Body positivity in church?
There’s a movement that encourages people to accept their physical bodies as beautiful and reject the artificial stereotypes of what they should and should not look like. Body positivity is pushing back against the voices of shame, disgust, hatred, envy, stereotypes, and more. The church needs to hop on board this movement.
Here’s what I mean. The church is described as the “Body of Christ.” And oddly enough, we evaluate our church “body” in some of the same ways we do our physical bodies.
- We compare our body to other church bodies that might be taller, stronger, younger, prettier.
- We compare our church body to its younger self, or some dreamy version of a younger self that may or may not be grounded in reality.
- We learn to loathe certain parts of our church body. “This part is too prominent. That part has a limp. Those parts over there need to be hidden from public view. This part is embarrassing.”
But what if we embraced body positivity for our local church? What if we began to see this body as Christ does, as his bride?
Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church— for we are members of his body. Ephesians 5:25-30
It’s easy blame a church for not living up to some ideal standard. It’s easy to fall into self-loathing and body hatred/dislike. It’s hard to embrace body positivity when parts of the body don’t do what you want them to do. When they don’t say the right things, communicate the right way, serve faithfully, or even care about the same issues that are important to you. But just like the problems with self-loathing of our physical bodies, the problems of loathing our church body is equally destructive.
Does this mean that we turn a blind eye to real problems? Nope. But it means we learn to accept that this body is God’s creation, and Jesus’ bride. As such, we long to make her beautiful, and to love her in the process, even if that process takes a lifetime. That applies to individual expressions of the body (a.k.a. the local church) as well as the church universal.
Do you have body positivity toward the Body of Christ?