There’s a current flowing through our current culture that continues to say, “I love people for who they are and not their body.” In many ways, this is a good thing. We are concerned about shallow attractions to other people. As we build relationships, we want to look deeper than someone’s appearance and into their heart or personality. We remember verses from scripture that say, “For the LORD sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the LORD looks on the heart.” (1 Samuel 16:7, ESV). So, as we look to build a relationship with someone, we want to look at their heart to find our attraction. This is a good thing.
However, we can take this too far. Think about this example. You are planning a romantic evening with your spouse. You have prepared everything down to the last detail. You want everything to be just right. You have showered, cleaned up, and dressed up for your spouse. You want to look good for them. You’re waiting by the door for them to come home. As they walk through the door, they look at the house, and look at you and say, “You didn’t have to do this, honey. I don’t love you for your body. I love you for your personality.” Isn’t that romantic? No way. We all know that comment would deflate the entire mood and result in you feeling rejected. Why is that?
Our human nature consists of a body and a soul. Both are deeply connected. Both are very good. This sets us apart from the rest of creation. It’s what makes us human.
That also means that if we are going to treat people as fully human, we need to take their bodies and their souls into account. To connect with someone only on a physical level is not to treat them as fully human. The opposite is also true. To connect with someone purely on a “spiritual” level is not to treat them as fully human.
That’s why you don’t appreciate it when someone says they love you “for your personality.” It means they are ignoring part of your humanity. They are only addressing the spiritual aspect of your humanity. So, it rubs you wrong. You feel hurt.
When someone ignores your soul and only focuses on your body, you feel like an object. When someone ignores your body and only focuses on your soul, you feel like nothing—immaterial, non-existent. When building relationships, we need to make sure we are focusing on both body and soul—physical and spiritual.
Like I mentioned at the beginning, the Bible talks about looking beyond physical appearances into someone’s heart. However, the Bible also talks about loving your spouse’s body. Take a look at the Song of Songs. The wife looks her husband up and down—from head to toe—and says, “My beloved is radiant and ruddy, distinguished among ten thousand. His head is the finest gold; his locks are wavy, black as a raven. His eyes are like doves beside streams of water, bathed in milk, sitting beside a full pool. His cheeks are like beds of spices, mounds of sweet-smelling herbs. His lips are lilies, dripping liquid myrrh. His arms are rods of gold, set with jewels. His body is polished ivory, bedecked with sapphires. His legs are alabaster columns, set on bases of gold. His appearance is like Lebanon, choice as the cedars. His mouth is most sweet, and he is altogether desirable. This is my beloved and this is my friend, O daughters of Jerusalem” (Song of Solomon 5:10–16, ESV). A few verses later, the husband does the same thing for his wife.
If we are going to show our spouses we love them in a deeply human way, we need to let them know we are attracted to them physically and spiritually. It’s important for us to take time to tell them how much we love and enjoy their kind, gentle, servant heart or their quirky, spunky personality. It’s also important for us to tell them how much we love and enjoy their body (you can fill in the details yourself).
If we only speak about their body, it will be a shallow attraction. If we only speak about their soul, it will be a shallow attraction. But, if we take the time to notice and speak into both aspects of their humanity, we are moving into a beautifully deep attraction that is fully human. So, take the time today to love your spouse, body and soul.
Rev. Deb Koster
Dr. Robert Ritzema
Rev. Dr. Rob Toornstra