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Only with those who consume three slices of pizza at Bible study and weigh significantly more than a chart demands can we assume gluttony is the secret sin. And yet these factors are rarely considered when a well-meaning friend sends me a link to the latest fad diet or a man avoids my eye as he announces to the waitress that no, we won’t be dessert.

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But what’s particular to more traditional believers is the conviction that my weight reveals some evidence of spiritual trouble. Therefore, to be fat is a sin because many believe to be fat is to be a living, breathing testament to overindulgence or lack of self-restraint.

To be fat is to be a bad witness for Christ — or so I’ve heard some pastors preach.

The fat explains the single, and both of these make me less of a Christian — or at least that’s the way it feels when a pastor tries to convince me of the spiritual and relational merits of losing weight.

And, unfortunately, unrealistic body expectations are just one way that we diminish and derail the value of women in the church. Only by ignoring the shame and embarrassment I feel in writing a post like this can we begin a healthy discussion, acknowledging the detrimental effects of our preoccupation with physical beauty.

Part of this has to do with basic demographics of the church today: For men, it’s a buyer’s market.

With the surplus of godly, talented, accomplished Christian women, men can afford to be pickier, holding tightly to standards of physical attraction, sense of humor, similar interests, all the way to taste in coffee. Here’s why we chose to give birth to black triplets.] And if you are overweight, you can’t remain that way.

I’ve been told that my weight is a poor reflection of the stewardship God demands of me in all things, because, after all, we are “to offer our bodies as living sacrifices” (Romans 12:1).

And, yes, I do believe people in the church feel more freedom to address these issues because we have a command, as Christians, to “love one another to good works” (Hebrews -25) and to bring forward any sin we may see.

I see it in the faces of guys I’m meeting for the first time after being matched on e Harmony, even though we’ve exchanged weeks of witty banter and embarrassing confessions.

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