What God Says About Your Body with Sam Allberry

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This is a podcast episode titled, What God Says About Your Body with Sam Allberry. The summary for this episode is: <p>This week's guest on&nbsp;<em>Truth Over Tribe&nbsp;</em>is Sam Allberry, a writer and a pastor, who joins <a href="https://twitter.com/KeithSimon_/" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">Keith</a> to discuss our relationship with our bodies. Sam's most recent book,&nbsp;<em>What God Has to Say About Our Bodies,&nbsp;</em>answers many of the questions we wrestle with today. Their discussion covers stereotypes of masculinity and feminity, how we psychologically and physically perceive ourselves (and which takes precedence), and how the Bible brings good news for our bodies. Listen now!</p><p><br></p><p><strong>Ok, truth time... Did you like this episode?</strong> Tell us by leaving a rating or review! 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟 If you did, you won't want to miss what's next (so subscribe now!). And help a friend by sharing this with them. Thank you! πŸ™</p><p><br></p><p><strong>Plus, the conversation is just beginning! </strong>Follow us on <a href="https://twitter.com/truthovertribe_" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">Twitter</a>, <a href="https://www.facebook.com/ChooseTruthOverTribe" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">Facebook</a>, and <a href="https://www.instagram.com/accounts/login/?next=/truthovertribe_/" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">Instagram</a> to join in on the dialogue! <strong>Want to learn more about Truth Over Tribe?</strong> Visit our <a href="https://info.choosetruthovertribe.com/subscribe?utm_campaign=TOT%20Campaign%203B&amp;utm_source=Show%20Notes%20" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">website</a> and subscribe to our weekly <a href="https://choosetruthovertribe.com/?utm_campaign=TOT%20Campaign%203B&amp;utm_source=Show%20Notes%20-%20website" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">newsletter</a>.</p><p><br></p><p><strong>Resources:</strong></p><p><a href="https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B08K3N8VYX/ref=dbs_a_def_rwt_bibl_vppi_i1" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">What God Has to Say about Our Bodies: How the Gospel Is Good News for Our Physical Selves</a></p><p><a href="http://info.choosetruthovertribe.com/blog_subscription" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">Subscribe To Our Blog</a></p><p><a href="http://info.choosetruthovertribe.com/how-tribal-are-you" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">How Tribal Are You?</a></p>
Intro to episode
01:02 MIN
Explaining the confusing relationship we have with our bodies
01:47 MIN
Does our body define us, or is the real us who think of ourselves to be?
01:33 MIN
What takes precedence? How we psychologically perceive ourselves or physically?
01:53 MIN
Breaking stereotypes of masculinity and femininity
03:27 MIN
Online relationships vs. in-person relationships
02:03 MIN
Important takeaways from Sam's book, What God Has to Say About Our Bodies
00:50 MIN

Sam Allberry: I'm Sam Allberry and I choose truth over tribe.

Keith Simon: Are you tired of tribalism?

Speaker 3: I think a lot of what the left supports is Satanic.

Speaker 4: The only time religious freedom is invoked is in the name of bigotry and discrimination.

Patrick Miller: Are you exhausted by the culture war?

Speaker 6: If they don't like it here, they can leave.

Speaker 7: You could put half of Trump's supporters into what I call the basket of deplorables.

Keith Simon: Are you suspicious of those who say Jesus endorses their political party?

Speaker 3: Is it possible to be a good Christian and also be a member of the Republican party? And the answer is absolutely not.

Speaker 8: From, certainly, a Biblical standpoint, Christians could not vote Democratic.

Patrick Miller: We trust the lamb, not the donkey or the elephant.

Keith Simon: This is the podcast that's too liberal for conservatives and too conservative for liberals.

Patrick Miller: I'm Patrick Miller.

Keith Simon: And I'm Keith Simon, and we choose truth over tribe.

Patrick Miller: Do you?

