Remember this line “Your body is a temple”? Usually this is used for making a statement about what you put into you body or how you take care of it. For those reasons, thinking of your body as something sacred is helpful. However, the obsession with the body is often taken to extremes. Biblically, the problem that the body imposes is that at the end of the day, the body is incapable of being separated from this world. As scripture says, “it was formed from dust and to dust it will return.” But the spirit, the core of who we are will continue and live far beyond the limitations of our bodies.
It is interesting to think of the body worship of today and realize that it was the same so many years ago; well, maybe not the exact same - they did not have Photoshop! But the essence of living for the body was ingrained within the Greco-Roman and Hebrew cultures. The problem that this body worship posed for the Christians, and essentially all people of faith, is that the body has distinct limitations, mortality being among the biggest.
But beyond mortality the body has other limitations including the judgments of others, our self-esteem, and so on. There are physical limitations, health limitations and the like. All of this together makes us begin to recognize just how imperfect the body is, even if you look like Adonis!
The Spirit, conversely, is something that is neither bound to this world nor imperfect. In fact the spirit, which is the core essence of who we are is the part of us that is the most important and that is the part the will abandon our bodies when we join with the Father in heaven. Now I know that sounds overly doctrinal, but if you think for a moment about your body and your spirit, you can begin to see how they are disconnected. As simple as your spirit being able to control your impulses, or conversely when your spirit is tired and your body takes control.
The importance of the separation of the spirit from the body for Paul is actually fairly simple: the spirit is breathed into the body, the first breath we take. A midwife once said that she would see that every time she delivered a baby and they took that first breath, there was a powerful energy. As she described it, I could not help but liken it to the feeling at the moment of someone’s death, the times I had been present for that. Whether it is the first breathe or last, the spirit dwells within and becomes the life and the essence of our being.
This means that the body is a tool. It is a tool that will give us strength and carry us through all the parts of our life, but when it is time to move on, our spirit abandons our body to rejoin with God. This means that the body, as we know it, is actually a place where the spirit dwells and then, yes, it is a Temple. But not one that is to be taken and made to be perfect, but is used as a tool in living this gift of life, which God has given to us. This means that we have to be good care takers of the body, but know that it is God whom we worship.
Rev. Dr. Bryan James Franzen