From Fat & Prideful to Beautiful & Holy

Ever since I can remember, I’ve taken issue with my body. I’ve always compared myself to the “skinny” girls around me. I remember as early as 5th grade a particular girl in my class that for some reason I always compared myself to body-wise. “She’s so skinny. Gosh, I wish I could look like her.” I compared myself to her all through high school and beyond. Even now as a 30 something woman I would see her pictures on Facebook and think to myself, “Having kids didn’t ruin her body. If only I had more self-control not to eat the pizza or the scone.” 

I would avoid looking at myself in the mirror when I walked by it naked as I got out of the shower. I was disgusted by what I saw. Thick thighs, stretch marks, a belly that hangs, boobs that sag, so many dimples in places I thought there shouldn’t be dimples. 

My family has always told me I was beautiful. My husband has always been so kind to lovingly adore my body. He would tell me things like,

“You are the standard by which all beauty is measured”.

So sweet and romantic, but in my mind, total lies. There is no way he loves my body at 230 pounds. He’s just trying to make me feel better. The way I spoke to myself not only affected my own self-worth, but also the way I saw others. I was either terribly down on myself or I would put others down to make myself feel better.

My thinking has changed. I no longer look at myself in disgust. Now I see stretch marks and thank the Lord that my body grew life 4 times! I see my sagging boobs and thank Him for allowing me to feed my babies. I see my thick thighs and thank Him for good food and a strong body that I can use to continue on a journey to health. Last week I went to a public pool with my family. It was the first time I had been since I had changed my thinking. As I sat there enjoying the cool water on that very hot day something occurred to me. Not once had I looked at the skinny girl and wished I was her. Not once did I judge the heavier girl! Not once did I compare myself to anyone else at that pool! I was completely confident in who I was in my own skin. It must have shown too because my sisters commented on how good I looked. Confidence is attractive! I am beyond grateful for my renewed mind and heart concerning my body!!

I grew up in a Christian home. My family bounced between churches during my childhood. At one point my dad was even the pastor at a church. All my life I was taught “modesty.”

“Make sure you don’t show too much cleavage.”

“Make sure your shorts aren’t too short.”

I took pride in my “modesty” because “our bodies are temples”. I was protecting the boys and men around me from thinking lustful thoughts. There was no way they were going to lust after me anyway because I was “fat” and covered up. My parents taught us the way they thought best. That’s what they were taught after all. For generations parents have been teaching their girls to cover up and their boys to be good because “that’s what the Bible says.” I have been teaching my own 4 children the same. But is this really what Scripture teaches? Is this really what the Lord had in mind and desires of us? I believe the church is missing the mark and we are debilitating our kids in the process.

Let’s get real! No more masks! No more “we can’t talk about that!” No more tip toeing around what’s really going on!

The way the church approaches the body is doing way more harm than good! By the time our boys bounce their eyes, the image is already in their head. It doesn’t take staring at it for the lust to begin, because we are conditioning our boys that the sight of the opposite gender is going to automatically trigger a sexual response. Wearing modest clothing isn’t keeping our men and boys from lusting and wondering what’s underneath. I have talked to several men who said it didn’t matter what someone was or wasn’t wearing, the curiosity was still there. But when everyone is bare, nothing is remarkable. I’ve seen this first hand recently while visiting a nude beach. I saw many people being modest and none of them were wearing clothes. They were showing a mutual respect for not only bodies around them but also the person as a whole. More on that in a future post!

We girls can do all the right things, but if someone’s mind is in the gutter, we could still be lusted after. I have recently been introduced to a group of people who believe, like me, that we can do better. We need to start showing our children that they have been created in the image and likeness of the Most High God! That word means a picture. A physical and spiritual image of the Lord! No matter what we look like, our bodies are a gift from God and the pinnacle of His creation. If we can begin to put that into the minds and hearts of our children, I believe that we could begin to change the current course the world and the church is on. The current methods aren’t working! We give the boys a pass with phrases like, “Boys will be boys” and “every man’s battle.” We put blame and guilt on girls because their skirts are too short and their shirt is too low cut. It’s wrong, and it’s not fair to either group!

