In thinking further about our “closest gator,” I have a question. Are Christians responsible to care for their bodies? If so, to what extent? How might these texts speak to this?

Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies. (1 Cor 6:19–20)

Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice,g holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. (Rom 12:1)

For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each of us may receive what is due us for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad. (2 Cor 5:10)

I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death. (Philip 1:20)

5 Comments

  1. I don’t think the last two verses are all that relevant. The first two seem to admonish us to care for our bodies in so far as we do not make them instruments for sin. But I’ve seen these verses used to urge health club memberships or at least regular workouts. I don’t think Paul had physical exercise in mind. You might be able to make a theological case for the care of our body but I’ve never found these verses especially helpful. You ask, “to what extent?” That’s the $64,000 question isn’t it? I don’t know if I could put my finger on it. Is it a sin to be overweight? How much? I suspect that the American obsession with a beautiful body jades our thinking on the subject more than we realize.

  2. considering care for the body, i refer to the following passages. focus is on established value and use. earthly view vs heavenly. the notions of care, godliness, righteous use, etc. no longer defined by the fallen natural impulses of nature but by the new life in christ jesus, the spirit.

    “But I want you to be without care. He who is unmarried cares for the things of the Lord—how he may please the Lord. 33 But he who is married cares about the things of the world—how he may please his wife. 34 There is[a] a difference between a wife and a virgin. The unmarried woman cares about the things of the Lord, that she may be holy both in body and in spirit. But she who is married cares about the things of the world—how she may please her husband. (1 Cor 7: 32-34) 23 Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely; and may your whole spirit, soul, and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Thes 5:23) 3 For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you should abstain from sexual immorality; 4 that each of you should know how to possess his own vessel [body] in sanctification and honor, 5 not in passion of lust, like the Gentiles who do not know God; 6 that no one should take advantage of and defraud his brother in this matter, because the Lord is the avenger of all such, as we also forewarned you and testified. 7 For God did not call us to uncleanness, but in holiness.” (1 Thes 4:3-7)

  3. I agree with Louis. You might try…”Bodily exercise profits a little” (1 Tim. 4:8), and verses about gluttony (Deut. 21:20, Prov. 23:21. But the latter seem more associated with poverty resulting from the excesses of food and wine. Eglon doesn’t paint a pretty picture of obesity (Judges 3:17). Then again doesn’t it say that the “fat is the Lords”? (Lev. 3:16) :).

    Whenever this subject comes up, I am reminded of the confrontation between Mr. Moody and Charles Spurgeon. Moody is said to have admonished Spurgeon that his smoking cigars didn’t honor the temple of the Holy Spirit. Spurgeon is said to have responded by poking a finger into Mr. Moody’s rather rotund belly.

  4. Thanks, all, for your comments. I appreciate the challenges and encouragement to rightly divide God’s Word and not wield the Sword with eyes closed. Indeed, many of the passages I could think of dealt specifically with sexual immorality rather than eating disorders. Yet, I do wonder if an inspired principle could be gleaned from them.

    In light of your thoughts, I have to ask: Is there a subjective nature to sin?
    James, for example, tells us: “Whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, commits sin” (4:17).

    Let me ask a different but related kind of question. When are we biblically justified to engage in habitual, indulgent behaviors (regularly consuming far more calories, alcohol, caffeine, etc.) with little or no exercise? Or, when are we biblically justified to habitually engage in any behavior that risks shortening our lifespan leaving our wives, children, grandchildren without a husband, father, grandfather?

    While we may not answer precisely “how many hairs constitute a beard,” we do know a beard when we see one. Simply because the line to draw may be different for each of us, does not entail that there is no line.

    If i may be a bit personal: My frame (5’9″, 169 lbs.) and daily activities (sitting down all day with laptop in front of me; no exercise) cannot withstand more than ~1800 balanced calories (protein, carbohydrates, etc.) without gaining weight unnecessarily. If, for example, I repeatedly take in 1.5Xs that (~2700 calories and ~1200 calories from carbohydrates consisting of processed sugars, candy, chips, soda, alcohol, etc.) and do not exercise to burn those calories, then I will gain weight, feel fatigued, and likely contract some kind of long-term health issue that could jeopardize my family’s well-being.

    Add the subjective factor that I know in my Knower I’ve succumbed to a lifestyle that is unhealthy and I feel bad or guilty for doing so, why on earth would I continue that behavior? How on earth (or in heaven) could I continue that behavior without sinning against my conscience (and thus against my Lord)? Moreover, if indeed I continue in that behavior and it does shorten my life and jeopardize my family’s well being, then I’ve compounded my sin by victimizing those whom the Lord has entrusted to me to love and care for? And ALL FOR THE FLEETING PLEASURES OF CHOCOLATE OR ZINFANDEL OR CHEETOS!

    Just thinking…

    P.S. The volume turned up (from all CAPS) is turned in on myself and not intended to point the finger in any direction but inward.

    P.P.S. Does Ephesians 5:18 have any bearing on this discussion? Are we only commanded not to be drunk with wine but drunk with scotch is okay? Or is there some other principle at work here, such as “Do not be under the controlling influence of any substance that may keep you from holy living, whether food, drink, money, or power. Instead let God’s Spirit guide and govern your behavior at all times?”


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