PLEASE NOTE: This e-teaching is not appropriate for children, preadolescents, and many adolescents.
“Ah, you are looking so nice and fat!”
Those words would hardly be perceived as a compliment in the United States, where many of us are overweight. Yet there are many countries where those sentiments are sometimes spoken as a sincere compliment. I’ve been to some of them. Without exception, those nations are generally poor, and being overweight is a sign of wealth, because it indicates that one can afford more food than most people. In many parts of Africa, Asia and Latin America, when someone tells you that you are fat, he is being kind.
No country better exemplifies that cultural phenomenon than Mauritania, in northwest Africa. Mauritania is mostly desert, and food is often in short supply. In rural Mauritania, people only survive if they live near an oasis. You can understand why being overweight is desirable—and even prestigious. So much so that Mauritanian men prefer heavy women. A heavy wife is the sign of a rich man. Skinniness is associated with poverty.
For that reason, Mauritanian parents often encourage their eligible daughters to put on weight. They may even send them to rural “fat farms” where they are forced to consume up to 16,000 calories per day of fats and cream. That is four times the amount of daily calories consumed by adult male bodybuilders. Tragically, even drugs and hormone supplements are sometimes used to fatten young girls to make them more “attractive.”
It could be argued that rural Mauritania’s cultural fixation with female obesity is analogous to Western culture’s obsession with skinniness. Are not both extremes nothing more than cultural constructs? Did not God create our bodies with the capacity to store fat as a means of preserving essential nutrients to keep us alive during droughts and famines?
Although those opposite obsessions may both contain elements of being culturally created, I would maintain that Mauritania’s fixation with female obesity is very close to a complete cultural construct, whereas Western culture’s appreciation of fitness and trimness is much closer to what is natural and what God intended for human beings. (In fact, the younger generations of Mauritanian males now view fattening negatively.) Obesity is physically unhealthy and historically unusual. As I mentioned in the previous chapter, being even a little overweight increases one’s risk for many serious diseases. Unless you need to prepare for a famine or you live north of the Artic Circle, there is no good reason to be carrying much extra body fat.
Moreover, even if Western culture’s association of attractiveness with being trim and fit is a cultural invention, good luck trying to dislodge fortress-strength cultural beliefs. No finger-wagging uber-feminist is going to change the minds of millions of men regarding what makes female forms most attractive, especially when most of those men are convinced their preferences are innate. You’d have more success trying to convince Chinese people to stop eating rice. By the way, it isn’t just men who prefer slender female forms. Studies show that women prefer in men a relatively narrow waist, and a V-shaped torso. What’s good for the goose is also good for the gander!
Dear married female readers, as I advised in the previous chapter, if you wonder how your husband feels about this, ask him. He’ll be thrilled that you care, and he’ll be even more thrilled if you care enough to try to conform to his wishes. You’ll be speaking his “love language.” If your husband is deathly afraid to broach the subject, that is not a sign of a healthy marriage. Imagine if you were deathly afraid to talk to him about his lack of affection. That, too, would not be a sign of a healthy marriage.
Oh, and when you ask him about his preferences regarding yourself, don’t hesitate to gently tell him how you feel about that V that is looking more like a U! As I told him in the previous chapter, Jabba the Hutt has no right to complain when Princess Leia puts on a few pounds.
“But taking off weight is so difficult!” you are likely thinking. “What I do lose, I always gain back!”
Well, I’ve certainly got some good news for men and women who want to lose pounds and keep them off. I’m going to tell you a simple secret to getting slender and staying slender. But first, I’d like to provide you with a little more motivation to be slender. Where there is a will, there is a way.
Taking Care of the Temple
If you’ve been around Christian circles for any significant length of time, you’ve probably heard the phrase, “Take care of your temple.” Perhaps you’ve heard it used in a sermon or Christian magazine article that touched on the importance of physical exercise for maintaining health, or from the lips of a friend who declined a sugar-rich dessert.
The underlying idea behind the phrase is certainly biblical. The bodies of Christians are “temples of the Holy Spirit”:
Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God…? (1 Cor. 6:19).
That is no insignificant thing. Think about it: If you believe in Jesus, God lives in you by His Holy Spirit.
So what does that have to do with sex?
