Some may be judgemental towards a Christian woman pursuing fitness, saying it’s selfish, superficial or not important. However I disagree and here’s why. In the same way that it’s ok for a Christian to want to make their house look stylish, make their garden beautiful, keep their car clean and in good condition or wear makeup and colour their hair, I believe it is ok for a Christian woman to want to look good in their swimsuit. The only two reasons I think there is a problem is if your motives are sinful, or if this desire is taking the place of more important things in your life.
Firstly lets talk about motives. Good things can become sources of sin if the attitude of your heart is wrong. If you want to look good to get revenge on someone, make someone jealous or feel superior to those around you, then your motives for aiming for a toned body are wrong. One of my motives for looking lean is that I simply like the appearance of a lean, athletic body in the same way that I like the appearance of my garden when it is full of flowers and weed free. Or when my house is looking beautiful and well styled. It’s as simple as ‘liking’ the look and that is all. All these well-cared for things gives me a feeling of accomplishment and satisfaction.
The other reason I like to stay in shape is because I believe doing your best to look attractive is a way of showing love to your husband. I remember when doing pre-marriage counseling our pastor explained that looking attractive for your husband is one of the things he needs from his wife. I’m not saying you have to do anything crazy or extreme. No plastic surgery. No strict dieting. No need to spend two hours at the gym every single day. Just living a healthy lifestyle (hello sleep, goodbye endless hours scrolling on your phone late at night), moving your body in some way daily and choosing real food rather than processed food the majority of the time.
Secondly if striving for your goal body means you have to sacrifice things which God commands us to prioritise in our lives, then you have your priorities wrong. If you are thinking more about what you’re eating next and your next workout than God, your desire for a lean body has become an idol. An idol is simply anything that takes the place of God in your life. If you are skipping church for a workout, missing prayer and reading the bible, then you have let God slip from his rightful place as first in your life.
Another thing to consider is that for most people a lean body is a wonderful by-product of something God very clearly commands us to do: to look after our health and body.
1 Corinthians 6:19-20 says, ‘Do you not know that your body is a temple 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 honour God with your body.’
We are commanded to look after our bodies. I think ignoring science because you are ‘trusting God’ is not right. I think it is testing God. In the same way that when Jesus was tempted in the desert by Satan and asked to jump off a cliff he didn’t, I don’t think we should neglect our bodies and expect saving. Yes of course God is all powerful and could save you if you jump off a cliff despite the law of gravity. God can bless you with many years free of chronic-disease despite you not taking care of your body. But it’s not right to test God. We should be responsible for doing what’s reasonable and then ask God to take care of what’s not in our control.
So I encourage you to reflect and and think about what your motives are for wanting a trim and toned body. Also think about if this is becoming an idol in your life. If either of these things are an issue for you confess them as sins, ask for forgiveness and start to change your motives and priorities so that they are in line with what God would want. However if you are aiming for a fit, toned physique and don’t have the wrong motives I believe you can enjoy working towards these goals guilt-free and with peace.