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What Size Was Eve?

What Size Was Eve?

(It’s Not What Matters)

In all of my reading and study of Scripture, I’ve never found a verse that states God measures people by how they look. Instead, when the full gospel of Jesus Christ is unpacked for us in the New Testament, David’s story makes even more sense to me. It’s not just that God doesn’t measure us by how we look; He also doesn’t measure us by how we perform.

In the Kingdom, people who have done complicated, complicit, and criminal things can have their hearts changed by God and be used in mighty ways for the good of others and the glory of God.

Because the Lord looks at the heart.

In the face of sexism and racism in the cultural moment in which Jesus lived, Jesus consistently showed honor to and bestowed value upon those the world slighted and cast aside. Because the Lord looks at the heart.

In Scripture, there is no mention of Mary Magdalene’s thighs, Deborah’s teeth, Ruth’s waistline, Anna the prophetess’s forehead, Elizabeth’s stretch marks, Eve’s hair, Lois’s skin, Martha’s tunic size, or the symmetry (or lack thereof) of Miriam’s face. Because the Lord looks at the heart.

These women’s faithfulness was not defined by their bodies, their capacity to be used by God was not defined by their bodies, and their bodies were never the most interesting or compelling part of their story. Because the Lord looks at the heart.

Never once did an angel go to Naomi and tell her God would be more likely to work through her if she took better care of herself. I do not believe Paul pulled Priscilla aside and told her she’d make a better missionary if she did something more special with her hair. Zipporah, the wife of Moses, is not remembered because she was stunning but because she loved a complicated man through a historically harrowing season. Because the Lord looks at the heart.

God used these women to shape the landscape of hope, healing, mercy, and meaning that we would ultimately step into as followers of Jesus. Their bodies were made good by a Creator who loved them. Their lives were valuable because they were His daughters. Their stories were stepping stones for others to get to God, not because they fit the physical cultural expectations of their time, but because they were faithful and allowed themselves to be used by God.

Because the Lord looks at the heart.

If someone (including you) has told you that your body must change in order for you to be used by God, please direct them to the story of David. If someone has told you that in order to receive the blessings God has for you, you must choose cultural conformity, tell them what God said to Samuel. If anyone has alluded, in any way, shape, or form, to a connection between your worth and value in the Kingdom of God and the world’s approval of your body, tell them they are dead wrong.

We live in the Kingdom. And the Lord looks at the heart.

Your body is not a marker of righteousness, and it cannot and will not be used by God to determine your worth. What’s more, it should not be used by anyone else to determine your goodness, readiness, or value in the kingdom or on earth.

Talking Back to Body Shame

Let’s go ahead and answer the arguments that may be entering your mind or which may have been presented to you in the past. Lord knows I’ve tried and heard a variety of arguments. I’d rather we be prepared to fight them with wisdom, truth, and clarity as opposed to defensiveness and fear.

I once heard that when a stronghold is being threatened, whether it exists within an individual or a culture, it gets louder and more aggressive. In this case, the stronghold that says we have to meet cultural standards of beauty in order to be used by God does just that. When you confront this kind of lie, the rebuttals are often nastier and more vindictive than the original accusation. We’re going to address just one of these rebuttals, but I pray that the wisdom we use applies to any and all counter- claims you are faced with when stepping into the truth of God as it pertains to your body.

“But you should take care of your body. If you’re just letting yourself go, that isn’t honoring God.”

I’m going to work through this as though you and I are back in the coffee shop together. Let’s go grab another iced latte so we’ve got the energy to process this. Here are some truths to anchor you the next time someone speaks words that otherwise demean your very good body:

  1. Consider the source.

Is the person who is refuting the truth that our bodies are not markers of our righteousness someone we can trust? Do they see God and the Kingdom and His Word in the same light that we do? Do they use the Word as a weapon against people or as a weapon against the enemy? Do they search and seek the Word humbly in order to know God better or to seem as if they know God better? Are they willing to be wrong and thus be redirected? Do they seek to honor God with their own body? Do they have a Kingdom-minded mentality toward their own body?

Only you can answer these questions, but I will tell you this as plainly as possible: you can love and respect and honor someone, yet choose not to accept their perspective if you do not believe their beliefs about the body align with the heart of God. You can perhaps learn from them about other things, but push the mute button in your soul when they talk about the body.

I believe humility says I can learn from anyone about anything. But in an area of my life as fragile and as precious as the way I perceive my body, where I have experienced extreme hurt and miraculous healing, I do not consent to be taught by people who do not have a Kingdom-minded mentality.

  1. Only you can know in your heart what it means for you to“take care of your body.”

Again, we can be humble and learn from others here, but the benchmarks are too disparate and too often based on the opinions of other humans, who (surprise!) may not have a Kingdom-minded mentality about the body. Is taking care of your body resting it, moving it, eating healthy meals? Or is “taking care of your body” a euphemism for pushing it hard toward cultural ideals? Is taking care of your body being on a specialized diet? Is taking care of your body utilizing homeopathic remedies?

I have friends who take care of their bodies and run marathons. I have friends who take care of their bodies and may not be able to run a mile if they tried. I have friends who take care of their bodies by eating very intentional things at intentional times, and I have friends who take care of their bodies by embracing freedom in what they eat. I have friends who take care of their bodies and get copious facials and friends who take care of their bodies and would never put a foreign chemical in or on their skin.

If we’re going to send up a loud, firm rebuttal to the idea that our righteousness is determined by the state of our bodies, we need to know what taking care of our bodies means for us and not what other people think it should mean. Of course we should take care of our bodies, and of course we should not believe that this will look the same for everyone. However, we must go to God ourselves and ask Him what it looks like for us to take care of our bodies.

  1. Remember that not everyone is on the same page.

To have a meaningful conversation with anyone who wants to discuss the connection between righteousness and how we treat our bodies, I suggest we start from the same premise, which is often difficult. We can’t discuss potential rebuttals unless we’re standing on the same firm ground of truth. For me, that truth is that

God made our bodies good, and any way I treat my body is a response to that goodness rather than a punishment of my body for being bad.

This may seem like it should be understood, but I find that it is not. Instead, the general assumption seems to be that we must work for the approval of God and others with our bodies rather than work from the approval of God. Simply put, I believe many followers of Jesus are trying to make their bodies good, rather than agreeing that God already made them good and treating them as such.

So shouldn’t you take care of your body to honor God? Absolutely.

Do we agree about what that means and what it will look like? I’d say it’s almost impossible for us to all work from the same premise or perspective, because we all have different bodies with unique needs.

Does that mean my body is an indicator of righteousness, of whether or not I’m fit to step into His calling on my life? Absolutely not. God looks at the heart.

We should, too.

Excerpted with permission from Breaking Free from Body Shame by Jess Connolly, copyright Jessica Ashleigh Connolly.

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Your Turn

Spend time digging into God’s Word in order to understand what does make you righteous and holy before God. Again, we’re going to replace lies with truth so we can see our perspectives of our body restored and our minds renewed.

Check out 2 Corinthians 5:21, Romans 10:4, 1 Peter 2:24, and Romans 3:22-24.

What do you think about your body? How do you feel about your body? Do you feel fully accepted by God before you do any kind of “work” on your body? Do you feel fully accepted by God in the knowledge that He is looking at your heart? Come share with us! We want to hear from you! ~ Laurie McClure, Faith.Full