Love the Sinner, Hate the Sin: The Plus Size Edition
In today's "Acts of Faith," part of the opinion section in The Washington Post covering religion, one churchgoer tells her story of being a single plus size woman as a practicing Christian. It's a story most plus size people are all too familar with, no matter what religion one may practice.
Joy Beth Smith wrote "Fat. Single. Christian. In Church, Being Overweight and Dating Feels Like a Sin" originally for Boundless, a website for young Christian single people. Smith describes what it's like for her to date withing the Christian community. Particulariy, how men in the church have the upper hand:
"For men, it’s a buyer’s market. With the surplus of godly, talented, accomplished Christian women, men can afford to be pickier, holding tightly to standards of physical attraction, sense of humor, similar interests, all the way to taste in coffee. Women, on the other hand, have narrowed down their lists primarily to non-negotiables: growing in the Lord, bathing regularly. That’s it."
This selectiveness goes beyond religion. Any single woman ages 23 to 50 living in a major city can attest to the the unfair advantage men have in the dating scene. However, what makes Smith's story more upsetting is the lack of support she finds from clergy and parishioners alike about her struggle. At times, it seems like they reinforce her deepest fears of being someone undeserving of love.
"I’ve been told that my weight is a poor reflection of the stewardship God demands of me in all things, because, after all, we are “to offer our bodies as living sacrifices” (Romans 12:1). And, yes, I do believe people in the church feel more freedom to address these issues because we have a command, as Christians, to “love one another to good works” (Hebrews 10:24-25) and to bring forward any sin we may see. Fellow Christians have a biblical mandate to call out the sin in my life, and with that action they can also work toward eliminating an unsightly blemish on the church roster."
How does Smith keep the faith when her parish has put so little faith in her as a Christian woman? No one in her church seemed to get past her weight. What a pity. Despite the adversity, Smith's faith hasn't been shaken. Surely, that must count for something. Smith sounds like someone who would should be praised whereever she goes.