Photo by Artem Kovalev on Unsplash

When we think about the body, we—especially women—may be keenly aware of our body in some ways and completely neglect it in others. We may obsess over how our body looks, how we feel in it, how others feel about it, or what it can or can’t do. 

Tish Harrison Warren says it well in her book Liturgy of the Ordinary:

Christians are often accused of two wrong-headed views of the body. One is that we ignore the body in favor of a disembodied, spirits-floating-on-clouds spirituality. The other is that we are obsessed with bodies, focusing all our attention on policing sexual conduct and denigrating the body as a dirty source of evil. In certain communities at certain moments in history, these accusations may have been legitimate. But the Christianity we find in Scripture values and honors the body. At root, Christianity is a thoroughly embodied faith. We believe in the incarnation—Christ came in a body.

Understanding our minds, bodies, and souls is an important part of understanding who we are as humans and how we grow as Christians. 

As people created with good but broken bodies, we must learn to embrace our limits and live faithfully wherever God has placed us. In so doing, even our broken bodies tell the story of God’s faithfulness. 

Created good, sinless, and shameless

But what were our bodies were made to be? To answer that question, let’s go back to the very beginning –Genesis 1:27-31: 

So God created man in his own image,

in the image of God he created him;

male and female he created them.

And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” And God said, “Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit. You shall have them for food…and God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good…

Then in Gen 2:7-8, 15-25, we get the more detailed creation account:

Then the Lord God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature. and the Lord God planted a garden in Eden, in the east, and there he put the man whom he had formed.

The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it. and the Lord God commanded the man, saying, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.”

Then the Lord God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.” …..So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. And the rib that the Lord God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man. Then the man said,

“This at last is bone of my bones

 and flesh of my flesh;

she shall be called Woman,

because she was taken out of Man.”

Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed.

  1. Our bodies are created. “In the beginning, God created…” Genesis tells us about God and creation—or everything that’s not God. As part of creation, we’re not God. Maybe that sounds obvious, but if you’ve ever felt you had to do and be it all, you know how hard it is to accept our creatureliness. 

We may struggle with our physical limitations, but our dependency on God and the rest of creation was a good part of the story from the beginning. 

  1. Our bodies are “living souls.” In the great mystery of humanity, we are ensouled bodies. Our physical being was made to express hidden realities in our souls—how we feel, what we think, and what we want. Christopher West writes, “The body, in fact, and it alone is capable of making visible what is invisible: the spiritual and divine.” (Theology of the Body for Beginners: A Basic Introduction to St. John Paul II’s Sexual Revolution. Ascension, 2009)

If you have a hard time hiding your thoughts and emotions, you know this to be true. Our bodies and souls are inseparably linked—so entwined that what happens in and to our bodies will eventually affect our minds and souls. And visa versa. So the way we consider our bodies has everything to do with our sanctification.

  1. Our bodies were created very good. God declared creation very good when humans showed up. Up until then, it’d just been good. So, we are created with dignity and worth because we bear his image.

It reminds me of holding my newborn babies. Even as their mother, I’d admit that my kids—with their deformed heads, splotchy skin, squished faces, and unibrows—weren’t really that cute. 

They weren’t helpful, either. In fact, I spent most of my day (and night) tending to and cleaning up after them—and still do. But I love and care for those babies because they are mine—not because of how they look or what they do for me. 

My imperfect maternal love is just a tiny glimpse of God’s love for us. He made our bodies good and loves us because we are His.

  1. Our bodies were placed in a context. Adam and Eve’s placement in Eden was no accident. God put them there to work, to worship, and to commune with Him, and He’s still doing this today. Paul says it poetically in his sermon to Athens,  

The God who made the world and everything in it…….he himself gives everyone life and breath and all things. From one man, he has made every nationality to live over the whole earth and has determined their appointed times and the boundaries of where they live. He did this so that they might seek God, and perhaps they might reach out and find him, though he is not far from each one of us. (Acts17:24-27)

The situation we live in is no accident, and God wants each of us to be present for a specific reason. He wants up to reach out and find Him, to worship, enjoy, and tell his story where we are. 

  1. God provided for us, body and soul. The picture of the Garden of Eden in Genesis 2 is extravagant. There’s delicious food, four rivers for water and easy planting, and gold and gems—because, why not? God loves to dote on His people with extravagant grace. 

Before God created Eve, I wonder if Adam noticed his need for a helper as as God paraded various animals before him. Or did God simply see and meet Adam’s longing for community before he could even name it? 

  1. We were made for loving, generous community. The creation account is far from cold or distant. God formed mankind with his own hands and breathed in His own Spirit. When God made Eve, he used Adam’s own bone and flesh for his bride. Before sin could make it a liability, we were made for the kind of self-giving relationships that model the love we see among the Trinity. 
  1. We lived in bodies without shame. In Eden, we had no reason to fear or hide. No one was going to weaponize, judge, tease, or use our bodies or words against us. We were made to live vulnerably with God and one another, without shame. Everything was very good.

East of Eden

But you know the story, and you’ve lived it too. Because we resented our good limitations and wanted to be gods, we now live in broken bodies. We rejected our place as God’s beloved creation and still suffer the consequences today.

