You there, God? It’s me, the fattest loser.

2009 December 9
by Kirsten

Shhh! Don’t tell me. I haven’t seen the finale of The Biggest Loser yet. Week after week, I enjoy the workouts (last chance workout!), cringe at the product placements, fast forward through the yapping and weigh-in suspense, and tear up during the heartfelt stories and pounds shed. With 13.4 million viewers, this show has struck a chord.

That chord sounds to me like a lot of hurting people whom the church has failed.

More than 72 million people, or 33% of adults, are overweight. The numbers are rising. Obsession with weight plagues millions of young adults, and one out of every seven women has suffered from an eating disorder at some time in her life (read more). Addictions to food or diets, neglecting our bodies or obsessing over them, so many of us feel the weight of body-image and health issues.

And where are churches in this struggle? The last time I heard a pastor mention weight during a sermon was in a joke about the upcoming potluck, as he patted his bulging belly. There’s no lack of instruction at church about how Christians “should” live, but it does lack the truth that Jesus came to give us abundant life, and that includes holistic health and freedom from obsession with body image. God never intended us to separate the physical from the spiritual — and with so many people pained by their bodies, I think God wants to provide his healing and hope. Inside and out, spiritually and physically.

And we want that transformation. Christian or not, lots of people watch extreme makeovers — they love seeing the before and after shots of someone who desperately needed her eyebrow separated into two, or hammer pants replaced by designer jeans. I love seeing makeovers — it makes tangible the idea of becoming a new creation. But like everything else, this idea of a new creation has warped into a perversion that if we attain that perfect physical body, spiritual perfection will follow in the form of joy, love, contentment, etc. I can’t grasp perfect joy by my own efforts any more than I can do enough sit-ups to mold my chin into a Reese Witherspoon replica.

Being a new creation looks different for each of us. There’s no perfect size or shape or color, except the ones God perfectly created us with. He wants us to enjoy his creation, take precious care of it and see his beauty in it — everything from majestic mountains to lovely lady lumps. This mindset, let alone lifestyle, is hard for us to attain, but that’s where relying on God comes in.

If King David lived today, in America, I think the Psalms would look a lot different. Instead of crying out to God to protect him from those who seek his life, David might lament his thunder thighs, or pray for freedom from his obsession with a no-carb diet. He’d ask for refuge from his desire to have bulging biceps or cutting calves.

Maybe I’m way off. I am a woman, after all, and I don’t see my husband checking out his butt when we pass a mirrored window. But I sure sneak a peek at mine. Either way, if God e-mailed me an assignment for his next Bible edition, and I got to contribute to Psalms, that’s what I would write about. And I think Jesus would take it to print (He is an author and perfecter, you know.)

This blog post is too preachy. I’m feeling uncomfortable. If you think the church hasn’t failed in this area, please share! Or if you think makeovers aren’t a good representation of the new creation, I’d like to hear your thoughts. And if you know how to mold a chin to replicate Reese Witherspoon’s, I’m all ears.

11 Responses leave one →
  1. malia permalink
    December 9, 2009

    LOVE this post! Right on!!

  2. December 10, 2009

    You’re definitely on to something with america’s obsession with “transformation.” Almost every show you see is about some sort of transformation whether it’s inside or out, but it has to be an immediate transformation because most people don’t have the patience for real transformation.

  3. quepash permalink*
    December 12, 2009

    That’s true. I even fast forward through The Biggest Loser to the weigh-in, because two hours is way too much time. And anyone inspired by the show to lose weight will have to change their expectations — normal people can’t lost 238 pounds in a matter of months.

  4. Katy Liddle permalink
    December 30, 2009

    Hey Girl, Amen. I’d never thought about the concept of new creation in a transformaton like that. To me, the show also talks about hope when there doesn’t seem to be any for some people. The “You can do it if you choose to” voice rings clear. It just reminds me that even though we are a new creaton, there’s still an internal process to become more like Him.

  5. Jaclyn permalink
    January 8, 2010

    Bravo, Friend! I too get teary-eyed over these poor people who clearly need love, hope and healing on many levels. I agree that the church skims over important issues like body image- leaving them for the Psychologists who aren’t always equipped to testify to Christ’s healing and hope. Keep going. If someone thinks it’s preachy, too bad. If the church isn’t doing it, a true follower of Christ should. ;)

  6. January 8, 2010

    I like this post….I think sometimes churches get caught up in being too PC. Enough with the PC, things like body image & sex should be talked about more often.
    p.s. I watch the biggest loser while I workout…and then during the breaks, I flip over to the food network.

  7. January 16, 2010

    I went there once in an adult Sunday School class I lead… what… 25 years ago??? I was big then, but didn’t have Biggest Looser to watch.

    We were studying each believers freedom which we choose to limit to protect a weaker brother. (1 Cor. 8) I was in a S Baptist church at the time which was traditionally very anti alcohol. So, when I chose members to spontaneously act out a restaurant scene, they assumed that they would have beer when someone from church walked in… got ‘um…

    I lead them through the scenes… OK, you guys are finishing your meal and talking… OK, now you walk in and say hello to your friends from church… OK now you, the waiter, bring in the dessert… and you that just came in have a weight problem… go…

    There was silence! People were upset! They already decided not to drink beer, but this? Am I not supposed to eat a dessert because this other guy has a problem… boy are you meddling in my life!!

    It took a few weeks for everyone to calm down, but I think they eventually got the point. We can eat meat offered to idols, we can drink beer, we can eat dessert, but we should not harm ourselves or a weaker brother with our freedom. Even back then they were so occupied with body image and food that they were offended by my going there at church!

    We see through a glass dimly, but then we will see face to face.

  8. quepash permalink*
    January 18, 2010

    That’s really interesting! I think today the same can be said for many churches: alcohol is taboo, but desserts are to be enjoyed.

    I hadn’t thought about our responsibility in helping others’ struggles with food and body image. It’s true that we can “harm ourselves or a weaker brother with our freedom,” especially depending on our motivation for eating (or not eating.)

  9. Kim Russell permalink
    January 19, 2010

    I like this sight. I too want the quick transformation. I train with a personal trainer, but strangely enough I’m still same weight more muscle. No one is going to do it for us. We can’t pay someone to lose the weight for us. If I would just realize Jesus did pay for my transformation, and stay with him for the long haul I might see some real change.

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