In the beginning…
When God created Adam and Eve, representing humanity, He created them as the perfect-union of body and spirit/soul, a state of completeness. Death was not in the original equation, rather, it came as a result of the Fall. As a result, the body is incomplete without the soul, and the soul is incomplete without the body. We call a soul-less body a corpse, and we call a body-less soul a ghost. Neither is complete – whole, without the other. Neither one is human.
The creation as Art…
Let’s imagine, for a moment, a great art gallery. God is both the Artist and the Curator of this gallery, and He is using this gallery to display His glory and creative-genius. The first works in this gallery were painted with broad brush-strokes, and some are almost chaotic, but as we progress into the gallery, the paintings show greater detail, until, at last, we come to His penultimate and ultimate creations – mankind, represented by Adam and Eve. The Artist used His finest instruments to create these two paintings, so the details are exquisite. In our mind’s eye, we can imagine Adam and Eve in the lovely park/garden in the preceding picture. While distinct from it, they appear to belong in it, because they do. Mankind, while a part of creation, is also set-apart from it.
Even as God declared His handiwork “Very good“, a vandal was plotting his evil scheme to deface this glorious creation. As the evil vandal goes about his dirty-work, grins are replaced with glares, smiles with scowls, and arms and hands that once held each other close, are raised in anger and defiance. Once-beautiful park-benches are defaced with graffiti, weeds choke-out the once-beautiful lawn, trash mars the landscape, rotten fruit drops from the trees, and once-bright skies give way to gray and gloomy skies. While this once-beautiful gallery seems to be defaced beyond-repair, the Master Artist began planning its restoration, but the Artist must step into His creation to restore it, but restore it He will, and it will be even more beautiful than ever, because it will include scenes that weren’t in the original gallery. That transition begins in Genesis 3:15.
Made in God’s image…
We can’t even begin to comprehend all the ways in which we image God, but some of the more obvious ways are:
Possession of a physical body: The infinite, divine Word took on human-flesh (John 1:14). The Creator of the cosmos (John 1:1-5) became a created-being in the Incarnation of Jesus Christ. God became a man so that He could enter into His gallery and begin to undo what the vandal had done. He became “the seed of the woman” so that He could “crush the serpent’s head” (Genesis 3:15). The Apostle Paul summed-up this whole restoration-project in Galatians 4:4-7.
The ability to think and reason: While our thinking and reasoning is flawed, this is something God has endowed us with the ability to do.
The ability to love: Love is an attribute of God Himself, and He has endowed us with the ability to love Him and others.
The ability to worship: We were designed to worship God.
The ability to communicate: That I was able to write this, and you are able to read it, is indicative of one of the many ways in which we communicate.
The ability to create: We can’t create something from nothing, as God can, but we can created things from even the most basic building-blocks of matter. As you look at your computer screen or smart-phone, pause for a moment to realize that many parts of those wonderfully-useful items began as a grain of sand – silica. Yes, we owe much of what we see and use to lowly grains of sand.
The ability to procreate/co-create: God could have populate the Earth by just creating more humans, bypassing human-reproduction, but He didn’t. He could have created us genderless, but He didn’t. Instead, He endowed us with the ability to create more humans through the act of procreation/co-creation. What do I mean by “co-creation“? Only God can endow a human-body with an eternal-soul, so in procreation, we provide the human-body and God endows it with an eternal-soul, ie. co-creation.
In marriage, we have unity in diversity, a “one-flesh” union, reflecting the unity in diversity in the Godhead. The Godhead is a Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, who are all equally God, and while diverse in their persons and actions, fully-unified in their nature and purposes. Men and women are alike in their humanity, yet different in the expression of their respective genders, and are most completely-united at the point of their greatest difference.
There are some who believe that the Imago Dei was erased in the Fall, but God reiterated the Imago Dei in Genesis 9:6, when He gave the murder commandment. God then reiterated the Creation Mandate, “Be fruitful and multiply” in Genesis 9:7. God’s original plan for mankind hadn’t changed. We are STILL to be God’s Stewards, Regents and Viceroys on the Earth, ruling and subduing it, under His sovereign reign. That, if anything, should cause us to treasure the Imago Dei even more, because, even in our fallen-condition, we STILL bear the image of God. Yes, it is marred and scarred, battered and bruised, but it is still there. Need any more convincing? Read Psalm 8:
O Lord, our Lord,
How excellent is Your name in all the earth,
Who have set Your glory above the heavens!
2 Out of the mouth of babes and nursing infants
You have ordained strength,
Because of Your enemies,
That You may silence the enemy and the avenger.
3 When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers,The moon and the stars, which You have ordained,
4 What is man that You are mindful of him,
And the son of man that You visit him?
5 For You have made him a little lower than the angels,
And You have crowned him with glory and honor.
6 You have made him to have dominion over the works of Your hands;
You have put all things under his feet,
7 All sheep and oxen—
Even the beasts of the field,
8 The birds of the air,
And the fish of the sea
That pass through the paths of the seas.
9 O Lord, our Lord,
How excellent is Your name in all the earth!