Interestingly, Paul’s words to the Corinthians regarding Christian bodies being temples of the Holy Spirit are found contextually within in a passage in which he was warning Christian men against having sex with prostitutes (see 1 Cor. 6:15-20). Corinth was famous in the ancient world as a city where numerous pagan temples employed prostitutes to service the idol-worshippers who frequented them. Paul warned that a Christian man who became “one flesh” with one of those women was joining a temple that was owned and inhabited by God to a prostitute. So being a temple of God has sexual ramifications.
Think about it: God not only (1) invented sex and (2) knows and sees everything we do sexually, but He’s also (3) with us when we engage in sex. All of that would seem to make sex sacred, particularly for believers.
Once again we see that sex is not an unspiritual topic. On the contrary. And neither is “taking care of the temple” an unspiritual idea. We should take care of the place where God lives. Think about all the human effort that was invested in constructing and maintaining the old covenant tabernacle and temples, and how sacred those places were that housed God’s presence. In that light, a good question to ask ourselves is: Does how I care for my body reflect a genuine belief that it is God’s temple? Think about how profound of a question that is.
But why have I titled this chapter, “Your Sexy Temple”?
First, because your body, a temple of the Holy Spirit, is male or female. It has genitals. So you have either a female or male temple. God is not embarrassed about that. He lives there.
Second, as I shared in the previous chapter, God invented female physical beauty as well as male attraction to female physical beauty. Similarly, He invented male physical handsomeness as well as female attraction to male handsomeness.
Keeping those two things in mind, if we use the dictionary’s definition for “sexy,” which is “sexually attractive or exciting,” then it is safe to say that God gave you a sexy temple. Right? He gave you a body that is attractive to the opposite sex.
Of course, although God has given you a body that is attractive to the opposite sex, He wants you to reserve it, sexually, for one person, namely, your spouse. So it could be said this way: God gave you a sexy temple to which He’s given your spouse exclusive sexual rights. Or, it could be said this way: Your sexy temple is a gift from God and from yourself for your covenant marriage partner.
This is contained in Scripture. Again, we turn to Paul’s words that we’ve previously read:
Now concerning the things about which you wrote, it is good for a man not to touch a woman. But because of immoralities, each man is to have his own wife, and each woman is to have her own husband. The husband must fulfill his duty to his wife, and likewise also the wife to her husband. The wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does; and likewise also the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does. Stop depriving one another, except by agreement for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer, and come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control (1 Cor. 7:1-5, emphasis added).
The primary subject of that passage is sexual deprivation in marriage, something concerning which the Corinthians had written to Paul. Using very strong terms, Paul explained why marital sexual deprivation is wrong. It is because God has given married couples “authority” over each other’s bodies. Again, your sexy temple is a gift from God and from yourself for your covenant marriage partner.
What Paul Did Not Mean
Sadly, the above passage has been abused by some who claim it gives no married person the right, on any occasion, for any reason, to ever deny their spouse sex, in any form. But that certainly was not Paul’s intent. Rather, he was addressing total sexual deprivation. A wife who gently explains to her husband why she would prefer to wait until tomorrow night is not totally depriving him of sex. To delay is not to deny.
That being said, couples who love each other desire to please each other sexually, which of course could mean some sacrifice and “dying to self.” Loving couples don’t want to sexually deprive their spouses to any degree, so any sexual disharmony—which is inevitable—is worked out via loving communication and compromise.
For example, a common point of sexual contention is that of lovemaking frequency. Men, in general, are notorious for desiring more frequent sex than their wives. So let’s imagine a husband who desires sex three times per week, while his wife is quite happy with once per week. What should they do? I would suggest a compromise of three times a week. (Being a man, it is difficult for me not to be on his side on this!)
More seriously, they could compromise at twice a week. He might find that the extra buildup of desire that is created by a longer period of abstinence increases the quality of their lovemaking. And surely she could make a sacrifice and endure double the love!
On the other hand, he may find himself frustrated or worse, more easily tempted to masturbate or look at porn. Female readers may be rolling their eyeballs, but they should keep in mind that a man’s basic sexual drive is not something he can just turn off and on. It is driven by testosterone, and it continually increases as semen is relentlessly manufactured by, and stored in, his body—until it is released. Dr. Willard Harvey writes, “A woman can witness firsthand what an intense sex drive feels like by wearing a testosterone patch for a week to raise her level of the hormone to that of the average nineteen-year-old male. It’s an eye-opening experience for women, who usually don’t want to repeat it.”
