Disappearing Acts

Meditate on these passages for a moment:

Meditate on these passages for a moment:

You are the salt of the earth. But if salt loses its flavor, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled on by people.
You are the light of the world. A city located on a hill cannot be hidden.
People  do not light a lamp and put it under a basket but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all in the house.
In the same
way, let your light shine before people, so that they can see your good
deeds and give honor to your Father in heaven. Matthew 5:13-16

Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit lives in you? If someone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him. For God’s temple is holy, which is what you are. 1 Corinthians 3:16-17

Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own?
For you were bought at a price. Therefore glorify God with your body. 1 Corinthians 6:19-20

So then, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; what is old has passed away – look, what is new has come! 2 Corinthians 5:17

For we are his workmanship, having been created in Christ Jesus for good works that God prepared beforehand so we may do them. Ephesians 2:10

Why is it that in light of these scriptures, illumined by the truth of where our value and influence lies, informed fully of how stewardship of our bodies reflects the glory of God, that so many Christian women in the United States practice a false theology of the body? A misappropriation of the gifts we have been given?

I am speaking of the obsession with thinness. Not health. Not fitness. Rather, I am speaking of the systematic assault on bodies that we sanction daily, through our criticism, our yo-yo dieting, our secret binging, our public self-loathing.

Subtle heresy abounds in us. This century is marked by movements of
change leading to civil rights and increased opportunities for many,
including women in the United States. And yet, in the wake of strides
of women in the workplace and the home, in the wake of monumental
efforts to be seen, to be heard (to run for President or Vice
President!), to excel and to be valued, how have we responded?

By disappearing. Literally.

The average American woman is a size 12, but society (including our
sisters, ourselves) praises the size 0. The ideal body of a mature
woman has become a pre-pubescent girl (plus implants). Our size has
become inversely proportional to our opportunities. At the same time we
demand acknowledgment as mature and capable women, we starve ourselves
to look like little girls.

We have all been a party to gathering around and pointing out our
flaws. The cottage cheese, the too big or too small derriere, the wide
hips or thick thighs. When we’re done with that, we’re criticizing (or
comparing ourselves to) celebrities who put on weight, or even women
who surround us who are not petite.

Then, we console ourselves through chocolate (how many times have we
heard about how chocolate heals every emotional ill? I mean, it helps,
but…) or hit a bucket of chicken or gallon of ice cream to fill the
void we know full well that only Jesus can. Then we feel guilty. Then
the cycle of self-loathing, body and soul, begins again.

When will we embrace the bodies that Jesus Christ died to save and vowed to return to in order to resurrect, restore, and glorify? If Jesus incarnated himself to live among us, to experience humanity, to be born of a woman, and to die, then the flesh and blood – and a person’s presence – have  inherent value.

There is NO condemnation in Christ Jesus. There is no longer a reason to remain anxious. Our approval is already sure. Let the world worship a size 0; we must believe that God is right when He states that we are fearfully and wonderfully made. That when He fashions us, He declares us good. Unhealthy obsession over weight is for those who are still looking for approval. We have it!

I, for one, am tired of this hamster wheel. Predestined as much for hips and thighs as for salvation and good works, I am laying down the disappearing act. I’ll exercise and eat healthfully because I steward what God’s given me. Not in order to be a size 0.

God made this light to shine as a size 8.

Sharifa Stevens is a Manhattan-born, Bronx-raised child of the King, born to Jamaican immigrants, and currently living in Dallas. Sharifa's been singing since she was born. Her passion is to serve God's kingdom by leading His people in worship through music, speaking and writing, and relationships with people. Her heart is also unity, inspired by John. Sharifa hates exercise but likes Chipotle, bagels with a schmeer and lox, salmon sushi, chicken tikka, curried goat (yeah, it's good) with rice and peas, and chocolate lava cakes. She's been happily married to Jonathan since 2006...and he buys her Chipotle.


    • Sharifa Stevens

      Me, too!

      So did I, Terri. So do I.

      (And I also wrote excerpts from a poem by Maya Angelou called Phenomenal Woman on my work whiteboard to keep an artistic interpretation of the truth in front of me every day.)

  • Shannon

    A-MEN to that!!
    “Predestined as much for hips and thighs as for salvation and good works, I am laying down the disappearing act.” That is so going on my mirror!! I was reading something this week (can’t remember where) about how a hundred years ago a “blessed” woman (hips & chest-wise) was a sexy thing, as that meant fertility… These days, we don’t think about that at all. We think thin is the way to be, even though being that thin often means that one can’t be fertile, because one doesn’t have enough fat in her system to get everything working properly. SIGH. I pray that my girls can grow up content with the way they’re made, not obsessing about it. Just want it to be a non-issue…

    • Sharifa Stevens


      Shannon, as long as the pumpkins have you as a mother, they’ll be in GREAT shape – and of course, they’ll get plenty of positive reinforcement from their aunties!

  • Gwynne Johnson

    Wrong century….
    .Reading your words reminded me that everytime I see those mideval paintings I say that I was born into the wrong century! Serious theological error, even in jest. Thanks for the exhortation; and yes I will have that second helping.Smile