Furthermore, we are no “accident“, as we see in Psalm 139:13-16;
13 For You formed my inward parts;
You wove me in my mother’s womb.
14 I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
Wonderful are Your works,
And my soul knows it very well.
15 My frame was not hidden from You,
When I was made in secret,
And skillfully wrought in the depths of the earth;
16 Your eyes have seen my unformed substance;
And in Your book were all written
The days that were ordained for me,
When as yet there was not one of them.
Humanity under assault…
Our humanity, including our bodies and their parts, is under attack from all sides, but this isn’t a new battle. It began in the Garden of Eden in Genesis 3. Satan fired the first volley when he convinced Adam and Eve that their gender-distinctive body-parts, their genitals, were “shameful” and had to be covered, and the onslaught hasn’t let-up since. Satan convinced them that their “shame” was from their genitals, not their disobedience, which was totally backwards. It was a baldfaced-lie, and Satan has been deceiving mankind ever since. God put His finger on the source of this lie in Genesis 3:11. 11 And He said, “Who told you that you were naked?” Most cultures have been covering-up with “fig-leaves” ever since, except for the ones that didn’t “get the memo“.
So what was “shameful” about, or “wrong” with those body-parts? They visibly-represent our ability to procreate/co-create new human-beings, to be able to produce more bearers of the Imago Dei, an ability Satan in jealous of. That act, which we call “sex“, has been glorified, demonized or perverted by both the secular and religious communities for centuries. Those parts are either lewdly-displayed or compulsively-covered, and people who seek to treat them as a normal-part of our humanity are marginalized, at best, or even demonized, particularly by the religious community, but, who’s right?
There is no basis in Scripture to call ANY part “shameful“, “lewd” or “wrong“, particularly considering what the psalmist, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, wrote in Psalm 139:13-16.
We see, in the results of the Fall, the genesis of two great divides, the bodily “good-part – bad-part” divide, and the spiritual-divide, the division of soul from body in death. These great divides will continue to plague mankind until Christ returns and everyone is restored to their pre-fall condition in the resurrection.
When it was revealed several years ago that TSA airport screeners were getting overly-aggressive in their pat-downs of some travelers, particularly men, the popular response to such actions became “Don’t touch my junk!“. “JUNK“? Since when is ANY part of ANYONE “junk“, and that goes for their genitals too? Many men had been conditioned to believe that some parts of their bodies, particularly their genitals, didn’t deserve the honor and respect that God imparted to them. Psalm 139 reveals the truth about our bodies, that they were created by God, and deserved to be honored as God’s special and unique creation. God doesn’t create ANY “junk“!
What about those “unseemly parts”?
The Apostle Paul, writing about the body of Christ, the church, in 1st Corinthians 12:22-25, talks about parts that are sometimes called “unseemly“, but what does he say about them?
On the contrary, it is much truer that the members of the body which seem to be weaker are necessary; and those members of the body, which we deem less honorable, on these we bestow more abundant honor, and our unseemly members come to have more abundant seemliness, whereas our seemly members have no need of it. But God has so composed the body, giving more abundant honor to that member which lacked, that there should be no division in the body, but that the members should have the same care for one another. (1st Corinthians 12:22-25)
To get some perspective, just ask the person with a colostomy bag if they would rather have all their plumbing in place and working-properly. That “lowly” anus, as “unseemly” as it may be, is a crucial-part of our digestive-tract. Our mouth may be “prettier“, but our anus is just as important.
Because of nerve-damage in my lower-back, my bladder and lower urinary-tract doesn’t work normally, and hasn’t for over nine years. I am catheter-dependent, and while I am thankful for that means of emptying my bladder, I would LOVE to be able to pee normally.
When Connie and I were expecting our first child, we took Lamaze (prepared-childbirth) classes, taught by an experienced nurse-midwife. Imagine our shock one evening when she brought her two children, a boy and a girl, to class, and they both had badly-deformed hands and feet. We got a serious reality-check. Are they “second-class” or “disposable” citizens? Many would say they are, but they aren’t. Handicapped? Yes. “Disposable“? NO!!
I know a brilliant audiologist whose hands and feet are also badly-deformed, but he is a very talented doctor and a warm, wonderful person. He has succeeded in spite of his handicaps, and he spent thirty years practicing at John Paul Jones Naval Medical Center before coming to the Orlando VAMC. You won’t find any better than him.
We, and our parts, could be compared to those “unseemly” parts the Apostle Paul spoke of, and yet, in God’s sight, “But God has so composed the body, giving more abundant honor to that member which lacked, that there should be no division in the body, but that the members should have the same care for one another.” Whose opinion really matters? God is our Creator, so it is His opinion which should have the final-say.
