How should Christians respond to the body positivity and body image movement today? How do we deal with our own personal struggles with these issues? Many Christian women may feel there isn't a place to care about their bodies. Doesn't the Bible tell us that our life is more than our body? But this doesn't erase the negative feelings we have about the body that God has made.
First, let's thank God that He cares and knows our frame. He isn't a God who shuns our personal struggles, but He willingly comes to walk with us through them. He cares about every woman and teen who is struggling with self-perception and self-worth. How do I know this? Because He created everyone, the sinner and the saint. He gave human beings their worth and value, and He crowned them all as the crown of His creation.
"Yet you made them only a little lower than God and crowned them with glory and honor." - Psalm 8:5
God is not indifferent to us, after all, He did come in the form of a human being, taking on the form of our frailty through Jesus Christ our Lord. So let's settle it in our minds that He does care, according to 1 Peter 5:7.
What is Our Body Made For?
The Bible is clear about what our bodies are made for. Our bodies are for the glory of God.
"You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body." -
1 Corinthians 6:20
Glory means high renown or honor; magnificence and great beauty; the splendor and bliss of heaven; praise worship and thanksgiving to a deity. We are made to honor, worship, and praise God with our bodies. What does this look like? It looks like taking care of our bodies in health and fitness (1 Cor. 3:16-17), working as unto the Lord (Col. 3:23), submitting ourselves to God's will daily (James 4:7), and keeping our bodies free from sin and uncleanness (Romans 6:13).
It is also worth noting that we are made to give God pleasure. He delights in us when we worship and honor Him with everything that we are, and in return, He gives us all of His goodness.
'Moses said, “Please show me your glory.” And he said, “I will make all my goodness pass before you and will proclaim before you my name ‘The Lord.’ And I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show mercy on whom I will show mercy.”- Exodus 33:18-20
Should Christians Care About Body Image?
There are teachings in the Bible about our body image, so yes. Christians should care about their body image and self-perception. If we apply the scriptures, we can see that they are a perfect balance between our love and devotion to God and our love for our neighbors (society). How we show up in the world is essential for any person and especially believers.
Some people like to refute arguments about how our manner of dress shouldn't affect the next person. But just as there are reasons why businesses have dress code signs and policies in their employee handbook, the Church has a policy and it is modesty.
"I also want women to dress modestly, with decency and propriety, not with braided hair or gold or pearls or expensive clothes, but with good deeds, appropriate for women who profess to worship God." - 1 Timothy 2:9-10
So first, let us stand on the principles of modesty when we talk about caring for our body image. Everything we do is a representation of the Kingdom of Heaven and society has seen its share of misrepresentation by the Church in astounding ways. Christians should not be the ones creating stumbling blocks for others by our compromising God's truths.
And then there is the topic of "toxic purity culture"-- while I agree that teachers from the pulpit have misconstrued the message of modesty by applying emphasis and shame on women than men, God's word still applies to us. It's okay to disagree with your leaders, but it's not okay to disagree with God's word because all that He says is good and perfect.
How you see yourself matters! Self-perception is similar to self-awareness and the Bible encourages it. In fact, modesty isn't just how you dress, it's also a heart posture. A synonym for modesty is humility, which is a fruit of the Holy Spirit. God only answers the prayers of those who remain humble and repentant.
"LORD, You have heard the desire of the humble; You will prepare their heart; You will cause Your ear to hear," - Psalm 10:17
Having the right view of your humanity will keep your heart in a humble posture before God and in a humble position in society. It is usually pride that causes us to focus on our bodies too much because we might care about how others see us. If your thoughts are, "Do they think I look good?" Then your heart is in the wrong place. Our thoughts should be, "Is God pleased with me?" God is our Righteous Judge, and He says that He doesn't judge appearances, but He looks upon the heart. 1 Samuel 16:7
How a woman sees herself will show in how she carries herself. Women who are nonbelievers will have a sinful view of their bodies and the fruits of this are seen everywhere. Scrolling on social media for a few minutes, you will most likely run into someone half-naked or completely naked these days. The sinful nature only does what the flesh craves, and that's attention, self-gratification, and personal glory. If you are a Christian and you follow the impulses of your body, then you must seek freedom from this pattern immediately or you risk being separated from the Lord. You must renew your mind in God's truth (Romans 12:1-2) and kill the deeds of your flesh.
"for if you are living according to the [impulses of the] flesh, you are going to die. But if [you are living] by the [power of the Holy] Spirit you are habitually putting to death the sinful deeds of the body, you will [really] live forever." - Romans 8:13 AMP
But What If I Don't Feel Good Enough?
Many women just don't feel good enough or worthy. Well, let me ask you, what or who are you trying to be good enough for? If we know that God doesn't judge by appearances to be worthy of your calling, then in what aspect are you not good enough? I am not trying to minimize your feelings, you have reasons for coming to this thought pattern. But I wanted to settle that God doesn't disregard you if you don't look the part. He rejected King David's brothers from being king and Samuel thought they were perfect in stature. 1 Samuel 16:7
So please, don't think you have to be an Instagram model to accomplish the work of the Lord.
A common way that many women don't feel good enough is because they are measuring themselves by the world standard of beauty. Statistics show that 87% of women compare themselves to images online and comparison can influence how you treat your body. If we are forcing ourselves into extensive fitness programs and chasing the latest diet pill because we don't measure up to world standards then we are falling short of the glory of God.
In the above passage, we learned that our bodies are for God's glory, meaning, our bodies are for His worship. We fall short of that worship when we are seeking personal glory for ourselves based on how we measure up to society. Your eyes are no longer on adoring the Father, but on adorning yourself so that you can prove your worth to a world that won't care tomorrow. This is the issue of pride deep in the heart, we are worrying about how others perceive us and if we're acceptable.
"Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off every weight and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with endurance the race set out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author, and perfecter of our faith..." - Hebrews 12:2
This is a heavy weight to carry and a sin that easily entangles women who spend a lot of time coveting and comparing looks. Again, I'm not sure what is making you not feel good enough, but I at least wanted to point out the two major reasons why women don't feel worthy.
Christian Women Suffer from Body Image & Low Self-Esteem, Too
Your self-worth is basically self-esteem, and your body image does have an effect on the value you place upon yourself. If you have depression associated with low self-esteem and body image, then you deserve help and healing, too. At the beginning of this post, we learned that God does care and is concerned with every area of your life. Maybe you have experienced a combination of all of these areas I've described and you're tired of dealing with them alone. You're not alone! I've had my share of all of these experiences in my own self-esteem struggles.
But are you ready to finally break free from body shame and low self-esteem? Are you ready to transform your thinking and be bold in worshiping God with your body? Then you should join my free 4-part journey to healing body shame or, you can speak with me directly if you'd like a private accountability partner. Our call is on the house 😌
If you found this helpful to your walk with God, please share it on social media with your best friends. I look forward to connecting with you!