Could I be valuable while also being fat? Culture says no, but God has a different answer.


My Body is a Big, Fat Temple of God

Christy Painter

9 mins

You used to be cute. What happened to you?

That was the first time someone negatively commented about my body directly to my face. I was in gym class, standing next to a boy I had a crush on. For no reason, he turned to me, looked me up and down, and blurted out those cutting words. I was eight years old.

He was right, too - I was a cute little kid. And when I hit a growth spurt that added to my circumference in addition to my height - people, in general, didn’t respond well.

It started with no longer being invited to birthday parties and being bullied during the bus ride home. Eventually, it progressed to boys making earthquake noises when I walked by. When I would tell my parents about it, their solution was to put me on a diet.

My body is a big temple of God

So began a longtime belief that I should be ashamed that my body was bigger - even though, despite my waistline - I’ve always been healthy and active. I’ve played sports, climbed volcanos, and finished 5ks all in this bigger body. To top it off, I always get good results from the doctor. I’ll repeat it for those in the back…I am doctor-certified healthy.

Point being: I didn’t and don’t need to lose weight for my health’s sake. But from a young age, I continuously tried to lose the weight because of society’s perception of me. I would ask myself, ‘Is being fat a sin?’ ‘What does the Bible say about losing weight?’ Or even, ‘Could I be valuable while also being fat?’

I’m 44 years old now and still fight this battle. I want to do normal things, like travel on an airplane without being judged by the person next to me. Or go shopping with my friends without asking for a special stop at a plus-sized store just for me. Maybe enjoy a slice of cake at a party without feeling the need to explain or justify myself?

Those are some benign things that most people don’t think about, but the lived experience is far more damaging than those examples. I have been laughed at, called names, passed over for jobs, ghosted, and mocked. I lost count of how many times a guy approached me and got me to believe that he liked me, only to find out it was a joke for his friends. Yes…that really happens.

My body is a big, fat temple of God

Okay - soapbox over - you see my point: our culture is BRUTAL to heavy people.

Like I said, I still fight this battle of knowing my value, but it does look different. I used to believe that the number on the scale corresponded to my worth or would dictate whether I was a good person. After years of growth, I’ve learned to look up and not around when asking, ‘Could I be valuable while also being fat?’

Our culture says no, but God says yes.

God vs Culture

Culture says:

‘There’s nothing more important than taking care of your body.’

God says:

For while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come.” (1 Timothy 4:8)

What does the Bible say about losing weight? Here, God says to take care of our bodies, which I totally agree with and do. But far more important is who we are and trying to live more like Jesus. Our culture seems tripped up here because society teaches us to value the outside and assign worth to an individual based on their appearance.

So, what would Jesus do? I believe He would look at the heart, not the body, and show love and favor without discrimination to looks. He would build us up and remind us that we are wonderfully made.

My Body is a big, fat temple of God

Furthermore, is being fat a sin? No, I don’t believe the simple state of being fat is sinful. Now, I think there are ways that sin (gluttony, laziness) may add some pounds, but I also think God makes it clear that if we are taking care of our bodies to the best of our ability, we don’t need to walk in shame.

Culture says:

‘You’re not deserving if you are obese.’ This is a literal quote from a viral TikTok about bigger women finding love.

God says:

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8)

My body is a big temple of God

Not only does God love us, but He loves us just as we are. There’s no deal you can make, no work you can do, and no BMI you need to meet for God to love you. He already does.

Culture says:

‘You could lose weight, but you are just lazy.’

God says:

For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” (Ephesians 2:10)

I’ve tried just about every diet and exercise routine: from Weight Watchers to diet pills, from starvation to counting calories, and simple walking to painful “full body shred” videos and personal trainers. Some of these worked better than others, but none allowed me to maintain significant weight loss. I’ve taken medication prescribed by my doctor and even considered surgeries.

I have left no stone unturned, yet they have all failed me. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve cried, asking God why I was given this body; why don’t I get to experience life as a thin person? God’s answer from scripture is that He made me, loves me, and cherishes me as I am.

At this point, I can only presume that I am meant to be this size. No matter my efforts, my body returns here, so perhaps God made me this way. Maybe there is a purpose for me to experience life in this body, and there are good works he has prepared for me.

My body is a temple of God

I’ve heard the argument that we should be skinny because “Our bodies are God’s temple, and we should take care of them.” But this inaccurately insinuates that only small bodies are healthy and cared for. Also, I ask, does a temple only come in one size? Is my temple worth less to God because it’s a little bigger? Nope! This temple is structurally sound, and God dwells within.

Now, I’m not saying that I have a free pass to fill up on donuts every day…I will always continue to eat healthy foods, be active, and care for myself physically and mentally, but I no longer expect my body to change, and I don’t think my life and purpose are on hold unless it does.

Instead, I look for ways that I can uniquely care for others. I shifted my thinking from “Why can’t I have that?” to “What should I be doing with what I have?” Along with a large frame, God has built me with an empathetic heart, an ear to listen, and the courage to speak up. God says that I am his handiwork and that he’s prepared me in advance for a purpose.

My Body is a Big, Fat Temple of God

I’ve stopped fighting my body. Culture may say that I’m promoting obesity, but I’m actually promoting the idea that health is internal, between you and God, not determined by physical appearances or the world’s current preference that you should be a size six or less. Big or small, tall or short, if you have zits or clear skin. Regardless of the texture of your hair (or lack thereof) or how able your body may or may not be, I believe God intentionally designed you, and he is not wrong. Our culture is wrong.

I believe we all have been gifted with amazing skills, qualities, and passions from God, and figuring out how to use them to honor God (instead of focusing on what culture thinks of my temporary biological form) has given me freedom that I’ve never experienced.

My body is a large temple of God

It took me decades to get to this mindset, and it still doesn’t happen automatically. It’s an intentional practice. Even writing this article is a form of practicing the belief that God loves me and developed me for this - and that I am fearfully and wonderfully made, designed precisely as I am for a purpose.

For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well”. (Psalm 139:13-14)

I take this journey one day at a time. I remind myself of God’s truth over culture’s lies or even the lousy thoughts that my brain comes up with. I especially make sure to put it all in (God’s) perspective:

Our bodies are like tents that we live in here on earth.” (2 Corinthians 5:1)

My body is a big, fat temple of God, and it is just a tent - a place for me to dwell while I’m here. And although our culture places a lot of value on specific shapes and sizes of these tents, God does not.

Disclaimer: This article is 100% human-generated.

Christy Painter
Meet the author

Christy Painter

Loyal daughter, sister, friend, and dog mom. I'm an advocate for mental health and social justice. I love music, TV, traveling, everything spooky, and cold weather. I can bake a mean cheesecake and the best chocolate chip cookies you ever had. So, in conclusion, I'm as basic as a venti PSL on a crisp fall morning.

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