This morning I prayed naked. This exercise is part of a 50 Day Challenge I am doing. Some friends of mine created 50 Suggestions to Embrace Healthy Sexuality and one of them is strip off one’s clothes and prostrate oneself. For me it looked more like huddling under my covers to stay warm (my bedroom is in a basement and my sensitive body doesn’t much care for its constant 65 degrees).
As I sat there praying, naturally I thought about my body. At first I began to consider all of its shapes and sizes—the feel of my skin and hair and curves underneath my palms. I thought about its beauty and how uniquely it was created. There are few other things that have skin similar to us humans. And we each have our own and only attributes: fingerprints that will never have a match; the unique combination of height, hair color, facial composition, and idiosyncrasies.
I am the only me. You are the only you. Ever. Period.
We truly are uniquely and fearfully made (Ps 139:14), molded with God’s own hands and done so that we are each special to him. I am who he meant me to be. God set each bone in place and laced each fiber of muscle and sinew. God etched each eyelash and painted on every fingernail.
And because of this, I am beautiful to God. Things that others might scoff at or look down upon, God embraces and finds endearing. Understanding how God is so pleased and proud of my body means that I scoff at him when I reject parts of my physical attributes. True, I have the ability to impact my flesh and bones. But in all that I do am I honoring God with my body? Or am I spitting in God’s face?
Sitting in my bed, I also thought about my vulnerability—being stripped from things that hide me. It felt like a barrier had been removed between me and God, like I just realized how God sees me all the time. God loved this body on that day many years ago when I took my first breath. God loves this body right now, and will go on loving my body long past my last breath on earth—whatever that will look like.
As I reveled in all of my blood pumping wonder, I thought about how I want others to treat my body—with respect and care. This comes only from it being something precious to God. This got me to thinking about others. I thought about my three roommates and their beautiful bodies. I considered them in their own mothers’ wombs and growing up as children.
Then I expanded that circle to others.
However, when I got to thinking about bodies all over the world I stopped dead in my tracks. So many bodies are not respected. Many are treated as possessions or used as commodities. They are stripped naked, not of their own volition but that of a predator or owner who inspects his goods and throws them at willing buyers. Their beauty and uniqueness are trampled on. Their vulnerability is used as a weapon against them.
This is when I heard God call me to action. To fight. To donate my time or money. To help others sees the value of their bodies. Once we know our worth deep in our souls, we can begin to have empathy for others’ bodies. That includes understanding how sex might be used as a quick route to closeness but a short one to nagging emptiness.
My embodiedness, femininity, and desire to be in deep relationships are all part of my sexuality. To deny any part of this murders aspects of my humanity. And to recklessly embrace parts of this in disproportionate ways feeds a monster.
We are moral beings who have choices to make. Are we brave enough to admit that we actually make choices about our sexuality, or shall we sweep things under the rug?
Christians contribute to sex trafficking in direct and indirect ways. I know that if we have more discussions about our sexuality and make more choices to embrace our sexuality, we will actively be fighting against using sexuality as a weapon.
I will begin by fighting for my own body—to reclaim its goodness by the creator God. And I will not stop until I fight for others bodies and their goodness.
Stacey Schwenker is an Advertising Sales Associate at Sojourners.
Woman praying, Smirnof/Shutterstock.com