Soft pillows, comfy chairs, and holiness...

Picture 6 (Tim) Entertainers are the only ones permitted to be honest, today. But sometimes, scientists are cut some slack and are allowed to speak their minds, too. In that vein, did you notice yesterday's news that women are hard wired not to lose weight as easily as men. WebMD titled their article on the study, "Hunger Control: Women the Weaker Sex?" Turns out if we pay scientists to study the difference between the sexes, one of the results we'll get is that the sex that carries and nurses our children is hard wired to...

Well, to what?

Amazingly, to carry and nurse our children. Brilliant! Which got me thinking...

Anyone who's viewed a Reubens has to be skeptical of the cult of the thin body rampant in the American church. Only the perfectly naive would see it as a battle for holiness, the repentance of those who recognize their god is their belly.

When I was in Africa several years ago, David Wegener cautioned me to watch how I spoke about weight. Over there, he explained, any reference to one's weight (if one is adipose, as I am) is seen as arrogance. In other words, Africa is normal across history in thinking a fat wife contented and prosperous. Not sinful.

Through the years, I've had a number of wives come to me and ask me to pray that they'd lose weight...

Never that they'd win the battle over their appetite (although some undoubtedly would have put it that way if they'd spoken from their heart rather than simply following convention in how they expressed their request).

Usually, I take the occasion to give a pastoral warning concerning the idolatry of the body that permeates our culture; and particularly, the thin body. I tell them that the three books that will always find publishers and sales are books on Abraham Lincoln, dogs, and dieting. Then I ask them whether they think Christians working to lose weight are just serendipitously helped by culture to repent of their sin in this one area, while in every other area culture encourages them in their besetting sin? Or is it possible that all our concern over weight control is just one more capitulation to the Spirit of the Age?

Mary Lee and I well remember some years back, meeting with a husband as he confessed his years of adultery to his wife at our round oak table. And during that time together, there was an unforgettable exchange between them over the wife's weight. The adulterer himself was heavy, but he had the chutzpah to point to his wife's weight as justification for his adultery. Right there in front of us.

Maybe he was attracted to holiness?

Uh, no.

Having explained my reticence to jump on the svelte and buff bandwagon, let me quickly add that every time I read "whose god is their belly," I hear God's call to me to repent. There's no question I love food and am sinful, here. Please pray for me.

But don't ask me to judge brothers' and sisters' piety based on their conformity to our cultural idolatry of visible skeletons. Speaking personally, I'd guess every infant who had a choice would choose to lie in the thick soft arms of a mother cuddling him against her comfy belly as he nurses at her voluptuous breast. You know, a Song of Solomon mother.

Comments

"The Age of Jazz has now succeeded the age of the waltz, and we [the devils] now teach men to love women whose bodies can scarcely be distinguished from those of boys"

C.S. Lewis, *The Screwtape Letters* (written in 1941). This is not quite as new a problem, or even as American a problem, as you might think.

Tim,

Isn't it interesting to also note that OB/GYN doctors and fertility specialists are starting to recommend to women that they skip the skim milk?

hmmmm,

Kamilla

Our culture circles around the extremes of slim figure attainment only to move toward gluttony/overindulgence upon failure & then back 'round again for another lap. It makes me thankful for the manner eating practices are emphasized in scripture. (context, moderation, variety, celebration, sustainment, in presence of others and in some cases, the content of food itself).

As Kamilla said, my wife's family had two women whose doctors told them that they'd have to lay off the exercise if they had any hope of keeping a pregnancy.

"Or is it possible that all our concern over weight control is just one more capitulation to the Spirit of the Age?"

Great question, as with most sins we have to examine our hearts and the hearts of others not the exterior. Yet it does bug me how Christians in general don't seem to do this. Myself included, though I tend to judge people oppositely.

I've asked myself if I'm just not idolatrous or if I'm lazy and gluttonous; I haven't liked what I've seen in my heart at every turn. So I try to consider that God is concerned that I be healthy enough to serve him well, not that I look good.

So I try to be healthy not thin.

One thing that cracks me up is how Ginger can usually outdo any woman when it comes to physical tasks, and I'm not usually too bad. But to look at us, you'd probably figure our weight would prevent that. Having said that we both need to lose weight for health and spirituality, not for looks.

A wife who gives freely to her children instead of being at the Y all day is a blessing, but for us part of our education of our children needs to be moderation, prioritizing etc.

