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Some churches encouraging members to get bodies right with God, too

by Brad A. Greenberg

June 18, 2014 | 7:44 am

There is a lot of talk these days about fitness as religion. But this Los Angeles Times story isn't about the Cult of CrossFit. It's about a call for Christians to get fit.

Mary MacVean reports on Saddleback Church and The Daniel Plan:

Pastor Rick Warren is using the power of his church, one of the biggest in the country, to impress upon his followers that their bodies need the same care as their spirits.

After two months on "The Daniel Plan," [church member Jim] Black gave up his diabetes medication. He has given up wheat, dairy and sugar. He recently bought a bicycle. In a year, he lost 90 pounds; his wife lost 40.

"It's that one scripture: My body is not my own, my body is on loan and someday I'll have to account for it," said Black, 48. "I wanted to serve God at a higher level. And I wanted to be able to fit in the seat of a roller coaster and buy one seat on the airplane instead of two."

Despite a multibillion-dollar industry of programs and books and diet meals and meetings, the secular world has done a fairly lousy job at getting people to lose weight and get fit.

So why not turn to a higher power?

Ba-dump-ch.

To start, it's no real surprise that some churches want to see their members in better health—just as a proportion of any shared-interest group want to see their members in better health. Even if a recent study showed that going to church tends to make people fat, congregations have an interest in healthier members. As do employers and social groups and families.

Of course, there is a religion component here. "It's that one scripture"—which isn't cited but my former GetReligion colleague Bobby Ross surmises to be 1 Corinthians 6:19-20. (Ross was pretty charitable in his response to this story.) I suspected the same, though the part of those verses usually quoted in the Christian health context is that "bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit."

To the extent that churches are encouraging healthier living, that's great—from both societal and spiritual perspectives. But the article hardly shows that there is a measurable movement afoot in American Christianity.

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Since launching the blog in 2007, I’ve referred to myself as “a God-fearing Christian with devilishly good Jewish looks.” The description, I’d say, is an accurate one,...

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