Christian Counseling Program: The Glory of the Body Should not be Under-emphasized
In Christian circles, theology obviously stresses the importance of the soul and its everlasting attributes that are beyond mere matter. Sin, vice and temptation that attacks our senses should be avoided at all costs. This world or this flesh is not worth the cost of everlasting paradise. The story of Faustus reinforces this ideal that worldly gains are not worth the sacrifice of one’s soul.
This has created a distortion on the value of the “Body” and its importance. Does not Scripture refer to it as a “temple of the Holy Spirit’? Unlike Neo-Platonic and Eastern philosophies that reduce the body to a mere shell, Christianity has echoed the importance of the Body in its teachings, most notably in the General Resurrection where the body will rejoin the soul.
So why the distortion, why do some value the soul above the body, if both in reality are important and equal elements of our human nature? The answer is not so much about the innate value that both equally possess in our dual nature of both spirit and matter, but due to humanity’s current state.
The current temporality of existence has imposed upon humanity a decree of death via sin. The body will fade, the soul will struggle with its passions, and man will die. Through Christ, we have been given new life, but not from the scar of Original Sin. We still must die, but only to be later resurrected. In this temporal reality, the value of the soul is greater than the body due to the situation, not inherent value
The sacrifice of the body for the soul is a beautiful companionship through life. As the body becomes older, more tired and weaker, the soul matures, learns and becomes closer to God. The soul, as the body ironically ages and withers, should become more radiant and beautiful as it ages and strips itself of self-love and replaces it with love of God. St Teresa of Avila looks at the evolution of the soul as it moves through the interior mansions of spiritual life. As the soul progresses through life, it can choose to become closer to God or reject God.
It is my hope that within the temporal journey of earth, our souls learn the many lessons to be learned and become closer and worthy of paradise, but what of the faithful steed and friend of the soul, our body? The body that carried the soul through this temporal maze of sin and that is now fragile, old and weakened by the promised curse of death? It has carried the soul to the finish line, initially sustaining temporal existence and providing sanctuary for the soul to grow in beauty and love of God, but as all matter, will eventually succumb to the sands of time. Is this good friend and critical part of our human nature to be left to the side of the curb as the soul elevates to a new and wonderful eschatological state with God?
As a partner in good and bad with the soul, our body’s hands shared in all actions that glorified God. Our lips praised His name, our eyes sought Him, our ears accepted the good news and our feet carried us to worship Him! As promised, the General Resurrection will glorify the body as an equal partner in our human nature.
So let us not disregard this holy temple and its sacrifice–let us not be caught up with false ideologies that degrade it to a mere shell, but instead let us make good use of our body! Let us respect it and care for it physically and treat it like a temple of God! Let us think of it as a good ship sailing through the turbulent waters of temporal reality taking our soul to the safe shores of Heaven—later to share in that same glory itself.
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Thank you for reviewing and let us know if you have any questions
Mark Moran, MA, SC-C