Keith Simon: We're in a weird cultural moment when it comes to our bodies. We bounce between two extremes. Sometimes we obsess over our bodies while at other times, we all but neglect them. We obsessively sculpt, lift, starve, diet, and Botox our way to a better version of ourselves. Just look at all the pretty people on the magazine covers in the checkout lane at the grocery store. By the way, it's a cruel trick to get you to fill your grocery cart with brownies and double- stuffed Oreos, only to see the beautiful people on the magazine covers while paying for all your junk food. But then in other ways, we completely undervalue our bodies. For example, we're told to define ourselves psychologically by looking inside of ourselves and how we feel. We're told to act as if our bodies don't really have anything to tell us about who we are. Well, Sam Allberry is a pastor who's written many books. The newest is, What God Has to Say About Our Bodies. It's the perfect book to answer many of the questions that we are wrestling with. Let's talk to Sam. Sam Allberry, welcome to Truth Over Tribe.

Sam Allberry: Hey, thanks for having me. Good to be with you.

Keith Simon: You're in Portugal right now. What has you there?

Sam Allberry: Yes, I am spending a few months outside the US as I wait for a visa. I'm based in the UK, but I try to figure out what's the most fun way of not being in the US, and decided to visit some missionary friends of mine who are serving in Portugal. So I don't normally get to be in this part of the world, and from England, it's a couple of hours flight, so I figured I'd make the most of being in the area, so to speak.

Keith Simon: Well, I know you're moving to Nashville as soon as the paperwork gets done, and we look forward to having you in our country for a while. You've written this book, What God Has to Say About Our Bodies, and when I think about our bodies, well, I can't figure out what we think about them. It seems like we're very confused about our bodies, right? On one hand, we diminish our bodies. I'm sitting here talking to you, drinking a Monster and eating Skittles. I don't take very good care of my body, right? We don't sleep a lot. So in one sense, we diminish the importance of the body. In another sense, our culture is obsessed with the body. Any trip to the grocery store and the checkout lane will tell you that people care a lot about their bodies and how they look. If you follow social media, that's obviously true there as well. So can you help us understand this confusion that we have about our body? And what would you say to each of those sides, those who diminish our bodies and those who are obsessed with our bodies?

Sam Allberry: I share your observation about the confusion that we see around us. I think the way we understand who we are has shifted quite significantly in the last 10 or 15 years, and so today, there is much much more of a sense of, you are who you feel yourself to be inside, and internal psychology is given priority over external physicality. Your identity is who you feel yourself to be. And so, I think that has led to both of those kind of observations. I think because of that, we see our bodies as being incidental. We see them as even being accidental in much of the Western world. They don't frame and shape and determine my identity, my feelings do, but at the same time and by the same token, my body then becomes a very significant part of my branding. And so, it is the means by which I try to communicate my internal sense of identity to the world around me. It's the storefront of my identity. And so, I think we see that in that increasing self- consciousness that there seems to be with both men and women about how we look. Just in the last 10 years, 15 years, I don't know about you, but the men's grooming section of a typical store has gone from being two brands of deodorant and maybe one aftershave to a whole old aisle of stuff. We're way more attentive, some of which is a good thing, but I think it also reflects an increasing self- consciousness about how we look, what our bodies like, all that kind of stuff. So I think we've externalized our body. We've othered it, to use that sort of language. It's become something separate to the main who we think we are, and therefore, it has to be branded and product- ified and all the rest of it, and I think that is why we have this weird relationship with it at the moment.

Keith Simon: Yeah, I think you can see the generational difference. I mean, my father had Aqua Velva aftershave. That's pretty much all he had. And now, when I look around at some of the things my boys have, they have certain stuff for their beards or they have certain lotions that they combine. I'm like," I don't get that world." I'm probably closer to my dad's world than my kids' world, but you're right, men and women both are obsessed with taking care of their body and using their body to present a certain image to the world. So this dualistic thinking about our body, that we're obsessed and yet we diminish it at the same time, I think it has roots back in something called Gnosticism. Now, if you're not familiar with that, it's not that hard to grasp. It's a heresy that sprang up after the early church was established, and essentially, Gnosticism just said that the physical world, the material world, was bad and the spiritual world was good. The early church, as you know, Sam, they rejected and condemned Gnosticism, but I feel like that's still alive, Gnostic thinking is still alive and well in the church today, that there's a prioritization of the spiritual over the physical, even with inside the church. So do you agree with that, and where do you see that? If you do agree with it, where do you see this Gnostic thinking in the church world today?

