From the editor: October 4, 2013
Giving Body (and Soul) to Whom?
I warn you, my friends, do not fear those who kill the body...but fear him who, after he has killed the body, has power to cast into hell." (Luke 12:4-5)
I find it odd that the mantra, "It's my body" with its refrain, "Right to privacy," followed by the second verse, "Private choice between a woman and her doctor," is no longer heard when it comes to state-mandated health care coverage and the state's growing involvement in the health care of private citizens. I can think of fewer things more private than the care of one's body. Who knows how far the state will go in requiring doctors to ask (and record the answers to) certain questions of patients? And if procedures are denied to the elderly who could formerly afford them through private insurance, hasn't the state taken on a greater role in controlling the very flesh and blood of its citizens?
But my questions here should not suggest that ownership of one's body is absolute. Hardly. For the Christian, his body is never his own. If a man is married, he does not rule over his own body, but his wife does (1 Corinthians 7:4). Paul asks all Christians, "Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, which you have from God? You are not your own; you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body." (1 Cor. 6:19)
Thus, we are not free to do with our bodies as we wish. "The immoral man sins against his own body" (6:18); our "bodies are members of Christ (6:15) and "are meant for the Lord." (6:13)
What we do with the body is not inconsequential and cannot be divorced from some hidden inner intent without being a lie. For this reason, Christians were forbidden to physically express subservience to the cult of divine Caesar by offering sacrifices or incense. Oftentimes a martyr would be encouraged to make the offering with the body while inwardly confessing Christ, to save his skin, so to speak. But this was considered a betrayal of Christ, who said not to fear those who could kill the body.
Indeed, the body we have is part of the gift of talents we've received to invest in this life for the sake of the King who now owns us. I find it strange that a Christian thus minded would want the state—which throughout history and the world today is not a dependable or respectful steward of man made in the image of God—to be empowered to determine more and more aspects of our physical existence. Christ, our true owner, gives us much more true freedom in being his servants than any state.
Thus, wherever we find ourselves, "Glorify God in your body," even if that means losing it for the sake of Jesus: "We are...always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifest in our bodies." (2 Corinthians 4:10).
If you don't know what that looks like, begin meditating on the martyrs. It may take time, but there is no hurry, as long as you are pointed in the right direction and take a step at a time. Trust me. I'm still not there yet.
—James M. Kushiner
© The Fellowship of St. James. 2015
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