In the wake of this epic 1996-level wild thread/discussion about marriage difficulty for young Christian men and women these days, the male blogger Deep Strength posted a long rambling thing about “feminine beauty” that made me realize a key part of where some men are talking past some women in these matters.
A scale is not a switch. When some men use the classic 10 point scale for looks/beauty/attractiveness, they aren’t using it as a scale, but as a switch. On/off. Yes/No (to the question of whether they might, in the abstract, desire to know a woman in the Biblical sense). That is why Deep Strength thinks the young woman in his post went from a “3” to an “8” when she didn’t budge much in the scale sense. She wasn’t a 3 or an 8 to start with. She was an average girl who now looks above average because she puts more effort into her dress and carriage and lost weight via exercise and diet. On a ten point scale she went from 5 to 6.
But this blogger converted “went from girl I would never think of desiring to girl I might have desirous thoughts of right now” into ten point scale language. “From a 3 to an 8!”
This is, needless to say, confusing. He could have simply used a switch and reduced confusion dramatically.
This explains the obsession with “becoming an 8”, or “so and so is an 8 for sure!” by some men discussing love, sex and marriage. 8 is the switch.
He may be too young to remember Hot or Not. That is all he needs, and all anyone needs who insists on limiting female beauty to a switch.
Related to this, Deep Strength’s post concludes that young Christian women should wear the clothing the young woman (pictured in his example towards the end of his very long post) wears at 124 pounds to show that they’d like to be considered marriage-worthy by men around them.
ETA 4/12/17: Deep Strength responds here with “Girls are dumb and don’t know things, amirite?” but about 500x longer.
The most physically fit people I know either have it via genetics (hi!) and don’t have to do very much to look the part of someone who works out hours per day, or they do spend hours per day on being fit. That’s a lot of free time.
I don’t have some kind of beef with people being healthy and having good cardiovascular health and being able to lift 25 or even 50 pounds easily. But these things aren’t correlated with fitness-instructor looks and bodies. You can be in solid physical health and look like a chunky monkey.
More to the point, the fat Christians I know spend a lot of time in commuting to jobs to support their families, taking care of their relatives (grandchildren, adult children with disabilities, parents and other relations with old age and/or disabilities) and doing the usual housework, yard work and etc. When all that is done, they don’t have time to spend working out. They’re physically and mentally worn out and just want to rest. Many of those fat Christians do heavy lifting and other physical activity daily or nearly so. It’s just not remotely enough to keep them at a fighting trim weight. They have muscle under 30 or 50 or even 75 extra pounds.
The post I reblogged acts like it’s super easy to tack on meal planning of different food than the rest of your family will be eating, plus scheduling gym time (or presumably purchasing very expensive equipment to stick somewhere in your house) plus basically devoting your life to your body rather than Christ along with the duties and responsibilities of being married with kids. It’s not. I would note the examples of Christian exercise one can easily google for usually are single people or married people with other folks helping them behind the scenes and small (1-3 kids) family sizes. And many have terrible eating disorders.
I have great genetics and eat a ridiculous healthy diet, but those things can’t fix years of bedrest due to hard pregnancies (“oh but if you just had a HEALTHIER LIFESTYLE the hugely strong and healthy kids you grow would take nothing from your body!”). I’ve lost about 20 pounds of muscle, no typo. It’s going to take years to come back from that and I’m sure not getting younger. So I have sympathy for people who don’t have great genetics that give them instant fitness figures with a few long walks a week or a couple of lifting sessions. I have sympathy for people who spend 16-18 hours taking care of so many other people and barely get any rest for themselves. I have simple Christian love for them and don’t think they are failing to reveal the glory of Christ because they’re fat. Their devotion to duty, their hearts of service to others strengthen my faith when I’m worn out too and angry at my body for just not having the energy I want it to have no matter how much grassfed bone broth from my neighbor’s cow and herbs from my own backyard I eat.
We are all weak, and the way to help each other is not to live a life devoted to body worship, which conveniently absolves you of responsibilities and duties (“can’t help ya honey, gotta get muh three hours of exercise in FOR THE KINGDOM!”) Fitness-as-lifestyle is dangerous. Life-as-lifestyle is where normal people are. I’ll meet them there any day, any way.
The article “Deep Strength” was blogging about was more correct than his response. People are easily tempted because when it’s so hard to be very very fit, those who join that club struggle to flee the temptations of vanity.