Sam Allberry: Yeah, I very much agree with that. I think it's the default setting of paganism, generally, is to be quite physically denying, And as you said, elevating the spiritual. It was only the Judeo- Christian worldview that had a different take on the goodness of physicality, so it doesn't surprise me that an increasingly post- Christian Western world is drifting back into that. And I think we see that spilling into the church in lots of ways, again, that our view of identity is quite shaped by that. Although we try and give it a light, Christian gloss, I think we're still basically thinking that I am who I feel myself to be deep down and we discern our sense of how God wants me to live and all the rest of it through that lens, which is actually quite a worldly lens. I can think of people who've made profoundly un- Biblical decisions about marriages and relationships based on, I've got to be true to who I am, I've got to be true to myself. And it's the same thinking we see in that Gnostic, secular world view around us. I think that the lack of attentiveness to the resurrection of the body, I think we have it as a line item on our creeds, but I'm not sure we really live as if we think we will be living in a resurrected body in a renewed creation. So there's lots of different ways I think that Gnosticism bleeds into the mainstream Christian thinking.

Keith Simon: Yeah, I think people's view of Heaven and Hell, and you mentioned this toward the end of your book, their picture of Heaven as this ethereal place where spirits go, and maybe you float around on a cloud in a white robe and sing worship songs all day, I think that shapes how they think about their body today. So their body has become something that gets in their way, something that maybe causes them to sin, but there's nothing inherently good about it, nothing that God would be interested. They can't wait to discard that and be with God. But again, they've defined that, I think, wrongly, and I'm sure you agree, in a spiritual sense and not in a full, whole- bodied, body and soul sense.

Sam Allberry: I suspect the same is broadly true of our view of creation as well, that it's very easy to have a very demeaning view of creation if we believe ultimate reality in the age to come is nonphysical. Again, this planet is a playground for now, but it doesn't have inherent dignity if that Gnostic way of thinking is to be believed, so I think this affects a lot of areas of life.

Keith Simon: And maybe that even affects how we think about environmentalism or what our responsibility is to the creation, and it probably plays into how we think about our jobs and government, politics. We have this sacred secular split so that there are some things we think God is concerned about, like worship services and Bible studies, maybe our inner devotional life, but then things that He's not really concerned about, like maybe our careers or our leisure time, football, lawn mowing, whatever it is. We've divided the world into things that God cares about and doesn't. But a couple times already, you've mentioned this idea that we define ourselves psychologically, that who we are in the inside is the real us. And of course, this comes out in some of the conversations our culture is having today around transgender issues, that you might hear people say," I'm trapped in the wrong body." Help us think through that. Does our body help define us or is the real us who we think of ourselves to be?

Sam Allberry: Yeah, that's such a fundamental question for us today. And I think even the phrase," I'm trapped in the wrong body," is assuming there is a me that is prior to, and in some sense, distinct from my body, whereas the creation account actually flips that in Genesis 2. When God makes Adam, He doesn't make a soul called Adam and then look for something physical to put Adam into. He totally gets a sort of earth from the ground and forms it into the man and breathes life into it, so we're animated flesh more than we are imprisoned souls, so I think we're meant to be integrated holes. There's the inner man and the outer man, as Paul describes it. But it means We can't say that our bodies are incidental to understanding our identity. They're not everything about who we are -- the Bible makes that very clear -- but they are us. I am my body. I'm more than it, but I'm not other than it or less than it. And so, any identity that I feel is true for myself that contradicts the physical reality of myself, I have to be very, very wary of and suspicious of. I'm sure we've known many precious souls who've wrestled with anorexia, eating disorders, that kind of thing. If someone believes themselves to be very overweight, that are actually dangerously thin, we don't say,"Well, if that's how you feel about yourself, we've got to affirm that and agree with it." Compassion would say," Actually, no, there's something you're not thinking well about when it comes to your body," and I think there's a parallel there with some of the discussions about transgenderism.

Keith Simon: I think that's a really good point, that when we see a dissonance between how an anorexic thinks about themselves, versus what their body says about them, we say," Hey, there's something wrong with your thinking." We don't say," There's something wrong with your body," right? We try to bring those into alignment. And I want to keep pushing down on that for a second. So in Genesis 1, God creates human beings and He designates them to be male and female. They're both created in His image, male and female. Now, He doesn't divide them up by, say," You're extrovert and introvert." He doesn't divide them up based on class or race or economic status, but He does designate them. It's the only designation, is male and female. So here's what I'm wondering, is that just a biological necessity, you have to have male and female to reproduce, or is there more to it than being created male and female tells us about ourselves?

