You and I live life in a body, with a body, and through a body. Human existence requires embodiment.
Embodiment is a facet of a theology of the body – in others words, doctrinal beliefs that the bible presents regarding the body. Scripture teaches about the body, so Christians must allow these truths to inform their daily, embodied reality.
To rightly understand embodiment, Christians should recognize the ways God is involved with the human body.
Our triune God created humanity in his image. He intricately designed embodied human beings, weaving their bodies together in their mothers’ wombs, as David proclaims in Psalm 139. He established embodiment to be the means by which humans live out their lives. Bearing God’s image then becomes a fundamental facet of embodiment as it reveals ways we are like and represent God.
When the Son of God became incarnate, he took on a body. As an embodied human being, Jesus validates the believer’s embodied life. To achieve salvation for sinful men and women, Christ had to be embodied. He bodily accomplished the work of salvation by his incarnation, life, death, resurrection, and ascension. A right understanding of Christ’s embodiment should cause us to value our own embodiment, which should lead to greater value placed on the body – one that is intentional and God-honoring.
The Holy Spirit, the third person of the Trinity, is also involved in the embodied life of a believer. By his indwelling presence, the Spirit confirms the Christian’s body as his temple (1 Corinthians 6:19). Through the Spirit’s divine enabling, regenerated men and women grow in holiness, as they strive by the Spirit’s power to walk according to his desires and not the desires of the flesh (Galatians 5:16-26). So, the believer’s body becomes an avenue to honor the Lord by walking the Holy Spirit.
When considering embodiment, we can’t disregard the soul. Scripture speaks to the human person – comprised of body and soul – as a unified, dualistic being possessing both physical and spiritual aspects. Christians cannot make the mistake of viewing body and soul as separate entities. This danger is the Gnostic belief that holds the good, immaterial soul as trapped in the bad, material body. As a result, the body is hated, seen as the source of evil, and a mere shell cast off at death. This mindset about the body is far from what Scripture teaches.
When we understand our own embodiment and that our entire lives are meant to glorify God, other aspects of life are impacted like…
In upcoming posts, I will explore these topics and several others mentioned in this blog – what the bible teaches about the body, how Gnosticism’s detrimental understanding of the body still influences the church today, and how Trinitarian involvement with the body confirms human embodiment.