Throughout my personal struggle with body image and loving myself for who God created me to be rather than what God created me to look like, I have read countless books, articles, and heard several speakers use 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 in reference to the way we must approach our physical body in the context of bringing glory to God. This verse is often quoted within the realms of eating disorders, body image distortion, exercise addictions, over and underweight, inner peace, confidence, and self-love.
“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 Corinthians 6:19-20 (NIV).
Another popular passage is 1 Corinthians 3:16-17, “Do you not know that you are God's temple and that God's Spirit dwells in you? If anyone destroys God's temple, God will destroy him. For God's temple is holy, and you are that temple.” (ESV)
In The Message this same scripture states, “You realize, don't you, that you are the temple of God, and God himself is present in you? No one will get by with vandalizing God's temple, you can be sure of that. God's temple is sacred—and you, remember, are the temple.”
As these verses are inspiring and encouraging (they ARE the WORD of GOD), we cannot use these commands conversely to support over-exercising, obsession with calorie counting, and worshiping the body above the Lord.
Let me take a quick detour as to explain myself more fully. The Word clearly states that one must be right with others before giving to the Lord. He is not interested in money from His people if we have relationships to mend. At church on Sunday, our pastor reminded us that we must not use broken relationships or strife as an excuse to withhold giving. That is twisting the Word to suit our selfishness. Example: Someone somewhere is mad at me, so I cannot give today.
Manipulating the meaning and using false application of the Word is wrong. Yes, your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit. But, girl, you cannot stretch scripture to excuse your actions when you invest 90 plus minutes sweating on the elliptical and only a fraction of that time digging into the Word. The Bible is God’s Word. He communicates to us through it, revealing His truths and teaching us of His goodness, faithfulness, and almighty power.
“For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” (NIV)
We must find a balance between caring for our bodies (“temples”) and becoming overly consumed with weight loss or maintenance. Consider analyzing how you spend those precious minutes of the day. Do you exercise longer than you study the Word? Are you flexible with your schedule in a way that would allow you to simply cancel plans and go where God wants you to be in the very moment He calls? Are you glorified by your fit physique or do you glorify God with your body? Obsession over exercise and weight loss is far more than a health issue; it is a heart issue. While exercising your body is of value, exercising your soul is eternal.