Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and The Life…and Your Only Ticket to Six Pack AbsCulture, Featured, Food and Drink — By Emily Timbol on August 23, 2010 at 4:28 pm
Do not fear Christians, I come to bring you good news of great joy for all people! Especially you, fatty! Two thousand years ago when Jesus came to Earth, He not only died for your sins on the cross to give you eternal life, He also gave you the secret to finally fitting in those (modest) skinny jeans! And it will only cost you thirty minutes a day plus two low, low payments of $39.99 (plus shipping and handling.) Finally, you’ll be able to combine those two things in your life that you fret over and feel guilty about the most – not exercising enough, and not spending enough time with the Lord. Because as we all know, He’s not just interested in your heart, but also your BMI. He likes His temples slender.
This is a dramatic summation of a real product currently being advertised on television called, “Body Gospel.” And it’s not produced by “The Onion.” Oh, did you think there was only one Gospel, the one in the Bible? You’re wrong. And probably too fat.
The Body Gospel is a three in one product – an exercise program, a diet plan, and a personal discipleship tool. It contains videos with titles like “Stretch in the Spirit,” “Core Revelation,” and “Body Revival,” all set to gospel music, with what appears in the commercials to be fully robed choirs singing in the background. The infomercial spends a lot of time on testimonials from users, which makes sense, since we all know how much Christians like to testify. One man said that, thanks to Body Gospel, he’s “reborn.” Another woman said that during the hard days she experienced while using Body Gospel, “[Jesus] was not walking next to me, He was carrying me.” I guess it’s a good thing she lost weight, since Jesus had to “Step in the Spirit” while holding another person. Hallelujah.
This makes me angry. Not just because I am a fat person, which, full disclosure I am, and not just because I am a fat person who has more than once fallen for diet product infomercials (here’s looking at you Richard Simmons.) It makes me mad because I’m a Christian.
There is beauty, and wonder, and freedom in the Gospel. The fact that God loved us so much that He sent His son, Jesus, to willingly die for our sins, and we have to do absolutely nothing in return but believe in Him, is something that we Christians need to spend more time meditating on. Especially the part about Him loving us, no matter what we have done, will do, or are doing, as long as we are His children. What is not Gospel is anything that tries to manipulate, exploit, or coerce people into having a relationship with Jesus. Especially if it’s for a profit. That’s the kind of thing that caused Jesus to turn tables over.
Body Gospel is infuriating because it takes something that has no focus on outward appearance, The Gospel of Christ, and turns it into something that profits from reminding Christians how much appearances matter. It uses Christianese and emotional manipulation to pray on the insecurity and feelings of Christians who struggle with their weight. At $80 bucks a pop for a population that is currently estimated to be 60% overweight and 76% Christian, we’re quite a profitable market. Instead of telling people that Jesus loves them and accepts them for who they are, and wants them to have the best life available to them, free from addiction to food or anything else, it presents a false happiness that can easily be achieved simply by losing weight.
As someone who at one time lost a significant amount of weight, only to find that it didn’t make me any happier, I know how dangerous it is to believe that the answer to all my problems – including my poor relationship with God – was to lose weight. I also know how easy it is to fall prey to infomercials full of skinny smiling people who promise that if they can do it so can I. But what I also know is that Christ loves me, and cares for me, and doesn’t give a rat’s ass is I’m a few pounds overweight, as long as I’m not making food an idol or jeopardizing my health. Part of the beauty of the Gospel is that unlike the world, that is constantly judging me on my looks, Jesus judges me by my heart. Not the cholesterol levels in it, (which by the way are excellent) but the motives and desires of it.
While there is of course nothing wrong with preferring to work out to gospel music instead of The Black Eyed Peas, (or preferring anything to The Black Eyed Peas) there is something wrong with a product that manipulates the freedom of Christ into a weight loss tool. Jesus did not die on the cross so you could have a six pack, He died because He loves you, spare tire and all.