Sam Allberry: Yeah, it certainly is a necessity, but it's not the whole story. Obviously, we're not the only creatures in this world to be male and female, but at no other point in the creation account is any other creature's maleness and femaleness highlighted in the way that it is with us. In the context, it's where we're told that we've been created in the image of God, and so, somehow, our being male and female is bound up with our being image- bearers. It's part of how we image God, is our being sexually differentiated as male and female and with all the other differences that that leads to, so it is very, very significant. I take it from that Genesis 1 account that the interplay between male and female is going to be deeply significant for how we image God, and we need that, so it is not simply, there's a biological distinction, and obviously, we need that for procreation. We begin to see in Genesis 2, that that difference is the basis of deep fellowship. It's more meaningful than simply a means to procreation.

Keith Simon: So we've already mentioned that sometimes how we think about ourselves psychologically can different than our body, and it seems that someone to say that our psychology should take precedence in defining us over our body. Someone might say that they feel like a male, but they're living in a female body. Which of those should take precedence? I mean, which one of those should we give weight to? Which one is the deciding factor, and why?

Sam Allberry: Yeah. And then,, obviously this is not an abstract question for a lot of people. This is their whole life and experience, and we're very mindful of that. But in theological terms, maleness is physically grounded, not psychologically perceived. We're told God made the male and female in Genesis 1. We then immediately are told about the man and the woman in Genesis 2 being physically made, and so we have to understand being a man and being a woman to be something that is grounded in our physical biology, irrespective of how we feel. So we want to be compassionate and sensitive to those who are feeling that way because that, we know, is a very, very deep grief that can be desperately painful to experience, but it won't help someone to affirm a profoundly un- Biblical way of thinking. We know from various parts of the New Testament that our minds and our hearts, our understanding, have been very significantly tainted by the Fall, by our sinfulness. And so, we can't simply say," Well, who I feel myself to be is any reliable indication of who we actually are," and this goes way beyond gender identity. None of us actually is qualified to understand who we truly are. We don't have the spiritual clarity of mind to understand our true identity, so our bodies have been affected by the Fall as well, but not in a way that obliterates the distinction between male and female. That pairing is reaffirmed and reestablished numerous other times in the Bible after the Fall, not least by Jesus in Matthew 19. So we are still made as male and female, and that is still understood in Biblical terms to be a biological category and not a psychological one. So I think we need to unlearn some of the things our culture is saying about being a man, being a woman, and learn instead to see what that means Biblically, which is a huge issue, but a very important one.

Keith Simon: Yeah, let's go there for a second. I think that we have been trying to wrestle as a culture for quite some time now, I mean, literally, decades, what it means to be masculine and feminine. What is masculinity? What is femininity? And it seems like back in the'60s and second- wave feminism, there was a sense in which not wanting to stereotype women into a certain role and saying," This is what femininity is." And part of what that fight was about was to say that there are a lot of options that a woman can choose and still be a woman and still be feminine. Now, it seems like we've gone back through this other extreme where we are now defining masculinity and femininity in very narrow, maybe even you would say, stereotypical terms. And I don't think that's just true of the culture. I think it's also true inside the church. We have narrow definitions of what Biblical masculinity or femininity is. But when I look at the Bible, I don't see much there on that. I don't see any detailed description of Biblical masculinity or Biblical femininity. Do you see that? Is there a description somewhere that I'm missing?

