Do we love our bodies?

The Bible is a living document in part because our understanding of the text changes as we change. One can read a passage multiple times and read it a certain way and then read it from a different perspective and have a significant epiphany. This happened to me with a passage I have probably read 20+ times. Ephesians is one of my favorite epistles and I’ve read it many, many times in part because of the passages on marriage. It also contains the longest passage that I have memorized. I’ve been reading it for the last few weeks and read this passage again with a completely different insight then I have ever had:

Ephesians 5:28 In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself.

It’s a beautiful call to husbands to love wives as much as they love themselves. Coming from a Reformed and relatively Calvanistic background it’s been assumed that husbands love themselves. In-fact here’s part of what Calvin says about this passage:

“An argument is now drawn from nature itself, to prove that men ought to love their wives. Every man, by his very nature, loves himself. But no man can love himself without loving his wife. Therefore, the man who does not love his wife is a monster.”

Almost every sermon or commentary I’ve heard/read take it for granted that we (as husbands) love ourselves, tend to be self centered and selfish and we are to love our wives in the way that we already love ourselves. I agree with that sentiment but….I realized this week that it actually says something a little more than that. Here I’ll include the next verse:

Ephesians 5:28-29 28In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 After all, no one ever hated their
own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church—

The passage is not really telling us to love our wives as we love “ourselves” meaning the “our personalities” or “our Ego” (in the Freudian sense). It’s literally saying love our wives as we love our “physical bodies”. It’s not implicit, it’s actually explicit when taken with verse 29. Calvin seems to take it for granted that this would be true, but he’s never met an American. It’s clear that most of us hate our bodies! We don’t get the rest, exercise or fuel that our bodies need. We choose TV and facebook over sleep. We choose convenient frankenfoods (“because they taste better”- what a crock) over healthful homecooked meals. We say “when I get home from a long day of work I’m too tired to exercise” though what we really mean is “I want to watch TV when I get home even though a walk would actually make me feel better while the TV makes me feel even less energetic.”

Anyone who has been cornered by me recently knows that I’ve been pouring an incredible amount of energy into thinking about the root of the American obesity epidemic, while also getting back into “fighting shape” myself. Dorothy and I hit a low of fitness about March 2011. It had gotten pretty bad. After Ruthie was born June 2010 we really let our exercise go. We were tired, I was still figuring out how to juggle my schedule here, and by the time Ruthie started to sleep it was the brutal Jerome winter. Starting around April 2011 when I started doing Kung-fu and Dorothy started going to the YMCA to work-out. After a series of energy sucking meetings that ended in spring 2012 I upticked even more in my exercise and have really basically gotten back into what I would consider very good condition again. In many ways I would consider this my “normal” as I spent many years through the end of medical school and residency in this kind of shape when I was racing triathalon or bikes. I’ve also got my diet and appetite more in line with good health simply by not eating so much dang dessert (our diet was pretty clean all along). It turns out from review of my old exercise journals that I spent a long time around this weight also (averaging about 162 right now).

One outcome from this has been a noticeable increase in my libido and more specifically finding my wife much more attractive and desirable than I had while my fitness had been less. Not to say I didn’t find her attractive before (seriously she’s hot) but I found myself wanting to spend more time and physical energy on her as my fitness improved. I’m using the multiple definitions of attractive here, not just in the sexual/physical way. I’ve also find myself wanting to support her return to fitness. We likely have many, many years of marriage ahead of us and it would nice to enjoy them with energy and without the disease of poor health that I see plaguing Americans wholesale. Arthritis, diabetes, heart disease, poor balance, nursing homes….these are the realities of retirement in America. I never hear those that maintained good health and fitness say “the Golden years aren’t so Golden” it’s usually former smokers or the obese who can’t figure out how they got to this place of debilitation.

So men: this passage is first an explicit call to “love your body”. Not self worship, not narcissism but getting it the rest, exercise and fuel it needs. CHOOSE health. From there we are to love our wives as we love our bodies. If you are married, make the changes needed because I can tell you from personal experience it becomes easier to love your wife better. If you are unmarried make the changes ahead of time, health probably won’t hurt in helping you find a wife.

Women: I’d guess that if men are called to love their bodies….the same is true for ya’ll. Likewise if (which is usually true even in two income homes) you do all the shopping or cooking you can do your part by making better choices about what fuels are even available in the house. Take control: a household that contains no soda, cookies, or frankenfoods makes it much easier for everyone living there to make good diet choices.

Perfect hair night for delivery. My gorgeous wife.

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Published in: on August 11, 2012 at 3:21 pm  Leave a Comment  

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