Debate: Should you lose weight for God?

Being overweight can certainly be unhealthy, but could it also be immoral? Journey Church, an evangelical church with four locations


Being overweight can certainly be unhealthy, but could it also be immoral?

Journey Church, an evangelical church with four locations across New York that is using a six-week teaching series based around a weight loss program to ‘lure new members,” the New York Times reports.

The series is called ‘BOD4GOD‘ and is inspired by a book with the same name, written by Virginia minister Steven Reynolds, aka ‘the Anti-Fat Pastor.’

Bod 4 God, defines four ways to unlock the door to health and fitness:

1.    Dedication: Honoring God with Your Body
2.    Inspiration: Motivating Yourself for Change
3.    Eat and Exercise: Managing Your Habits
4.    Team: Building Your Circle of Support

But is there a place for religion when it comes to weight loss?

The author of a recent post on Jezebel isn’t so sure. In her piece, Margaret Hartmann takes issue with the "conflicting messages about body image" that the program send to members, writing that, along with getting weight-loss support, parishioners are “…also being told that if they’re out of shape, they’re dishonoring God and heading down the slippery slope to fornication and rampant drug use.’

If the church is preaching that there is a correlation between weight and immorality and in the process condemning people, I would be appalled. Christianity’s message is that  God loves everyone, so to say otherwise because someone is overweight would be hypocritical. But I’m not sure this is really the message this program is sending.

New York Times author Ariel Kaminer, who attended the church service, writes, ‘The basic message is that poor self-image leads to poor health’bad diet, insufficient exercise, dangerous substances, dubious sexual choices.’

I don’t interpret this as a relationship between being out of shape and being immoral or a "bad Christian," but rather I see it as the church reinforcing the importance of self-confidence and self-worth and how feeling good about yourself can affect all aspects of your life. How did you read into this?

From what I can gather, it seems like Bod 4 God is just like any other weight loss program, except that it has an overt focus on God. But for Christians, God is supposed to be at the centre of their lives. Wouldn’t a weight-loss program work best for worshippers if they brought God into their weight-loss goals, whether they are on Weight Watchers or Bod 4 God? For me, this book seems like just another way to bring to Christians the religious inspiration and guidance they need to help them tackle the challenges of weight loss.

Are the Journey Church and Reynolds sending an unfair and unhealthy message by tying weight and morality together? Where’s the fine line between acceptance for the way you are and the ambition to become better, using whatever motivational tools work for you?

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