Every time a friend gets married, I give them Sacred Marriage by Gary Thomas. It’s a fantastic book about learning how to live in relationship with one’s spouse in a way that honors one another and God. I just love it.
So when I got Every Body Matters: Strengthening Your Body to Strengthen Your Soul in the mail from Zondervan, I was WAY excited. I tend to be a loyal reader- if I REALLY like one book by an author, I’ll try and read everything they’ve written.
In this book, Thomas correlates the wellness of our soul to the fitness of our body. While he makes all the appropriate caveats (some people look overweight but are actually very fit; many look thin but eat poorly and don’t exercise; some are physically handicapped and this argument may not apply to them, etc.), he carefully shows how thoughtless care of our bodies is damaging our souls as well.
Thomas uses his personal story for the background of the book, which I think encourages the reader to put down any guards that may typically go up around the issue of eating and exercise. I mean, let’s be honest, it’s an incredibly delicate topic. I commend Thomas for writing a book about it at all; it takes courage and tact. While difficult to talk about, it’s probably about time. Statistically, most of us are overweight (unhealthfully so), but very few are willing to talk about it in general, and close to no one is willing to lovingly confront a family member or friend about their abuse of their bodies.
It’s an epidemic that is killing the Church- in more than one way.
This is an important book because Thomas is bringing to light an issue that is taking years off peoples’ lives as well as making many of us spiritually lazy. Thomas makes the argument that if we are undisciplined in our eating and our exercising, it is probably carrying over into other areas of our life, including our ability to be self-controlled. He digs deep into the literature of the ancients to reveal that this area was MUCH talked about in the past. This isn’t just a problem we have today; it’s a problem that has existed for a long time.
Is being overweight a sin? No. Can sin lead us to become overweight? Yes. Thomas dances in and through the various discussions surrounding this theme. He’s careful. He’s compassionate. He’s tactful. But he’s also seriously concerned about this issue in the church.
And it’s not just for those who are overweight.
There were parts of the book that I was uncomfortable with, perhaps because I’ve never been overweight and I can’t verify if his statements were fair for all people who are overweight/obese. I did appreciate his concern for those who look thin, but are actually eating junk and not being active– that inclusion allows everyone to gather around this table and discuss because most of us know this struggle.
I think there will be other books coming out around this topic in the future and several of them will be better than this one, but I believe this is where the conversation is going to start. Thomas as brought the “taking care of our body” box into the middle of the sanctuary and opened it up. We can no longer ignore the elephant in the room.
Thank you, Zondervan, for giving me a free copy to review as well as allowing me to express my honest opinion.