To the Christians Who Told Me to “Look at Her Soul, Not Her Body”

By Ethan Renoe

There’s something I think a lot of Christians struggle with talking about. And it’s not because it’s necessarily shameful like pornography or eggshell-sensitive like homosexuality. It’s just simply confusing and perhaps a little awkward.

And that is, attraction.

In my quest to find that one person that will satiate my endless romantic antics and abate my lonely groanings, I hear a lot of advice. I’ve been single far more than I’ve been in any kind of romantic relationship, so the maxims and pop-dictums on how to find “the one” have flooded my ears for years.

The most common topic deals with a certain dichotomy that supposedly exists in all of us, especially Christians.

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Look at her soul, not her body…

Ethan, how can you be so shallow as to like her personality and not be attracted to her INSIDES??

Her personality is what REALLY matters.

Essentially, I have realized that many Americans are functioning Gnostics.

The Gnostics were a first-century group of heretics that believed in a firm division between the physical body and the immaterial soul. Their theology allowed them to believe that God only cares about the soul, therefore, you can do whatever you want with your body. This thinking had taken hold of the Corinthians, and Paul addresses this issue in 1 Corinthians 6:

“Food for the stomach and the stomach for food, and God will destroy them both.” The body, however, is not meant for sexual immorality but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body. By his power God raised the Lord from the dead, and he will raise us also. Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ himself?

The Corinthians had that saying about the stomach and food, which implied the same was true of sexual arousal. When you’re hungry you eat; when you’re turnt on, you hook up…

Paul points out that no, the body is NOT meant for pure pleasure and disposal, but it is meant to honor God. Human bodies ARE in fact important, because Jesus Himself, the very Son of God, entered into one. Therefore, what we do with our bodies matters.

Now, that was a slight rabbit trail, but now we’re getting back on track.

As a single Christian man, I have been critiqued by many of my friends for often just looking at ‘a girl’s outside,’ rather than some unseen quality that we often refer to as one’s heart, soul, personality, etc.

And yes, if you were to marry someone simply because they’re a fox, you would be a fool. There is definitely the trap of putting too much emphasis on the physical body, but that’s for a different post.

But how equally foolish to only look at someone’s invisible qualities as if their body did not exist!

Our bodies are our God-given vessels through which we experience, act and take part in our life. They are meant to be healthy, serve others and honor God. And they reveal a lot about our internal lives as well.

For instance, who wants to eat food from a skinny chef? Would you get a tattoo from someone with clear skin or be personally trained by someone whose shirt cannot contain their belly? Often I’ll see a man who is too fit, which often speaks to some kind of quiet insecurity. Our bodies matter and they say things about us.

I think that to divide an individual up into little parts is, in essence, to do violence to them as a whole human being. We are not effervescent spirits floating in some abstract realm, having conversations and thinking together. We have tangible bodies that can hug, spit, slap, poop, pinch and break. We feel pain when our skin is sliced, and we indulge in the tenderness of a lover’s kiss.

Yes, we humans have bodies, souls and spirits (unless you’re a dichotomist, which is another theological/anthropological conversation entirely), but they are also one. We are not divided entities, but are united into one person. I believe the membrane that divides the three is far thinner than some of us have been supposing, and from this has come some breezes of Gnostic theology. We are scared to embrace our physical bodies. We are scared to be attracted to another human.

If and when I ever end up falling in love with a woman, it will be because she has a splendid heart and a love for other people.


it will also be because my eyes and my hands find her attractive and are drawn to her. Her body will draw my now to it, and hopefully she will feel the same. We will not be divided persons, but will be holistic humans, loving each other emotionally and physically. No one loves another person using their unseen attributes.

That’s just ridiculous.

I want to be attracted to an entire person. Organs and all.

I do not think good looks are just ‘the cherry on top.’ They’re certainly not everything, but I think as Christians, we have undervalued physical attraction.

You have permission to be physically attracted to someone.

P.S. I’ll be talking more about this topic on an upcoming episode of my new podcast! Check it out here and stay tuned for plenty more episodes coming at you soon!

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Ethan Renoe
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Ethan is a speaker, writer, and photographer currently living in Los Angeles. He has lived on 6 continents, gone to 6 schools, had 28 jobs, and done 4 one-armed pull-ups. He recently graduated from Moody Bible Institute. Follow him at or check him out on Facebook