If matter matters, what about my body? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.
Last time, we talked about the existence of matter itself and how the resurrection makes a difference. Recently, I had Jehovah’s Witnesses at my door as you can read about in a recent post. One statement that they made was that Jesus laid down his body. Why would he pick it up again?
Well why wouldn’t he?
What we are told is that our resurrection will be like that of Jesus’s and if we will rise again bodily, then that means that Jesus rose again bodily. Now I was told “Why couldn’t it not be instead like that of Lazarus?” Why? Because the Scriptures do not say we rise like Lazarus, but that we rise like Jesus. We rise in a body that is immortal and will not die again. Lazarus rose only to die again.
Now some of us might think that 1 Cor. 15 rules against that since it contrasts between the physical body and the spiritual body. It really doesn’t. Even a skeptical NT scholar like Dale Martin says that to think of the translation as physical is really a bad one. The better idea is to think of the force that dominates. Is it going to be the desires of the flesh that dominates or is it going to be the power of the Spirit that dominates?
What about flesh and blood? Quite likely, this is an idiom that refers to perishable sinful nature. This means our bodies as we have them now are unfit for Heaven, but it does not follow from that that all bodies are unfit for Heaven.
So what does this mean for us overall? Let’s suppose that we go on from here and assume that this is a physical body that is rising up. What does this say about our bodies right now?
When Jesus rose again, the idea was that the body was something that you would want to escape. It was a prison. Hence, some Gnostic cults were against sexual activity. After all, why imprison another soul in a body? In a culture that was like this, the resurrection would have been seen as nonsensical. Why on Earth would someone want to live again in their body? The body was meant to be temporal. To be set free from the body was the ultimate healing. At the end of Plato’s “Phaedo”, Socrates orders an offering to be given to Asclepius. Why? Asclepius was a Greek god of healing and Socrates was experiencing death, release from the body, the ultimate healing.
The Christians did not see it that way because Jesus rose in the body. That meant ipso facto that the body was a good thing. God was not going to allow death to have a victory over the human body and He had set about a way to make sure that death would not spell the end. Indeed, someone who is without a body is compared in Scripture to someone who is naked. (2 Cor. 5) We are not angels. We are meant to be bodied. (Yes. When you have a Christian loved one die, God does not get another angel. You will never be an angel, and that is just fine.)
This then means that like the environment, what you do with your body matters. For instance, before my marriage, as an Aspie, I had a very limited diet. Now in a sense, it still is of course, but it has expanded as I’m wanting to be one who leads my family for a long time. In the past before the marriage, it was pizza every night. Some of you might wonder about my being overweight with that. The reality is I eat less overall and tend to be active. I weigh about 120.
We do not treat our body lightly for the same reason we do not neglect the environment. I do realize I still have a way to go, but we are all on the path of sanctification. Not all of us are health guru types. Our body is not just excess baggage for us. It is an important aspect of who we are. It is not an accident that we live in a body. We are meant to experience the world as bodied creatures.
Christians are unique in that we are believers of resurrection to a bodied life. We believe that this body is good and that God will raise it up again, which is one reason we bury our dead. Of course, God is capable of re-creating bodies, so that someone who dies in an animal attack and gets their body ground up, or in an explosion or something of that sort, can be resurrected. That is no problem. It does not mean the matter will have to be identical either. Not all our questions are answered explicitly in Scripture, but we know that it is not beyond the power of God.
Since our bodies matter, does that have any impact on ethics? There are such in the Pauline epistles, but we will discuss that next time.