Sam Allberry: I don't think so. I seem to be missing it too, if it is there, and I wholeheartedly agree. Within the church, we've latched onto certain cultural stereotypes and given than them almost Biblical authority. I was even talking to a pastor recently who said that, and this is in a British context," Real men play rugby," and he was saying," Every boy needs to be taught how to play rugby. That's how to be a real man," and he's talking in Christian terms. I pushed back on him gently and said," Well, some people are just constitutionally uncoordinated. I'm probably close to that category myself. Some people just can't throw a ball to save their life. Are they less of a man for being that way?" And he said," Well, they just have to be taught to," and I remember thinking, well, what if you have a disability? Quite apart from the fact that rugby didn't even exist a couple of hundred years ago and certainly not in the time of Jesus. So is Jesus not playing rugby a sign that he might not have been a real man? So we've just got to be so much more careful before we throw that kind of freight around when it comes to defining manhood and womanhood. I think you're right. I think the Bible shows us broader categories of what it can look like to be a Biblical man and a Biblical woman, broader categories than our culture has, that our church has, and we need to have the wherewithal to think through, how much of our stuff on this is cultural rather than being Biblical? That's where it's often helpful to talk to Christians from other cultural backgrounds or read what Christians in other centuries say, because it can get us out of our own cultural neighborhood and thinking a bit more broadly about these things.

Keith Simon: Yeah, I think of a woman who maybe really likes sports or hunting, things that don't fit the cultural stereotype, or sure don't fit the stereotype of your friend you were talking about, or men who maybe are wired so their emotions are closer to the surface, maybe they love poetry or... I don't want to get too specific here because there's a wide range of ways a person can be a man or a woman. But when we define those narrowly and according to the stereotypes, then someone says," Well, I don't fit these stereotypes, therefore, maybe I am trapped in the wrong body, maybe I'm really opposite of what my body tells me," and you can't blame them. I mean, at least it's logical. I don't agree with it, but it's at least logical how they got there. So I think part of the reason there's so much confusion is because of the culture, and unfortunately, the church has been confused on that issue.

Sam Allberry: Yeah, very much so. I've lost count a long time ago of how many men I've spoken to who've felt they might be somehow lacking in their masculinity because of something, actually, that is more cultural than Biblical, so we do have to be much, much more careful on this. I always like pointing out that King David was... In certain ways, David fits the stereotype of being a real man. He was a warrior. He was a ruler. Unfortunately, for some people, they found that he was a womanizer as another sign of his being a real guy. And yet, he was a man who played the harp a lot and wrote poems about his feelings, so again, he challenges some of the stereotypes we have.

Keith Simon: Yeah, I love that you mentioned David because you're right, he's very comfortable in who he is, and yet, according to our stereotypes, he's all over the spectrum. He feels very comfortable embracing his whole self, but sometimes there are parts of our culture that we resist a part of who David is because we aren't comfortable with it. He seems to be. He has a very close friendship with Jonathan, very intimate, personal, and people have come to all kinds of conclusions about that, but that's reading our cultural stereotypes back into the Bible, I'm afraid. So let's stay on David for a second. In the book, you mentioned first, Samuel 16, and you use that in a way that I thought was really interesting, to try to help us understand that God sees us differently than we see ourselves. Can you unpack that a little bit for us?

Sam Allberry: Yeah, I was reflecting on God revealing to Samuel who His choice of king was going to be. And we get this whole almost reality TV game show style. The sons of Jesse are paraded in front of David and we... It's got to be this one, or maybe this one, maybe this one, and then there's a candidate that they didn't even think of putting in front of him. There's David out in the field still. They didn't even bother bringing him inside the house, and he turns out to be the one that God has chosen. The narrative is wonderful, it draws you in, it's memorable, it's powerful. But the question I kept thinking was, God could have just said to Samuel, without him making any kind of trip," Oh, by the way, there's a guy called David who's going to be the next king," but He makes Samuel, and us, as readers, go through this almost kind of theater of seeing the false candidates before we see the true one, because it then sets up the punchline, which is man only looks at that with appearance. That's all we have access to. I can only surmise about you, what I can see of you, whereas God is able to look on the heart in a way that we can't. And so, our understanding of one another and even of ourselves is often very shallow, but God sees the inner person fully, in a way that we only see, if we see it at all, in part. So again, it's the rebuke to the aspect of our culture that puts so much focus on appearance and branding and how we visually market ourselves, that actually, it's really not how God does things himself, and wonderfully, that's not how God does things. There's so much more to us than our image and our appearance.

Keith Simon: Hey, one of the reasons that we started this podcast was more than just to have the kind of conversations you're listening to now, but it's to start a community of people who are having a big conversation together.