We resent our limits. I don’t know about you, but I hate the fact that I can’t do everything. Especially for us women, we want to (or feel like we have to) be and do everything for everyone. Be it mom guilt, hussle culture, or compulsive exercise, we run ourselves ragged trying to be limitless—trying to be like gods.

We feel shame. Beyond even appropriate shame for doing wrong, we now struggle with shame of our own bodies. We poke and prod at ourselves for being too this or not enough of that. In a day of filters, photoshop, fitness gurus, and communities that measure foods as “good” or “evil,” it’s no wonder we feel unsettled in our bodies. 

But consider a baby. Are you embarrassed by their rolls? Ashamed of their nakedness? Do you think of them as useless until they can start doing something for you? Of course not! We kiss those cheeks and adore their dimples. 

We cuddle our children, nurture them, and help them to be what they should be in the stage they’re in. And that’s how God sees us as His children—how he sees you. He is much more concerned about your character and wellbeing than pop culture’s latest body ideal. That’s a good way for us to think about our bodies as well. 

We experience sin and suffering. Our bodies wear down, decay, and die. Our minds are physically shaped by harmful desires, words, and thought patterns. We wound one another with our words and actions. We live in a world of comparison, sin, and shame. 

In the sentiment of Ecclesiastes and the words of The Dread Pirate Roberts, “Life is pain.” But praise God, that’s not the end of the story, either.

But God

The God of the universe, whose very presence would kill sinners, took on flesh and drew near to us. To rescue all of humanity, our salvation couldn’t merely be in word or spirit alone. It also had to be incarnated

Jesus came to redeem every part of us and break the power of sin, suffering, and shame in our mind, body, and soul. Through his physical life on earth, Jesus showed us the invisible realities of God. His body was the “living soul” of God’s realities. And today, his physical, human body is seated at the right hand of God, praying for you! 

He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation.

For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross. (Colossians 1:15, 19-20)

Jesus shows us not only God’s nature but also what it means to be human. As we become more Christlike, we actually become more truly human. 

He gave his body up to be broken for us and was raised up in a glorified body. In summary, he considered his context, obeyed the Father, and walked in the power of the Holy Spirit. That’s our measure of faithfulness. 

As we are filled with the Spirit, we cultivate virtue now matter what kind of season we’re living in. We can accept and even celebrate our limitations as they help us rightfully rely on God and one another. 

The Body of Christ

But I’d be remiss if I discussed the body without pointing out the beauty of the Body of Christ—The Church. The Body of Christ is a beautiful diversity. We have fingers, toes, eyes, a mouth, etc, and each part must be exactly what it was made to be—nothing more and nothing less. We depend on one another.

At minimum, the church must be physically present together for worship. But the metaphor of a body calls us to so much more than minimum requirements. We should listen intently to one another, give our time, right wrongs, care for physical needs, and draw near to one another with appropriate, familial touch. Despite our brokenness, the Spirit helps us to express vulnerable, generous love in the community of the church. 

When words—even true, biblical words—fail, our physical presence is a ministry. Our nearness can incarnate the love of Christ by showing up and walking (often in silence) through the valley with people.

When we take communion, it reminds us we are members of one Body—locally, globally, and throughout history. As we take the bread and cup together, we’re identifying our needs and physically declaring Christ’s story in word and deed as one Body. 

Imagine if the church could live with that hope, fully alive and embodied before the Lord and others. What if we could live in our bodies—as they are—without shame, without escape, and without resenting our neediness and limitations? What if we could speak life into one another’s bodies and encouragement to become more Christlike instead of heaping on judgment and competition? Imagine what good news that would be to the watching world!

And some day, the God who created us will fully restore us. Until then, we live faithfully here and eagerly await our re-creation. 

Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we will also bear the image of the Man of heaven.

This article was adapted from a session at the 2023 North Wake Women’s Retreat. You can listen to the full talk and other related sessions here: 


  • Allberry, Sam. What God Has to Say about Our Bodies: How the Gospel Is Good News for Our Physical Selves. Crossway, 2021.
  • Kapic, Kelly M. You’re Only Human: How Your Limits Reflect God’s Design and Why That’s Good News. Baker Publishing Group, 2022. 
  • McBride, Hillary L. The Wisdom of Your Body: Finding Healing, Wholeness, and Connection through Embodied Living. Brazos Press, a Division of Baker Publishing Group, 2021. 
  • Pearcey, Nancy. Love Thy Body: Answering Hard Questions about Life and Sexuality. Baker Books, 2018. 
  • Smith, James K. A. You Are What You Love. Braznos Press, 2016. 
  • Warren, Harrison Tish. Liturgy of the Ordinary: Sacred Practices in Everyday Life. IVP, an Imprint of InterVarsity Press, 2019. 
  • West, Christopher. Theology of the Body for Beginners: A Basic Introduction to St. John Paul II’s Sexual Revolution. Ascension, 2009. 
  • Wilbert, L. F. Handle with Care: How Jesus Redeems the Power of Touch in Life and Ministry. BandH Publishing, 2020.