One thing that surprises me though, is how much of weight seems to be genetic. Ginger and I both take after the heavier people in our family, you can just tell, whereas all but one of our children (Clinton) take after the skinny people in our respective families. I don't think any of those kids will ever have trouble with their weight but Clinton will be like Ginger and I, he's strong but he'll always have to be careful to get enough exercise and eat less.

A person is not automatically a glutton or unspiritual just because they've got some extra weight but it bears consideration.

The excesses in one direction or another, does not negate the
right care and maintenance of the body we've been given. The abuse
of a good thing never negates the good thing in its proper application.

It's a matter of stewardship. We are to be stewards of the body God prepared for us.
He gave it to us...but we belong to him.

1 Corinthians Chapter 6 commands us to "glorify God in your body."
The initial reference is to sexual purity, but is that really all there is to glorifying
God with our bodies? It has no other application to make?
The whole reference to being bought with a price and not being our own should strike a sobering blow
to any who wish to treat the bodies we have been given destructively,
carelessly, wantonly or frankly, with slothful neglect. We would
probably be scandalized if our Church buildings had mold on the walls,
broken windows, water running out into the halls, sagging floors,
potholes in the parking lot, support beams under rot, etc.
Someone might very well get the impression we just don't care.
We are not our own, so what is it about us that believes
we even have the right to treat the temple, this body God has
given us, in like fashion? Perhaps, deep down, we just don't care?

Along the way in this life, this temple, in this
fallen age, will carry the curse with it; we will die. Before that, windows will break, the floor will sink,
and eventually, the foundation will crumble with age, being subject to the elements
and also the futility of the one who subjected it. Eventually, God willing, we'll all come
to the Psalm 90 of our lives and God will call us home. Until that day,
we're stewards of this temple and have a duty to care for it wisely.

Matthew Henry on the 1 Cor 6 text
"some among the Corinthians seem to have been ready to say, All things are lawful for me. This dangerous conceit St. Paul opposes. There is a liberty wherewith Christ has made us free, in which we must stand fast. But surely a Christian would never put himself into the power of any bodily appetite. The body is for the Lord; is to be an instrument of righteousness to holiness, therefore is never to be made an instrument of sin...... Our bodies have been redeemed from deserved condemnation and hopeless slavery by the atoning sacrifice of Christ. We are to be clean, as vessels fitted for our Master's use. Being united to Christ as one spirit, and bought with a price of unspeakable value, the believer should consider himself as wholly the Lord's, by the strongest ties. May we make it our business, to the latest day and hour of our lives, to glorify God with our bodies, and with our spirits"

This was comforting for me to read as I had a baby 3 months ago and I'm not thin like I was one year ago. I have been agonizing over this somewhat.

But I'm still anxious because no matter what legit reason there is for a woman's extra padding, there are plenty of people who look at her like she's garbage; spiritual and physical.

Lately when I try to restrict my food intake significantly I am highly irritable and my milk supply suffers (I'm nursing a baby). I am officially "slightly overweight". My husband claims he likes how I look and I feel healthy, but I still feel unattractive. I'm not sure if my reasons for wanting to lose 20 pounds are acceptable to God or not so it probably won't hurt to pray about this.

I find it interesting how you people decide which sins are bad and which sins are ok. If someone is a homosexual you repeatedly referred to them as Sodomites and other language intended to be condemning, degrading an dehumanizing and express your opinion that they cannot be Christians until they repent from their sinful ways. On the other hand, engaging in the sin of gluttony every time one sits down to eat is obviously not a big deal, definitely not something that would keep someone from a relationship with God or admittance into a church. It is also interesting that you use Africa's supposed historical norm that a "fat wife is contented and prosperous" as a justification. Is "contented and prosperous" what we should really be aiming for as Christians? It is further interesting that you refer to a desire to be thin as part of the "spirit of the age" when the spirit of the age is actually ever increasing consumption of junk food and sedentary lifestyles as is easily seen in the fact that the obese in this country have recently edged out the overweight as the number one weight demographic in this country.
It is further fascinating to me that people who claim to stick to a literal interpretation of scripture would pass over the fact that the Bible has lot to say about what to eat and what not to eat (and that was before such man-made abominations as high fructose corn syrup and hydrogenated soybean oil).
I don't really feel the need to try to convince anyone of my personal opinions about homosexuality or gluttony, but maybe someone on here could explain how it is that one lifestyle sin can be so horrendous and another can be no big deal or even defended by the same people. Anyone?

