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How do we live in this culture of body obsession without being conformed to it?

Paul addresses this in the 12th chapter of Romans, “So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life–your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life–and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.(The Message 12:1-2).”

Let’s pick this apart. First, we are to place our entire life before God as an offering, or said another way, as an act of worship. This means that our physical bodies are to be holy and pleasing to God. His condition for holy and pleasing has to do with what we do with our bodies in obedience to his Word, not how we physically appear. In fact, no emphasis is placed on physical appearance.

We are to care for our bodies as the temple where God lives. This means we should eat healthy, exercise and take care of our appearance. However, we should resist the imbalance culture places on appearance in determining our worth. God values us because of who we are, not because we lost five pounds or have great legs.

Secondly, we are not to think like the culture thinks unless it lines up with the truth of God’s word. So, when we are constantly told to improve and fix our outward bodies, we are being distracted from the truth of acceptance. Nothing in God’s word says younger looking skin makes you more desirable to God or that big breasts bring success. These are the ideas of fashion gurus, diet experts, the cosmetic industry and plastic surgeons. The intent is simply to get you to buy more product and spend more money.

Paul says fix your attention on God and renew your mind with His thoughts. Don’t be dragged down by the thinking of the culture that pulls you away from the thoughts of God. And that’s exactly what happens when we get caught up in body obsession. Our thoughts are easily pulled away from the way God thinks of us and shifted to the approval of others and some personal standard we have developed from the culture. Our acceptance is all about how thin we are. Our esteem is based on the right nose or fullness of lips. The lie is that the more we do to look like models and celebrities, the more successful we’ll be. But success isn’t being measured by biblical standards. Success means power and money. This type of cultural think is what we must resist.

 

For more help with body image, get a copy of Making Peace With your Thighs by Dr. Linda Mintle

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