Patrick Miller: So we are always trying to do that on social media. Just the other day, I posted a question about whether we should use this phrase, identity and Christ, anymore. And I got all kinds of interesting responses and questions and debates right there on Twitter with people who are listening to the show, and I actually learned a lot from it.

Keith Simon: Yeah. To be honest, I didn't believe all that would actually happen, and then I saw people interacting with you. And I'm not near as big a deal on Twitter as you are, nor am I as prolific as you are, but I've dipped my toe in the water, and it's fun.

Patrick Miller: I think you just told me that I waste a lot of time on Twitter in a really nice, complimentary way. That's great.

Keith Simon: Well, yeah, that's true. I'm glad you heard it, received it. So anyway, it's been fun, and if you want to join in the conversation, and I really hope you do, because our conversation will be better if you're there, just follow us on whatever social platform you're on at Truth Over Tribe. In your book, you mentioned that it would've made sense for God to have just told Samuel it was David because that's what He did with the prior king, King Saul. And so, obviously, this game show, reality show, I love how you put it, there's a point He's driving home there, and it turns out that the people in that time, roughly a thousand BC, had the same view of the human body we do, in the sense that they were all excited about Elijah because he played the role, he fit the part, just like they had been excited about Saul for the same reasons, and again, we completely misplaced the emphasis. God's got something bigger happening there. So in our church, it's not uncommon for one of our worship leaders, and we're not a charismatic church, so we're pretty subdued, it's not uncommon for one of our worship leaders to encourage us to do something with our bodies during the singing, during the prayers. So maybe we're sitting down and he might ask the congregation, those who feel comfortable, to just rest their arms on their lap with their hands facing up, to have an open posture before God as we confess sins or pray or whatever it might be. And what I notice is that, after a while, people really get into it, but the initial response is to be hesitant, to be uncomfortable. And yet, these same people, and they tend to be guys, not always, but they tend to be guys, you see them at the football game the day before, and they're hugging, and they're high- fiving, and they're jumping around and they're being crazy. So why is it, do you think, that we're very demonstrative with our body in some places, and very comfortable, and then we walk into church and everyone kind of sits on their hands, or at least wants to, if they're allowed to?

Sam Allberry: Yeah, I totally see that as well. I think it has to be because we've not really understood the way God thinks about our bodies. We're sort of awkward teenagers in terms of our physicality when God's in the room and then we're perfectly relaxed and normal when He isn't, as we perceive it. So I think our bodies are not irrelevant to our worship of God, clearly, because He made us physical. They're not irrelevant as far as He's concerned. He sees significance in our physicality, and those physical postures, he's not going to be fooled by them if we don't mean them, but they are meaningful to us. I give the analogy in the book that when a man goes down on one knee to propose to his bride- to- be, there's something so fitting and right. Even if he knows what the answer is going to be, it's still right that he goes down on one knee and has that physical expression of humility before her. And if he didn't do that, we would think something was just maybe a little bit awry with his attitude, and I think the same is true of us and God. If we get more physically demonstrative about people kicking a piece of leather around a grassy field, then something's not right if we suddenly turn into Spock the moment we're in the presence of God and worshiping Him with His people, and it is awkward at first, but that's why physicality in our liturgy is so good. When I, which I don't do very often, but when I walk into a gym and I'm given a new workout routine, it doesn't feel natural at first. It feels painful and awkward and doesn't feel like it's what I do, but just as we need those reps in the gym, we need those reps in our corporate worship life. We need physical training to honor God with our bodies in that kind of context. So coming from an Anglican background, one of my favorite things is, when we receive communion, we will often go forward and kneel at the communion rail. And I love that posture of being on my knees with my head bowed down, and yet, with my hands open and lifted up before me to receive, because that physical posture is telling my soul something about the gospel, that I'm humble before God, and yet, in a posture of expecting to receive from Him. So the physical can help train the internal, I think, in the way that we think, so if there's not healthy, physical expression, it probably won't mean that there's completely healthy internal attitudes either.

