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Take care of your body

Take care of your body

Does God's Word have anything important to say about the body? It is not that we only have a body, but we are body. Therefore, we need to take good care of it. Waiting for what is really to come…

We are whole people, and especially about the view of the body in Christianity. Whether it's about tattoos, sex or the mindset that only prayer and the Bible apply to us Christians.


A couple of years ago I was on a charter trip for families with children. We sunbathed by the pool, and I finally felt the peace and the opportunity to think about life. Then I noticed that there were a lot of people my age who had tattoos. On many of the tattoos were the names of the children, with dates of birth and such. Others had tattoos of football teams they supported. It was striking how many of those around me had quite personal tattoos.

It was almost like the tattoos decorated their bodies with what is important to them in their lives. The body was a kind of cathedral that showed what they valued most in life, whether it was the children, the football team, or other tattoos that were fine and artistic. Tattoos have become a very common way of expressing the identity we want to create for ourselves and they communicate something about who we want to be.

A lot of people I know have tattoos, and I have a very relaxed relationship with it, as most of my generation do. But I myself have no tattoos, although as a Christian I am free to follow my conscience in this area.

But the fact that I don't have tattoos also says something about who I want to be. I have come to the conclusion that the best way for me to honor God with my body is to leave it as normal and natural as possible. It may be a bit boring, but there are some advantages to being so too. For me, it is important that children and young people see that it is possible to have a suitably relaxed relationship with how we look. And then it is important to me that, first of all, it is the inner life from God that people notice when they meet me.

The body needs a good hug

As I said, I want to use my body for God's glory, and let me take a Bible verse that deals with this with the body. In First Corinthians chapter 6, 13-20, Paul addresses this:

You say, ‘Food for the stomach and the stomach for food, and God will destroy them both.’ The body, however, is not meant for sexual immorality but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body. By his power, God raised the Lord from the dead, and he will raise us also. Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ himself? Shall I then take the members of Christ and unite them with a prostitute? Never! Do you not know that he who unites himself with a prostitute is one with her in body? For it is said, ‘The two will become one flesh.’ But whoever is united with the Lord is one with him in spirit. Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a person commits are outside the body, but whoever sins sexually, sins against their own body. Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore, honor God with your bodies.

Christianity therefore places a very high regard on the body. Our body is actually created by God. Both with its limitations and possibilities.

The body needs sleep and rest. The body needs food and drink. The body needs washing and care. The body needs a good hug and to be embraced by other people. The body likes to be appreciated, and spoken to in a nice way. The body goes through a phase from being young to being old. That this is how God intended it when he created us, and by accepting and embracing this, we honor God by the way we live.

What I said sounds a bit obvious, but it's actually important to say it out loud. Because we live in a society where there is an extreme focus on the body. We are so easily carried away by all the ideals of how the body should look, that we treat our bodies in a way that often destroys us. Or it is easy to get carried away by everything that is so much fun to be a part of, that the need for food, rest and sleep often ends up in second place. Or we are told that what you do with your body has nothing to do with who you are as a person. Such a view is very alienating and allows you to develop a distant relationship with your body.

I grew up on a farm, and learned through my childhood that appearance is part of our self-image, but it is not the most important thing in the world. Like many others, I also received a couple of slightly hurtful comments about my body in my youth, but luckily I have mostly been surrounded by good people all my life who have not been quite relaxed about clothes, appearance and body. Among other things, I went to secondary school with one of Norway's biggest cross-country skiing stars, and she thought it was funny that me and a couple of my mates walked around in gravel shoes (a type of football boot) at school.

We are spirit, we are soul, we are body

The body is also meant to be a temple of the Holy Spirit. Some think it sounds very spiritual. But God has created us to be whole and integrated people. The Holy Spirit is sent to transform us to become more like God. He will do that without taking away our human sides, our personality or talents.

What we celebrate every Christmas is the incarnation that happened when God became an ordinary man through Jesus Christ (John 1,14). It is actually intended to continue in Jesus' body today - the church. It will create a community full of different personalities, gifts and talents that enrich, sharpen and complement each other.

Nor can we reduce man to a kind of "spiritual" being where prayer, praise and the Bible are the only things that matter.

When I went to Bible school about twenty years ago, I learned the expression: "You are a spirit, have a soul and live in a body". It may sound Christian, but the expression is unbiblical and contradicts the fact that we are first and foremost whole people. We are spirit, we are soul, and we are body (1 Cor 5,23).

The Bible does not divide life into spiritual and unspiritual zones. If we do that, we create another dichotomy in existence that God does not really want.

