I have a sometimes complicated and bumpy relationship with the church and religion, but I grew up in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and my husband and I are currently members of a church in that synod. I was looking through the church newsletter and it contained a notification that there is an upcoming hearing on the synod’s Draft Social Statement on Human Sexuality, so I went to take a look at the statement since marriage equality and other gay rights issues are very important to me (I also reject simplistic and legalistic views of human sexual ethics, so I wanted to see what the church’s current position is on all of these topics).

I actually haven’t had a chance to carefully read all parts of the statement yet–and as a straight, Christian, married, childless, cisgendered, able-bodied person, there are probably going to be many parts of it that I may not see as troubling but that may indeed have negative implications–but one paragraph in particular jumped out at me that I wanted to quickly note. It is not specifically related to sexuality, but from what I have seen so far, the statement does a good job of recognizing that our sexuality affects all areas of our lives, so it makes sense that body-image and health issues would be addressed.

This church is committed to affirming the value, beauty, and health throughout life of the human body and human sexuality. This church calls attention to the danger of embracing standards of physical attractiveness that exclude many, including the aged, those who are differently abled physically, and which distort the understanding of what it means to be healthy. A holistic understanding of the interrelationship of body, mind, and spirit chal lenges this narrow understanding of beauty. Such a holistic understanding enables us to better affirm the many dimensions of beauty and to celebrate human variety and particularity.

Emphasis mine. I was so thrilled to see the authors explicitly reject the fallacious connection between “health” and many of our contemporary standards of attractiveness.

P.S. If anyone else is familiar with or would like to take a look at the statement, and provide their thoughts on it in the comments, please feel free even if such are not related to the body image/body relationship portion of it. I am interested in hearing people’s take on coded language, portions of the statement that you support or do not support or find problematic, etc. For example, I part ways with the idea that transient or casual sexual relationships are inherently harmful or that lifelong monogamy is inherently valuable. And the “let it slide” attitude toward congregations that counsel “repentance and celibacy” for gay people–as well as the acceptance of defining “marriage” as only possible between a man and a woman–are repellent to me. But my preliminary read is that there is good, progressive stuff in the statement too.