I will not lie down and surrender to the notion that my boys are sentenced to a lifetime of bouncing their eyes or installing barriers on their computers in order not to lust! That is bondage! We need renewed minds and hearts!

I refuse to lie down and surrender to the notion that my daughter will forever feel inferior and ugly because she’s comparing her body to the ones she sees in the magazines or on TV! That is bondage! We need renewed minds and hearts!

This is a work in progress for our family because this way of thinking is fairly new to us, but I will do everything in my power to help my children live in freedom as they reject bondage to the lies of Satan! I will not give up this fight! Satan will not win! IN THE NAME OF JESUS, NOT ON MY WATCH!

The Real Scandal

The term Christian Naturist sounds like an oxymoron to the average church-goer. It is considered taboo. There is a stigma around it, often due to ignorance of the actual ethical philosophies of naturism. Many Christians who believe that naturism is not only permissible as a believer, but can also enhance one’s faith in many ways, get the impression that they are all alone in the world– that if they were found out by others, it would be downright scandalous.

Could it be that the real scandal is that they are made to feel this way? Could there be a greater scandal at work? Let me set the stage with an example that sadly, is all too familiar in this day and age.

Could there be a greater scandal at work?

I will warn you, it’s about to get real in here. What follows is not for the faint of heart. With that out of the way, let’s take an honest look at the culture around us and the typical church’s response.

Our culture is overtly sexualized. This plays itself out not just in the porn industry but also leads to fornication, adultery, divorce, rape, unwanted pregnancy and abortion, prosititution, human trafficking, pedophilia, gender confusion, and everything in between. It looks a bit like Sodom and Gomorrah out there! Marketers use sex to sell everything from bras to burgers and shove images of objectified women (mostly) in our faces constantly, whether we want it or not. 

As a result, women are plagued with self-esteem and body image issues, feeling as if they are not good enough if they don’t look like an airbrushed model from the magazines. 

Around 50-75% of men in evangelical churches struggle with pornography to some degree or another. That’s an alarming statistic that should cause us all to repent and seek the Lord and real answers in his word. We are indoctrinated and conditioned to view the body as lewd, indecent, obscene, and lust enticing. Nothing could be further from the truth. This age old lie from Satan has us all messed up. The lie is that the body is shameful. The real shame is that the Gnostic heresy of dualism is alive and well in the church today, and most are unaware of it!

The church’s efforts to combat this pervasive epidemic is to hide the body and resist every sort of temptation, as if that were possible! It’s proven to be a losing battle in our culture. Man-made methods of will-power combined with the guilt and shame of accountability is the church’s best idea to curb the lust problem, but all it does is put money in the software developer’s accounts and does nothing about the root issue. Guys can cheat any system out there if they are determined and addicted enough.

All of these feeble attempts exchange the truth for a lie. The lie keeps the world in bondage. The truth (according to Jesus) “shall make you free” -John 8:32.

How does this lie manifest itself in marriages? Divorce is rampant because we call evil good and good evil. Husbands who grew up with a sexualized view of the body are trapped in the allure of the forbidden. Wives don’t trust them as a result. As a couple they don’t connect with each other intimately to the level that God had planned for them. This makes the husband feel unloved and he acts out through porn and masturbation, which makes the wife trust him less and feel like she is never good enough. The vicious cycle continues on and on. Her lack of trust, his feeling unloved, over and over again. Until the wife in desperation and in a moment of weakness tells the husband to take care of himself! How far have they both strayed from God’s perfect plan for marriage! It’s not what she wants. It’s not even what he wants. More importantly, it’s not what God wants or intended for them.

There has to be a better way! And there always has been. God’s plan was perfect, if followed correctly. Sin has perverted everything God made very good in the beginning (After creating male and female in his image he said, “it was very good.” -Genesis 1:31 “And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed.” -Genesis 2:25).

