Friday, December 27, 2013

five lies about your body

As we head into the New Year and take inventory of what we would like to change, many women will place making changes to our bodies at the top of the list. How we view our bodies will determine whether our plans to change them are God-honoring or self-elevating. Do we see our bodies the way our Maker does?

With that in mind, here are five lies our culture tells us about how we should perceive our bodies – and five truths from Scripture to help us shift our perspective.

  • Lie #1: Your body is decorative. It should be used to attract the attention of men and the envy of women. What matters most is how it looks.
  • Truth: Your body is useful. It should be used to accomplish the good works that God ordained for you to do. What matters most is what it does.

  • Lie #2: Your body’s appearance is flawed but fixable. You are not the right size, shape or color. But you can (and should) go to enormous effort and expense to change that.
  • Truth: Your body’s appearance is designed by God. You are fearfully and wonderfully made, according to a plan. Because God is a God of infinite creativity, people come in many different sizes, shapes and colors.

  • Lie #3: Your body is a source of power. It can and should be trained, toned and preserved from all signs of age. Its level of attractiveness or strength can and should be leveraged to give you dominance over and independence from others.
  • Truth: Your body has a set of limits. It succumbs to hunger, fatigue, exposure, injury, illness and age. Its fragility and fleeting vigor should point you toward submission to and dependence on a strong and eternal God.

  • Lie #4: Your body is yours. You are its owner. You may neglect it, obsess over it, indulge it, punish it, pamper it or alter it as you wish.
  • Truth: Your body is not yours. You are its steward. Because you were bought with a price, all decisions about and behaviors toward your body must be run through the filter of, “Does this glorify God in my body?”

  • Lie #5: Transforming the outside will fix the inside. By making changes to your body, you can change the condition of your heart. You can have more self-confidence, better self-esteem and greater happiness.
  • Truth: Transforming the inside will make peace with the outside. A mind being progressively transformed by the gospel rejects the worship of self and the futile pursuit of happiness. By pursuing holiness, your attitude toward your body will change, as you learn to love it as a good gift from God.

It is true that our bodies bear the impact of the fall: disability, disfigurement, infertility, chronic illness, terminal illness and even advanced age make these temporary dwellings difficult to love. People who face challenges like these think of their bodies differently than people who don’t. They tend to enjoy a heightened ability to value wellness over attractiveness. They readily understand that a beautiful body is a body that simply functions as it should.

Has someone close to you known a great health challenge? Honor their suffering by adopting their perspective, whether you ever share their experience. Trade cultural lies for the truth. May 2014 be a year in which we steward well the gifts of our bodies to bring about the will of God wherever they carry us. May it be a year in which we see our bodies as God sees them, in which we serve Him with eager hands, swift feet, and a joyful countenance. What could be more beautiful than that?

related posts:
New Year, New Self-Control
To Your Daughter Speak the Truth


  1. With all the New Year's resolutions coming up, I sure appreciated this perspective on how important it is that our motivations are godly. We have convinced ourselves that "self-improvement" is the key to our happiness, when all the while, it's our heart that's out of shape. Thanks for sharing this important truth!

  2. Jen, this is so great! The line between working out to feel healthy, energetic and strong (for your family and home), and wanting to look a certain way is so hard to discern. Do you have any more wisdom about how to find balance between staying healthy as an instrument of God and working out in a way where you idolize your appearance and physique? Especially after having children, it can be so easy to want to get back to "normal". You've had 4 children, did you have those thoughts, and what did you do with them?

    1. Well, I didn't go back to looking like I did before I had four babies, but I guess it seems odd to me to expect to. Nothing in my life was the same after childbirth, so why would I expect my body to be? But I know a lot of women do feel pressure to look like nothing happened. The popularity of the "hot mom" idea captures the weirdness we deal with, as though "hot" is an adjective we should all long for.

      What helped my perspective most was having a health crisis right after my first baby was born. Spending a lot of time around very sick people and considering my own mortality radically changed the way I thought about my body. It's a battle we fight in our minds. We have to ask the Lord to make us aware of how much time we are giving to thinking about how we look, and we have to ask Him to break our hearts over our vanities. I've learned to look at the physical signs of motherhood, aging, etc as markers of the faithfulness of God. Why would I want to eliminate all evidence of the path the Lord has taken me down?

      I also thought a lot about what I was modeling for my daughters (and my sons) if I focused on appearance. Most of us inherit our relationship with our bodies from our moms. I really felt the burden of that. It was sobering to me that if I couldn't reel in my own insecurities I could hand them down to my daughters or model a whacky picture of beauty for my sons. I think the Lord used that to help teach me to hate my vanity. I still have my own battles with it, and I’m sure I always will. I did an interview recently where I talked a little more about this. You can read it here:

  3. you've shared a tremendously helpful, healthy, godly perspective. I appreciate this post beyond words and pray it reaches and resounds in many ~