Unfortunately, my young track star isn’t alone. Poor self-image is an epidemic among teenagers and adults alike. Although we might blame various underlying issues, it all started in the Garden. Before we learn anything else about Adam and Eve, Genesis 1:27 reveals that “God created human beings in his own image.”
Then comes the familiar story of deception by Satan, as sin enters the world. Remember what happens as soon as Adam and Eve know the difference between good and evil? “They suddenly felt shame at their nakedness. So they sewed fig leaves together to cover themselves” (Genesis 3:7). We forget that God made us in his image. Then that leads to feelings of shame about our bodies.
Adam and Eve hid from God because they were naked and ashamed. Although sin separated us from God, his Son Jesus came to restore that relationship through his death and resurrection. Sin still exists on earth, though. So we continue struggling with what it means to be created in God’s image.
How to Help With Body-Image Issues
Consider these four suggestions for reminding teens they are made in God’s image:
1. Recognize the real problem.
The battle that started in the Garden plagues us to this day. Explain to teens that the root problem involves forgetting we are made in God’s image. Our culture defines beauty and the ideal body shape. But that view isn’t based in Scripture or on God’s thoughts of us.
We can blame the media, Photoshop, modeling, Instagram, celebrities, and plastic surgery. Yet those are only symptoms of the disease. Be honest with kids about your own insecurities. Girls and boys struggle with different issues at different times, but both Adam and Eve felt shame.
2. Stop the platitudes.
Resist the temptation to tell teenagers what to feel about themselves. It does little good to say, “You’re not fat” to the kid who doesn’t look like an NFL star. Or “You’re pretty; don’t listen to them” to the girl who hasn’t been asked to prom.
Discuss ways teenagers can feel more attractive. But also unpack with your group what it means to renew the mind. Help kids discern whether they’re basing their identity on compliments instead of what Jesus says. Show young people what Jesus really thinks about them and how to live that out.