November 22, 2016
Yesterday I overheard something that is stuck in my head. As I worked out this morning, I tried to shove it aside and think of something else, because it is particularly foul. A divorced man said something not tremendously dirty, but offensive and degrading, about his son’s mother, within my hearing.
Why did it strike me as wrong? Why did it get stuck in my head?
He did not use a curse word. He simply described her body in a way that was degrading to her, and to the human body in general.
The fact that he said it to his son compounded his guilt. Teaching children evil is a separate wrong that needs no explanation in light of Christ’s warning to the Pharisees that they would suffer a dishonorable doom for misleading the weak and uneducated.
This morning after my shower it struck me why his comment had been offensive to me. I was drinking my protein shake after lifting weights, and thanking the Lord for the drink, asking Him to glorify Himself in His temple, my body.
It hit me: I was disgusted by the man’s comment because he was demeaning a human body which God had created to be His temple, in His image.
The fact that this woman and man are not believers bears no significance. A gardening pot may be used for growing a plant, or it may be used as an ashtray, but regardless it was designed for a purpose and bears a certain imprint on it. With that imprint comes a dignity that makes people think it ridiculous for pots to be used for ends to which it was not created, for example as hats, pistol targets, or on the opposite extreme, objects of worship.
The body is not to be worshipped, but neither is it to be demeaned. That is why torture, prostitution, health-destroying habits, pornography, and suicide are all impermissible by the law of God and the laws of nature. The body is meant to be stewarded, enjoyed, shared for the benefit of others (such as in the life-saving work of first responders and the armed forces), and above all utilized in the worship and service of God.
I celebrate the body because it is the handiwork of God. God did not trap souls in bodies, as the Manicheans or other Gnostics would have us believe. God did not intend our bodies for objects of worship, either. What low, mundane idols we would make. But God made our bodies both glorious and humble, capable of beauty and strength, as well as necessarily unclean and weak at points, such as during elimination, illness, and injury.
The good news is that God has made our bodies, and human beings in general, far above the rest of His creation, and yet infinitely short of the perfection that He embodies. We are middlemen, vicegerents, stewards. By His grace through faith in Christ, He also has made His elect into saints, priests, and kings. Thanks be to God!