Christian naturists are not only aware of this scandal, they are repulsed by it and by the many seemingly innocent and culturally acceptable ways it plays out. Professional cheerleaders flaunt accentuated bodies in sensual ways to the “delight” of adoring fans. Not many in the church would admit to watching them closely, but instead simply accept it as a part of sports and entertainment. That display, as well as what is on every textile beach is often times more sexual in nature than any nude beach. Bikinis prop up and hide just enough mystery to cause men with corrupted minds to wander and fantasize. However, this is generally accepted in our fallen culture. Those sensual dance moves sadden the hearts of true Christian naturists who have learned to honor the body as God’s image, and people as his image-bearers. A renewed mind with the humble (true meaning of modesty) appreciation of God’s masterpiece with the respect it deserves has an almost unbelievable way of making the lust problem evaporate!

The church’s response, again, is prudish in nature, not knowing or acknowledging that prudery is the evil twin of the sexualized view of the body. Though they are thought to be opposites, they are indeed cut from the same cloth.

David L. Hatton has written a wonderful book entitled, “Meeting at the River – A Tale of Naked Truth.” I will conclude this article with a few quotes from that book that go along with this idea that the true scandal is not that a Christian would embrace the naturist lifestyle, but that everyone else is operating under the same lie that the crafty serpent fed Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden.

“In one breath, the body is declared a holy temple. In the next, it is called a lustful enticement. This is why God withholds His hand of deliverance from believers who get entangled with lustful images of the naked body. He cannot liberate their minds when they believe their defilement comes from the beauty of His handiwork. It is in that very beauty that His truth flourishes. If they knew this rightly, the truth would set them free. Instead, they shun that beauty! But tell me, brother, how well does this false teaching of shame deliver those trapped in such corruption?”

Most Christian naturists believe the same things the church preaches about fornication, adultery, lust, and pornography. They do not stand for these things. Quite the opposite! They have zero tolerance for them. They have accepted the truth about the body as the glory and image of God, his prized creation. They share the conviction that the “modesty” movement of the Victorian era and Puritanical values has had a reverse and damaging effect on society, causing many of the very troubles it was meant to address.

I love the church. It’s the bride of Christ. I’m not angry at the church, per se, but rather at the ancient serpent who stole our innocence and pulled the wool over our eyes! We are to be in the world, but not of the world. God calls us to “present [our] bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable… And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind.” -Romans 12:1-2.

Lust abounds where minds are not renewed, in the corrupted minds of men and women who believe the lie. That is the real scandal. This is our culture. It is not working. Who could say that it is? Truth has to change us at a personal level. 

Hatton makes the following assertions that support the sad reality of this real scandal, but give hope to overcoming it once and for all: “Widespread religious support for a demonic lie cannot alter its falsehood.” And, “Christians will never have a radical reformation in how they view the naked body, until they can distinguish their devotion to culture from their understanding of Scripture.” And thankfully, “Truth always turns a wayward world right side up!”

Renewed Minds

One phrase you’ll read a lot in the posts to come is that of a renewed mind. We believe the renewing of our mind is a key part of the Christian life (See Romans 12:1-2). No one would debate this, but when it comes to the theology of the body, this notion of renewing our minds doesn’t seem to apply anymore. Why do I say this?

As a man, it’s generally believed that boys will be boys, or every man has a battle with lust, and that’s just how it is and how it’s always going to be. I believed that lie for a very long time, until I renewed my mind on how I view the body. Still not tracking? Watch this video… and be sure to watch until the end:

A renewed mind is critical to get beyond the battle of lust. Believe me! If you want to read more about this, I would suggest www.mychainsaregone.org.

My wife also needed a renewed mind. But hers is a little different. For her, it was not so much how she sees everyBODY else, it was more about how she sees herself. For most of her life, she did not believe she is beautiful, which to me (and the casual observer) is just CRAZY! She had to stop listening to the lies that plague so many women to see that she is fearfully and wonderfully made (on the inside AND the outside). She had heard Psalm 139:14 many times. She heard me tell her how beautiful she is countless times, but her mind was not renewed on this issue. Watch what happens when you start to believe the truth and stop believing the lies as if they were true:

Men who are in bondage to lustful thinking with no end in sight…

Those who have tried everything the Christian books suggest…

Just renew your mind.

Women in bondage to low self-esteem…

Those who feel they will never measure up…

Just renew your mind.

Renew. Your. Mind.