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Vanity vs. Gluttony: Competing Christian Discourses on Personal Health

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Three focus groups with adult Christians explored the ways that Christians give religious meaning to their physical health experiences through communication. Participants described thoughts on the link between faith and health and expressed their personal values. Christians spoke about both personal beliefs and interpersonal interactions. Personal beliefs were characterized by a sense that God calls one to be healthy; a response to this call—particularly through exercise—can demonstrate personal values of obedience and self-discipline. Interpersonally, failure to respond to this call and express these values was addressed through confession or confrontation. Discursive tensions arose concerning how to discern the spiritual motives or character of a person given their health behaviors or appearance. Implications for tailored health messages are discussed.
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Keywords: Dialectics; Exercise; Health; Religion; Values

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2011-11-01

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