Because discipleship include the whole person, including the body, to some extent, how we care for our bodies must be taken seriously. What that means may be open to some definition. However, the overarching principle of temple care, while annoying at times 🙂 is something I believe the church should always take seriously.
That is wy this headline from a 2010 article continues to bother me: Duke Study Finds Clergy Outweigh Parishioners. The study cites as a contributing factor that self-care is seen as selfish. I believe there are other reasons. Among them:
- Average clergy works long hours in a higher stress vocation. Thus, time reserve energy for exercise are not readily available.
- A false dualism between between body, soul and spirit still exists. Body is seen as detached from or secondary to matters of the spirit–rather than viewing our being as an integrated whole comprised of different parts. This is in part why most Christians have never heard good teaching on a theology of the body. Many preachers don't believe there is one–or don't want to risk offending people by articulating it. It's easier to say, "Don't drink, don't smoke, don't have sex before marriage." That, however, isn't a proper theology of the body that helps both preacher and congregation understand what it means to live in our bodies as if they are blood-bought and not our own.
- Clergy are public figures. Thus, any change in appearance is noted by the congregation. If anything from clothing style, haircut, etc. is changed people notice. One's self-image is personal…and they don't want the congregation commenting on it for good or ill.
- Laziness and/or gluttony.
Whatever the reason, there is no doubt that many pastors avoid the subject of temple care because they themselves are continuing to add rooms to their own. I'm not suggesting that all pastors are overweight. In fact, some of the most physically fit guys I know are pastors. I'm also not suggesting the pulpit be used as a place to articulate the virtues of P90X. Jack Lalanne and Jesus are different people…this I know. However, it seems to me that saying nothing about stewardship of the body isn't an option any longer.
Let me ask your honest opinion on a few things. Pick one or all of them:
- Do you lose a little respect for pastors who are overweight? Why?
- Is it vain or biblical to judge someone's spirituality based on their self-care?
- Do you agree that preachers are reticent to talk about matters of health beyond the typical drinking, smoking, drugs, pre-marital sex topics? If so, why?