Keith Simon: I love that you mentioned communion because that's one of the things that's changed in our church due to the pandemic. Our tradition was to have people walk forward, and so it was messy, right? You bump into each other, you have to step over one another, you stand in line. Now, the whole congregation is singing, and hopefully, you're standing in line and you're either preparing your heart to receive communion or you're singing along, whatever. And then you'd come down, you'd take a piece of the bread, and dip it into the wine or the juice, and the person would say something to you," The body and blood of Christ given for you, eat in faith," and you'd have to return back to your seat. Again, it's messy, but it's part of the body, worshiping together. And because of COVID, that's gone by the wayside. I don't want to diminish it because it's still communion, God still meets us there, but to some extent, it's less physical. It's a little bit more sterile. I hate to say that. And that's one of the big changes I'm looking toward when we can go back to having communion in our traditional way. Are there any other physical practices that you do with your body to help you worship? I'm not talking about in church anymore, just on your own, are there any other habits you have that we might learn from, that use your body to help you engage with God?

Sam Allberry: Yeah, this is new for me, so this is one of the things I learned as I was writing the book. I've come from an English background where there isn't much physical demonstration, and so this has been something I've been working on because it made me realize I need in my own spirituality and have neglected. So I feel like I'm still a novice at this, but it means there are times when I will kneel to pray, there are times when I will sit before the Lord with open hands in the way that you were describing earlier, because I'm asking for particular gifts and blessings from Him, not with a sense of presumption, but with a sense of, He will bring good to me as He determines, and that I will receive from Him, whether it's what I've asked for or something He has in mind. So there are things like that. I'd love to hear what others do that I could find helpful as well. So those would be some of the obvious things. Even when I'm praying on my own, there might be a time when I raise a hand up in the air as well, depending on what I'm praying for and how I'm feeling about that. But I'm trying to use the body more, simply because that's what it's there for, and it'll be healthier.

Keith Simon: Yeah. One of the things that I've found, and it's really not that insightful, but I find that I pray better when I'm walking, and the New Testament is filled with encouragement to pay attention to our walk with God, or that walking imagery is used. Now, I'm not saying that that's directly connected to prayer in the scriptures, but I do find that as I walk, I am more engaged with God. I'm not sure that that is something that is more spiritual as much as it just helps me engage body, mind, soul, all in one direction. And then, like you said, to get down on your knees when you pray, maybe in your room or next to your bed, wherever you are, in your study, there's something about kneeling and praying that makes my heart more humble. And I don't know, it just shows, I think, with the whole point of your book, that we're embodied creatures, that our body matters, even when we don't think it should. Even when it's not quite logical to us, our body matters. Now, in the book, you make the case that online relationships are not as, at least, I think, this is how I read it, that they're weaker than in- person relationships. And I'm trying to figure out, is that your preference, is that your generation, or is there something really lesser than when it comes to online relationships than in- person relationships? So can you make the case for us that online relationships are weaker?

Sam Allberry: I think I can, and I've had to examine my own heart on this because I'm more introverted than I am extroverted, and so there's elements of doing certain relational things online that, actually, I prefer to doing in person, purely out of ease for me.

Keith Simon: COVID was great for you.

Sam Allberry: There's part of me that actually likes that online thing in some settings better than the in- person thing, but I keep coming back to 2 John and where he says," I have..." I'm paraphrasing. He says," I've got much more to write to you, but I don't want to use pen and ink. I'd rather speak to you face to face so that our joy may be made complete." So John was saying that, actually, there's certain things that he can convey in pen and ink, but with face to face, it's not merely that it's a more efficient delivery mechanism of his teaching, but as he said, it'll make our joy complete. There's something about that, being in each other's physical presence, that completes something in that relationship. It's not that we don't get value from technology. We haven't. In the last 18 months, where would we have been without it? But it's made me realize that, actually, for all the value that there is in relating to folks online, and I've even made friends through online connections and that kind of thing, there's no substitute for being physically present with other people. We really do need that. We don't only need that, but we miss something very significant if we're not having that kind of in- person physical presence with others.

Keith Simon: I'm not suggesting you're wrong. I mean, you make really good points, and I think the vast majority of people would agree with you. I think I'm more wondering, as we move to a more isolated, digital world, I'm just trying to figure out if we will adapt and find other ways to have meaningful relationships, we'll learn to go deeper in the way you and I are talking right now. We're face to face. If you're watching this on YouTube, we're face to face, but not in the same room. And I'm trying to figure out how much of this is generational, how much of this is what we're used to. And then we baptize it in Biblical language and say it's right, or how much we'll adjust and we'll figure it out. And maybe we won't know because I'll be long dead before that actually happens.

