As a devoted follower of Jesus for the past 21 years, I’ve sat through numerous sermons. From captivating interpretations of the story of Balaam’s donkey to thought-provoking insights that have deepened my relationship with God, I’ve heard it all—or so I thought.
Surprisingly, there’s been a glaring gap in the topics discussed from the pulpit: body image. With 97% of women and an estimated 95% of men wrestling with body image concerns, how is it that churches, a place of refuge and guidance, remain silent on this pervasive issue?
While the world outside offers a myriad of messages on body positivity, neutrality, and acceptance, the church has mostly stayed on the sidelines. At best, we’ve adopted an attitude of body detachment, emphasizing the value of the soul over the body. Yet, even within these sacred walls, the echoes of societal standards of beauty and body shaming have been subtly present.
I vividly recall the days when pastors praised their wives for maintaining a “smoking hot” physique or when a female preacher would demean her own body, leading younger listeners like myself to question our own self-worth. This silence, or even worse, reinforcement of negative body image, is a disservice. Why has the church avoided this topic? Is it fear of the unknown or simple ignorance?
By not addressing this issue head-on, churches might unintentionally reinforce the world’s distorted perspective on body image, merely amplifying it with spiritual undertones. Such attitudes can create a false narrative that one’s value in the eyes of God is determined by how closely one’s body aligns with cultural norms. This mindset is not just unhelpful but goes against the very essence of the Gospel.
Our bodies are God-given vessels, temples that serve as the meeting point between us and the divine. They enable us to interact with others, serve the community, and experience the wonders of life. By neglecting this topic, churches fail to offer hope and healing to countless souls grappling with body-related insecurities.
The time is overdue, but it’s not too late. The church can offer a unique perspective, bridging the gap between worldly standards and spiritual values. Let’s usher in a new era where the church embraces, educates, and empowers its congregation to view their bodies through the lens of divine love and purpose.
Stay tuned for part two where we will explore actionable steps the church can take to infuse grace, love, and acceptance into our understanding of body image.