Are You Your Body?

I want to take a moment to rewrite the creation story, if you don’t mind. I know, I know, heresy, right? Except I think that I can make it more in-tune with the way most Christians see things.

To wit:

In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. And upon creating the world, He planted a garden in the east of Eden. There were four rivers that flowed out of it, but they’re not important right now, so I won’t bother in trying to name them or even try to maintain the pious voice I’ve been cultivating.

At any rate, upon planting this garden, He placed within it two ethereal souls, bodiless spirits in the fashion of the angels themselves. One He called Adam, the other was eventually called Eve. And how Adam and Eve loved to frolic through the Garden, doing whatever it is that disembodied souls would do in a physical world.

Adam and EveBut then, one day, the Serpent appeared, the craftiest of all God’s creatures. And the Serpent approached Eve and tricked her into sinning by somehow eating the forbidden fruit (an interesting feat, given a bodiless spirit’s lack of a mouth or digestive system). Eve, in turn, got Adam to eat the fruit as well.

And that’s when everything went off the rails. God showed up in the Garden and started handing out curses and condemnations for the introduction of sin into the world. When the dust settled, Adam and Eve discovered that they had been changed. They had been given physical bodies, a fleshly prison that would tempt them and corrupt them until the day that they would be set free from it by death, able to once again return to their purely spiritual state, the way that they were always intended to be.

The End.

So what do you think? How many of you are writing up writs of excommunication or trying to figure out how to contact my ecclesiastical superiors for daring to rewrite Holy Scripture?

Don’t bother. And don’t worry. I haven’t gone heretical. Rather, this week, something’s gotten stuck in my theological craw, namely a hint of gnosticism. More specifically, I took a little bit of issue with the latest video from Blimey Cow, namely this one:

So what’s wrong with this? It seems like a fairly innocuous “Don’t be so hard on yourself” type of message that people need to hear, right?

Well, sure, but I have a real problem with #1, the whole “You are not your body” schtick.

It’s a sentiment that gets tossed around a lot in Christian circles, this idea that we are merely temporarily enfleshed souls. A lot of people like to add in this quote, which supposedly comes from C. S. Lewis:


Click on the picture for a great article about whether or not C.S. Lewis said this.

If we’re just souls, why did God give us bodies when He created us? If we’re just souls that have bodies, why will we be reunited with our bodies at the resurrection? If we’re just souls that have bodies, why does the Bible speak of death as the enemy that has to be defeated and put down? Simply put, this notion that we are merely souls temporarily inhabiting bodies isn’t Biblical. If anything, it’s the ancient heresy of gnosticism being given new life in our teachings. If you want more information on gnosticism, here’s a quick primer. Pay close attention to the “dualistic” nature of this belief, that physical matter is inherently corrupt and evil and thus, something to be escaped.

Now, I know, the folks at Blimey Cow were trying to make a point, and a good one. Body image issues are rampant in our culture today and we have to remind people that they shouldn’t put too much pressure on themselves if their bodies aren’t Photoshopped perfect. I know this quite well. I’m 6′ 6″, and I used to be mocked mercilessly because I was head-and-shoulders taller than the rest of my classmates. As a result, I’ve had some self-esteem issues that have haunted me my whole life. The message that they’re trying to convey is important.

But I think it’s also equally important to remember: God created us to be human beings, body and soul united together in perfection. Sin has unmade that perfection. Death seeks to destroy the unity. Only God, through Christ, can forgive the sin and defeat death so that one day, our bodies and souls will be perfect for all eternity. And that’s a message worth cherishing.

One Comment:

  1. I love that quote by CS Lewis. When I think about this, I go back to Genesis and look at the formula: “And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.”

    What I see here is: dust + breath = soul To me that translates: body + spirit = soul
    I have a body. I have a spirit. But unless the two are joined together, my soul is dysfunctional. Who I am (my soul) must disintigrate if the elemental pieces fall apart.

    Fortunately, like you said, God can put Humpty back together again even though he’s taken quite a fall!

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