Sam Allberry: Well, I guess the point I'm making is that our embodiedness must be relevant to how God wants us to relate to each other. And you're right, we have access to stuff that the New Testament believers didn't have, which is, we can be face to face without being physically present. And that is certainly way more than merely text messaging would bring and would convey. But all the more, as relationships do deepen, being able to sit inaudible and give a friend a hug, comfort someone physically if they're in distress, those things take it even further than we could do virtually.

Keith Simon: So your book, What God Has to Say About Our Bodies, what do you hope people take away from that? What's one or two takeaways you really hope people take away that drove you to write this book? You put a lot of time and effort into this. Why? What do you want people to learn?

Sam Allberry: I mean, the broad thing is, I want people to realize the gospel is good news for our bodies and our bodies need that good news. I think for me, the thing that has affected me most profoundly, and I'm beginning to see the same thing have traction with other people, is that, if my body now belongs to Jesus, then the only person my body has to please is Jesus. That's been a surprise and a comfort to me. It's easy for any of us to have particular insecurities about our bodies and all the rest of it. But to think that, actually, my body right now, today, can be pleasing to Jesus, not based on whether it would be worthy of the front cover of a fitness magazine, but based on the very hard posture of, are we consecrating ourselves to the Lord, are we giving our bodies to Him? And a body offered to the Lord is pleasing to the Lord, and I think that's liberating. I'm still only scratching the surface, I think, of all that that can mean for us.

Keith Simon: I love that answer because you're right. Ask any person something that they don't like about their body and all of us immediately have five things that come to our mind, right? It's like, where do I stop? Ask the same person what they like about their body, and let me think about that for a while. So I think you're right, that we are insecure about our bodies, and yet, the body offered to the Lord, that you just said, is pleasing to God, and it's one of the ways that we worship and follow Him. Where can people find you? Where are you active? Is it on social media somewhere? Where do people follow Sam Allberry?

Sam Allberry: Yeah. I mean, I use Instagram and things, but I tend to do more on Twitter than anywhere else, so that's normally a good place to find me and see what I'm up to.

Keith Simon: And what's your handle there?

Sam Allberry: It's literally @ SamAllberry.

Keith Simon: Two Ls, two Rs.

Sam Allberry: That's right, yeah.

Keith Simon: Right. Two Ls, two Rs. Hey, Sam, before we leave, would you mind praying for us that we would embrace our body before God and follow Him with our whole self?

Sam Allberry: I'd love to. Thank you. Father, we thank you that you made us in a way that is both fearful and wonderful, and that we can praise you for how you've made us, that we're not here by mistake, we're not here by chance, we're not here by accident, but that we are meant to be here and that our physical life is a gift from you, however painful it may be at times. And we thank you, Father, that we have a physical future that awaits us in Christ, that we look forward to the redemption of our bodies. We thank you, Lord, for all that we can do now with our bodies. We thank you for all that we can do for Christ now with our bodies, that our bodies now can serve Him, can bring honor to Him, and we pray you'd help us to receive that with joy, with humility, with great excitement. Amen.

Keith Simon: Amen. Thanks for listening. If you found this podcast helpful, make sure to subscribe and leave a review.

Patrick Miller: And make sure it's at least five stars.

Keith Simon: Stop. No, just be honest. Reviews help other people find us.

Patrick Miller: Okay, okay. At the very least, you can share today's episode, maybe put it on your social, your favorite text chain.

Keith Simon: And if you didn't like this episode, awesome. Tell us why you disagree on Twitter, @ truthovertribe_. We might even share your thoughts in an upcoming newsletter.


This week's guest onΒ Truth Over TribeΒ is Sam Allberry, writer and pastor, who joins Keith to discuss our relationship with our bodies. Sam's most recent book,Β What God Has to Say About Our Bodies,Β answers many of the questions we wrestle with today. Their discussion covers stereotypes of masculinity and feminity, how we psychologically and physically perceive ourselves(and what takes precedence), and how the Bible brings good news for our bodies. Listen now!

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Today's Host

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Patrick Miller

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Keith Simon


Today's Guests

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Sam Allberry

|Pastor and Writer