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Christians Say the Darnedest Things: Seeing Jesus in the Mirror Cures Eating Disorders

jesus in the mirror

True wholeness, healing, and redemption from eating disorders and body dysmorphia are not found anywhere outside Christ…we were created to find our satisfaction in One who is far more glorious, beautiful, and perfect. So, look up from the mirror, or whatever pit you may find yourself in, and look to Christ.

I once lived in the mirror. No, there wasn’t a bedroom hidden in my bathroom mirror. But the mirror was where I found my worth, purpose, and identity. My body was the temple where I went to worship. Each and every day, my thoughts were consumed with calculating calories; my emotions were filled with anxiety over how much food I was going to eat; my plans revolved around getting in my precisely measured out meals and workouts; indeed, my entire life was wrapped up in what my body looked like on the outside.

I had constructed an image to worship, and that image was my body. I would check every mirror I walked by to make sure I hadn’t gained any fat in the last few hours. Every morning I would step up to the judgment seat of the scale to see if I would be found guilty or innocent that day. And when the scale did not move in the right direction, or when I saw or felt any hint of fat on my sides, I pronounced myself guilty.

….

But God redeemed my life from the pit, and crowned me with steadfast love and mercy (Psalm 103:4). And what did that redemption from the pit look like?

God showed me what my eating disorder and body dysmorphia truly was: sin committed against a holy God. By making myself the lawgiver and judge, I had attempted to stand in the place of the True Lawgiver and Judge of my life. By living in obedience to my food laws, I cultivated my own self-righteousness. I was therefore willfully rejecting the only righteousness that could justify me before the True Lawgiver and Judge: the righteousness of Jesus Christ. I had exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature (my body, food laws) rather than the Creator (Romans 1:25). I was guilty, but not for breaking my food laws. I was guilty because I had committed cosmic treason against my Creator, and I needed rescue.

….

To my surprise, my struggle with eating disorders and body dysmorphia was ultimate, at the core, a spiritual issue. Like those in Galatia who were trying to justify themselves by the law, I was trying to justify myself by my food laws. Similar to those in Galatia who were submitting themselves to the yoke of the law, I was willfully submitting myself each and every day to the yoke of my food laws and my body. But in my struggle with eating disorders and body dysmorphia, where is freedom ultimately found? It is found in the Bread of Life, Jesus Christ.

— John Nielsen, Servants of Grace, Body Dysmorphia, Eating Disorders, and the Bread of Life, December 13, 2021

John Nielsen is a youth leader at Eldred Baptist Church in Eldred, Illinois

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Bruce Gerencser, 64, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 43 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

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6 Comments

  1. Avatar
    BJW

    Good god. That dude is completely delusional. I hate the term “triggered,” but yes, reading his crap triggered me, as I have an eating disorder (albeit in remission) and I had to leave religion to gain a better self-image and control of it. He sounds high on his own supply.

  2. Avatar
    Astreja

    This isn’t going to end well at all for someone struggling with an eating disorder – in addition to the disorder itself, if Nielsen’s advice doesn’t help them they’ll have the additional burden of struggling with a sense of spiritual failure. 🙁

  3. Avatar
    Davie from Glasgow

    From the illustration it would appear that the main thing seeing Jesus in the mirror actually cures is ‘not-having-a-beard’.

  4. Avatar
    ObstacleChick

    This is dangerous teaching for people who actually struggle with disordered eating, body image issues, orthorexia, or any similar issue.

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Bruce Gerencser