Nope. I’m going to write about moms working out.
It’s interesting that this topic has struck a national nerve twice in the past couple of months. Apparently it’s an issue.
Back in September, “Fit Mom,” fitness enthusiast Maria Kang, posted a social media photo of her herself, sculpted and toned, flexing next to her three children, all under 3-years-old. She captioned the picture, “What’s Your Excuse?” While I have no evidence, my guess is that this triggered a collaborative effort of Facebook ladies plotting the first ever assassination attempt on a non-profit-founding young mother. Nonetheless, Kang survived the vitriol of like 3 billion middle-aged women, and has since gone onto international speaking tours defending her message as promoting a healthy lifestyle, not just “fat-shaming.”
More fuel was thrown onto the discussion this past week when Caroline Berg Eriksen, a Norwegian soccer player’s wife, posted an Instagram selfie four days after giving birth. She not only looked like she hadn’t been pregnant, but that she’d been spending 3-4 hours in the gym each day.
Where am I going with all this? Well, it’s not going to be “Is Jesus okay with me despising these women?” Rather, health and fitness is actually a topic I’ve been meaning to address for quite some time. However, like most pastors, I haven’t had the guts to speak on the issue – not because there’s no biblical ethic on the matter, but rather that I know we’re obviously hypersensitive to weight issues.
But it’s time.
Let’s start by acknowledging that our society has collectively wavered on the issue of weight and physical fitness. In the 1990s, fashion magazines portrayed supermodels such as Elle Macpherson, Cindy Crawford, and Christy Turlington as the female ideal, fluctuating around 100 pounds and a size 0 to 2. After an obvious spike of eating disorders in young women, including multiple deaths, America wised up. Or did we. There became a “fat acceptance movement” and national personalities who had struggled with weight, like Oprah, and even former supermodels, like Tyra Banks, became outspoken proponents of how “Big is Beautiful.” Okay. So, we perhaps publicly became less vain. But now we’ve smartened up to the health issues related to obesity (or simply being overweight, as studies indicate hardly anyone considers themselves “obese”). Shows like the Biggest Loser exposed the fact that obesity, leading to heart problems, diabetes, and becoming one of the country’s major contributors to death today, is not okay and, in fact, an epidemic in America right now.
Hmmm. Why can’t we seem to find any healthy balance?
The problem is that we were stilling viewing our bodies as our own. In other words, the gaunt, waif supermodel was saying – “We’ll if I’m super skinny, even to the point of deathly thin, I can garner millions of dollars and tremendous fame.” But the overweight person was saying, “I don’t care what other people think. It makes me happy to eat. So, I’ll eat whatever I want and exercise as little as I want.” You see, it’s essentially the same problem – MY life, and MY body, are MY own. Looking at your life as your own is the single issue that causes the most problems in your life.
How is the Bible different?
Look what the Apostle Paul says to the Corinthians (who I’m convinced were just ancient Americans): You say, “Food for the stomach and the stomach for food, and God will destroy them both.” The body, however, is not meant for sexual immorality but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body…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. (1 Cor. 6:13, 19-20) Now what is the principle that Paul is establishing here? It isn’t that we shouldn’t have sex with people who are not our spouses. That’s certainly true, but that’s his application of the principle, not the principle itself. The principle is YOUR BODY IS NOT YOUR OWN. If your body was purchased by Jesus Christ, then it no longer belongs to you. You don’t just get to do with it as you please. Rather, the way you manage your body – the single most important physical gift you’ve been given – is an opportunity to glorify God. “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” (1 Cor. 10:31) See?
This means that, for the believer, vanity is not an option (Prov. 31:30; Jer. 4:30; 1 Sam. 16:7). However, gluttony and sloth are also not options (Prov. 23:20-21; Phil. 3:18-19; 1 Tim. 4:8).
What’s your motivation to flee such things? Well, I’ll admit that fitting into an old suit or dress in time for a wedding can be influential, but only for a time. You see, once such events are over, all motivation is lost. Furthermore, when the endgame is simply to make yourself look better or even feel better about yourself, if the goal is accomplished, it will invariably cause you to feel superior to others and look down on those who haven’t worked as hard as you. So, let me offer a purer motivation.
Only when you see Jesus use his body to your glory will your heart be melted to use your body to his glory. His body took whips, spit, thorns, nails, and crucifixion all so that your body could one day be raised to be more glorious than you can imagine. (1 Cor. 15:42-44)
The way we manage our bodies is a big part of how we express gratitude for that and testify to that new body’s impending arrival.