Ignore Body Language – Ignore God

When our daughter was studying for her radiography qualifications, she also had to do a short course which was aimed at making students aware of the importance of body language. The lecturer claimed, and went on to demonstrate, how about eighty percent of people’s communication is actually unspoken, i.e., conveyed by virtue of body language. The course was interesting and kept students on the edge of their seats; it was impressed on them how important it would be to read patients’ body language when they came to radiography under varying degrees of stress and pain.

After she and I talked about this, I pondered this concept of body language some more as regards its importance and implications. In our household we already were fairly keenly attuned to our children’s body language. We addressed negative body language (rolling of the eyes, shrugging of shoulders, and such like) in clear terms as to what was acceptable and what was not acceptable. It became quite clear to us that much silent rebellion in households is expressed—and regrettably unaddressed—in that manner.

Body language has been, and still is, Satan’s tool of choice in cheapening and destroying human relationships. Scripture warns against this very clearly. When the nation of Israel falls into sin, she is more often than not compared to a wanton woman. Thus we read in Isaiah 3:6, “Moreover the LORD saith, ‘Because the daughters of Zion are haughty, and walk with stretched forth necks and wanton eyes, walking and mincing as they go, and making a tinkling with their feet…’”

The Lord – as does the devil – attributes much importance to body language, as shown in this and other texts (cf. Prov 7; 2 Sam 11:2; Judg 14:3; Ezek 16). The general tenet implied is that female seduction can mean the downfall of kingdoms and great men. Just so today, plastic surgeons make a mint out of surgery which emphasises the alluring physical attributes of a woman. And so we see a big industry involved in Botox lips, enhanced busts, Botox derrieres, alluring hair colours and compositions, and eye lashes that drop down to the cheek bones.

Fashion designers bluntly declare that their creations are not to clothe, but to allure. Their clothing aims at gilding the parcel to the utmost. The beautiful body is also the great advertising centrepiece for much of the fitness industry and for the selling of home exercise contraptions. God made the body holistically beautiful and attractive (cf. 1 Tim 2:9-10) for the noble purpose of God-centred relationships, notably in marriage (Gen 2:20-25). But this has been powerfully perverted, reduced and demeaned to good looks aimed at body worship and seduction.

However, the way the body speaks still makes a powerful statement about man’s relationship with his Creator, be that person Christian or not.

As I am an avid sports hobbyist, both actively and passively, I also started a conscious observation of sports people and their body language at moments of emotional highs and lows. It is quite telling that a sports person at a moment of high elation will raise the arms skyward in celebration. Conversely, when the goal is not scored in a penalty shootout, the failure will result in a shrinking of the body, a bending of the head in shame or dismay. Looking at the supporters and fellow teammates, one can observe many of these with folded hands and prayer-like posture as the penalty shoot-out is unfolding.

This body language is not only common in the sports arena. It can also be observed in other areas of life, wherever there are emotional moments which demand expressing. A child (and many an adult) will try to go small and often place an arm in front of the face as if to ward off the words of correction firmly addressed. A face will light up and look open in a moment of praise. When dismayed or seriously tired, yet needing to push on, a weary head will be lifted skyward and eyes will look to the heavens.

It makes me wonder why people, while having so many potential ways of expressing emotions, choose to express them by turning towards or away from the heavens. Logically speaking, if a person were totally self-absorbed, he would hug himself passionately in a moment of victory rather than reaching upward and beyond himself. If a person were dismayed with himself, logically he would self-mutilate rather than follow the example of Adam and Eve as they tried to make themselves invisible by diving into the bushes.

Scripture makes clear that a person does not lose his connection with God altogether, but that he is in active denial of this link (Rom 1:18). This shows inadvertently in an unbeliever’s emotionally charged spoken language and in his emotionally charged body language.

In terms of spoken and body language well utilized, i.e., to God’s glory, Jonathan Swift sums the issue up in his well-wishing statement:

“May you live all the days of your life,” Jonathan Swift, Irish writer (1667-1745).

Herm Zandman
FRC Southern River

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