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Conventional Thinking: Theology of the body

Planned Parenthood has rightly come under fire for the harvesting and selling of body parts of aborted babies. Not only is this form of human trafficking illegal, it is immoral. It also reveals one of the two prevailing false worldviews today concerning the human body.

/// Error #1: ‘The body means nothing’

We see it with Planned Parenthood, which looks on the human body of the weaker as “good research material” for the stronger. We see it in our pornographic culture which says sex is just a bodily act. And we even see it in the way everyday people live (e.g. drunkenness or gluttonous food consumption) and ultimately die (e.g. the assisted suicide movement).

Yes, our culture today has bought the Devil’s lie that the human body means nothing and has no inherent value. When swallowed whole as a worldview, this leads people to think we should maximize our own pleasure and minimize our pain while we are in these bodies, whether we hurt others or not. Philosophers call this “nihilism”, when everything means nothing. In the end, this is a road that leads to destruction.

/// Error #2: ‘The body is everything’

If there are those today who want to make nothing of the human body, there are just as many who want to make everything of it. We see it in the endless TV shows, self-help books and magazines, all begging us to “be a better you” or “have a sexy body.”

If we’re not trimmed, tanned, without grey hair and looking younger than we really are, then we are missing what life really has to offer. This the implied message of the marketers.

This worldview means an endless pursuit of the fountain of youth, leading to a life of disappointments and hurts. This erroneous path puts the focus, not on God, but on what we see in the mirror. Whether we make nothing of the body or everything, as long as he can keep God out of our thoughts and behavior, the Devil is happy either way.

/// The Christian view

Meanwhile in Christianity, the human body was created by God and called good (Gen. 1). Christ Himself, the God-man, “became flesh and dwelt among us” (John 1), bestowing special honor and a sacred quality to the human form.

Contrary to the other worldviews, this view esteems the body, putting it in its proper place, not divorced from the mind or the soul, but knit together as one. When the body has an elevated, suitable place in our worldview, it corrects many errors and leads us to seek the things of God.

We no longer look at other people as someone or something to be used. Moreover, we realize our sexual conduct matters because it’s not just about two physical bodies. Even burial matters, because it points forward to the day our broken bodies will be resurrected.

This view also means the incarnation of Christ, His death and resurrection take on even deeper truth in our hearts and for the world today. It also means when Planned Parenthood or smooth-talking marketers come along, we won’t fall for the lies but can stand firm in the truth. For when we get our “theology of the body” right, we will be much more likely to get our overall theology right (Rom. 12:1-2) and live in ways that please God.

Brian Hobbs

Author: Brian Hobbs

Brian is editor of The Baptist Messenger.

View more articles by Brian Hobbs.

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