A loving wife would certainly not want her husband, to whom she makes love once a week, to also find sexual release through masturbation or even involuntary nocturnal emissions.
So, in all seriousness, the best compromise—in light of male biology—is for a wife to do her best to lovingly accommodate her husband’s God-given biological schedule, either through mutual all-out lovemaking or something that provides him some satisfaction. At the same time, a husband should be striving to master the art of romance, affection and lovemaking in order to increase his wife’s desire for, and enjoyment of, their sexual relationship. His goal is to grow her desire to match his.
Should You Trust the Sexperts?
Husbands not only often wish for greater frequency of sex, but also for higher quality of sex, and in that respect they are no different than their wives. Who wants just rice and beans when you could be enjoying the whole enchilada?
This fits within the theme of sexual deprivation. Loving couples don’t want to deprive their lovers of the highest possible quality of sex. Marital sex was obviously not designed by God to be mastered in three sessions. Rather, He designed it to be a journey that takes a lifetime. It begins with two amateurs who gradually, through life’s seasons, become masters as they employ love, patience, communication and experimentation, which all lead to discovery.
Notice that I didn’t include in that list “internet research regarding sexual techniques.” If you are a Christian, you have the Inventor of sex living inside you, and He’s with you when you make love to your spouse. It is possible that He could and would guide you in your sex life? Could “being led by the Spirit” enhance your love life? Why not?
The trouble with learning sexual techniques from human “experts” is that their spirits, souls and bodies might well be somewhat different than yours and your spouse’s. Beyond that, they might be in a different season of life, or be years ahead in the learning curve, or have a background soiled by porn. They may not even be honest, setting you up for false expectations. Beyond all of that, they might enjoy something you may not.
You are you. Your spouse is your spouse. Your marriage is your marriage. Besides a few things that all males sexually hold in common and all females sexually hold in common, there is a lot of variation within the genders. And people change as they grow older. Some folks change between lovemaking sessions! All that being so, reading the advice of “experts” can be somewhat like reading a guidebook to the Grand Canyon to prepare yourself for a visit to Niagara Falls. Why not let the Inventor of sex be your guide? He knows more than anyone. And who wouldn’t want to hear their spouse say, “I think the Lord revealed to me during prayer something I could do to make you really happy!”?
This is not to say there is no benefit in gaining some sexual education from trusted sources. I certainly have, and I’ll include a list of recommended books and websites at the end of this book. It is to say, however, that when God created Adam and Eve, they only had their God-given instincts, His periodic visits to the Garden, and a lot of time. If you are just starting out in marriage, don’t try to rush the fun-filled journey.
What is a Caretaker to do?
Now, let’s return to thinking about your sexy temple, that beautiful, sexually-attractive body God has given to you. Remember, it is not your body. It belongs to God:
Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? (1 Cor. 6:19).
Secondly, at least sexually, your body belongs to your spouse. As we’ve previously read:
The wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does; and likewise also the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does (1 Cor.7:4).
So, your sexy temple is God’s gift to your spouse. You are the “middleman” (or the middle woman), and the caretaker.
All of that being so, if God has entrusted someone with a sexually-attractive body for their spouse (and He has, in every marriage relationship), should that person cooperate with God or work against Him? I think the answer is obvious.
When you look at it that way, “taking care of the temple” becomes an act of love expressed towards God, who created, owns, and resides in the temple, and towards your spouse, who has God-given exclusive sexual rights to the temple. And since both female and male physical attractiveness are a combination of divine and human effort, what could be wrong with making efforts to maintain and enhance, within reason, one’s physical attractiveness for one’s spouse? Nothing. In fact, everything would be right about it. It is an act of love.