>Anyone?

Dear Micah,

Speaking for myself, your summaries of what I wrote don't commend further discussion with you. If you'll go back and read the piece again, this time more carefully, and then rewrite your criticisms so they're of what I actually said, you might get a few takers--myself included. But at this point, you're simply making a mishmash of your opponents, then demanding they respond to your mishmash as if it's what they said.

Sorry, but that's a non-starter.

Cordially,

OK Tim, how about this simple question--Why is someone who habitually gives in to temptation at the dinner table referred to with the benign term "adipose" and is fit to preach the Gospel and teach others about the Word of God and how to live their lives, while someone who habitually gives in to temptation in the bedroom referred to by the degrading, dehumanizing term "sodomite" and constantly condemned for their sinful lifestyles on this blog?

You obviously agree that refusing to control one's appetite for food is a sin, but it is obvious by the tone of this blog and others that you do not feel it is as bad as refusing to control one's appetite for homosexual relations.

I know that the main focus of your message is about our society's preoccupation with very narrow standards of physical beauty, and I agree that this society puts way too much focus on fitting into those somewhat arbitrary ideals. At the same time, sin is sin in God's eyes so why is it that so many of us in the Christian community are so willing to overlook or downplay some while being very harsh with others? I think this is a valid question and not at all a mishmash.

Dear Micah,

Thanks for the clarification. I agree it's not a mishmash.

In order to live, we need to eat. But in order to live, we don't need to copulate, let alone with a member of the same sex. Eating is necessary for life whereas sexual relations are not. This is a significant difference that needs to be taken into consideration.

According to Scripture, all sins are not equal. Jesus speaks both of the "greatest" and "least" among God's laws.

The word "adipose" was used to describe a position halfway between thin and morbidly obese. If I'd intended to deny that an adipose man was ever sinful in his lust for food, I would not have quoted Scripture's warning to those "whose god is their belly."

I have never written in a degrading way of those who give in to sexual temptations, nor have I used a dehumanizing term to refer to such sinners, nor have I constantly condemned them. Rather, I have written in such a way as to encourage those tempted by these sins to view them with revulsion and shame, thus assisting them in fleeing these temptations.

The only souls who would accuse me of writing in such a way as to degrade them are those who are self-affirming sodomites; those who refuse to fight against their perverse temptations, instead giving in and taking their identity from that perversions. Then, yes, they would view my words as intentionally degrading.

Christians, though, will fight against both having their belly as their god and having a lust for same-sex intimacy. So when I refer to the one as someone whose god is his belly, and the other as someone who follows in the path of the men of Sodom--a "sodomite"--Christians will be thankful for this warning and take courage from it to renew the battle for holiness within each of us.

In Christ,

Tim,

I admire your intention to get people to turn away from sin. I do have just a few points on this last post.

>Eating is necessary for life whereas sexual relations are not.

Well, I'm not sure how you came into the world, but I'm pretty sure that for most of us sexual relations were a very necessary precursor to life and also necessary for its continuation.

>The only souls who would accuse me of writing in such a way as to degrade them are those who are self-affirming sodomites

Well, I am very hetero and very celibate, and I find your use of the term 'sodomite' to be very offensive and degrading.

>someone who follows in the path of the men of Sodom--a "sodomite"

I have read the Biblical depiction of the men of Sodom and it wasn't really a picture of gay men pairing up and having consensual sexual relations. I don't think that even the most flamboyantly liberal member of the gay community would condone a mob of men trying to gang-rape their neighbor's house guests. As, you said, not all sins are equal and I doubt that consensual homosexual relations are quite as bad as trying to gang rape some angels. So maybe you might want to be a little more thoughtful about accusing people of following the path of the men of Sodom. It's not very descriptive of who you are trying to talk about and really just kind of mean.

Micah, no Christian across church history would understand what you just wrote, but every one of them would think I was a lunatic for explaining something so obvious that everyone knew it. Until our own decadent time, that is.

You say you want me to be "a little more thoughtful," when actually what you meant to say was "a little more malleable to the rhetoric of sexual perversion."

