Have you ever heard a sermon about body image?
Aside from the occasional side comment, I've never heard body image given substantial treatment from the pulpit or serious attention from leaders in the church, which is surprising since body image is not a marginal issue in our culture.
Statistics vary, but research shows that somewhere between 80 percent and 90 percent of women are dissatisfied with their bodies. Although the percentage of women with severe eating disorders is between 0.5 percent and 3.7 percent, roughly 3 out of 4 engage in some form of disordered eating.
And in 2013, women had more than 10.3 million surgical and non-surgical cosmetic procedures, signifying a 471 percent increase since 1997. The top procedures were breast augmentation, liposuction, tummy tuck, breast lift, and eyelid surgery.
Although body image is a predominately female struggle, it does not affect women alone. Approximately 43 percent of men report body dissatisfaction. Among adolescent boys, nearly 18 percent are highly concerned about their weight and physique. Men also had more than 1 million cosmetic procedures last year, contributing to a grand total of $12 billion spent on such surgical and non-surgical procedures in 2013.
These statistics are alarming for two reasons. The first is health-related. Many women—and even some men—are starving themselves and mutilating their bodies to conform to a particular standard of beauty. The second cause for alarm is spiritual. When Christians are preoccupied with their bodies, it inhibits their worship.
To understand why body image is a matter of worship, consider an analogy from Tim Keller's The Freedom of Self-Forgetfulness. In it he compares spiritual sickness ...1
Already a CT subscriber? Log in for full digital access.
Subscribe to Christianity Today and get access to this article plus 65+ years of archives.
- Home delivery of CT magazine
- Complete access to articles on ChristianityToday.com
- Over 120 years of magazine archives plus full access to all of CT’s online archives
- Learn more