I recently read of a study that found that couples in their sixties who were still having regular sex looked between five and seven years younger than those no longer having sex. Those who performed the study credited the more youthful appearance of the sexually-active seniors to the fact that sex boosts the levels of an anti-ageing hormone called DHEA (dehydroepiandrosterone). After orgasm, they noted, levels of DHEA in the blood rise to five times the normal level. (Husbands, if you do some math, you can then explain to your wife a way you can both make yourselves look 20 years younger, plus live to be 130…)
I wondered, however, if those scientists inadvertently reversed the cause and effect. Could it be that seniors who took care of their sexy temples, defying normal aging to some degree, were more sexually attractive to their spouses, and so they consequently desired and engaged in sex, while those who neglected their sexy temples consequently experienced diminished desire and sex? Food for thought! Regardless, there are plenty of benefits to taking care of your sexy temple, doing what you can to maintain its God-given sexiness for as long as possible. One of those benefits is better health. Another is increased quality of sex, as any visually-oriented male will tell you.
A Fast Way to Lose Weight
I promised you earlier that I would tell you a simple secret to getting slender and staying slender. So allow me to now keep my promise.
Most everyone knows that the only way to lose weight is to eat less, exercise more, or both. Pretty simple. Every weight loss plan that has ever existed is some variation of those components. Some weight loss plans are more sophisticated than others because they focus on reducing or eliminating certain kinds of the most-fattening foods, or they focus on specific kinds of exercise. But in the end, apart from fat-removal surgery, to lose weight you must consume fewer calories, burn more calories, or achieve a combination of the two.
The trouble is, too many of us have been doing the exact opposite of that. We’ve been eating more food than our bodies need for daily energy requirements, so our bodies store some of the excess food as body fat. That is how God designed human bodies. Like every other bodily process, it is miraculous.
Many folks, however, have never thought about God’s reason for that particular process. He designed our bodies to store fat so nutrients can be accessed later—when there is not enough food, or no food, available for our daily energy requirements. Ideally, fat storage was intended to be temporary, or seasonal, rather than permanent.
A shortage of food is not something with which most readers are probably familiar. But I know subsistence farmers in poor regions of Africa who have, all their lives, endured an annual “hunger season.” That is what they call it. It is when they’ve consumed all of last year’s harvest and must wait for this year’s harvest in order to have something to eat.
The ministry I founded two decades ago, Heaven’s Family, is working in a number of African nations to, among many other things, eliminate the annual hunger season through agricultural education and training. Through a program called Farming God’s Way, we’ve helped thousands of poor, subsistence farmers exponentially increase their annual harvests so that they no longer suffer through an annual hunger season, and they actually have cash crops to sell.
It is difficult for most of us to imagine going without any food for weeks at a time, but our bodies are designed to survive such an ordeal if need be. Historically, many members of the human race have experienced weeks without food, and they survived as long as they started with some extra fat on their bodies. Some have survived months without food. (Keep in mind I’m speaking of food, but not about water.)
You probably think I’m going to tell you to quit eating for a few months! No, but I am going to encourage you to fast periodically for a day. It is, in my opinion, the easiest way to lose weight. Beyond that, it is something every Christian is supposed to be doing on some regular basis. Remember Jesus said to His followers:
Whenever you fast, do not put on a gloomy face as the hypocrites do, for they neglect their appearance so that they will be noticed by men when they are fasting (Matt. 6:16).
Notice Jesus did not say, “If you fast.” He said, “Whenever you fast.” Those words are contained in His Sermon on the Mount, a sermon most Christians consider relevant.
John Wesley and the early Methodists fasted two days each week, based on the fact that Jesus warned His followers that they would not enter the kingdom of heaven unless their righteousness surpassed that of the Pharisees (see Matt. 5:20), coupled with the fact that there is biblical evidence that the Pharisees fasted twice a week (see Luke 18:12).
Personally, I’m not persuaded that the Pharisees fasted two entire days each week. I would not be surprised if they simply didn’t eat between dinner and breakfast twice a week and called it fasting. Neither am I persuaded that we have to fast twice a week in order to go to heaven. I am persuaded, however, that fasting should be a component of every Christian’s life. Some of the benefits include gaining more time to pray, learning self-control, as well as achieving weight-control, so your sexy temple will become even sexier! Beyond that, there are many health benefits to fasting.
How to Start
If you’ve never fasted, I would encourage you to learn all you can about it from a medical and scientific perspective. There are many good books and plenty of information available on the internet, as well as fasting apps you can download to your phone.