If you choose to continue to read here, you'll have to learn not to be so judgmental of others, particularly believers of past generations and their habits of speech. It would also help for you to come to the realization that the use of terms of shame is not hate-speech, but love-speech, and that it is well-suited to lead others to the repentance and faith that is our only hope in this life and the next.

By the way, 'sodomy' has never across two thousand years meant "gang rape." Look it up in the OED.

Moving on,

Well, what does "follows in the path of the men of Sodom" mean? I referred to the Bible for the answer to that, and it apparently means 'one who wants to gang rape the angels visiting Lot's house.'

Peace, brother.

Micah,

I think you bring up some good points but I'll point out some things that may not be clear from the blog. Tim Bayly and the rest of us have all sorts of sinners in our church. I've never heard anyone at me and Tim's church refer to a person who repents of sin in any derogatory way. Typically the wording becomes something like, "Those struggling with [put sin name here]" as opposed to those who not only commit the sin but try to make the rest of the world twice the son of hell like they are.

You must admit that there's a difference between one who struggles against sin (as we all do) and one who embraces it and becomes an ambassador for sin - especially those who shamelessly are ambassadors for sin in the name of God and thus blaspheme His holy name? Do you deny that these latter people will have more judgment from God than the former?

I don't think anyone championed gluttony on this blog and it is possible we excuse our own sin too quickly - that is always man's way.

However, the spirit of the age is definitely to be beautiful physically and actually to be extremely thin, even though some are more gluttonous as well. I think that gluttony and body-idolatry are actually opposite sides of the same sin (as most sins have a partner sin) - one way or another both sides embrace the body as all important. A Christian can be fit and look virtuous, only that person knows how much they exercise and how much they constantly count calories and thus worship their body (because they may just be a spiritually balanced person).

A few years ago when I was in the best shape of my life I was very fit but I thought about it constantly. A fat person may constantly think of food and be sinful - or they may just not really restrain themselves much - they may be sort of unconscious of their sin - in which case the thin person is actually more sinful than the fat one.

The point here is that we are an idolatrous society and fit and fat people are possibly a sign of the same evil - a love of the body.

But the people we put up on billboards etc. are skinny - such that women are flat-chested and look like pre-pubescent boys. And the men, well they look the same.

I was in the post office today and they were selling these framed pictures of famous comics, and I was thinking about the 50's superman show (the non-cartoon) and how overweight or out of shape we would consider the Man of Steel (George Reeves) today - when in reality he may have been closer to what Adam looked like in the Garden of Eden.

Man is fallen, we are always unbalanced - and sin is extremely rarely obvious from the outside. I said it before but now specifically to you, Micah.

Micah, learn to perceive and discern the heart and thus the unseen man (starting with your own heart) so that you can be a Godly person who sees truth and works for God's kingdom effectively. Stop looking for shortcuts by immediately assuming things like a fat person is evil and a skinny person isn't.

Dear Micah,

If you read the links under "homosexuality" on the home page, in the left column down a ways, you'll find your self-justifications dealt with in spades. Don't expect us to start all over with you when we've already done our work and you waltz along.

Now immediately, you will say, "I'm not engaging in self-justifications! I already told you, I'm heterosexual and celibate!"

You may be, although someone who lies about church history and the teaching of the Word of God without blushing doesn't commend his honesty to me when, after arguing in favor of sexual perversions, he testifies that he doesn't engage in the perversion he's justifying. Further, he may be moral, sexually, but no arguments like yours come out of a holy life. If we knew you, we'd find where your lies are in order to badness (as opposed to truth being in order to goodness PCA BCO, Preliminary Principles).

So here's my ruling as the owner of this blog: You may not comment any more on the subject of sodomy. Comment under other posts and show us something approximating Christian orthodoxy and Biblical faithfulness proving to us that you're something other than a wolf devouring God's sheep.

With the love of Christ,

On high fructose corn syrup and hydrogenated oils: With career worship & mom more absent from preparing meals at home, it's a given to lean on prepackaged foods with labstuff which affects our health for the worse. Without discrediting the processing industry too much (they do good), the case is there that we end up eating unhealthy when the most knowledgeable preparer left the building. Granted, that’s a byproduct of role confusion and other things outweigh it. But nutrition, like physical exercise, is of some value and needs some time spent toward it. Nutrition decisions, creative thoughts on meals and consistent initiatives for a family diet can suffer when mom is allergic to being at home.

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