Throughout history, such as in Nazi Germany, we’ve seen that idolizing the human body can lead to extremes of racism and worse.
I feel that it’s a religious responsibility to pay attention to our bodies and make sure we keep them safe and sound. At the same time, we must be careful not to let this get so far out of hand that we start to idolize the human body.
Following this balanced approach will ensure greater fulfillment in both the physical and spiritual realms.
There’s no doubt that the human body is a wonderful creation with amazing capabilities — but it is ultimately our minds and our souls that make us special.
RABBI SIMCHA BACKMAN
Chabad Jewish Center
One of the wisest thoughts ever offered, I believe, was Aristotle talking about the mean between the extremes.
So is it possible that there are those in our society who overdo the fitness regimen? I believe the answer is yes.
Now I must admit that I worked very hard in high school and before to make the various athletic teams, and I did achieve a modicum of success for my efforts.
Also, as an adult I have completed something like six marathons, and several shorter-distance runs. But it is possible to worship the body as an idol, and in the three Abrahamic religions (Judaism, Christianity and Islam) idol worship is not a good thing.
St. Paul does talk about the body being the temple of the Holy Spirit (I Corinthians 6:19, Revised Standard Version), so we are supposed to take good care of our bodies. But again, the Aristotelian mean is helpful here. To me that means stay in shape, but don’t overdo it. In fact, enjoy “sinful” desserts occasionally; don’t eat the whole cake, but a moderate slice is probably OK.
The point is, don’t let any addiction, including a narcissistic concern for your body, get in the way of your relationship with God.
Sorry, gotta run. My personal trainer is at the door!
THE REV. C. L. “SKIP” LINDEMAN
Congregational Church of the Lighted Window
United Church of Christ
La Cañada Flintridge