Another great divine…
Not only have our parts been deemed “good” or “bad”, we see, beginning with some of the Greek philosophers, a divide placed between our bodies and our souls or intellects. This gave us Gnosticism and Docetism, which placed an emphasis on the soul or intellect at the expense of the body. The soul or intellect was deemed “good”, and the body was deemed “bad”. That gave us “The “Otherization” of Jesus”, because Jesus couldn’t have had a “real” body, because “bodies” are “bad”, but He did…
Another facet of this divide is “as I think, so I am”, or “I am what I THINK I am”. The MIND has become the “ultimate-reality”, and what the body reveals doesn’t matter, or is “wrong”. “Transgender” people don’t believe that their BODY is the ultimate-reality, rather, what they THINK they are is all than matters. I know a MAN who believes that SHE is a WOMAN, even though his BODY screams out the fact that HE IS A MAN. HE has MALE SEXUAL-EQUIPMENT, NOT “female”, and no matter what HE does to HIS body, HE will never be a “woman”.
Much is at stake in this confusion today, both in the secular world and in our churches, about the meaning of the body. We live in a world that insists our bodies are meaningless. But that is to insist that human life itself is meaningless, and thus “disposable”. This evil ideology is behind abortion, murdering a baby in the womb, “partial-birth” abortion, murdering a baby during delivery, and now, infanticide, murdering an “unwanted” baby even after they are born. How much lower can they go? Euthanasia is already legal in some countries, so could “death-squads” be far behind? I doubt it…
The human being is not a soul “in” a body. Because of the profound unity of body and soul in God’s design, our bodies are not something we “have” or “own” alongside ourselves. In a very real way, we are our bodies. Our bodies reveal the spiritual mystery of our souls. And because we’re made in God’s image, our bodies also reveal something of the divine mystery. In fact, if Christmas is real, the human body reveals the very logic of God, the Logos of God: “The Logos (Word) became flesh and made his dwelling among us” (John 1:14).
This is really the tip of the iceberg, and whole treatises have been written about this body/soul or body/mind divide, so there isn’t space here for me to delve into it deeper, but I highly-recommend “Love Thy Body”, by Nancy R. Pearcey.
Satan is jealous…
While Satan can think, reason and communicate, he couldn’t create his way out of a wet paper-sack. Satan couldn’t create a subatomic-particle if his life depended on it, and he is a spirit-being, so he will never have any form of body. He is jealous of the fact that we have bodies and are created in the image of God. We are everything he can never be, and he is jealous, so he wants to destroy what he can’t have – us. Satan is also jealous of the fact that we were created to worship God. He wants us to worship anything BUT God, including the gods of our own making, but his ultimate-desire is that we worship him.
Have you noticed that “people” are no longer referred to as “people“, but as “individuals” in much of the media? “Individual” can refer to ANYTHING, as long as there is only one of it, and “individual” is commonly used to denote a single-serving of something, such as condiments or coffee-packets. Does the name “portion–pack” ring a bell? Care to hazard a guess why this is? It is much easier to demean an “individual” than it is a “person“, thus by denying their person-hood, they can be demeaned to a lesser-thing…
This demeaning and dehumanization is the denial of our inherent-dignity as persons, human-beings who have been created in the image of God. Denial of the Imago Dei is denial of God’s consistent-witness about us throughout the Bible, beginning in Genesis 1, and is the basis for all the dehumanizing things going on in our society, including abortion and euthanasia.
Many of us have “bad” parts, but NOT because they “inherently-bad“, “dirty“, “nasty“, “shameful“, or any other of that nonsense. We may have been born with “defective” parts, birth-defects, disease or injury, wear and tear, or simply age has caused those parts to not function like they are supposed to. I have many parts that meet that description, because they simply no longer work like they are supposed to. My medical-diagnosis list is as long as my arm. There are two different uses and meanings of “bad“, and one is a meaningful-description, and the other is a LIE.
Into His work…
God, the Creator, in the Person of Jesus Christ, stepped into His work to begin the restoration. John 1:14 tells us that “And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.” In order to step into His creation, He had to take on a CREATED human-body. In His humanity, He had to take on the Imago Dei. There was no other way. While He only dwelt among us for a brief period of time, and the work was far from finished, He came to crush the head of the serpent (vandal) and begin the restoration. When He returned to Heaven, to the Father’s right hand, He took OUR flesh and blood with Him. He ascended into Heaven as fully-human as He was when He walked the Earth. No, He isn’t “missing” any parts…
Death wreaks the penultimate separation in our humanity, separating body and soul, rendering each one incomplete. We are not a human without this union of body and soul, so we call a body, devoid of its soul, a “corpse“, and a soul devoid of its body, a “ghost“, because neither are human. The final judgment will separate humans from God, which is the ultimate-separation. Only those who are in Christ will escape this final-separation, and enjoy the Grand Finale.
The grand finale…
God has something planned which will be even grander than His original project, and the results will be PERMANENT and FABULOUS. There will be NO “bad-parts” in the New Heavens and the New Earth, and every part of us will be restored to their “as-designed” perfection, not to a “better but still imperfect” condition. We won’t lose our individuality, but we WILL be all God created us to be – FOREVER!
What we believe about ourselves, our bodies and their parts has huge implications and consequences for how we live and think, and when we finally align our beliefs with God has revealed in His Word, we gain a new appreciation and respect for how we are “fearfully and wonderfully made“.
Sola Deo Gloria!