodies is one of the best ways to spiritually paralyze Christian ( and all!) women.
Heavenly Father, help us to keep our minds, eyes and hearts firmly fixed on our true prize: eternal life in the presence of our Savior, Jesus Christ.
Thankyou ever so much for this Melissa. Bless you.
That was a hard truth, but a truth all the same. Thank you for that and for helping me understand how I am doing this very thing with my body. It consumes my thinking because I put so much into an appearance that isn’t enough to be beautiful to others. Thank you
1 Cor 6:19-20 does not say that each of our individual bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit. The NIV (2011) verson is an unfortunate translation for this particular verse. The Greek says that the church “body” (the “your” is plural, not singular) is a temple of the Holy Spirit. In fact all the “you”‘s and “your”‘s in those two verses are plural, not singular.
It should read, “Do you (plural) not know that your (plural) body (singular) is a temple (singular) of the Holy Spirit…” This is the way the NIV (1984) version reads. Not sure why the NIV (2011) decided to so dramatically go against the original text.
While each believer certainly does have a personal indwelling relationship with the Holy Spirit… the Bible does not present each person as an individual temple. We are collectively a temple.
I’m not sure how (or if) this perspective might change your conclusion?
“Let’s be brutally honest. At the heart of an obsession with our bodies is the desire to make women jealous and men lustful. I know we don’t want to hear it, but that is the basic truth of the situation.“
I LOVE hearing a woman be honest about this.
Ps that’s what “modesty and holiness” is all about …. the exact opposite desire, Spirit, and behavior.
To the point
It’s all about Jesus not us
Beauty is vain indeed Proverbs 31:30 (Christian women are now advertising for “vanity fair” set up by the devil himself) God have Mercy on us and draw us to himself
God bless you for this article
Thank you so much for bringing me back to reality. I have been obsessing a lot lately about how I look. I think that it stem from me having marital issues but I am so glad that God does not look at the outward appearance but he looks at the heart. I am an overcomer!
I honestly disagree with large portions of this article . I spend time on my “beauty regimen” because I think it is a fun hobby . I like trying different products and seeing the results . I work out for health reasons alone …not to make “other woman jealous or men lustful” (that is an EXTREMELY JUDGEMENTAL statement btw !) I feel I am 5lbs overweight and am frustrated by this but only because it signifies a weakness in my dietary discipline. The article seems to be playing to an audience of people who potentially are not interested in their personal appearance ( which is FINE and certainly their choice) and not only justifying this choice and making it seem GODLY but also vilifying people who DO care a great deal . Shame on you
Thank you for sharing this beautiful inspiring story !
This blog was so helpful. I keep praying for the strength to let go of idolizing this! I’ve been on both ends spending way too much energy trying to change my body for the approval and worthiness of others and then getting there and becoming way too obsessed with myself and fearing losing it. Both feel like crap. It has come out full force as my wedding is approaching and I am continuously convicted because it is causing so much pain, but at the same time also a satisfaction. I know God see’s my heart and motives and I am so frustrated that I keep disappointing him. I keep saying after the wedding I’ll change, but I see how horrible that is – your one sentence about making women jealous and making men lust was such a hard truth.