At the same time, I would encourage you to try it. Go for an entire day without eating anything. You’ll be fasting from after dinner on one day until breakfast two days later, or about 36 hours. You could fast for a shorter period of time, but many first-time fasters who only skip breakfast, for example, end up eating twice as much as normal for lunch. So they actually don’t skip a meal, but rather just delay it. That won’t result in any weight loss.
If it is your first time fasting, it probably won’t be fun, but you won’t die! You will at minimum experience some hunger pangs or food cravings. There could be other unpleasant feelings, like a headache for example, particularly if you are a coffee-drinker. Think of yourself as an addict going through withdrawal, because you are! You are addicted to caffeine. There could well be other forms of detox that your body initiates when you fast. It’s all good.
Let me tell you some encouraging news. If you will commit to fasting one day per week, every fast will become progressively easier. Eventually it will be very easy. I know, because I regularly fast. I can easily fast for 36 hours and continue my regular routine during the fast, even if it includes physical labor. At worst, I might experience five minutes of slight mid-morning hunger. That’s it. My body has learned how to easily switch from getting energy from just-consumed food to getting it from stored fat. And in one day, I’ve burned about 2,000 to 2,500 calories, which means I’ve lost a little more than half of a pound of body fat. By fasting two full days out of every seven, most people will lose at least one pound a week (as long as they don’t eat more than normal on non-fasting days). Do that for a year and you’ll take off 52 pounds.
Of course, there are many other methods for losing weight, and if fasting isn’t your thing, choose another option. Generally speaking, to lose one pound of body fat, you need to burn 3,500 more calories than you eat in a given time span. So, if you reduce your caloric intake by 500 calories a day for seven days, you’ll lose one pound, even without any additional exercise.
As an alternative, and to achieve the same result of losing a pound per week, you could burn 250 extra calories a day through exercise while also eliminating 250 calories in daily food intake. Depending on your weight, you can burn 100-200 calories with just 30 minutes of brisk walking. The heavier you are, the more calories you will burn by walking.
Although this all sounds simple, you probably realize that mustering the self-discipline to lose a pound per week is challenging for most folks. If you look at your body, however, as God’s temple, and as a sexy gift from Him and yourself to your spouse (or future spouse), that should provide lots of motivation for you to take better care of it. Add to that all the personal benefits of taking better care of your temple, such as improved health and better sex, and you should find the will to do what it takes, as so many others have. “You can do all things through Christ who strengthens you” (see Phil. 4:13), including achieving an even sexier temple!
 Other countries where female fattening is practiced include regions of Niger, Uganda, Sudan, Tunisia, Nigeria, Kenya and South Africa.
 It might also be helpful to remember that Mauritania stands among the countries with the highest prevalence of female genital mutilation/cutting. 69% of Mauritanian women aged 15-49 years have suffered through that culturally-constructed, degrading and often harmful ritual.
 The idea is biblical. Joseph was “handsome in form and appearance” (Gen. 39:6), which made him very desirable to the lustful wife of Potiphar. Scripture says concerning Saul, “There was not a man among the people of Israel more handsome than he” (1 Sam. 9:2). David is described in the Bible as being “ruddy, with beautiful eyes and a handsome appearance” (1 Sam. 16:12). Regarding his son Absalom, Scripture says, “Now in all Israel was no one as handsome as Absalom, so highly praised; from the sole of his foot to the crown of his head there was no defect in him” (2 Sam. 14:25).
 P. 51-52 of His Needs, Her Needs
 And so they should, as Jesus told His apostles to teach their disciples everything He had commanded them, which makes all of Jesus’ commandments relevant to every generation of His followers (see Matt. 28:19-20).
 See, for example, Fasting and Eating for Health: A Medical Doctor’s Program for Conquering Disease, by Joel Fuhrman, M.D. Dr. Fuhrman utilizes diet and fasting programs to relieve chronic headaches, hypoglycemia, rheumatoid arthritis, asthma, heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, colitis, psoriasis, lupus and uterine fibroids. Or see The Complete Guide to Fasting: Heal Your Body Through Intermittent, Alternate-Day, and Extended Fasting, by Dr. Jason Fung and Jimmy Moore.