A Christian Guide to Body Stewardship, Diet and Exercise

Chapter 1: Biblical Foundations: Human Body, Fitness and Care 5 a pastoral note, it might be helpful for younger Christians to know that attraction often heightens and intensifies over the course of a godly marriage, even as bodies deteriorate.) Peter prohibits ostentatious, self-seeking cultivation of external appearance to the neglect of godly character, “Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear— but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious” (1 Pet. 3:3–4; see also 1 Tim. 2:9-10). Christian young men should pursue becoming godly men that godly young women would want to marry, and so with Christian young women. Philippians 4:13 is about my bench press and 1 Corinthians 6:19 is about my diet. Christians appropriately cling to certain verses to help inform and motivate their daily lives. But when the verses are not interpreted properly, the results are disappointment and discouragement when Christians expect God to fulfill promises that he has never made. More than a few professional athletes confidently display Phil. 4:13 claiming God’s guarantee of their athletic success, but this verse is really about enduring all things for the sake of the gospel. The whole context of the passage is that God has called Paul to both great hardships and times of relative ease. Paul confidently asserts that God will empower him to endure all the hardships of ministry to which God has called him. Paul is actually not pursuing anything other than faithfulness to God’s call in ministry, and he trusts God to empower his ministry endurance. Similarly, 1 Cor. 6:19 is sometimes claimed as a justification for the most meticulous diet. Again, the context of the passage is not addressing a Christian’s personal physical well-being but the Christian’s engagement with sin, specifically sexual sin. There is a fundamental incompatibility of being united with Christ and thus indwelt by the Holy Spirit and engaging in bodily sin. This personal indwelling of the believer parallels the corporate indwelling of the church (1 Cor. 3:16). Improper interpretation, while temporarily inspirational, ultimately leads to disappointment and despair. It is incorrect to take two passages out of context, one about the hardships of ministry and the other about sexual holiness, and apply them to athletic pursuits. These passages do address how the Christian should understand their bodies, but they are informing the Christian that dedication to Christ involves hardship and holiness.