Prayer and God's word are important, but so are social gatherings, physical caresses, work and rest. We need all of these to function well, one cannot compensate for the other. Intercession and preaching are important, but they are not at odds with working for a better world. Professing as a Christian must never come at the expense of being real and honest about life, both when things are going well and when times are tough.

I have noticed on a couple of occasions that I have had stress reactions in my body. It has been in such a way that I have noticed palpitations and restlessness, even though I have actually been calm and should have had a resting heart rate. Fortunately, I have learned the importance of listening to one's own body, and took these signals seriously when it happened.

The body has not reached its full potential

One thing we can notice around us is that there is a lot of focus on life before death. There are a number of examples of those who do not believe in life after death being concerned with getting the most out of life before death. And we can also notice that some people spend a lot of time and money on making their bodies look as youthful as possible for as long as possible, and that getting old, sick and weak is not attractive. Yet old age catches up with us all.

But in Christianity, death is defeated. It turns the whole issue upside down. In the face of old age and illness, we have a hope for the future that even includes our bodies. God's Word proclaims that our bodies are to be resurrected, transformed and glorified, whatever that means in practice.

In First Corinthians chapter 15, verses 42-43, Paul mentions that the body was like a seed, which becomes

(…) sown in corruption, it is raised in incorruption. It is sown in disgrace, it rises in glorious glory. It is sown in weakness, it stands up in strength.

It actually allows us to relax a little from the worst body pressure. In any case, my body will not reach its full potential until the resurrection. Of course, I want to take care of it and treat it as best I can, but even as I get older and older, I know that the best is ahead.

I am so lucky to know so many fine older people. But it's not that they have tight and wrinkle-free skin, or jump and bounce around in gym clothes that make them beautiful. But it is that they smile, are happy and friendly, they love God and the people around them, which makes me think: I want to be like that when I grow old! And I think it's about your inner man being renewed every day by living close to God and his words:

In Second Corinthians chapter 4 it says:

For we know that he who raised up the Lord Jesus, he will also raise us up together with him and bring us forward together with you. (…) That is why we do not lose heart, because even if our outer man perishes, our inner man is renewed day by day.

The Hooking-up culture

Last autumn I read the book "Love Thy Body" by Nancy Pearcey. She says that there is a big difference between the view of people she finds in the Bible, and the view of people that lies behind many of the changes that have taken place in society in recent decades. In particular, the sexual revolution that has taken place since the 1960s has changed the way we think about the body.

The Bible's view of humanity is based on the fact that God created the world with a purpose. There is an overarching thought behind creation from God's side. It is something we can interpret from nature, and that also applies to our bodies. Because if it is the case that God created our bodies, we have to make room to talk about what that means.

Pearceys believes that if the body is not made an important part of our identity and the view of who we are, we lose an essential part of our humanity. And in the worst case, we develop a negative relationship with the body, rather than honoring it and taking good care of it.

An example Pearcey mentions is having casual sex, and that you change who you have sex with every once in a while, i.e. what can be called the hooking culture. This culture is based on the premise that what you do sexually with your body has nothing to do with you as a person. Sex is presented as an exchange to give each other pleasure, and it is wise not to put more into it, so that you are not disappointed and hurt.

Pearcey says there is a problem with this and that it does not match reality. What you do with your body sexually cannot be separated from what you feel inside. And unfortunately, it is a very short way from one of the finest things God has created, i.e. sex, being destroyed by people who do not want you well, but who want to exploit you for their own part.

In the biblical worldview, sex and emotions are integral parts of being a whole person, who needs to make himself vulnerable and be intimate. And that means there should be some framework around it. We need to talk more about that among ourselves, because here there are many young people who feel pressured into a culture that does things with their bodies that they might not want to do. They need to hear that Jesus gives you hope, and that he is strong enough to make you whole again as a human being.

The Bible thus has a holistic view of humanity that embraces that we are both body, soul and spirit, and that the body has an intrinsic value that must be respected. It is not that we only have a body, but we are body. By recognizing this, we get another motivation to take good care of the body, protect it and listen to its signals. Then we actually make it even easier for the Holy Spirit to take up residence in us, and fill us with what he wants to give. By letting God be God, it becomes easier to be a real person.

There are many other things that can be talked about around this, and I would recommend that you go deeper into what the Bible says about the body, and check out the links I post on Sennep.net about this topic. In the times we live in now, I think it is more important than ever that we brush the dust off the Bible's positive view of the body, and talk together about what it means to us.

The article is taken with permission from Sennep.net

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