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Archive for January, 2011

This article was in the Sunday edition of my local paper. My dad pointed it out to me in the hopes it would bug me. Does he ever know me.

For those too lazy to click on the link and/or read the article, here’s a summary. It’s a Christian weight loss program called “Thin Within.” At TW, people don’t lose weight; they “release” it. It’s like losing weight, but spiritual and tingly. “‘Thin Within’ deals with your heart,” said Kathy Joyce, who leads the program at a church in Kannapolis. “God is dealing with your insides, and what happens on the outside is a result of what happens inside.”

You know, there’s nothing wrong with Christians losing weight. It’s good, healthy, and difficult to do. And if people are losing weight and feeling good about themselves, wonderful! I applaud them for it.

But why, dear God why, must we Christianize it? Why can’t we just lose weight like normal people?

It’s like that with everything, these days. If Christians want to do something, they don’t just do it. They form a Christian group to do it–and then they do it. Struggling with debt? There was all kinds of good financial advice out there before. But we need Dave Ramsey. Lots of people have lost weight with Weight Watchers, but we need Thin Within, or maybe the Daniel Fast. Need a prepubescent pop star? There’s Justin Bieber (unfortunately), but here’s Johnny Hammer. And how many Christian businesses are there that function just like normal businesses, but mention Jesus in their mission statements?

See, that’s what bothers me. It’s not people losing weight, or getting out of debt, or listening to music. Those are good things, and part of being human. It is the spiritualization of something that, inherently, is marginally spiritual at best, and that does not need to be Christianized to be legitimate. Vocation, and doing the nonreligious parts of life well, require neither justification nor explanation.

For me, the money quote that highlights the silliness and the danger in all this, comes as Joyce is talking about people who are unable to keep weight off, and have been through the program many times:

“They’re not willing to give up that food and wait for true hunger or stop at satisfaction,” she said. “They are so used to following weight-loss rules and measuring because they’ve lived a lifetime with that type of dieting. This gives you total dependence on God and listening to your body.”

What bullshit. What goofy, heretical bullshit.

Weight loss as a means to dependence on God? Or is it dependence on God as a means to weight loss? Please. You aren’t trying to lose weight because you want total dependence on God; you’re trying to lose weight because you want to lose weight. And that’s okay. But don’t go bringing your relationship with God into this, or you will be in danger of turning the Gospel of Jesus Christ into something petty, worldly, and self-centered.

Jesus didn’t die so the Body of Christ could be well-toned and have tight little buttcheeks. And He doesn’t sanctify you so you will have the self-discipline or willpower or self-denial to lose weight and feel better about yourself. He wants to redeem humanity, not your waistline. He didn’t die so you could be everything you want to be–debt-free and in shape. He died to bring you into Himself–to make you a creature very much like Him. The kind of person you would like to be, even if there is nothing wrong with that person, is not what Jesus wants to make you into. And the church needs to stop giving voice to the lie that the good person you wish you were, and the person Jesus is creating, are the same person.

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